Magazine article Guitar Player

Gary Brawer on Maintenance: Don't Over-Stretch Your Strings!

Magazine article Guitar Player

Gary Brawer on Maintenance: Don't Over-Stretch Your Strings!

Article excerpt

I WAS WORKING ON A GUITAR a few months ago and came across a unique problem: Five of the six strings intonated a half-step out, meaning the harmonic was in its usual spot (at half the speaking string length over the 12th fret), but the matching note was at the 13th fret. After convincing myself I was not seeing things, hearing things, or crazy, I changed the strings, and all was right in the world. While I have still not been able to make complete sense of the event, I can tell you it was not the first or last time I have seen a string out of tune with itself, or other such odd string occurrences. One thing that weird string problems have in common, though, is that a string change typically fixes them.

While we may take string construction for granted, there is a lot that goes into making a string that performs well and plays in tune. It is not uncommon to find a brand new string that either will not intonate where it should, or has a very odd buzzing that cannot be traced to a bad fret, nut, or saddle. Typically, it is a wound string, and, more often than not, it is a round-core string. [Tech note: With round-core strings, the wind has full contact with the core. These strings can feel more supple and have a warmer tone. By contrast, hex-core strings can give you a brighter tone, as the wind can bite into the core to hold the wind together. They can also have a tighter, more solid feel.] I happen to love the sound of a round-core string, but you may have to take some precautions while restringing your guitar when using them. Mainly, be sure to make a right-angle bend in the string before cutting it. Also, do not overstretch the string when installing-and don't use a super-fast peg winder--because that can compromise the core-to-wind integrity, which can lead to tuning problems. A good rule of thumb is to not overstretch any strings, regardless of core type. …

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