Restringing an Acoustic Guitar....PROPERLY

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by fiddler, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. fiddler

    fiddler Guest

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    When restringing an acoustic guitar with bridge pins, I have heard conflicting views on where the ball of the string should be; some say at the Bottom of the bridge pin and some say up against the bridge plate. Which is correct?

    I have also heard that giving the string a slight bend near the ball is best for longer bridgeplate life. (Bend / ball pointing towards the neck) Any opinions on this?

    Or better yet, is there a GEAR PAGE thread out there somewhere that can tell me how to PROPERLY string an acoustic guitar ?

    Thanks
     
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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  3. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    Up against the bridge plate. The bend near the ball end is to ensure that the ball doesn't hang up on the bottom of the pin, and slides up to the plate.
     
  4. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    If a ball end gets caught on the bottom of the pin, it will simply pop the pin out when you tune it up. It has to be against the bridge plate. The truly proper position is actually in a slot through the bridge and bridge plate, held in place with a solid unslotted pin.

    HERE is a detailed tutorial I put on a luthiers forum on how bridge pins, plates, and slots really work.
     
  5. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    whoever tells you that one, be sure to ignore anything else they ever say again, including "hello", or "help, i'm drowning!"
     
  6. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    wow! i've always thought that unslotted pins were cooler than the slotted, and when done right seemed to hold the ball end more cleanly and rigidly, but you've converted me, and i will henceforth spread the gospel accordingly!

    any reason why i shouldn't routinely set up my customers' acoustics to use their pins turned around (if they don't buy unslotted ones)?
     
  7. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    Reversed slotted pins work fine in theory, but I see far too often slotted bridges with pins put slot forward. If the string is not forced in to the bridge slot, the ball end can still potentially push against the pin and want to pull up in to the hole. Here the plate could wear even faster, as there is less wood to resist wear. I think that owners can easily forget, and if there's a slot in the pin they seem to habitually put it facing forward. Either that or the instrument is sold, and the reasoning behind the slots is never pointed out to the new owner.

    So it can work fine, but with StewMac offering solid pins for under $10 a set, I always recommend replacing them. Only downside is they only offer 5° pins. It's fine for Martins and many others, but I wish I could find a source of basic plastic or ebony 3° solid pins for Gibsons and others. There are people that machine all sorts of bone, walrus tusk, and other exotic pins, but I'd rather have white plastic, rosewood, and ebony.
     
  8. fiddler

    fiddler Guest

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    Wow...thanks for the info!!

    Follow up nit picky question:

    Does it matter wether the rounded part or the "square shouldered" part of the string ball is touching the bridgeplate or is that not a concern?

    EDIT: Just looked at the link (GREAT link BTW!) .......looks like round part in the pix

    Next (dumb) question: If using UNslotted pins, do you need to cut a slot at each hole in the bridge / bridgeplate to make these pins work? I think that's what you say earlier in this thread, just wanna confirm (ie: I can't just go home tonight and restring with unslotted (or turned around slotted) pins)

    Thanks Again!! GREAT thread
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  9. David Collins

    David Collins Member

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    No, it's not really much of a concern.

    Yes, slots need to be cut in the bridge for the strings. It's one of those things that I do recommend be done by a professional in most cases, unless you're sure of what you're doing and have the tools. They need to be the right depth and width, and if you go too far or at the wrong angle, there's no going back. Plus unless you're using the right saw and files there is a good risk of chipping the bridge or bridge plate.

    I also tell people that this isn't a live-or-die, have to get it done right now kind of thing either. The damage caused by slotted pins typically takes place over 20-30 years of wear and string changes (unless you own a modern Martin where they don't fit the pins properly from the factory). It's preventative maintenance though, and a better to do rather early in a guitar's life or if you ever happen to have other bridge work being done.
     
  10. fiddler

    fiddler Guest

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    Thanks David!!!!!!!!

    6 year old Cort Earth 100....guess there's no urgency, but, even though it ain't no Martin or Gibson, I LOVE my guitar and want it to last long as possible
     
  11. exhaust_49

    exhaust_49 Member

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    I've been thinking about getting this done to my S+P for about 2 years. I'm just trying to decide if I'm gonna have the guitar as a keeper to warrent having it done. So far it's a yes but I'll give it a little while longer.
     
  12. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Member

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    Thank you for that link, David. Thank you very much.
     
  13. pennylink

    pennylink Member

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    A small inspection mirror (the kind that's attached to a telescopic handle) is a great way to ensure that the ball of the string is in fact seated securely against the bridge plate, as it can be hard to be certain when you can't see inside the guitar.
     
  14. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    makes sense.
     
  15. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    No, but the ball can be used as a wheel to make it roll off of the pin and seat itself better.

    I always put the string in with a slight bend of the ball portion, the ball in the direction described above. Give it a bit of slack and put the pin in. While keeping a finger on top of the pin, give the string a gentle pull/ twitch. Now, should the ball have caught the pin you would feel it by now.

    Now comes the time for acting magician: Keep the string vertically and maintain a slight pull, just enough for the ball to stay in place. Now slowly lift the pin. If the string is properly seated you shouldn't feel the string slacking with the lifting of the pin and the ball will still be resting against the plate. It may roll out once the lower part of the string is passing through the top of the guitar, but this is normal. Now put the pin back in as far as it goes.
     

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