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New Strings

Posted by TimDreamer on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ok, I have to admit being a noob has it's perks.  Like learning how to change out the strings on your 'jo.  The latest adventure!!

Lessee, check with my instructor by email on how to change out strings........ check.

Order strings recommended by my instructor from Elderly Instruments out of Michigan and have them shipped to the apartment.......  check.

Go out and buy a set of side cutters from Lowe's........  check.

Get home with eager anticipation from work to change out the strings......... check.


Now comes the hard part........ LoL.


I turn down the tuners so that I can take out the bridge (going have to replace that one of these days too) marking the position on the drumhead before I do so that I can put it back in the same spot so that I can get the banjo back in tune.  I even marked the bridge so that I would know which side to put where.  Smart man!!  I took off one string at a time and replaced it so that the tailpiece would not be thrown out of kilter starting with the fifth string.  Geesh, who would have thought that those thin wires were so hard to get to keep wound around the tuner?  I got three turns and was about to put the end through the tuner and....  pop.... there the wire would go flying off the tuner.  After several attempts I finally got it to stay on long enough to get the end of the string through.  Whew!!  Then I went to the other side and did the first string and went on up the peghead with the second, third and fourth strings.  I even made sure that the strings wound around the tuners the right way (thanks to a recent reading of a forum post for pointing out that mistake made by others, I didn't end up making that same mistake, thanks guys!!)  I had to loosen the strings up a little bit so that I could slip the bridge back into place and stand it upright.  So far, so good!!


Now to tune the beast.  I take out the tuner and slip it onto the peghead and start tightening up the fifth string, seeing if I could get it to tune.  Tighter, tighter..... doesn't sound right....  tighter....  what, no "G"??  Tighter.....  was that a "C"?  Wait, the tuner isn't registering a note.....  what's up with that?  Twang!!!!!!!  Ouch!!!!  That sucker just cut my thumb open!!  Yeow!!  I can't believe that string just broke!!  Holey moley that stings!!  Good thing I ordered 5 packs of strings so that I would have some on hand..... :-P.  Not that I want to have a pack of strings without a 5th string, but it was nice to be able to have backup in case of a blunder like that.  After replacing the 5th string, AGAIN, this time I took it a little slower when tuning and got it close.  Then I went to the first string and tuned that so that the tailpiece would stay straight.  After getting the strings pretty well close to where they should be tuning wise, I went back and checked them again.  Not quite in tune yet, they hadn't settled in.  After finally getting the first string to settle into a good "D" I fretted it at the twelfth fret and checked to see if it was close to a "D."  Not even.  Ok, sliding the bridge back and forth to see if I could get it between a sharp and a flat took a little more time.  Bingo!!  Got it!!


Woo~Hoo, man..... I just got a new banjo (and I just got this banjo new four months ago!!)  What a difference a great set of strings makes!!  Brighter tone and boy does that banjo pop!!  So trim the extra string off with the side cutters and start playing a little bit to see how it sounds.  Ouch, I just stuck myself AGAIN and I'm bleeding from the other thumb!!  I didn't trim that pesky string end close enough to the fifth string tuner and it reached out and bit me!!  It was like getting poked with a needle......  OW!!  Retrim the string and go again, this time no sticks!!  I think that I'm getting the hang of it......  hehehe.

I can't wait to see what kind of difference a new bridge and a Prucha tailpiece will do to a Chinese made banjo.  This thing sounds sweet now, I can just imagine what it's going to sound like then!

Oh, the strings I ordered weren't exactly what my instructor told me to order.  Right kind, just a little off in the sizing.  I would recommend Elderly Instruments to anyone wanting great service at a fair price.  I would also recommend ghs strings to anyone.  I didn't get the JD Crowe Studio signature series (I will next time I order strings, Wil, I promise!!)  But these are pretty close to being the Stage series that I didn't send them back because of a blunder on my part on ordering them.  They sound SO much better than the strings that came with the banjo it is incredible.


So, that was my string adventure.  Just thought I would share this with ya'll in case someone out there needed a little encouragement.  Now this noob knows how to change out his own strings in case he breaks another one!!  Yippee!!

3 comments on “New Strings”

Banjo Gal Says:
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @4:56:17 AM

A very entertaining way to share your experience. I picked up a couple of new tips so thanks.

phwill Says:
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 @3:28:39 PM

Good stuff Tim. I think we all have had similar problems at some time in our lives.

BirdieJ Says:
Friday, June 8, 2012 @5:39:18 AM

Awesome! New strings are always a surprising treat! Funny story, too.

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