I’m under pressure this week so it’s just a quickie. I hope that’s cool.
It’s a quickie, but it’s a useful one.
If you have to do much on guitars, it won’t be long before you’re trying to work on something but you don’t want to take the strings off. Down the neck end, you might be poking at a fret, or an inlay, or a nut, or something. At the other end, the most common thing might be doing something through the soundhole. Whatever, it is, the strings are in the way but you don’t want to take them off because you’ll be tuning them up to re-check or you just don’t want the hassle of restringing.
Hmm. That’s a lot of preamble considering this should be quick. Anyway, whatever the damn reason, you want the strings out of the way.
Tada! String spreaders!
These ones below are from Stew Mac. I stuck them onto an order years ago and have found them much less hassle than the velcro strap I had been using to pull strings around out of the way. The velcro strap still works but these are a bit less annoying and a little more ‘professional’ looking.
They’re only a few bucks but it’s really easy to make your own anyway. Ideal for spreading the strings up at the neck end. If you’re making them, make a pair — one for lower and one for higher on the neck.
And, down the other end…
This couldn’t be simpler. It’s just a hunk of wood about 3” (90mm) long (and whatever width and height seems appropriate to you). I made some deepish grooves in each end where the strings sit. This is great for keeping strings out of the way and you can tape it to the body or edge of soundhole to keep it place if you find it’s flipping around.
I’ll sometimes use both types of spreader during fretwork if I feel like I’m going to have to check playability as I go. That way I can tune back up with the existing strings to quickly check everything’s ok without wasting a new set of strings (and restringing time) until the very end. Handy too for working on pickup poles or similar. Essentially, any job where you want to keep the damn strings out of the way.
These things are super-handy and you can easily see how you make your own without detailed step-by-step instructions from me.
Go to it. Spread those strings.
This article written by Gerry Hayes and first published at hazeguitars.com