The Guitar String Tree or String Retainer is an Important Guitar Replacement Part on both Modern and Vintage Guitars such as the Telecaster and Stratocaster . . .
Why do Telecaster and other Fender style guitars need string retainers and not Gibson style or Acoustic guitars? It's all about the style of neck. Fender style necks are usually made from one thinner piece of wood from the bolt on heel to the top of the tuner headstock. This design is more efficient with less wasted wood.
There is a slight parallel drop from the fretboard to the tuning headstock of the guitar. The String Nut is the dividing line. The drop is often not enough to hold the string in place on the Nut, causing strings to sometimes pop out of the nut slot. If the tension is not enough at the nut it could cause string buzzing or intonation issues as well.
Leo Fender realized his design was great for mass production, but his necks didn't have enough string break, especially for the lighter strings. This realization necessitated the Guitar String retainer to adjust the plane of the string going into the Nut groove.
Acoustic and Gibson Style guitar heads either use a joint of two separate pieces of wood to make the neck or use a much larger piece of wood with enough area to create a one piece neck that could create the needed string break over the nut.
Generally string retainers are used on the four smaller strings to improve tension over the nut. It is believed that the trees balance the pressure evenly across the nut for a balanced tone. They also serve as a physical restraint by preventing the lighter strings from jumping or slipping out of the nut slots.
When seen side by side it is easy to see the difference in headstock string angle between a late model Fender and an 80 year old Martin acoustic neck.
Bars, wings, disks, rollers
and more have been used to keep the strings in place on their way over the nut.
Functionality is first. Whichever the style of choice, it must effectively handle the approx. 200 Lbs. of force generated by tightened String pressure.
The original trees were wing shaped so a pair of strings could be held down on each side of the wing. Two wings were used on the four high (smaller) strings to stabilize string movement. Different designs were tried with varying success. The wing remained popular for over 60 years for three reasons. They are simply efficient, inexpensive and they give any guitar a Vintage look.
For hard playing, string bending players, a new design became equally popular, because it nearly eliminates strings hanging up on a properly set up nut and tree combo. The roller tree has two small moveable wheels that allow the the strings to move back and forth with better odds of the guitar returning to tune.
Medium Aged Relic Nickel Roller String Tree
MVG offers both the traditional Vintage Wing Tree and the Modern Roller Tree in both Nickel, Black Nickel and Aged Relic.
Here are examples of a Modern Vintage Guitar Aged Relic String retainers.
MVG offers most hardware parts in Aged Relic Finish. Finishes Range from Lightly Aged to Heavy Relic.
Modern Vintage Guitar is the original creator of Hybrid Aged Relic Parts. Hybrid parts offer a wide variety of finishes that were not previously offered.
Look through our Aged Relic parts Gallery for unusual Guitar build and makeover Ideas.