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While writing an answer to this question, I did a little web searching and found that the way I was taught 29 years ago to wind the strings isn't necessarily the best.

On an acoustic guitar, I tend to wind enough string on the posts that they're pretty much covered up completely, winding once under the string hole and the rest of the times over, avoiding any doubling back or other messiness. Is this still recommended? Is perhaps the Taylor way reflective of current thought? Is this question something that can be reasonably answered, or is this simply a matter of taste? (Edit: I'm particularly interested in that last one.)

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For what it is worth: I wind around maybe 3 times, and then pass through the peg. Bring up the tension and then clip the excess. When I first learned to change strings, I did what the Taylor Way video shows (peg first, then wind) and the high E string snapped under tension every time... –  horatio Mar 29 '11 at 21:16
    
While writing an answer to which question? –  luser droog Dec 14 '12 at 7:23
    
@luserdroog - Thanks; have fixed that. –  neilfein Dec 15 '12 at 3:52

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I pretty much agree with everything in that video, except not everyone is as lucky to have an automated winder :)

So here is what I do (on an acoustic guitar, anyway):

After removing the old string and fitting the new string:

  • I slide the end of the string through the post, until it is taut, and then pull it back so that it has 1-2 inches of slack. I then bend the point of the string that is just through the post (leaving the string with 1-2 inches of slack behind it). This bend creates a crook in the string, and this stops the string from slipping through the post while you are winding it.

  • On the higher pitched strings I usually give the string that is beyond this crook a wind or two around the post, just to give the string a bit of extra grip so that it does not slip as it is being wound.

  • I then wind, until the string is at full tension at roughly the right pitch. Only then do I cut the surplus end off.

  • This is because: if you have too much/too little wound around the post, and need to go back and rewind, it is trickier to go back and rewind from scratch if there is no extra length past the post for you to create a crook in to stop it moving as you wind it.

  • A note: on the strings where the gauge is thicker (in this case the low E and A strings) it is important to not wind too much around the post, or the thickness of the winding of the string will stick out and distort the adjacent string next to it.

Hope this helps.

Apologies if this is unclear, post a comment if you need further clarification, thanks :)

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I had one of those winders years ago, but lost it in a move. Nice explanation, and it seems clear to me. –  neilfein Jan 26 '11 at 3:13

I always used to use the Taylor way and go for the three loops but I recently read this article suggesting to use as little string as possible as this helps with tuning issues and I have preferred this method to be honest. You can have a look here. It might just come down to personal preference and I haven't met a tech yet who has told be there is clear evidence either way so best to be open minded I guess?

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I agree with most of what Alistair says but I use a hand-width of slack on the low strings (gives about 3 wraps on the E, 3 on the A, 4 on the D) and then I put even more slack on the lighter strings by spreading my fingers (I count about 5 on the G, 8 on the B, and too many to count on the E without standing up and walking over there).

All these extra wrappings provide extra pitch stability. When I tune it up (takes a few times to stretch 'em in), it stays tuned until the weather changes.

Also you can coil the excess length instead of clipping. When clipped too short, those suckers are sharp! Not kid/finger/cat-friendly!

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Think of tying a knot: http://www.tollesburysc.co.uk/Knots/Clove_hitch2.htm

The only difference being that you need to put the string through the middle of the post and wrap it around two more times in order to really tighten it up from the bottom up. In other words use that knot, but as you wind it for the second and third time, push the string to the bottom of the knot in order to push the know in on itself from the bottom of the hole in the peg. Any extra string: grab the string between your thumb and forefinger from the tuning peg, pinch and pull towards the end of the string - it will curl in on itself for the E,B,G and D strings. For the A and Low E, clip'm about 1/2 inch away from the tuning peg - if you wind tight enough or use a locking nut, you will be OK.....

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