Changing strings

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Changing strings

Postby admin » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:18 am

As I think of other key points, I might add them here. This could eventually be repackaged into a real procedure.

- The question comes up about whether to change strings one at a time or to remove the whole set. To me all that matters is getting the tension down without twisting the frame.

All I do is loosen every other pin in each tuning pin row. That would be 1-5-9-13--to the top and coming back down in the inner row of pins. At the bottom, I go back to the outer row and do the remaining 3-7-11-15- and so on, completed after two cycles.

There may be other ways, perhaps better ways in theory, but this method works and has never indicated a problem as a result.

When you remove all the strings, now you are clear to thoroughly clean and polish the top. Avoid more than a light spray of water based cleaners because you could raise the grain. Try dusting with a paint brush and then some lemon oil, finishing with a light spray and wipe with Pledge or the like. Any rub out or polishing can be done with paste car wax, assuming your want a gloss finish.

Now you are also clear to set the heights of all the tuning pins at one time. I have found the becket holes in the tuning pins need to be a bit more than 1/2" off the top, so I just lay a half inch chord bar along the pins and sight that the becket hole peeks above. Be creative, but that works for me. More precision is possible, say with a caliper depth gauge, but a difference of a half to a full turn in the pin is hard to detect when the instrument is fully strung. Functionally it will be fine. I know that $1800 luthier harps have pins that are set at only approximate, eye balling height. It is not a science or doesn't need to be.

What does relate to "science" is that on the model A with pins set at an angle to the top, the strings wound onto the pin need to angle downward off the bridge rod and rest at full tension near the top surface. So the wire spirals down the pin but not quite all the way to dig into the top, You need to control the wire wrap, perhaps with the tip of a small screwdriver, because the wire will want to go down the pin quickly. Poke and pack it back upward as necessary, tuning wrench in one hand controlling tension, while string manipulation tool (screwdriver) in the other.

- When mounting a string (on a model A type), you will need a trick to get the loop end to stay on the end pin while you hitch up the string to the tuning pin. I do that by putting a heavy duty alligator clip on the pin, behind the string loop. There again, be creative, find better ideas, but that is one way that works. I will say that I have my favorite clip, some working much better than others. When all else fails, use vice grips, but no tighter than really necessary, no point in nicking up or crushing the pins.
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