changing strings and intonation

Discussion in 'Luthier's Guitar & Bass Technical Discussion' started by NitroLiq, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. NitroLiq

    NitroLiq Member

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    I had a quick question with regards to standard les paul bridges and restringing. Do I have to change it out one string at a time like I would with a floating bridge or can I take them all off with the idea that the intonation will remain the same as long as I'm using the same gauge strings? My pickups have gotten pretty grimey so I'd like to remove everything to do a good polishing.
     
  2. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    You can take it all apart, just don't accidently raise the height or move the small intonation screws when your polishing the metal.
     
  3. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    No offense intended, but IMO this is one of the biggest guitar myths there is.

    I've professionally set up several thousand guitars, and I've never - not once - changed the strings one at a time, and never once had any issues with neck movement. It simply isn't going to happen in the time the strings are off. Yes, maybe if you left them off for weeks with changing temperature and humidity you might have problems (storing guitars for long periods with the strings slack and the truss-rod still tight is a bad idea), but in the normal hour or two it takes to fully overhaul and clean up a guitar, it's perfectly safe to remove all the strings at the same time.

    You can't clean the guitar properly, or do other operations like working under the pickguard on a Strat, or changing pickups on any of them, without doing it.

    If you don't move the intonation screws, you won't need to readjust them afterwards, but that assumes it was correct before. It's best to learn how to check and adjust it yourself, it's very simple. A bigger problem for Gibson-style guitars is that it's much easier to knock the bridge height setting, but again it's very easy to learn how to set it correctly and it shouldn't put you off.

    Also be careful the bridge and/or tailpiece don't fall off and ding the top - it's much better to deliberately remove them first. You can measure the height of the posts and height-wheels while you're at it if you want, so you can make sure they go back the same.
     
  4. honduras

    honduras Supporting Member

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    Is it possible to remove the tailpiece of a Les paul by slackening off the strings sufficiently? I haven't tried this but it would be useful if you wanted to work on the guitar without restringing afterwards.
     
  5. NitroLiq

    NitroLiq Member

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    See that's the thing. I had a LP and yamaha SBG300 as a kid and use to remove everything at once...but back then I didn't know any better. I used to just adjust the thumb screws until strings weren't fretting out. For the past decade I've played an Ibanez with floating trem bridge so used to remove one string at a time, just for the fact that it was a complete PIA to get everything balanced and back in tune. Recently I bought LPS and had it set up which was costly so I'd rather not screw it up by not doing the right thing. If I can clean the pickups without removing the strings all at once, I would just from force of habit.
     
  6. BrandonT

    BrandonT Member

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    funny thing about the thumb screws on a brige no one seems to ajust
    them.. kida a no fly zone for people.

    i think thumb screws are made to be used from day to day from town
    to town, depending on the wood movement of the neck and top. even mags reviewing guitars seem to mis this point. the tone and action need
    to find the sweet spot.
     
  7. donnyjaguar

    donnyjaguar Member

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    While we're on the topic of strings and things....Can someone define for me what a "floating bridge" is? I was under the impression that any bridge with whammy bar attached was floating. For example, a Strat. My compatriot says no, its a bridge that is held in place by the strings like his Gretsch.

    FWIW, if I'm changing strings for someone else I cut them all at once and pull 'em out. Much faster than shagging around doing one at a time. :) After all, its a musical instrument not a laboratory instrument.

    DJ
     
  8. levelfrets

    levelfrets Member

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    I would say to be technical, A floating bridge is a no-fixed or non-attached bridge, and a floating tremelo would be floating in a neutral zone than can be pulled sharp or flat.
     
  9. scottlr

    scottlr Member

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    As a general rule, I ALWAYS change string one at a time unless I need to get them all off for some reason. I don't see any speed advantage that is noticeable to cutting all of them at once. In fact, with many parts that will fall off on Gibbys and the spring tension thing on a Strat, doing them one at a time is actually faster, imho. When I have taken them all off on a Gibby with a stop bar, I never have any trouble getting it all back together and in tune. A Strat, on the other hand, I have to tune, stretch and retune so many more times, that I never do it unless there's a need to have them all off.
     

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