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Banjo Lessons: Changing a String

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[MUSIC]
One
of the main things you're gonna wanna do
is change your string at some point or
another.
You may break one and have to replace it.
Don Reno, one of the greats of banjo-dom.
Told me once he never changed his strings.
Maybe, he would only change his string
once he, once he broke one so
he might have his strings on for six
months.
I find that when you're playing for
awhile, if you've been playing
long enough on the same set of strings, it
gets really hard to tune them.
When you get to that point it's time to
change in my opinion.
So let's, let's set about doing this.
What we're gonna do is just change the
first string.
And I just have this, I would have a full
set of strings on the head.
This makes for a nice little table, your
banjo makes for a nice table.
And I have my wire cutters here, so I can
cut the ends of the string when I'm done.
So right now, we're just gonna be wire
cutters.
String down here.
[SOUND] There it is.
And so let's change the first string.
[SOUND] And so first what I'll do is I'll
take the tuning peg here.
Hi there.
And just detune it.
[SOUND] Make some beautiful music here.
And I just have this wound around about
once so it, it comes out very easily.
[SOUND].
And then I come around to the other end
here.
I'll do everything in low motion.
[SOUND] And it just unhooks from the
bridge.
And then I pull it out from the end here.
And there it is.
And then I send it to the scrap metal
yard.
What you can actually do is just wind it
up around your, let's do this again.
Wind it up around your left hand or right
hand, depending on which hand,
if you're left-handed or right-handed.
This feels like I'm doing a cooking show
or something.
[SOUND] Then take the new string out of
the wrapping.
[SOUND] Put it down on the head.
And take the old, discarded string.
[SOUND] And put it back inside the little
pouch here.
And dispose of it properly, which we won't
worry about right now.
[SOUND] Now you take the string, it's all
looped around like this.
And you unwind it so it's all straightened
out.
Be careful that you don't kink it,
cuz if you do this in the wrong way you
can kink it and then you're out of string.
So just make sure you get it nice and
straight.
Now, all banjo bridges are a little bit
different, but in this case.
What I'm going to do is I'm gonna bend.
See this little winding in here?
Just before you get to the loop there's
that winding there.
What I do is I bend it at the winding in
the middle of the winding.
Don't bend it at the loop, because if you
do that, you might snap the loop.
I've had that happen before.
So you bend it because this is going to go
around the bridge.
So if you're just right in the middle of
the,
in the middle of winding just bend it.
Then bring it down to the bridge and you
go under,
in the case, and again, various banjos are
different.
[SOUND] But
in this case you're going to hook it onto
the hook where the first string goes.
Thusly.
Now it's tight.
Now I take my index finger and hold it in
place for a moment while I hook
underneath this outcropping here, and that
holds it in place.
Now I can let go with the index and it's
going across the bridge now.
And it's in the groove here in the first
string slot of the bridge.
Okay, so you've got the tension on the
string so it doesn't become disengaged.
To some extent it'll stay in place because
of the, the hook on the bridge, but
you should still.
[Sound] Keep pressure on it so it doesn't
become disengaged.
Maybe pull it out a little bit and
have the tuning pegs to the hole, just
kind of facing out towards the bridge.
And so you can see where it is.
Thread the string through it, thusly.
Grab it through at the other end and pull
it straight through.
[SOUND] And then get the string so
it's sitting right here in the first slot
of the, of the nut here.
We're got a nice nice, everything's in
place here except
make sure that the string is in the groove
on the first string here.
The first string groove in the ridge.
And you're holding it, and what you're
going to to, do,
is at least with this tuning peg, you're
gonna tune it so
the string is coming in towards the inside
of the peg.
That should, with all these strings,
they're always supposed to be facing in,
on the inside of the pegs.
So you still have the pressure going here
and
you tighten it up so the string is coming
straight through.
You're now bringing it back on itself so
it's coming back in this direction back,
heading back towards the, towards the
tailpiece and the bridge.
Once you're done that.
[SOUND] You bring it back against itself,
counter-clockwise,
and put the string end underneath the
string that's coming across the nut.
[SOUND]
So you've got a little loop.
And pull it to the inside of the string
that's coming around this way.
And start tuning up.
And what that does is it locks the string
in place.
[SOUND]
So you have it pretty much in tune.
[SOUND] And then what you do, once you've
done that, go to the middle of the string.
You know, somewhere around the twelfth or
fifteenth fret, somewhere in there.
And you just pull on it.
Pull, not too hard, but to take some of
the play out of it.
See I, I've got it between the thumb and
the middle finger, and
I'm just pulling on it a little bit.
[SOUND]
The.
[NOISE] wire cutter off.
[NOISE] I see it went a little bit flat
cuz there was a little bit of play in it.
[NOISE] Tune it back up and then maybe do
it one more time.
Just pull the thumb and the middle again,
maybe around the fifteenth,
sixteenth fret, somewhere in there.
Don't go side to side cuz you might
potentially strip the bridge or the nut.
Just kind of straight up and down, again,
not too hard.
[SOUND]
See most of the play is out of it now.
[SOUND] Once you've done that, [SOUND]
grab your wire cutters,
come on over here to the string.
And you can cut it pretty close.
To the the tuning peg.
[NOISE] And then press the string down so
you'll be less apt to im-
impale yourself on it.
That's especially true of the fifth
string.
When you're changing the fifth string, you
real,
really wanna make sure that the string is
short.
Because there's nothing worse than sliding
up and
then impaling yourself on the string.
It's almost as painful as giving birth or
having a kidney stone.
It just doesn't last as long.
So that's it with the strings.
[MUSIC]