stretch your strings

Stretch your strings. Insert your own yoga to Richard Simmons imagery here.

Almost every person has their method and I’m not gonna knock your tried and true approach. What I am going tell you is that I run out of fingers and toes counting the number of times I’ve asked a guitarist if they had stretched their strings. They say yes, and the strings go out the next pass on a track, and the pass after that. Many have said “yes, I put new string on last week and let them stretch”.

I was that guy once. I didn’t know how to best put a string on, how to best stretch it, or even how to effectively tune it. And I was no beginner player not knowing this. Here’s what works:

For almost everyone out there, besides Fender Tele and Strat players or nylon sting players, the way to put on a new string is slip the string through the bridge, then the string goes through the hole of the tuning peg until the string lays flat, pull back on the string towards the bridge so there is slack in the string (about 3 to 6 inches of slack – the slack depends how many winds you like around the peg – more slack = more winds. Take the end of the string and bring it around the top of the peg and go under the sting (think of it like an exit ramp that goes under the road you were on), pull it tight against the peg and now bend this end of the string straight up. If you have tuning pegs on bottom of the head stock the wind will be the opposite direction – under the peg and up and under the string. You should still have slack between the bridge and peg but the string is tight against the peg. Now you can wind the string and as you do each wind should go over the bend of the string.  So it’s actually locking the end of the string so you can wind tight without it slipping around the peg.

For nylon string players the principle is the same but the direction may change according to how the peg is placed – usually sideways in the head-stock. For Strat and Tele players you just need to cut the end of the string so when you place the end of the string down into the peg there isn’t an bunch of slack on the string. Again, more slack means more winds around the peg.

Wind the string to pitch. Now with your right hand placed between the pickups pull up on a string while the fingers of your left hand press down on the string against the fret-board.  Pull up with your right hand each time you move up the neck and press down with your left hand. Each pass I’ll move my left hand to about 5 different spots on the neck. Re tune and repeat until the sting stays in pitch after this pull up/press down operation. Go to the next string and repeat.

On semi hollow body guitars sometimes as you tune you can pull the tuning out of the string you just tuned by tuning the next string. To avoid this, tune from the middle strings out – this keeps tension even on the bridge through the tuning process.

If this doesn’t work for sure you then you can write me a nasty post – but that won’t happen, that’s how sure fire this is.