Experimenting with different styles of stringing up and different ways of wrap-locking or tying them on, and the method here is the quickest, best for stability and easiest to de-string when it’s time. That last point is the bane of many a guitar tech’s lives: untying knotted rusty strings that stab you!
The lock-wrap method here will soon become second nature, and if you have three-a-side tuners like a Les Paul you will have to learn it backwards, too, so it locks correctly. Arm yourself with the tools and stash them in your gigbag so you’re always ready for a change.
What you need
- Fresh strings
- Decent string cutters
- String winder
- Stumpy flat-headed screwdriver
Out with the old and in with the new. Slacken off your old cruddy strings with a winder to save time, chop them with a pair of wire cutters and chuck them in the bin. We religiously coil them up to stop them springing out the bin or pronging us.
What good are fresh strings if they’re about to be put on a dirty guitar? You can guarantee that fretboard goop will transfer straight to your spiffy new strings. Brush out dust with a soft paintbrush and give your fretboard a clean. Pamper the fretboard (if it’s rosewood) with some lemon oil while you’re at it for a real treat.
This Danelectro U2 has an incredibly simple string mounting system. Strats and Teles pull through the back and Les Pauls through the tailpiece, but make sure that when it’s pulled through it’s settled, too. If the winding of the string near the ball-end is caught, the string will jump through when some real pressure comes into play.
Feed the string end through the tuner hole and do your best karate chop at 12th fret! This hair-brained technique will ensure that each string gets the same amount of slack. Why’s that important? So that each string has the same amount of winds wrapped around and therefore the same elasticity when you do a string bend.
Before the fiddly thing moves, kink the playing side of the string against the tuner hole – this marks out the length we will use. A small kink will do. With your right karate chop hand, now hold the string and present some tension – this will hold everything tight as we wind.
We’re beginning the wrap-lock now so wrap the loose side of the string clockwise back round the tuner and feed it under the kink we just made. Keep the tension with your right hand as you do this. For a left-handed tuner you’ll be wrapping anti-clockwise to follow the same logic.
Holding tension with your right hand, bend the loose side of the string up and over the kink with your left hand. This makes a sharp hoop and is the start of our lock. Tug the loose end to assert your dominance and give it a good bend!
Let go of the loose tail and wind away; a string winder makes this task a lot faster and easier. Wrap the string under the kink we made earlier. To be clear, the string should be wrapped clockwise around a right-handed tuner. The start is now trapped under the winds of the string, which is where the method gets its reliability from.
Do it five more times! Keep tension up with your right hand as that’s the key to making a tight, neat wind. Follow the steps for the left-handed tuners (in our case third, second and first) in a mirror image – at least you have the first few strings as an example. Trim off the ends of the strings.
Don’t bother to tune up the strings to pitch yet; we’re going to stretch them in. Stretching strings in just sends the winds home and settles everything down; give it a sensible yank and you’ll hear the pitch drop down. Repeat if you like and you’ll notice the pitch drop less.
Carry out a final tune-up, get it up to pitch at last. You will have a small amount of re-tuning to do as the neck bends forwards a little under the pressure of each string – that means the first string you wound will be flat.
Bend down the ends of your strings with a larger, flat-headed screwdriver. This stops them from puncturing your fingertips and from scragging your gigbag to pieces, too. The extra kink also adds yet another level of stability to the string wind.
Wash Down With Sugar Soap
If the walls and ceiling are in a good state and you just want to change the colour or freshen it up, you can just wash them down with a sugar soap and water solution. This will remove any dust and grease, and help the new coat of paint to adhere to the wall. Make sure the walls and ceiling dry out completely before you start painting.
Fill any Cracks in Walls
If there are any cracks in the walls, these should be filled. Cracks often appear over time in corners and around windows, and sometimes between the wall and the skirting, so be sure to check over the whole room carefully. See our Filling Cracks Project for help with this.
Mask up Your Skirting
Get some masking tape or decorators tape, and tape all the way around the skirting so that you don’t splash any paint on it. You can also mask around window and door frames.
Light switches and plug sockets can be masked, or just cleaned off with a sponge once you’ve finished painting.
Sand Down any Lumps and Bumps in Walls and Ceilings
If there are any imperfections, lumps or bumps on the wall or ceiling, you will need to sand it down. If you don’t sand the walls before you start, you will only enhance any imperfections and make it look worse.
If there are lots of rough areas, a mouse sander will make the job much easier and quicker for you.
Make sure you finish with a fine grade paper to create a smooth wall ready for painting. Brush down the wall well after sanding to remove any dust, and rub down with a damp cloth for an even better finish.
How do I Sand Down my Ceiling?
To sand ceilings, you can use a piece of sandpaper attached to a pad on a long handle, or get up close using a step-ladder.
Do I Need to Remove Wallpaper Before Painting?
If the walls are currently papered, unless it’s a plain, smooth paper in good condition, you’ll need to strip it off before you start. See our Wallpaper Stripping Project for help with this.
If you have any problems with mould, damp or condensation in the room you are painting, see our Damp and Mould Project for help.