Technical Library

STRINGING XI: String Problems

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OBSERVATION CAUSE CORRECTIVE ACTION
String missing. String broke in the past and was not replaced. Replace string with correct material and diameter.
String displaced sideways. String not running in correct path. Verify that string is running around correct bridgepin, backpin & nut pin.
Individual string not contacting bridge. If all strings in the area are not contacting the bridge, this is a soundboard problem.
String not contacting nut. String leaving tuning pin too high. Ensure there is downbearing from the nut to the tuning pin to match the surrounding strings.
String always sounds “false” or out of tune by itself. The wire has a permanent twist forced in it from when the hitchpin loop was wound. Replace string with correct material and diameter.
Sound from string dies away rapidly, or sounds foul.

String not running in correct path.

Verify that string is running around correct bridgepin, backpin & nut pin.

String is riding up the nut pin Ensure there is downbearing from the nut to the tuning pin to match the surrounding strings.
There is foreign material on the string. Remove foreign material.
Areas of the string are lightly corroded. Clean string with plastic eraser.
The string is badly pitted from corrosion. Replace string with correct material and diameter.
The back of another jack is touching the string when its register is in the OFF position Adjust register OFF position.
Damper from nearby jack is fouling string. Adjust or trim suspect damper.
A buff pad is interfering with the string. Adjust offending buff pad.
Adjust OFF position of buff batten.
Clean remnants of any glue from string.
Loose jackrail cloth is falling on the stringband. Fasten loose jackrail cloth.
String sounds weak and woody. The string is touching the wood of the nut or bridge instead of having its speaking length properly terminated by the metal bridge or nut pins. Correct soundboard distortion and bridge roll.
Recrown bridge or nut.
Raise the string at the pin by resting it on a wire offcut.
8⁠´ string buzzes with distinctive metallic quality, particularly when played forte. The string is buzzing against a 4⁠´ bridge pin. Insert deeper, file shorter, bend, or relocate offending 4⁠´ bridge pin.
8⁠´ string buzzes with loose, slapping quality. The 8⁠´ bridge has dropped, and the string is slapping against the wood of the 4⁠´ bridge. Correct soundboard deformation.
4⁠´ string buzzes with loose, slapping quality. The soundboard area has raised around the rose.
Extreme 8⁠´ bass strings don’t reach full power. Maximum amplitude of the string is not possible because its displacement is being limited by the jackrail. Plane bottom of jackrail sides to increase 8⁠´ stringband clearance.
String sounds dull. The string was recently replaced. Allow some time for a new string to brighten in tone. Allow a week for soft iron, two weeks for yellow brass, or three weeks for red brass.
String is the wrong material, or too thick. Replace string with correct material and diameter.
String sounds weak. String diameter is too thin. Replace string with correct material and diameter, after confirming it is not a voicing problem by temporarily swapping a jack from an adjoining note.
Original bass strings sound fizzy. Phosphor bronze wire used in bass. Improve fundamental tone in historic-type instruments by replacing old phosphor bronze stringing with soft red & yellow brass.
String is always dropping in pitch.

The string was recently replaced.

Allow a week for soft iron, two weeks for yellow brass, or three weeks for red brass to reliably hold pitch.

The hitchpin loop is faulty and slowly unwinding. Replace string with correct material and diameter, winding the loop correctly.
The wire is slipping around the tuning pin. Replace string with correct material and diameter, paying attention to correct tuning pin winding technique.
The tuning pin is slipping in the wrestplank. Reseat the tuning pin, preserving the correct downbearing from the nut.
Remove the pin to shim the hole with a slip of paper.
The string is stretching and is about to fail. Replace string with correct material and diameter.
Individual string difficult to tune. Tapered tuning pin is too high in the wrestplank. Reseat tuning pin.
Hole in wrestplank is too shallow, and the tapered tuning pin has bottomed. Remove pin and drill wrestplank hole deeper before reinstalling string.
Wrestplank hole is worn and elongated. Plug and redrill wrestplank hole.
Wrestplank hole is too tight, preventing the pin from moving smoothly. Raise tapered pin.
Remove tuning pin, clean hole, lubricate pin with talc and reinsert.
String is odd color. The recently replaced string is shiny. The shiny appearance of a new string will corrode in time to match the surrounding strings.
The string is the wrong material. Replace string with correct material and diameter.
String is dull in appearance or corroded. The string is old or decayed, affecting tone or durability.
String has a visible kink or defect. The string was defective in manufacture, or damaged in installation or later. Replace string with correct material and diameter, especially if fault is contained within speaking length.
String appears to be carving a groove in the nut. Downbearing is too severe. Reduce downbearing to the same as its neighbours.
String crosses over itself as it leaves tuning pin. String is wrapped incorrectly around tuning pin. Carefully rewind existing string around tuning pin correctly to prevent likely breakage, or replace string with correct material and diameter if necessary.
Tuning pin has been hammered down too low in wrestplank. Carefully rewind existing string around tuning pin correctly to prevent likely breakage, or replace string with correct material and diameter if necessary, shimming wrestplank hole with paper.
Tuning pins are too short for height of nut in bass. Restring instrument with longer tuning pins.
Tuning pin was wound incorrectly. Carefully rewind existing string around tuning pin correctly to prevent likely breakage, or replace string with correct material and diameter if necessary.
String leaves tuning pin on left-hand side.
String appears to have strange sympathetic resonance. There is a foreign object rattling on the soundboard. Remove the foreign object.
There are nearby objects resonating sympathetically. Investigate and remove or silence likely offending objects.
A string tail is resonating. Check string tails near hitchpin rail by running the back of your fingernail along strings. Odd resonance can be damped by a tiny thin leather pad under the hitchpin loop.
A harmonically related note is not damping correctly. Find the resonating string and adjust jack dampers.
The soundboard has dropped, or case height expanded with humidity change, leaving strings undamped. Adjust keyframe screws to lower action to match.

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