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Strings to different pegs

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by bejoyous, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    I've been meaning to restring which pegs tighten which strings for some time. I finally got around to doing it.

    The G-string goes to the peg closest to the nut as it is the thinnest and most flexible.

    The D-string goes to the next peg.

    The low-C (B) string in the extension goes to the third peg because that's where it's been designed to go.

    And the A-string goes to the peg furthest from the nut.

    I did this change mostly to take the sharp bend out of the A-string which used to go to the peg closest to the nut. I also did this because the D-string used to travel over the windings on the G-peg and when I tuned the D, it would slightly alter the tuning of the G and vice verse.

    I put some tape on the finger and thumb part of the machine and used a marker to write the name of the string it tunes. That way, I won't be turning the G-string thinking it's the A-peg and be wondering why the pitch isn't changing. Hopefully, it'll prevent a broken string until I get used to the new tuning configuration.

    The strings go straight up from the bridge and don't cross when it goes into the pegbox. Looks nice.

    While the strings were loose, I gave them a deep cleaning with methyl hydrate. It's amazing how much dirt gets in between the windings even when I wipe the strings off each time I play or rehearse.

    So, at the moment, I can't tell if the reconfiguration or the cleaning has improved the sound more, but it does seem to respond better and easier.

    More after the rehearsals on the weekend. I'll see if anyone else notices.
  2. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    I just string the highest pitch note to the closest peg, lowest pitch string to the furthest.

    A luthier told me that its "proven" to make a difference. (Didnt elaborate on what the difference is though...) Im a little doubtful it makes much difference, but I havent tested it myself so I cant rule anything out.

    It makes the strings neat though, as there are no strings with tension against one another, so I always string basses that way.
  3. George700DL


    Jan 9, 2009

    My solution - 3 strings and a wider pegbox :)

  4. i do the same as JtheJazzMan... g is on the closest peg to the nut, e is on the farthest. it does basically the same thing as a compensated tailpiece, except even more extreme. the g string has the steepest angle off the nut and the shortest afterlength before the nut, meaning increased tension which often (not always, depends on the bass) leads to greater projection on this string. on the e, the afterlength is longer and the angle is less steep before the nut. on my bass, the lower tension makes it a little easier to play in the lower positions on the e string and really opens up the sound in that register. there is definitely a difference. it depends on the instrument though, each bass will have an optimal amount/distribution of pressure on the top plate and reacts differently.
  5. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I think any effect of the break angle over the nut cannot really be compared to the effects of the break angle over the bridge (affected by the after-length). The break angle over the bridge certainly affects the tension on the top. Not so the break angle into the pegbox, at least as I understand things. Also, I believe the after-lengths "ring" in a way that the length of string in the pegbox does not. Break angle into the peg box can certainly affect string longevity.

    My own bass has "mirror-image" placement of the tuning pegs as seen here:

  6. kmanley_29649


    Jan 25, 2008
    Taylors SC
    Same here. I've really enjoyed this setup.
  7. you can't really change the angle over the bridge, only the afterlength. but you are right that a change in that would be greater than the angle over the nut.
  8. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    DRURB, if you haven't tried it yet, swap the E and A tuner positions. Let us know what you think, you might be pleasantly surprised. :)
  9. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    That simple switch has improved every bass I've tried it on except for one. ;)
    nicechuckh likes this.
  10. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    After having two rehearsals over the weekend and taking the day off to practice today, I like the new peg configuration.

    If putting on a wire tailpiece makes a $10 000 improvement to the sound of my bass, then switching the strings around the pegs would be worth about a $1200 improvement.

    All the strings sound clearer. The sustain & speaking quality of the A-string is the most improved. The harmonics of the G-string are more true as well. All the strings have a bit more "thunk" to the bottom end.

    If you are willing to take the time to switch them without having the soundpost fall down and relearn which peg tunes what, I'd recommend it as an inexpensive way to improve the sound and playability of your instrument.
  11. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    The question to me is why does it work?

    Does a longer string length between the peg and tailpiece affect how much it can stretch, giving it more flexibility?

