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Ask Bob: Restringing Techniques

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
By: Bob Taylor

Question: The tech sheet on the Taylor website ["Changing Steel Strings"] says when restringing to take off all six old strings, and then put all six new strings on. When I was first learning how to take care of a guitar —  before I got my first Taylor in 1978 — I was told by a guitar repair guy to never take all six strings off because that changed the tension on the neck significantly and that over time it would cause [a need for] neck resets. Your method and his don’t agree, so I wonder now if there is a "best" method. Since this was pre-Taylor, the neck construction would have been different. Would that make a difference?
Ivan Mann

Answer: Ivan, who to believe? I'd believe us. A guitar neck actually isn't that complex. It's a piece of wood that holds strings. There's a truss rod in most necks that is tightened to counteract string tension, and because of that, with no strings on the neck, the neck will bow backwards a bit until you restring it. That's pretty much the extent of it. The whole neck is springy, and it settles in like springs on your car. If you lift your car at the garage and relieve the weight on the springs, they settle right back where they started when you put the car down. We like removing all the strings because it gives us a chance to clean the fretboard, peghead, and all the areas of the guitar that lie under the strings. Put the strings back on, tune them to pitch, and you'll be good to go.

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