Out of tune
I had forgotten what a task re-stringing a guitar can be.
I have so far spent several hours doing the 12 string. Mind you, those are broken into several smaller sessions.
First job: Removing the old string. This involves twiddling the machine-head which is the little twisty thing at the end of the arm. On a 12 string those yokes are quite close together and very stiff. Oil doesn’t work!. Once the string is loose enough it can be unwrapped from the machine head whereupon it springs away like a fucking cheese cutter. Then there is the removal of the bridge pin which is a little yoke like a tooth with a slot in it. That holds the other end of the string, if you can get it out without snapping something or ripping off a finger-nail you’re doing well.
Second job: Putting on a new string. This sounds a lot easier [it isn’t]. Poke one end into the relevant hole in the body of the guitar and poke in the bridge pin. This holds one end of the string. Now poke the other end of the string through the little bobbin on the machine head. Wind around it as much as you can. This is a process that generally involves a lot of cursing and a first-aid kit. The string takes on a life of its own as it refuses to be confined to the bobbin. Once you have tamed it enough so both ends are reasonably secure you can move on the next task.
Third job: Tuning. Again this sounds easy [unintended pun there]. You twiddle the machine head for ages while it slowly takes up the bit of slack. Eventually the string will start to hum balefully which indicates that it finally is getting sense of its purpose in life. Carry on twiddling while plucking the string gently to get the note you require. Simple? No. You twiddle the incredibly stiff machine head until your left fingers are numb and you think you have the right note, but you don’t. You see the string has to settle, and in settling itself it relaxes the tension so the fucking thing is out of tune again. Keep repeating until you get pissed off with the whole exercise.
Fourth job: Start on the next string. Go to First job above and repeat again, eleven more times.
You finally end up with a reasonably tuned instrument [which will require retuning many more times until it settles].
It looks lovely hanging on the wall.
It’s a pity I have forgotten how to play it.
So that’s where the name for the Deep Purple album came from!
You’re doing well to be able to get your fingers to grip the fiddly little *****s, let alone see them w/o three pairs of glasses!
I have no idea why they are called machine heads, though some call them tuning keys. Twelve of them is a lot of machining and it wrecks my head so maybe that’s it?
Keyboards are easy by comparison
I was put off them by being sent to piano lessons as a kid. I can’t remember what grade I was pushed up to but it put me off keyboards for life.
The old Rolf Harris ‘Stylophone’ has much to commend it.
Handy for throwing at someone?
I have a little plastic handle thing for winding machine heads – which of course are intended to be stiff so they don’t unwind. Very simple and I think it came as a freebie with a magazine many years ago, I have never seen one anwhere else It’s such a brilliant idea, although I’m still pleased I gave away the 12 string, it was a bloody nightmare to restring and tune with the extra tension!
I have been using pliers. Crude, but a lot easier on the left hand.
I did a bit of scouting and found my model of 12-string – around €500? I think I’ll keep it. Or sell it?
You can still get winders! Like this: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/133446557231
Hmm-just looked up the price of the Yamaha I gave away, but at least I know it’s in good hands.