So, today I decided to try something new.
No, but it really was something new and (to me) interesting.
Ready? Here it comes: I changed my guitar strings all by my lonesome.
I jumped in the car and made the rounds through the city, picking up some woodwind bore oil and a stringer-thingy and came home to settle down in front of my Simon & Patrick steel-string acoustic.
First, I loosened the…no, wait…first, I got on YouTube and found a great video on how to change guitar strings. THEN, I loosed the strings and plucked ’em off. Once that was completed, I took some steel wool and buffed the frets (it’s not as sexy as it sounds). Next, I oiled the fret board with the bore oil and got it looking all shiny. And then, it was time.
I took out the strings and sorted them by size. One by one I strung the Simon & Patrick until I got to the “D” string and…*SNAP!*
That’s a sinking feeling, by the way. Not the end of the world by any means, but a sinking feeling nonetheless.
I jumped in the car (again) and made the rounds (again) through the city. I had to find a replacement “D” string so that I could play today. I was on a quest. A QUEST, I say! I actually ended up buying a whole new set of strings that weren’t exactly like the new ones I was stringing with. I didn’t want to, but I didn’t really have a choice. I headed home with that new pack of strings and settled back down in front of the ol’ guitar.
I tore open the new pack and pulled out the fresh “D” string. As I progressed through the other strings, I painfully realized that this was, indeed, my first time stringing a guitar. I actually broke two more strings on this odyssey and thank goodness I had that new fresh pack. I had reserves! I hadn’t planned on a new pack, but…
After some twisting, tweaking, and testing, I got it right. These new strings are much richer and deeper, as opposed to the brighter tone I had before, but y’know? It’s nice to have variety.
So now the day is done. I have a guitar with six new strings and a good sound. I played some of my personal standards and really put the ol’ Simon & Patrick through its paces.
All in all, it took me around four hours to do a task that the guy on YouTube did in 13 minutes.
Okay, so I don’t have a future in guitar stringing. But I do have some things from this experience — I have a sense of personal satisfaction as I play the strings I personally strung. I have the satisfaction of a job well done. And, I have yet more proof that sometimes we make an unplanned purchase that fits neatly into plans we never expected (thank goodness for those extra strings!).
A hobby is a diversion, yes. But it’s also a time to focus and invest. Sometimes there’s work involved, but if it’s a labor of love, then all the snapped strings in the world won’t dampen the spirit.
Next time you want to change your guitar strings, do yourself a favor — don’t compare yourself to the guy on YouTube. Just follow his advice and take as long as you need. Enjoy the experience. Be in the moment and look forward to the reward. In fact, next time you do anything important, remember that.
I’m gonna go play a little.