Soldering Guitar Strings....

Sumner Jun 1, 2023

  1. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I've only used guitar strings on one project my attempt on making handrails for the FM H-12-44 where I started by gluing the hand rails but then figured out a way to solder them...

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    More pictures and info on the whole process ( HERE ). Be sure to wash the finished handrails well to get any remaining acid flux off.

    I don't use the acid flus any more when building turnouts. Don't know what the difference but the Superior No. 30 Supersafe gel works well for me. Pretty much use it for almost everything now. Heard about it a couple years ago but didn't buy/try it until about 5-6 months ago. Wish I would of been using it for much longer.

    Sumner
     
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  2. midwayglenrr

    midwayglenrr TrainBoard Member

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    Excellent. They do make steel guitar strings that are bottom tier quality for guitar. I don't know if steel would accept solder, just throwing ideas out. I can't work or experiment on anything right now because we're moving clutter around as we organize the house, but I'm constantly thinking & brainstorming.

    Luke Towan is a youtuber with lots of great tips and he does incredibly realistic scenery. Anyway, he's really helpful in that he uses lots of inexpensive materials. I started thinking of using guitar string for projects after watching Luke's video on making chain link fence, where he used regular wire, like picture hanging wire. He cut small pieces of the wire and kept them in place using poster putty (first I've ever heard of it) while applying solder to form the fence panels. He used small pieces of bridal veil for the fencing and painted after everything was done.

    Like I said, I can't do anything hands-on at this point because my workbench is used for storage, but I'm constantly thinking of possibilities. I first though of using guitar string for making mirror frames for trucks. I've been a guitar player all my life and know how guitar strings can be bent and shaped without breaking, as long as you don't bend back and forth, because they will break.

    Maybe used strings, not rusted, but with some oxidation, would accept paint better than brand new, shiny strings. It could possibly affect the strings ability to accept solder, for better or worse, idk.

    Nice work on those railings. I'll check out the link you dropped and browse the rest of your website asap. Thanks for starting this thread :)
     
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  3. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I wonder if guitar strings are treated with a rust-preventative that inhibits paint adherence?
     
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  4. midwayglenrr

    midwayglenrr TrainBoard Member

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    Good question. I know they will rust, but it takes a long time. I always wipe them after playing because oils from skin have a certain amount of acid (I've heard). I never have rust problems and I'll play them until way past time to change them. They do get less shiny, though.

    Constant exposure to moisture will make them rust quickly. Guitars stored in a basement isn't good on strings, and very bad for wood, I've seen examples. There may be a way to prep a new string, such as an acid bath, but I'm just guessing. I'm new to model railroad forums, so I haven't found out if other folks are using strings for projects. Sumner is the first person I've come across. Physically, they look great. You can make nice rounded bends that look decent.

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  5. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    Guitar strings are either made of nickel or stainless steel. The lower strings have a stainless steel wire core that's wrapped tightly wound with nickel. But the thinner strings, like the ones that can be used for handrails are just stainless steel wire. Since stainless steel does not rust anyway, there's no need for a rust-preventative treatment.
     
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  6. midwayglenrr

    midwayglenrr TrainBoard Member

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    That sounds about right. These are some I have on hand. The electric strings state "nickle wrap" while the acoustic strings say 80/20 bronze, which may be the wrap, I haven't opened them to see if the 2 top strings (unwound) are silver or bronze colored.

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  7. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Hey, with the right strings, your loco can look and sound great!
     
  8. midwayglenrr

    midwayglenrr TrainBoard Member

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    Bwahahaha!
     
  9. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    As a life long guitar player that has gone through miles and miles of strings, my question would be, why not use phosphor bronze wire? Very easy to solder. I am curious, what is the advantage of using steel guitar strings? They will bend. I will also say that lower gauge wound strings make excellent flexible conduit scrap mixed in w/ scratch built scrap metal loads in gondolas.

    Acoustic strings often come in "phosphor bronze" which is similar, if not the same as the wire offered by Tichy Train Group and others. The stuff from Tichy, I often solder w/ regular flux and solder.
     
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  10. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

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    Good question. I do know most major string manufacturers the last 15 years have offered "long life" strings and they say are "coated". Most coatings are a polymer treatment.

    Here's a great web site that discusses how strings are constructed. https://guitargearfinder.com/guides/ultimate-guide-to-guitar-strings/

    Here's a great resource for getting strings for those looking for sources. https://juststrings.com/

    I use Cleartones,Elixer-NanoWebs, or ROTO-Sound on my electrics. D'Addario, DAngelico, or Martin on my 2 flat tops. If you're scavenging the strings for MMR uses, don't forget the metal ferrules at the end of the guitar string. They also make great detail for mixing in with metal scrap loads in gon's, etc. Just spray w/ miscellaneous metal colors and rust 'em up.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2024

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