Tuesday, June 24, 2014

She's Crafty | Making Jewelry with Guitar Strings

A couple of years ago, I noticed my grandson wearing an interesting bracelet. It looked like a coil of wire-wrapped wire woven in and around itself. It fit him kind of like a masculine bangle. Very cool. When I asked, he said it was a guitar string, one of the bigger ones on a six-string electric guitar. His girlfriend had made it for him. At the time I thought it was a pretty nice way to make an item that would mean something to a guitar-playing recipient, but since he already had one, I forgot all about making bracelets out of guitar strings until my granddaughter, who plays the bass guitar, asked for a bass string bracelet for her upcoming birthday. Well, I thought, here's my chance to try my hand at making a guitar string bracelet. 

A guitar string bracelet
First I thought it would be really cool to make her a bracelet with a string from her own guitar. So, I asked her brother if there was any way to hijack her bass, maybe change all of the strings (for her birthday), and then make a bracelet out of one of them. All without her knowing. Well, as it turns out, strings have a way of getting kind of dirty after they've been on the guitar for a while, and the ends of them might get trimmed during installation. Then, they are also pulled very taut on the guitar and might loose some of their flexibility. And, besides, there's no way we could get that bass out of her room long enough to do the deed without her knowing. She loves her bass guitar!

Oh, well. My next idea was to go down to one of the local music stores and get busy with a new string. I went up to the desk and said to the nice man, "Hi, I'd like to buy a bass guitar string." He said, "What brand do you like, and what size?" Oh, boy. Did you know bass guitar strings come in LOTS of sizes? After the guy at the desk put some strings out for me to see, I finally selected one that turned out to be one of the middle string sizes, not too big, not too small. I paid my $8.45 and took the thing home to play with for a while. 

A bass guitar string has a small brass ring at one end with a length of steel wire attached. This same steel wire gets wrapped with a smaller steel wire almost to the other end, with about 3 inches or so of the bigger wire exposed. Steel wire is very springy, more so than any other wire I've worked with. Harder to bend too. I'd have to get out my heavy-duty pliers for this stuff. On the other hand, the springiness of the wire allowed me to coil it in and out around itself and have it hold it's shape very nicely. When I was about to run out of wire, the little brass ring was nearby, so I coiled the naked wire at the end of the string around that a few times and I was done. Nice and tidy, and very pretty. Also very big, I found out, when she tried it on a few days later. 
See the unwound wire at the end?
Back to the drawing board. I made a smaller coil next time, but the little brass ring was not close by to use as an anchor to finish it off. Maybe I could pass the wire-wrapped part of the wire through the ring and then find a way to finish off the naked wire elsewhere among the coils. Hmmm, no matter what I tried, it didn't look good that way. I needed to find a way to make the bracelet end at the brass ring. It was Malia who figured out what to do. She found out you could unwrap some of the smaller wire, leaving more of the larger wire exposed. Now I could unwrap just enough wire to get the larger wire exposed close enough to the brass ring so I could wind it around the ring a few times and cut off the excess. Success! 
A Dunlop 105 bass string--as a bracelet.

Now we had a nice looking bracelet that fit just right. And, I didn't even have to buy it online, which is where anyone can buy one. I hope you try making your guitar or bass player a guitar string bracelet soon, or check out some of the cool jewelry books at the library. You will find you can make really cool jewelry out of just about anything!
The granddaughter's bass string bracelet!

Until next time--Stay Crafty!

Kaye & Malia


  1. This is so cool looking and I bet it feels good against your skin (flexy metal). This is way better than the guitar pick earrings I used to make!

  2. Hi Mindy Sue! You're right, it does feel quite nice against the skin. I've (Malia) made guitar pick earrings in the past and they're so fun! Once I worked out a three-tiered red, green, and yellow pair for a reggae gig my nephew was playing and I still have them. Hmm, in fact, that might be a great craft program to do at the library!