The D'Addario Factory Tour: A Guide to the Inner Workings of the Guitar String

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Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: The D'Addario Factory Tour: A Guide to the Inner Workings of The String]

Speaker 1: We've been making strings for over three centuries. Our factory in Long Island, New York is the most technologically advanced and largest of its kind, operating around the clock. More than half the strings on the wall on your typical music store originate here. We make over 700,000 strings a day.

High carbon steel

Jim D'Addario: High carbon steel. This is where we make what's the core and the plain strings of every steel string set, electric or acoustic.

Speaker 1: The steel starts as large diameter wire, like a little more than the 16th of an inch, which is pretty big, and we draw it through a series of dyes, the last two dyes being diamond, really make it polished.

Speaker 3: Yeah, we'll do it. This is going to take up at a thousand feet per minute. We're almost at speed.

Jim D'Addario: Every three times that spool goes around, there's a string.

Speaker 3: Wow.

Jim D'Addario: That's a lot of strings coming up.

Speaker 3: That is so cool.

Tin melting and coating

Speaker 1: More than a ton of pure tin is loaded in this flow kettle and melted to 600 degrees.

Matt Sweeney: So this turns into that.

Speaker 1: The molten tin is continually pumped up like a waterfall over the strands of round high carbon steel wire that are going to become the D'Addario's unwound plain steel strings. The wire touches no guides or stationary pulleys, only the molten tin, so it doesn't have an opportunity to get scratched or damaged through the process. Tin coating is the most reliable way to protect high carbon steel from corrosion, and our process is today's state of the art.

Testing the wire

Our quality engineers inspect virtually every spool of wire to make sure it is well within our complex specifications. Wires are pulled, twisted, photographed, test wound, and finally put into production only when they pass the tests.

The winding process

Jim D'Addario: You can hand wind the string, and usually when we refer to hand winding as somebody's feeding that wire on by hand, so you have to hold the wrap wire under tension. Very difficult to do all day long. The machine wound or computer wound strings that we make are extremely consistent, because we control that in a precise way.

She's putting a core on the string, and then the machine is automatically threading the wrap wire and winding the string, so it's wrapping many, many wraps on the string at like 22,000 RPM, very fast.

Like a missile does on its course, it's constantly correcting its course. They control those variables of the guy winding by hand all day long, getting tired or being bored or looking the other way.

What's critical is to control the tension of the wrap wire and the angle that the wire is going on. That way you make a perfect string.


Speaker 1: Sustainability is very important to us. By using color coded ball ends, we were able to eliminate individual paper envelopes that our competitors still use to identify each individual string in their sets. Even our color coding process for the ball ends is an environmentally friendly, water-based formula that we apply just before twisting them on to the plain steel and hexagonally shaped core wires.

Jim D'Addario: We actually develop a process where we color them ourselves, controlling environmental waste.

Speaker 1: Our award-winning string set packaging consists of only two components: an extremely effective anti-corrosion, recyclable inner bag, and a recyclable paper outer envelope. We also take care to avoid any packaging materials that are not biodegradable or recyclable.

By doing it all in house, we get to control quality, inventories, and an added bonus is we have the resources right here to continually improve materials.

Matt Sweeney: And how many strings are made a day?

Speaker 1: We make 700,000 strings a day here.

Matt Sweeney: 700,000 strings.

[on-screen text reads: D'Addario]



Jim D'Addario

D'Addario Chief Innovation Officer