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AinsleyWalker

Lining up silks - It's definitely possible, any tips?

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Posted (edited)

So I broke a string on my Musicman Stingray and put a new set of flats on, but the silks didn't line up after I trimmed them down... My previous set lined up perfectly (were put on by a guitar tech friend). 
I tried googling solutions but every site/forum tells me that it's simply not possible to get them to line up perfectly... I would believe this, except my old set were all aligned perfectly and each string had been trimmed to fit. He can't remember exactly what he did (it was over 3 years ago he gave me a set-up), but says he can't imagine doing anything special beyond the 3 machinehead rule.

I may just keep the old strings that I've taken off and try to get a new set to the exact individual lengths as the old set (bar the G string which is no good and in pieces). Anyone think this will be my best bet? Or have any other suggestions that work for them?
Thanks

Edited by AinsleyWalker

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I think the fact that your silks lined up last time was completely down to chance.

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Definitely just luck. They all stretch slightly differently.

If it bothers you I think you'll have to swap to strings that haven't got silks at all.

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Just now, fretmeister said:

Definitely just luck. They all stretch slightly differently.

If it bothers you I think you'll have to swap to strings that haven't got silks at all.

Unfortunately there are no flatwound strings that have no silks :/

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Unless I’m missing something , you can’t alter the silk length (unless you trim it ), it’s how they are made , out of 14 basses only 2 of mine are in line, as BigRedX says, I think you were just lucky 

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1 minute ago, Reggaebass said:

Unless I’m missing something , you can’t alter the silk length (unless you trim it ), it’s how they are made , out of 14 basses only 2 of mine are in line, as BigRedX says, I think you were just lucky 

 I did say in the original post that each string had been trimmed to a specific length:  "I would believe this, except my old set were all aligned perfectly and each string had been trimmed to fit."

 I find it hard to believe that these strings (and the G string) just happened to line up by chance...
20200411_142544.jpg.dbf9d3ffaa8ad42eb4eaf7e65d571b23.jpg

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3 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

Is trimming them a good idea? Are the silks part of keeping the string together?

The old set here are all different lengths, meaning they've 100% been trimmed down with wire cutters, as you would normally do with any set of strings. They've not unravelled or anything. They were on my bass for nearly 4 years.

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1 minute ago, AinsleyWalker said:

 I did say in the original post that each string had been trimmed to a specific length:  "I would believe this, except my old set were all aligned perfectly and each string had been trimmed to fit."

 I find it hard to believe that these strings (and the G string) just happened to line up by chance...
20200411_142544.jpg.dbf9d3ffaa8ad42eb4eaf7e65d571b23.jpg

The length it was trimmed at is irrelevant!

That's only the bit that wraps round the tuner. The remains of the string would be the same - the effective speaking length plus the extra between the nut and the tuner and the saddle and the back of the bridge.

You just got lucky. 

 

Even so - the A string isn't level with the other 2.

 

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Just now, AinsleyWalker said:

The old set here are all different lengths, meaning they've 100% been trimmed down with wire cutters, as you would normally do with any set of strings. They've not unravelled or anything. They were on my bass for nearly 4 years.

Not trimming the strings - I mean trimming the silk covering a little to make it match.

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5 minutes ago, AinsleyWalker said:

 I did say in the original post that each string had been trimmed to a specific length:  "I would believe this, except my old set were all aligned perfectly and each string had been trimmed to fit."

 I find it hard to believe that these strings (and the G string) just happened to line up by chance...
20200411_142544.jpg.dbf9d3ffaa8ad42eb4eaf7e65d571b23.jpg

It doesn’t matter what you cut off the end , the end of silk will still be in the same place 

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3 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

The length it was trimmed at is irrelevant!

That's only the bit that wraps round the tuner. The remains of the string would be the same - the effective speaking length plus the extra between the nut and the tuner and the saddle and the back of the bridge.

You just got lucky. 

 

Even so - the A string isn't level with the other 2.

 

So you're telling me that I could trim off 1 inch or 2 and the silk would end at the exact same point...? 

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7 minutes ago, fretmeister said:

The length it was trimmed at is irrelevant!

That's only the bit that wraps round the tuner. The remains of the string would be the same - the effective speaking length plus the extra between the nut and the tuner and the saddle and the back of the bridge.

You just got lucky. 

 

Even so - the A string isn't level with the other 2.

 

It's more or less level lol..
I tried putting on a set today and none of them were even within 1cm of each other. Just looked completely stupid.

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7 minutes ago, AinsleyWalker said:

So you're telling me that I could trim off 1 inch or 2 and the silk would end at the exact same point...? 

Measure from the ball end to the start of the silk.

 

Then cut some off the silk end.

Then measure from the ball end again to the start of the silk. It will not have changed at all.

When you install them they will change because different gauge strings stretch at slightly different rates.

 

You got lucky with your existing set. Nothing more than that. You could go through 100 sets and never get them lined up again.

I have to say though, I've been playing 30 years and I've never heard of anyone be worried about it, and I have terrible OCD!

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Just now, fretmeister said:

Measure from the ball end to the start of the silk.

 

Then cut some off the silk end.

Then measure from the ball end again to the start of the silk. It will not have changed at all.

When you install them they will change because different gauge strings stretch at slightly different rates.