    Does a bridge have that much flexibility back and forth, and is the string sliding over the nut microscopically?
  12. slinkyphil


    Jan 11, 2009
    I did this E and A exchange.

    I just want to say one thing:



    (that's two things, sorry...)

    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  13. Schoolhouse

    Schoolhouse Thomas Andres- Bass Makers

    Dec 7, 2006
    Northern Virginia
    Historically, most English basses have the g string closest to the nut. I like to do that on my own instruments. Most if not all three stringers have the top string as the lowest peg.
  14. Earl

    Earl Supporting Member

    When I bought a set of Sonores strings from Gerold Genssler he suggested I put the G on the D peg, the D on the A peg, the A on the G peg and the E on the E. Seems to work well (except for forgetting sometimes when I tune!) and has opened the bass up.
  15. slinkyphil


    Jan 11, 2009
    So basically I have this order (from furthest to closest to the nut): E, D, A, G.
    Should I try to switch the D for the A? The A for the G? The D for G? eheh
    The thing is, I am really impressed by the overall improvement of my bass's tone. That E to A switch is magic!
    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  16. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    The guys at Upton build all of their basses with the tuners "flipped" where the closest tuner to the nut is on the treble side, and then they alternate from there. This means that (in orchestral 4ths) the G string is the closest to the nut with the steepest break angle, then the E string, (or A if there is an extension) D, and then the A (or E if there is an extension). You don't need to mentally adjust to which tuner does what, because the top tuner on the treble side is still the D string, the bottom is the G, and the other side is what you would expect it to be whether or not you have an extension. It looks a little different if you are used to seeing the tuners in their "traditional" placement and I am not suggesting everyone go get their instruments retrofitted, but on new instruments I like the idea.

    As for what it does, if it works for you then go for it. A lot of basses open up with an extension which might be connected to the new string placement, but there are guys that know a lot more about this than I do. I wouldn't think it would have as much influence as a compensated/tuned tailpiece because your left hand is stopping the string on every note except open strings, effectively creating a second nut/capo. I'm sure after a while which string goes where will become second nature, and a "normal" bass would feel alien.
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Indeed. See the pic in post #5 above. As I recall, and FWIW, the reason they give is longevity of the strings.

    Yup-- at 1:54 in this video. Also mentioned is potential pegbox longevity.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2014
  18. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Hmmm... What you are doing by changing the string order is almost exclusively altering the downforce on the nut. To a degree you are altering the elasticity of the string when you change the nut-to-peg distance. This could have an effect with gut or synthetic, but it's hard for me to imagine any effect with steel. You are also changing the internal loading of the pegbox, but probably not the force on it overall. Maybe this has some contribution?

    Going with the downforce theory, if swapping the G and D produces a huge effect, then I'd suspect that the nut slots may not be optimal. Ditto for the longevity issue. Certainly the string wound on the closest peg will be the most difficult to tune down to the severe pressure and friction, and so this slot must be especially carefully carved.

    If there is a real effect involving both nut angle and nut-tuner afterlength, then one could also explore running the string over or under another peg first, and then to the destination peg. Ex.: run the E-String over the G tuner and then under and back to the E peg. Or, running the D under the G and A shafts on the way to its own peg to increase downforce. Some teflon tubing or bike brake housing could be employed to reduce friction.

    I've got to say, I'm willing to swap the E and A for an extension, but I wouldn't want to take this any further.
  19. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I'm not sure about any change in elasticity if one considers the nut as a stop. I suppose internal effects, that is, within the string, are possible as a result of such a change. As I understand the longevity idea, it's not to bend the thickest string at the sharpest angle. That just makes sense to me. Truth be told, so far as these things go, I'm of the "if it ain't broke..." mindset. I think soundpost and other conventional tweaks have bigger effects.
  20. Hey slinkyphil,

    that's great- but, could you elaborate a little as to what kind of WOW it is? :) I mean, what kind of change is it?

    And I'd really like to know what causes the change, but that seems to be a mystery.


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