Wednesday, July 15, 2009

String Changing Rant

I would bet that all of us have felt this way before, and some still do (including myself). Stacey, an every-once-in-a-while banjo student from Poplar Bluff, sent me this e-mail about why he hates changing strings. I got a kick out of it because it rang so true. I hope you enjoy it!

Hello Chris,

It is time once again to change the strings on my banjo. I love my banjo but must admit that I put off changing strings as long as possible because I hate doing it. I have several things that make me hate changing strings:

1. I almost always break one string for some strange reason and thus must open a second box of strings to finish the job.

2. I usually poke the tip of my fingers at least 3 or 4 times with the end of the string and sometimes draw a drop of blood. For some strange reason it hurts for a long time when you stick the end of a metal banjo string through the end of your finger.

3. I have a terrible time making the looped end of the string stay on the nub on the tail piece. It always wants to slip off as I try to attach the other end to the tuning pegs. I bend the looped end some and that helps but it is still an annoying process. (ed. note: this can cause the string to break)

4. I have a hard time getting the metal strings through the little hole in the tuning peg. The strings are thin and the hole is silver and I cannot see it well. It's like trying to thread a small needle with thin thread. This is usually where I poke the end of the string through the end of my tender finger tip.

5. It takes me quite a while to get the banjo tuned again. I tune each string as I go, but when I play it for the first time after the job is done it usually sounds quite awful. I then have to spend some time getting it to sound just right again.

I hope you all enjoyed this! I think Stacey covered everything I hate about changing strings. I would be interested if anyone has anything to add to this. Surely someone out there does!!!!

1 comment:

James said...

Yep, getting stuck with the end of a banjo string is a lot like being gored by a catfish barb thingy.(probably how the "flathead" banjo got it's name?) I suggest using your capo as a "helping hand" by slipping the loopend over the "nub", pull it snug , then capo the string at about the 5th. fret or so. The string will stay firmly nubbed leaving both hands free to find the hole and less chance of being gored by your banjo. It's also helpful to remove and replace one string at a time. This helps in retuning when your finished. I don't do that though, I figure if its time for new strings, it bath time too.(for the banjo, that is).If you remove all the strings at once, mark arond the bridge with a sharp pointed pencil so you can put it back in the sweet spot when the new strings go on. I buff the fret board with 4aught steel wool and put 5 or 6 drops of boiled linseed oil on a paper towel and rub that into the fretboard, then with a clean paper towel, rub it again until all excess oil is gone. It will look like new and conditions the wood to prevent cracks from forming due to age and "drying out". I also polish and use Q-tips to clean out all the crevaces like the hooks and rim. Wth that said, I have a sad story to tell. I was coming home on monday night after being at Bellrieve park watching the Chris Talley Trio perform and remembered I had to stop at Walgreens for some catfish gore cream. My Gibson rb-250 was in the back seat. I locked up my car and went in. When I came out, the back window was smashed in and there was another banjo in the back seat with mine!