 

You got lucky with your existing set. Nothing more than that. You could go through 100 sets and never get them lined up again.

I have to say though, I've been playing 30 years and I've never heard of anyone be worried about it, and I have terrible OCD!

Well good for all those other people who aren't worried about it lol,  personally don't want my bass looking messy and I think misaligned silks look awful, so if I can get them to line up again then I will. If not, I'll just buy a set with no silks. Not a huge deal, just trying to get some advice.

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No one else will notice. Not your band mates and certainly not your audience.

 

They don't even line up at the bottom on double basses

1200px-1957_King_Mortone_Double_Bass_-_B

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I really think some people should spend more time playing their basses! I have never, ever, considered whether the silk bindings on the strings line up. There are 5 or 6 basses upstairs and I couldn't even tell you what strings are on them, never mind the colour of the silk or whether they align. 

The bass is just a tool for making music. Like a screwdriver or a hammer, just more expensive!

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

I think the fact that your silks lined up last time was completely down to chance.

This! I've had dozens of flats, only once did the silks all line up. If your friend can't remember what they did, i guess it was pure fluke, not by design.

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33 minutes ago, FinnDave said:

I really think some people should spend more time playing their basses! I have never, ever, considered whether the silk bindings on the strings line up. There are 5 or 6 basses upstairs and I couldn't even tell you what strings are on them, never mind the colour of the silk or whether they align. 

The bass is just a tool for making music. Like a screwdriver or a hammer, just more expensive!

Mate first of all you've got no idea how much I personally play my basses, so I'm not sure what the need for snide comments like that are implying I'm sat looking at them rather than playing.... Secondly, this is not about comparison, I'm not interested in whether you've never thought about it, good for you I suppose!
Another example would be how most people I know have pedalboards that are trashed and filled with dust and dirt and they don't care, but I like mine clean, tidy and laid out a certain way and that's just my preference, I'm not interested in what others do or prefer, I've simply come here asking if it's possible to achieve a certain outcome and if not, then no big deal! I'm not losing sleep over it, just asking for advice... 
 

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Well... advice...

If I was going to do it, I think I'd try a craft knife... it's like a scalpel (but you may know that already). I'd pick the required length, then slice down the length of the silk from that point to the end, then try and scrape away the silk. I don't know how tidy it would look and I don't know neat the end would be... but that's how I would go at it. Something very sharp and slicey/scrapey action... plus a bit of practice. Maybe take off a bit at a time.

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If it’s any help Ainsley, the most aligned strings on mine are the labella LTFs 

19783262-169B-44EE-9B70-667B05086FA7.jpeg

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19 minutes ago, Trueno said:

Well... advice...

If I was going to do it, I think I'd try a craft knife... it's like a scalpel (but you may know that already). I'd pick the required length, then slice down the length of the silk from that point to the end, then try and scrape away the silk. I don't know how tidy it would look and I don't know neat the end would be... but that's how I would go at it. Something very sharp and slicey/scrapey action... plus a bit of practice. Maybe take off a bit at a time.

This won't work. When the strings are made the silks are wound into the flatwound, I guess this stops the silks from slipping or bunching. I've tried using a sharp craft knife to remove some of the silks before, it's not easy and you won't get a clean edge.

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I'm afraid I have to agree with the consensus, @AinsleyWalker - the length of the silks is rather random and it's best not to mess with it anyway.

Some of mine:

D'Addario Chromes on two different basses

(This set is almost perfect!)

904753022_CorvetteStd049.thumb.JPG.dd9374990e9b4ffdb0ac59c2ad39a740.JPG

(The set below is only slightly less perfect...)

1688762778_CorvetteProFretless5(11).thumb.JPG.582de7dcf9aeba2cb1af2e6af62a798f.JPG

 

Labella Low Tension Flats on two different basses - nowhere near...

43080652_NewFortressstrings017(2)_PS.thumb.jpg.53e19850692433ece574cae585a5297a.jpg

(apologies for the poor quality of the pic below, taken just now in artificial light, just to show you.)

1219830452_Ibanez006(2)_PS.thumb.jpg.10cabe3998d48291f07e55836691e6fb.jpg

 

However, as a fellow OCD sufferer, I have a question. Can you cope with mismatched ball end orientation? I can't. I have been known to re-adjust the strings if the ball ends look untidy. :D 9_9

Bridge_PS.thumb.jpg.88601238699c0971e277519e0158094b.jpg

1822272770_Ibanez_bridge(4).thumb.jpg.1388c07f2c25f38498311aa8e9b1d631.jpg

OCD and proud of it. :D

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13 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

If it’s any help Ainsley, the most aligned strings on mine are the labella LTFs 

19783262-169B-44EE-9B70-667B05086FA7.jpeg

If you put the scrunchy thing on the headstock you won't see the end of the silks...

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The only time I've ever trimmed silks is to get a set of TI Jazz flats on a 35" scale bass, they are fine to the zero fret, but the silk was into the nut. They don't just trim neatly, unless I've missed a trick? I added a couple of bits of heatshrink on mine to stop them unravelling. They're definitely not going to line up either, big difference in length.

IMG_2384.thumb.jpeg.648e2ff6f428312128a44549ca95d7c4.jpeg

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