Changing strings vs. truss rod

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Rockin John, May 16, 2002.

  1. A couple of schools of thought have sprung up as part of a discussion:

    That strings should be stripped off one at a time from the bass to avoid excessive strain on the neck.

    All strings should be detuned gradually and equally and finally removed, to avoid strain on the neck.

    Likewise, restringing should be done in the reverse to whichever of the two methods were used to remove the strings.

    Thoughts please.

  2. Angelo


    Jan 12, 2002
    Yeah i've heard that alot.
    About changing one string at a time.
    I always take them all off,and theres nothing slow about it.I just unwind them and take them off.
    No problems so far.And i don't notice anything damaging about it.And i'll keep doing this until something breaks.I'm not worried about it.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    The house is rockin', cuz John is knockin'!

    I loosen all of them and then take them off - not for any particular reason, it's just habit.

    I don't understand where any "excessive strain" would be coming from. As each string is removed, there could only be less strain.

    If you only loosen and remove one string at a time, the only thing I can imagine happening is that the distribution of the stress would change a little. But since it's just changing strings, the changes are only temporary.

    Looking at Bass Player's article about how to restring and other sources, nothing is said about "detuning gradually" before removal. They just get right down to business.

    Over the decades, I've restrung a few ways and nothing bad has ever happened, even with the cheapos I've owned. There is such a thing as being "overcautious" IMO.
  4. Rick, m'friend, how the hell are you.......

    Great to hear from you :D : I've not seen you on the boards for a while

    Well, it all began cos I've got myself a (new) fretless: nothin' fancy, you understand, just a Yammy RBX270F, but I love it to bits. :D Anyway, I ordered a set of Thomastics for it and the guy at the store gave me a bit of a lesson about taking the old ones off. I must do it one at a time to avoid unduly altering the stresses on the neck [yes, you're right: altering not increasing].

    Now, like you, I've tried a few methods but always come back to just, well, take 'em off and put the new ones on :eek:

    Turn on best Americal voice learned through watching too many episodes of The Lone Ranger "Well, shoot, Rick, you've gone an' gotten me all embarassed now. And stop that, Tonto, you'll go blind..."Voice off.:eek:

  5. FTK


    Apr 24, 2002
    Wa. State
    I take them all off at one time so that I can clean and oil my fretboard. I haven't noticed anything adverse.
  6. twangman


    May 8, 2010
    i know this is from 10 years ago... but i just need to know? is it better to change strings one at a time? and do you completely tune it as you change it?

    ive also heard this helps from having any truss rod issues or adjustments.

    i usually just change one at a time, but dont completely tune til im done with all 4 strings, i just kinda have them there with very light tension.

    what is the best way to keep your truss rod from going wacko?
  7. Thunder Pulse

    Thunder Pulse

    May 12, 2007
    Better to revive and old thread than start a duplicate.

    If you want to be really anal about it you could loosen the truss rod a hair and then take off one string, loosen it a hair more and take off another string, and so on.

    There's nothing wrong with changing one string at a time, and technically it's probably better to do it that way. That being said, it's 100x easier to clean your fretboard when all the strings are off it, as was mentioned in the post above yours.
  8. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Probaly depends on how often you do it. If you're like Anthony Jackson, Chris Squire, John Entwistle, et. al., and change strings every day, one at a time makes sense. Take one off, replace it, tune it up, then the next one.

    But if you're like most people, take them all off and clean the finger board reall well, restring, tune, check (and adjust as needed) your relief, action, and intonation. That's what I do but I only restring about once a year (except the ones with flats-they NEVER get changed).

    When I did set up work while managing a store, it was always take 'em all off at once so we could clean too.

  9. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Remove the strings, put the new ones on, tune it up. It ain't rocket science. The only time it makes sense to do them one at a time is if an instrument has a movable bridge (like an acoustic archtop guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin ... etc). And that's only so intonation isn't affected.
  10. tk421


    Mar 3, 2010
    middletown, oh
    i've always changed 1 at a time, not out of fear of twisting the neck, but just cause it's easier to keep track of what you are doing that way.

    and i just wipe the frets / fingerboard down as i go, so i get 4 overlapping swipes at it.
    the last time i change, i actually did 2 basses at once - taking the DR blacks off my fretless one at a time, while replacing unknowns on my ibanez with the DR's, and putting Roto 77 flats on the fretless peavey. took about an hour to do that and install Schaller straplock buttons on both. (there were lots of toothpicks and glue involved in that - damn ibby was stripped like crazy, and fixed with big honkin sheetrock screws)

    the upside was, both basses stayed in tune and at tension the entire time.
  11. twangman


    May 8, 2010
    sure aint!
  12. I'm not sure it matters, but just in case:

    I remove the strings slowly, one at a time, from the outside strings working inward, and replace them one by one.

    The only time I remove all strings before replacing them all is when my fretboard needs cleaned and lubed, about once every two years for me (and I live in a relatively arid climate). I think a lot of people over-lube their fretboards which can weaken the wood and contribute to loose and shifting frets.

    A well-made neck can withstand a good deal of flex. I accidentally loosened both rods on a Ric 4003 while leaving it at full string tension one time. I was shocked to see the action was about an inch high, the neck had bowed so much. Well, I got it straightened out and set-up to near perfection, it's one of the best playing basses I've ever played.

    Err on the side of caution, but don't stress out over it.
  13. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    I find its faster to change strings one a t a time and to retune as I go. If I'm useing same brand same gauge for new strings, no reason to need truss rod adjustment after. If a dif brand of strings may need small truss rod tweak. On bass its not as big a deal, but changing all the strings on a trem equipted guitar at once is foolish imo and just results in lots of hassles for trem. Only time I ever take all the strings off at one time is if needing to remove neck for something, or doing fretboard conditioning.
  14. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    If not leaving the strings off for hours, days or longer there should be no noticable difference either way. Dependent on the quality of neck in question.
  15. Since I usually do maintance on the board and reset the neck and intonate anyway I just take them all off.
  16. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    If a neck on one of my basses is that sensitive -then that neck is a short term proposition for me... Take 'em off, clean the board, examine the frets, put on a new set, re-check the intonation.
  17. CapnSev


    Aug 19, 2006
    Coeur d'Alene
    I always pull all of mine off at once so I can give the fingerboard a well-deserved bath.

    Most likely, I'm going to have to adjust the truss rod and intonation with new strings anyway, so why not. I seriously doubt its going to hurt the bass to be string-less for a 1/2 hour or whatever.
  18. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    I used to take them all off then replace them, but these days I do it one by one solely for the purpose of tuning up quickly. I can get the string right up to tune then on to the next one. Its 6 or half dozen really, but thats the way Ive been doing it.