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Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #1 
Important safety information and disclaimer

Joining 2 strings using the 'Figure 8 fence knot' results in a combined string with less tensile strength than the orignal strings, it will break at a lower pitch.
Take precautions to protect your eyes when tuning up and during the first playing of combined strings.
I do not accept any liability for any harm, combining strings is done at your own risk.


This document explains how to join 2 guitar strings, using the 'Figure 8 fence knot', to extend the length such that guitar strings can be used on a long scale instrument.
Many guitar strings are long enough to extend past the nut of a 34"/35" scale instrument, but not long enough to reach all the tuner posts and be properly wound around them.
Any very low strings on a tap guitar will still have to be bass guitar strings, however, guitar strings are increasingly available in large gauges of up to around .080-.090.

Guitar strings are cheaper, single strings are more easily available, they are more flexible and more responsive to tapping, and they are available in a larger range of more finely-stepped gauges.
Bass guitar strings are designed to withstand a very high tension of 60+ pound-force, and to cope with heavy technique, and so have thick and stiff core wire, this makes them unoptimal for tapping which requires flexibility.
Many tap guitar companies provide dedicated strings that are taperwound and, i suspect, are generally designed to be more flexible than bass strings.
Tapping instruments rarely use tensions above 30-40 pound-force so do not require such thick core wire.

The lowered tensile strength of combined strings is less of an issue for tapping instruments, which have low tension strings, but it may still be a problem for thin roundwound strings such as .022 and lower which have very thin core wire.
However, the 'Figure 8 fence knot' is known to be the strongest way to join 2 fence wires.
To obtain long plain steel strings i recommend using the very long D'Addario 'Loop end' strings and adding an improvised ferrule, see my related thread
Thin plain steel strings are often used somewhat close to their breaking tension, so joining them may make them impractically fragile.

Re-use to reduce cost and waste

Because the knot has symmetry it is a good idea for both component strings to be of similar gauge.
Once the combined string reaches the end of it's life, cut out a length from the longer component for use as the shorter component of the next combined string. This way, after the initial purchase of 2 strings, only 1 string needs to be bought to create a new combined string, otherwise it would be no cheaper than using bass guitar strings. The shorter component is not part of the vibrating length so it having poor tone is not an issue.



'long component': a new and complete guitar string.
'short component': a section of similar gauge string, shorter and without a ferrule.

In the following steps, it is essential to make the components pass under or over as shown in the image when they cross.

1. If the bridge is designed for a bass ferrule, detach a bass ferrule from an old bass string and thread the long component through the hole in the bass ferrule, let the bass ferrule drop down the length of the long component until it rests against the guitar ferrule.

2. Attach the long component to the bridge.

3. Before deciding to join 2 strings, see if the long component is long enough to be wound around the tuner post. Some guitar strings are long enough to be wound onto the post closest to the nut, even on a 35" scale.
If not long enough, continue with the steps below.

4. If the long component is a wound string and has a short length of exposed core wire at the end, cut this off.

5. See upper image.
The first knot loop is created in the long component somewhere between nut and tuner post, preferably halfway between if possible, but at least 2.5cm (1") away from the nut.
Create the first loop by bending the string tightly around a thin round metal rod, such as the barrel of a very small screwdriver or even a short section of a thick guitar string.
Cut the free end of the long component 2cm from the loop.

6. See upper image.
Pass the short component through the loop as shown, pull through enough to make creating the second loop easy.

7. See middle image.
Again use the thin round metal rod to form the second loop, that is wrapped around the long component.
Cut the free end of the short component 2cm from the loop.

8. See lower image.
Pull on the free end of the combined string to bring the 2 loops together.
Using pliers, pull firmly on the free end of the combined string to tension the knot, the loops of the knot should close up.

9. To avoid scratching up your headstock, cut off the 2 string ends that protrude sideways from the knot, cut at 1cm away from the knot, then bend the string ends to lie close to the combined string.

10. Attach the combined string to the tuner post as normal.


Registered User
Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #2 
Thank you for that. I had no idea that this was even possible. Good to know.

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Registered User
Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #3 
I first thought about string joining around 13 years ago but this was before i had personal internet access, i found a book about rope knots in the library but nothing came out of this.

Then recently i found this photograph of a Kelstone prototype tapper and was surprised to see joined strings apparently successfully used:


Now with internet access i found information on fence wire joining knots used for electric fences.

I then became overly concerned about breakage, and considered instead joining using aluminium crimp sleeves compressed using a crimping/swaging tool. This apparently has more chance of maintaining the full tensile strength for fence wire or braided wire rope, but i considered that it may not be so effective for a roundwound string where the crimp would be gripping the wrap wire instead of the core wire. See
It is also difficult to find crimp sleeves and tools suitable for smaller gauge strings, and certainly not for core wire.

So i eventually tried the Figure 8 knot. I have a 6 string bass modified for tapping strung up with joined guitar strings from .024 to .056. I haven't gone above 20 lbf tension yet, it's still early in this experiment.

Big George Waters

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Registered User
Posts: 123
Reply with quote  #4 

This is actually very good and useful information.

I saw that someone on Sticklist had a Russian Warr copy for sale, 12 string... and I was surprised to see some of the strings tied together as well, and was a bit taken aback by it, because all I could think of is how the heck did that get accomplished !!

Now I know.


Thanks ixlramp, your knowledge of instrument strings goes beyond measure.



Big George W

           East Derby CT

Mobius Megatar - tuned in Classic Stick Tuning [5ths/4ths]

M.Megatar Toneweaver - tuned in Major 3rds

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NS Stick Transparent Green w/Moses graphite neck, tuned in 8-string Guitar Intervals

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