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"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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September 24, 2006 | New String Slippage

You may have noticed this with a fresh set of strings, and maybe depending on your tuners, even an older string. Fine-tuning to pitch can be an exercise in frustration as you crank the knobs up to pitch, nothing seems to happen, then all of a sudden you're way past the pitch in the direction you are tuning.

This can be the result of several things. One, the windings around the post haven't quite "settled" where they need to be (eventually they will under tension), or two, some string brands like the Thomastik or Labella have a wrapping on the headstock end that also delays the immediate settling. Certainly, they secure the string better than other brands, but even the silk needs to find its place under high tension.

You can help this along by pressing the string between the nut and machine between cranks when close to pitch. This will tension the string into its final resting place. Tune (very) slightly higher than pitch and push down the string at the headstock. You may not have to do this once the windings have settled.

Another trick is to dress the string slot on the nut with graphite, or simple pencil lead. This lubricant will "grease" the slot, freeing the string. Simply draw where the string rests; it doesn't take much, though!

Also, when putting a new string on, you can do this between the post (loop end) and bridge, pressing the string as you bring it close to final tension. This allows the loop to settle as well, speeding the string settling process much quicker.

Stay tuned...

Posted by Ted at September 24, 2006 9:26 PM

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