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Mandolin Lessons: Changing Your Strings

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Hi, now we're gonna change strings.
I've got my little trusty Lynn Dudenbostel
string-winder here, thank you Lynn.
Fits in the, in the gears.
The normal plastic ones you buy at any
guitar shop work great too.
But they're, they're a little bit floppy,
cuz they're a little bit bigger for
guitar-sized tuners.
Anyway, what I like to do is well, I
change strings pretty often,
I guess you'd say.
I'm a D'Addario user, and I'm currently
back to the J74s.
I have fluctuated between 74s and 75s.
Sometimes they use 11 and a half, 16, 26,
But these are 11, 15, 26, 40.
Tiny bit lighter, so when I use these I
might raise my action a little bit.
And when you use the heavier strings, I
might lower the action a little bit.
What I do is I always make two piles
someplace near me,
with the things that I'm gonna be throwing
away, packaging materials, and,
and old strings, and whatnot.
So, I've got my G strings here, both of
Unwind them, by simply grabbing the, the
ball end, the loop end, excuse me.
And I lay them on my lap, then I grab one
of them, put it on the little,
the little tail piece hook, get it in the
slot, the appropriate slot.
Then again, I'm using that arm to hold it
in place while I fish it through the hole
of the of the tuner.
And I like to leave about that much slack,
I can't,
I can't get at the tuner backwards from
the direction that it's gonna be turning.
And then I'm holding it, you might want to
check this move out [LAUGH].
I got my second finger holding the tension
I've got my arm holding the string at the,
at the nut so it doesn't come out.
And I've got my index finger guiding it so
that, as you turn it,
it goes under itself as it comes on to the
pin of the tuner,
cuz you want that to, that string to be
going under itself.
And then as it comes down, I guide it into
the nut slot,
still holding it with this second finger.
I can let the tension off my, off of my
arm now, and then it's in place.
And I go ahead and bring it up to tension.
I'll repeat that, eight times, I guess.
Going into the little hook at the tail
guiding it into the slot, holding it with
the elbow of the right hand.
Sometimes I'll, I'll turn this so that the
hole is,
is right on this side so this comes in at
the, at an angle.
Okay, and you've got a couple of inches of
Put the kink in there, and then here's
where this, this little move comes in.
Cuz I'm holding at the, with my elbow and
I'm holding it at the, tuner.
And I'm guiding it with the index finger
I'm holding tension on it back here with
the second finger going into the slot.
Bringing it up close to pitch,
and then off come the D strings.
I usually take it out at the tail piece
Once the tension's off, then I just unwind
it there, and then these get wound up and
put in the, the garbage pile, or the send
to third world country pile.
Again, unwrapping, holding the loop end
once it's, the tension's off.
Putting it on there, always be sure to
drop the winder every time.
Take one of the strings, get it on the,
the little tail piece thing.
Now this, these loops are kind of small,
I have to really sometimes kind of almost
force it on.
Guiding it in there, holding it with the
elbow, fishing it through the hole.
Holding it with the index and one or more
of these fingers.
Winding it up, fit, making sure that it
goes below the,
the string as comes on the winder.
Bringing it up close to pitch.
Same, same over here.
Tying it in, fishing this guy in.
Inch and a half of slack or so.
Winding that up.
usually don't clip them off until I'm all
the way done.
Oh, I forgot to mention, notice again,
Got my case here, so that I can get my
left leg up slightly, okay?
Then I go to the other side,
bring that case around so that I get my
right leg up.
Now I'm gonna take the E strings off.
As I'm unwinding it I'm holding it back
here, and unlooping it.
Now these, because they're unwound strings
I do
the fancy double back loop that seems to
hold them a little more in place.
And I'll explain that in a minute.
Get the strings off, wind them, put them
in the trash pile.
Get a fresh E string.
All the packaging.
Unwind the ball end side, hold the ball
end side, give it a little flick.
Lay them out so the ball ends are over
here, by the tail piece.
And then I start with the first E string.
Put it on the loop.
Put it in the slot.
And this is a trick that I learned from my
Richard Jefferson in Australia.
Put the string in, now we're gonna double
this back around,
and we're gonna hook it under the string
then double it back on it, hook it back on
And again I'm holding it with the, a
little hard to see this maybe.
Holding it with the second or third
And the index finger's guiding it as it
comes up to tension.
That extra hook is gonna lock that string,
hopefully keep it from slipping.
Make sure it's going under.
Holding that, you know, holding it back
here with the elbow and.
I'm gonna bring it up to pitch.
I'll do it couple more times so you can
watch that.
Get the loop on, get the, get the string
in the slot.
I often wanna align this hole so that it's
on this side coming in.
Again, by holding the string back here it
keeps it from,
if it comes undone back there, it's just
very frustrating.
So again, I'm backing this backwards and
coming under.
It's a little bit of a knitting move,
under the string,
and then hooking that, that extra stuff
over, and
then starting the wind, and then making
sure that it goes under itself.
Oh, I might've buggered it up here.
Using the index finger to make sure it
goes under, and
then it should be good, sometimes I like
to pull that hooked part
just to make sure that there's no slack in
it as it comes up.
And I do the A strings the same way.
[SOUND] First one, and then the other.
Unhooking it from itself.
The first one.
The second one.
Once it has that hook in it,
it's a little bit tricky to get the, get
it off of the pin.
You have to sometimes pull that string
off of being hooked, and then it'll come
off the gear.
Wind these up, keep from making a mess,
then get a new string, unwind the loops,
click it, holding the loops, laying
it out, comes over the tail piece into the
bridge slot.
Sometimes I bend these things out of the
way so I can work.
Align the pins so that the hole is going
in that direction.
Get about that much slack.
This goes back and then under, back and
under and back the other way.
Guiding it so it's hooking under the
string of as it comes on the pin,
guiding into this slot.
By then you can bring your finger out.
And then the last one goes in
same way lining that hole up.
Get that in hooking it backwards under,
under over.
Backwards, under, over.
[SOUND] Guiding it in, and you've got.
So there you have it.
Then you want to clip these.
I have a clipper here some place.
There she be.
Hook these off.
I just grab 'em all like hair and
then you're good to go.
These go in the trash pile.
Now, I like to stretch em.
You just get 'em close, like that, and
then I'll get with my nail.
I'll grab the G string and I'll just give
it five or six tugs like that.
Both G strings.
And bring that back up to pitch.
If you pull 'em all then you kind of lose
your bearings about where the pitch is.
Notice that I've taken 'em all off one at
a time, so
I was able to tune each one as it came up.
So I'm pretty close to being in tunes,
cuz I always had something to reference
off of.
Yanking on the D strings, I usually grab
it right at the 12th fret.
off the A string to get that pitch.
Then do the A string the same way.
Notice how it went flat?
So it's, it's pulling some of the tension
outta there that wasn't quite released.
Also just the metal itself I think has
some give in it.
Can use the D now.
As the reference.
Get it close, same with the E.
Pretty close.
I've got a graphite nut here.
It seems to help the string slide in and
I've seen Sam Bush with a bone nut.
He'll use a pencil and actually rub some
pencil lead in there before changing each,
before putting the new strings in each
He says that, that pencil lead helps
grease up that nut so
that it slides in and out of there.
Yeah, it's, it's not uncommon for the
string to get stuck in the nut.
And then as you're playing, the tension
gets released out of the, the back part of
the string there, between the nut and the
tuner, and then it goes flat, of course.
But there you have it.
That's how I change strings.
I hope that helps give you some insights.
Well, good luck.