Wargaming Tradecraft: Guitar Strings = Small Pipes

Guitar Strings = Small Pipes

Something that I've seen a few people talk about and Ron showed off a while back was the use of guitar strings with minis to create pipes. I recently had an opportunity to try this myself and it worked so well I had to add it to my list of supplies.

Click on through as I discuss a little about this wonderfully cheap and easy method of creating pipes.

As an example of it's usefulness, here's a shot from a model I'm currently working on:

I repositioned the arm, and this meant that there was no longer a connection between the gizmo held in his hand and the whosit strapped to his back. By gluing a small piece of the guitar string in between, it makes things look as it should.

It's worth noting that guitar wire is flexible - if you bend a large amount of it, it bends back. (Like if someone were strumming a guitar) However, in smaller sections, you can bend it permanently. I simply held it with some needle nosed pliers, (though tweezers might even work) and pushed it against my wooden work surface to put a bend in it. (You could always use 2 sets of pliers)

Guitar string is just a center wire, wrapped tightly with an outer wire. It's this outer wire that creates the ridges that simulate pipes. Strings are available in different sizes (or "gauges") and the smaller sizes aren't wrapped at all. It's just the center wire, which doesn't look like piping in the least.

Music stores, or online sources probably sell wires separately so you could actually buy just the largest sized wires available, which will still be small enough for our scale.

[update] Reader Reid points out that guitar repair shops would probably be willing to give you broken strings for free!

Since I'm just going to be chopping these up, I bought the cheapest pack available, the store brand - $5 for 6 sizes of wire and like 2 feet of each size. You couldn't find that cheaper at a hobby store. Because of the low cost, these packs are still very affordable, even if you get a couple unwrapped wires in each. (I'm sure you can always find a use for other wire)

Guitar string is available for both electric and acoustic guitars, but both will have the wire wrapped ridging we're after so get the cheapest.

Yes, you can always create your own cables by wrapping tin wire around thicker wire, but $5 vs buying wire and the tediousness of tightly wrapping your own, I'll just go out and buy some guitar strings.

Another option that Ron discusses in his article is green stuffing his tubing, which is still a good option as it gives you more control over how large the pipes will be and lets you add damage to the pipes. (Cuts, holes, bursts, etc)

Be Careful!

Guitar strings, while handy, are sharp. Kind of like small metal splinters.

Meant to post this with the original post on the unit attachment for my Stonebearers. Basically, just beware what you're impaling when working with guitar string.


  1. I just didn't have any luck with guitar strings when I gave them a go. Now using them for larger elements where I need to span a distance... they are the answer for me.

    Otherwise I'm sticking to sculpting them or using the metal ones you can buy and cutting them to the correct length.


  2. Guitar strings can be free, just go to a repair shop and ask them to hold onto the ones that they would normally throw out. I got about 30 feet from a shop for nothing.

  3. @Reid: Thanks, I've updated the post as such - great point!

    @Ron: I like their natural look... but I'm only just starting to experiment with green stuff. As I become more practiced I don't doubt it's possible, but for the non-sculpters I think these'll work in a pinch.

  4. While more expensive, you can also buy pewter cables from Dragon Forge:

  5. @David: You can, but at $7 for less than 2' or $5 for 1.5' VS free to $5 for 8'... it's a hard sell. While pewter will hold it's shape better, it'll crack and break if it's pushed too far or too much, and the ridging isn't as prominent as on the guitar strings.


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