By Malcolm Guite

RESTRINGING a guitar is an absorbing and, at the same time, relaxing thing to do.

My guitar, like its owner, has had its adventures, dents, and scrapes, and carries, to put it politely, the patina of age. But, thanks to the occasional new set of strings, it still sounds and resounds as it should — perhaps better than it did to begin with.

What makes restringing seem so strangely restorative?

Perhaps the outward actions: the slackening of the old strings, the stretching of the new, and the gradual tautening until there is a resonance — pitched as before, but brightened now, and clarified. Perhaps there is some inner corres­pondence: the restringer is himself restrung, the tuner tuned.

That sequence — slackening, changing, renewing, and retuning — gives a better account of what happens on a good holiday, a good retreat, or even a good night’s sleep, than the usual flat cliché about “recharging my battery”. I’d rather be picked up and played than just left plugged in somewhere.

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