Care and Feeding
Your Strumstick is very durable as wooden instruments go, but it is still possible to break it. please avoid impacts: the soundboard is the most fragile area. Also avoid extremes of temperature (very hot/very cold) and humidity (very damp/very dry). Don't put your Strumstick anywhere you would not want to be for an extended period of time (like the trunk of a car on a hot day). Hanging it on the wall (not in the sun or over a heater) is fine, and convenient.
(Warning, string ends are sharp, it is easy to receive a puncture wound, especially when the the string is very short. BE CAREFUL!
Strings can break. You also might want to replace old strings if they are older than a year and beginning to be rusty or sound dull. You need loop end strings (like for banjo or mandolin); .023" wound, .014" plain, .010" plain for Standard, Alto, and Grand Strumsticks. The strings we provide have a chenille wrap to cushion where the string crosses over the end of the instrument. You can get strings from us by mail. $7/set ppd. If needed you can unwind the chenille from the old string or use yarn or a pipe cleaner if you get strings without chenille.
If necessary, you can use strings .001" larger or smaller (example: the first string, .010" plain, could be .009" or .011"). A light gauge 5-string banjo set will give you 1 of each string you need for the Strumstick™. If you are interested in Alternate tunings requiring different strings, see: Alternate Tunings , Strings and Tuning Chart
In a pinch, you can use guitar strings. The only difference is that they have metal balls instead of loops at the end. Lace the free end of the string through the ball, pull it tight to make a loop, and use it like a loop end string. You will want to provide some padding at the end where the string crosses the wood, like yarn or a pipe cleaner wrapped around the string.
To change the string, unwind any part of the old string that remains on the duner, and remove it from the tuner. (Warning, string ends are sharp, it is easy to receive a puncture wound, especially when the the string is very short. BE CAREFUL! Place the loop end of the new string on the appropriate pin at the big end of the instrument, and get someone to hold it there with their finger ( or put a bit of tape on it temporarily). Thread the other end of the string into a hole on the metal post of the tuner for that string (use the hole that best lines up with the string's position). pull all the slack through the hole, so the string is hand tight, and then pull back about 3 inches. Cut the free (excess)end of the string off about 1 inch from the tuner post. Tighten the string by turning the tuning button in such a way that the string goes over the tuner, not under the tuner. [Another way of saying that is: The metal post is turned by a circular gear, driven by a worm screw attached to the tuner button. As you face the circular gear, the string tightens by turning the button so that the gear turns counter clockwise. ] Tighten the string until it tunes to it's proper note. Be sure the string is in it's groove at the zero fret, in it's groove at the bridge, and also in the groove it may have made where it leaves the big hole in the peghead. You will have wound up several turns of string by the time it is tight. If there is still free end sticking out of the peghead, trim it off. (Warning, string ends are sharp, it is easy to receive a puncture wound, especially when the the string is very short. BE CAREFUL!
Note: it is normal for the strings to dig into the wood at the end a little bit. They will not saw your instrument in half.
If the bridge should get moved, the front edge should be lined up with the two marks on the top. It is supposed to be on a slight slant. The front edge of the bridge is sloped, the back edge is straight up and down.
If you lose your bridge we can send a replacement. If possible, let us know the exact height of your bridge. Perhaps you could measure it now and write it down. We use several sizes; 1/4 inch is most common, some are 7/32, or 9/32, or 5/16, so measure with 1/32 inch accuracy.
If your Strumstick becomes soiled from use, wipe it gently with a slightly damp (not dripping wet!) cloth; using a trace of detergent if necessary is fine. Wipe it dry with a soft cloth. The finish is lacquer, with a thin coat of paste wax. A few raindrops or a mist will not damage it for a little while, but avoid having it stay wet.
No polishes or other finishes are needed or recommended; you could renew the paste wax coat every year or two if you want to. To do that, remove the strings, clean the strumstick with a damp cloth, dry, rub on a thin coat, let dry, and buff with a soft cloth.
Strumstick®: Care and Feeding