Changing strings without damaging th instrument

  1. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    As I've said many a time, I hate changing mandolin strings. I treated myself to a new mandolin recently, and it was time for the first string change. One reason I had been putting it off is because it's a really beautiful instrument and I have scratched other headstocks trying to get old strings off and new ones on.

    After thinking about this for a few days, I came up with a solution. I was afraid of tape damaging the finish or leaving residue. Wasn't sure if paper, perhaps post-it notes, would stay put, and if they would be sturdy enough to protect. I finally came up with using cardboard, the weight of a cereal box.

    I cut three pieces, one for each side and one to protect the middle. They are now stored in my case, ready and waiting for next time. Easy to put on and take off, worked fine.
  2. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Took several tries and half the afternoon, but here are photos. Still too big, but at least they don't blow the thread.

  3. HonketyHank
    Clever! You can also use a piece of cerealbox cardboard under the tailpiece to prevent gouges from the string tips when you restring, but this is not necessary on the standard Gibson-style tp. Recommended on several of the popular cast tp's (eg, Weber, Eastman, Collings). I just use the envelope or folder the strings come in, though.

    Another use for cerealbox cardboard: a woodcarver up in Canada got a bunch of us whittlers to ditch our leather strops and use cerealbox cardboard instead. Works great, better than leather. We have a semi ongoing debate about which brand of cereal has the best cardboard for the job. Personally, I think Triscuit boxes work better than any cereal box.

    Also -- I see you have a clever use for alto clef sheet music, too.
  4. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Alto clef parts make a nice background, doncha think?

    That's a good idea to use more cardboard or the string packaging under the tailpiece. This instrument has a James (and they really truly honestly do make sting changes easier) but my other one has a Monteleone tailpiece, where you thread the string ends through from underneath. Another easy way to mess up the finish.

    Do I understand you are using cardboard to whet knives? Interesting. It is a bit abrasive. This box once held Trader Joe's knockoff of Wheat Thins. Cracker boxes better than cereal all around?
  5. HonketyHank
    A little secret: the leather (or cardboard) does little or nothing in the way of making a knife sharp. It is just a carrier or holder for the little bit of super-duper-fine abrasive that you rub into the leather or cardboard. Buffing compound. Or polishing compound. Like maybe the abrasive in silver polish. Toothpaste is too coarse.

    In order to relate this to mandolins, I would note that the tops, backs, necks, and neck joints all have some degree of hand carving required. The gouges and chisels used have to be very very sharp and they have to have the edge 'refreshed' after only a few minutes of use. One of the valuable skills a luthier must develop is how to get, and keep, those tools "scary sharp".

    So all of us potential mandolin luthiers should be aware that the best way to do that is the use of Cocoa Puffs cardboard, if you ask my friend Brian, or Triscuits cardboard, if you ask me.

    fair disclosure: even before I was aware of this trick, I ate a lot more Triscuits than Cocoa Puffs. Like 100 to 0. Still do.

  6. Erin M
    Erin M
    That is a great idea! Thanks for this.
Results 1 to 6 of 6