• Guitar Strings in N-Scale Model Railroading!

    I'm a musician, and I'm aware a few of you here are as well. Last night I was changing the strings on my electric guitar and one of my bass guitars, and as I set aside my old guitar strings, the proverbial light bulb lit up - I can use the discarded guitar strings for my model railroad!

    I took some of the bass strings and cut them up into scale 40' lengths. I don't own any gondolas or non-TOFC flats, but I figured these might work as pipe loads:


    Now electric guitar strings can be used in even more versatile situations. See, guitar strings come in two forms: The three highest strings are really made of nickel or steel wire. The three lowest strings are made of a nickel or steel wire core but are wound around with another nickel or steel wire - the ones that have a ribbed texture to it (all bass guitar strings are wound).

    The wound guitar strings can be used as pipes or as re-bar - great if you have a construction site on your layout.

    The non-wound strings can be used for a variety of uses, like handrails or posts or underbody detail on rolling stock.

    Guitar and Bass strings come in slightly different diameters (gauge) for tone and playability. But here's a table of typical string gauges and their N-scale equivalent sizes:

    Electric Guitar String Diameters and N-scale equivalent:

    1 E .010" = 1.6"
    2 B .013" = 2.08"
    3 G .017" = 2.72"
    4 D .026" = 4.16"
    5 A .036" = 5.76"
    6 E .046" = 7.36"

    Bass Guitar String Diameters and N-scale equvalent:

    1 G .045" = 7.2"
    2 D .065" = 10.4"
    3 A .085" = 13.6"
    4 E .105" = 16.8"

    If you're putting on new strings, often times the wound strings will have a short section of the wire core exposed at the end. You can snip this off and use for any of the above uses, or use it as actuator wire for your Tortoise machines!

    So if any of you here are guitar or bass players - save your old strings! And if you're not, ask a musician to give you their used strings! You'll have some free layout material!

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Guitar Strings in N-Scale Model Railroading! started by MetroRedLn View original post
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. rack776's Avatar
      rack776 -
      I had been using my plain unwound wire for models for a while
      but I never thought to use the wound ones as pipe, friggin awesome! Thanks!

      The thiner unwound wire can also be used to unclog glue bottle tips

      The thicker wound wire strings can be used as a file on soft strene to open
      up or slot holes
    1. bridgeman's Avatar
      bridgeman -
      I've been using a short piece of 9 gauge guitar string to keep the applicator of my Faller Expert Glue clear. The larger wound strings also come in handy for preventing aluminum and brass tubing from collapsing while bending. They also make great flexible files.
    1. Sean Barry's Avatar
      Sean Barry -
      I work at a rock club and quite frequently have to pick old strings up and toss them in the trash. I think I'll start a collection!
    1. gndboy's Avatar
      gndboy -
      Now, if only I could find a use for that horrible ZOOM 506 on the layout. Great idea, Metro!