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Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

How to Re-String a Guitar with a Removable (Floating) Bridge

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Here at MayosMusic, in addition to offering great guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo and autoharp lessons, plus complete Luthier services, that include guitar, string instrument and amplifier repair/restorations, we are also a great resource service. The following article covers how to re- string a guitar, elecric bass, banjo or any string instrument with a removable (floating) bridge.


When re-stringing most guitars or related intruments such as the electric bass, uke, banjo, mandolin, etc., it is most common to first remove all the strings, clean the instrument and then re-string. This procedure when done on an instrument with a removable (floating) or non-permanent mounted bridge such as on the F-hole arch top acoustic guitar or electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, etc., will allow the bridge to fall away and thus can cause changes in the action height and intonation to the instrument when re-strung.

Here is a procedure to minimize these changes. Please note that intonation and action height adjustments will and still change when re-stringing your guitar, even if one re-strings with the same exact set (gauge and brand) of strings. However when changing gauge, type or brand of strings, the negative effect on intonation and action height may and can be even greater.


STRING CHANGING PROCEDURE


  1. Before de-tuning the instrument, mark on the guitar's top or face, the location of the “bridge base” by outlining the base with a safe release painter's tape (tape location markers) such as Scotch 3M, Scotch-Blue painter's tape for multisurfaces #2090.
  2. Loosen strings #5, #4, #3, and #2 and remove strings.
  3. Tape the bridge saddle (top) to the bridge base, taking care to NOT turn the “adjusment thumb wheel” between the base and saddle.
  4. Loosen remaining strings #6 and #1 enough to remove the bridge assembly from the guitar.
  5. Remove remaining strings #6 and #1.
  6. Clean, polish, etc., the guitar and “ready” it to be re-strung.
  7. Without the bridge in place, re-place strings #6 and #1 and tune to fairly low tension (tuning).
  8. Slide bridge back into place and align to the “tape location markers”.
  9. Tune close to pitch strings #6 and #1.
  10. Remove tape holding bridge base and saddle together.
  11. Replace strings #5, #4, #3 and #2 and tune close to pitch.
  12. Align bridge base to exact location using “tape location markers” outlined on the guitar top.
  13. Tune all guitar strings to pitch.
  14. Check string height adjustment – adjust if needed.
  15. Remove “tape location markers”.

YOU ARE READY TO PLAY



SPECIAL HISTORICAL NOTE


Years ago as a student, I asked my teacher who came from the Big Band and Jazz Combo Era, how to deal with re-stringing and tuning problems as related to the arch-type guitar. He said that players would remove/replace/retune “only one string” at a time. Also, with minimum to no cleaning of the instrument, this techique would keep the bridge in place and would minimize intonation and tuning problems.

Note, I still recommend this technique when you need to re-string in short-order and get back to playing as it keeps the bridge alignment, intonation and pre-loaded tension on the guitar neck and top to a minimum of change.

This is where and why the “old wives tale” way to re-stringing came from. However, I feel that this one string at a time technique is not needed on instruments that do not have a removable (floating) bridge.


Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar, Electric Bass & Ukulele lessons and Guitar/Amp Repair in the Greater Phoenix Valley area of Arizona including Maricopa County and The Salt River Valley.

Mayos Music will continue to provide Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California's South Bay cities and Greater Los Angeles Area.
Originally located in Manhattan Beach and Torrance, California.

Now located in:
Gilbert, AZ 85298
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