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Restringing a Slot Head Steel String Guitar


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If you are squeamish of seeing Martin guitars, or your are just intolerant of non-Gibson guitars, please do not watch or comment. ;)


I was restringing my Martin 000-17sm today with Elixir Nanoweb PB HD Lights, and thought it was a good opportunity to do a short video. Slot headed steel string guitars are a challenge for some to restring. If you think doing a six string slot head is difficult, try a Rickenbacker 12 string where the slots do not go through the headstock - that's a challenge!


I didn't show what I do at the bridge side of the guitar and there are certainly a lot of videos out there with the proper installation of the ball-ends under the bridge plate and the proper alignment of the bridge pins. In advance of the video, I had removed the old strings, conditioned the fretboard and installed all six strings in the bridge and put in the bridge pins. I had also already installed the high E and B strings.


Just a reminder again, if you are using ROUND CORE strings (like Cleartones), do NOT clip the string before it is brought up to pitch. The string will unravel. This method of clipping the string to length before tuning up to pitch will work for all hex core strings.


For the diameter of the barrels on these tuners (Waveryly 3 on a plate), I back off the strings (as demonstrated in the video) in the following amounts:


e - 2.5 frets

B - 2.5 frets

G - 2.25 frets

D - 2 frets

A - 2 frets

E - 1.75 frets


That seems to give me a good number of turns around the barrels of the tuners. This method works for me and is quick.



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The pre-measure and cut method is a great help in restringing a slot head- to the extent that it might sway people from using round core strings such as the DR Sunbeams. DR Strings says a kink at the end will prevent the wound strings from unwinding, if you’re feeling lucky. Pre-measuring and cutting away from the headstock results in a neater appearance, having just enough string on the tuner barrel and no more, and the string doesn’t whip around and scratch the slots as it’s being brought up to tension.


Until Gibson offers one of their 12 fret guitars in a slot head, if your looking for that classic appearance and increased string break, you’ll have to look elsewhere.





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I agree with everything you said 62burst. The only 12 fretters I've played from Gibson have that bluesy vibe (Keb Mo) and I'm not looking for that sound. That's why I've gone to Martin.


Incidently, the day after I changed the strings on that Martin, I sold it to make way for the new one arriving next week. Here is the thread:


NGD: Martin 000-28vs

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