The New String Chronicles

by Mike Boyer

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Day 1

The new strings arrived with the mail today!!! I opened the pack and read the instructions. Damn! I have no power screwdriver! I'm not going to start without one... I remember how long it took to tune the thing,it'll take forever to change the strings by hand..... That mute looks like it will really be in the way. Only two screws holding it to the wood block. Yep, it's coming off. Just hold the springs with pliers and detach them from the mute, then take out the two screws.... Done! Maybe I'll have a beer and look this thing over......

Day 3

Well, I powered through all of the second and third gauge strings today, 12 total. That leaves (60-25=35) 35. Hmmmm... If I do 5 more I'll be half done... Gotta do it... Hey! A couple of the .008 strings have a kink at the end! Oh! That's cool I guess, there are plenty of notes that use less of the string, way before the kink. I'm cool. Those .008s' are fine strands, kind of delicate so don't put them on the couch where my girlfriend can sit on them... Again! Only 30 to go.......

Day 5

I was shut out today. Not a single string strung. There is always "tomorrow"..... Right Annie? I think I'm afraid of the cramped area where the highest strings loops get attached.... NO FEAR!!! Press on!

Day 7

I rough tuned the new strings to the pianet this morning and let it sit for a while. When I tried it out, I had tuned the top half of the keyboard an octave low! Kind of a cool sound when you mix the pianet and the clav.... Well, out came the power screwdriver again; 4-5 winds to get the top strings up to the correct octave. Great! Now it's time to get out the old chromatic tuner and dial this sucker in..... Wow! That was pretty painless, only 20 min or so to tune it up. Now, the play test... I can't believe how responsive the action is even through my little Pygmy practice amp!! Time for the big guns. BRING IN THE FENDER AMP!! AAaaaaaaaaah! What a great tone this beast has. And so much nuance! The way I hit a key makes so much difference in the sound. I no longer have to run it with as bright a setting as possible to make it cut. The tone switches offer such a variety of sounds, from warm and FAT to Stevie Wonder thin. It's like a veil of grey has been lifted from the sound and the true colours of the instrument can shine out!! After playing it for an hour I feel like having a cigarette! And I don't smoke. As my Scotish friend says describing anything great; "Pure sex lad, pure sex!!" Thank you!! New hammers and strings have made my old friend a powerhouse again. It was worth every minutes' work and every penny spent to have the sound of a new instrument again. -M1ke

Day 2

I got a power screwdriver today. It was on sale at Canadian Tire for $25 (plus tax). Hmmmm, the yarn looks to be in good shape, but how can I get all those strings through it without tearing it to shreds..... Perhaps I'll make a bend in the last half inch of the new string, hook it to the loop of the old string and pull it through the yarn....PERFECT!! Only 59 to go. Each new string slips painlessly through the strands of yarn and it takes far less time and does virtually no damage to the old yarn. I think I'll do all 9 of the first gauge of strings before I call it a night. Now, how much slack do I need here? If I put the new string loop over the tailpiece and hold the string on the anvil (fret?) with my finger, then pull the string up with my other fingers about 4 inches.... Now turn the peg with the trusty power screwdriver... that's about the right amount. 3 or 4 winds on the peg, no turns overlapping the others, all the string right on the peg.... Lovely! Only 50 to go.....

Day 4

Who Wants to be a Millionaire makes a good soundtrack as I put string after string on the old P\C Duo. The bundle of .008s' (not on the couch) seems as big as when I started. Is this clavinet hell? Must I spend eternity doing this same job over and over and over..... NOPE! 24 more to go.....

Day 6

With 24 strings to go and only 2 days left in the week I'm going to use my lunch hour to do as many as possible. I bet I get 2 on...... Success! 3 strings done and chicken nuggets eaten. Mmmmmmm chicken... 21 more to go.... Tonight I'll do as many as I can. That cramped area is kind of a drag but using a screwdriver to hold the loop over the 'pin' is working so far..... Taaaaaa Daaaaaaaa!!! Every last string is in place with a minimum of fuss amd muss. I bet I spent 12 hours total. That's not far off my initial estimate of 10 minutes per string (10 hours). Now to reassemble and start tuning. The Duo should be easier to tune than a straight clav since each key has the pianet to tune to. Wish me luck, and I do the same for you, intrepid re-stringers!!

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