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Classical, or Nylon Strings
Restring Your Guitar
© Frank Ford, 2/24/98; Photos by FF, 2/24/98
Virtually all classical guitars are strung with nylon strings that tie onto the bridge. It's an ancient system originally devised for gut strings, and it works very well. It is critical to understand how the string holds onto the bridge. The strings are looped around themselves and the final loop MUST pass "around the corner" of the back of the bridge. Here's an example of a properly strung bridge:
Notice that the wound bass strings have only one loop and the unwound treble nylon strings have two. In both cases the free end of the string passes under itself below the corner of the back of the bridge.
Here's an example of a not-so-good job of restringing:
The treble strings are fine, but two of the bass strings have the loops above the back corner of the bridge. Bass strings have windings that can "grip" each other, so the guitar may hold its tuning. It certainly looks sloppy with the tail ends of the strings sticking out in different directions!
If the treble strings were tied in with the last loop above the back corner of the bridge, they would positively slip right off. If you've ever tried tying a knot in fishing line, you know what that's about. Nothing's more slippery than nylon monofilament.
Classical guitar bass strings frequently have one end loosely wound for greater flexibility:
This is the end that ties onto the bridge.
It's very difficult to insert this flexible end through the tiny hole in the bridge, so it makes sense to bend the stiff end:
Then when you shove it through, the string just curls up toward the saddle and is easy to grab and pull through:
Then you can pull the entire string right through so the flexible end can be tied at the bridge, as in the photograph on the next page.
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