Changing guitar strings can seem like a daunting and difficult task for those who have never done it before. However, if you learn how to change guitar strings all by yourself, you will never have to ask for help again or make a trip to Guitar Center again.
No longer you’ll be the person showing up to the guitar store asking for help to change your guitar strings. No longer you’ll be the guitar player that has to ask their friends for help changing your strings.
It is a moral obligation of being a guitar player to learn how to change guitar strings all by your own skills. We are here to help you in your process of learning how to change guitar strings like the true guitar champ that you are.
How to Change Guitar Strings
Guitar strings can seem like a world of challenge to change yourself, but we are here to inform you that they are not the death of your fingers or your guitar. In fact, you can easily learn how to change guitar strings by yourself like a champ in a few easy steps.
To properly change your guitar strings, you must have the following supplies. This step-by-step is for those using an acoustic guitar and guitar strings. Changing strings on electric guitars are somewhat different, and we are only referring to acoustic style guitars in this case.
String by String
Changing guitar strings is a wonderful tool for any guitar player to have. Here, we will break down the step-by-step of changing your guitar string. The first decision to make is deciding how you will restring. There is an ongoing debate on whether to unstring everything first and then restring all at once, or whether to do one string at a time.
This is completely up to you and it really does not matter which track you take as long as you really focus on what you are doing and making sure you are doing it correctly. The perk of using the one-at-a-time method is that you can maintain most of the tension the neck is used to, and therefore, keep the string’s tension in balance with the truss rod tension.
If you decide to remove all the strings at once, you are able to clean and wipe the fingerboards without having to work around the strings. This helps if you are trying to do a deep clean to your guitar because fingerboards accumulate a mixture of skin, dirt, oil and grime over time, and it can be beneficial for your tone and guitar’s life to remove all strings while cleaning and changing them.
The Step-by-Step Guide in Changing Your Guitar Strings
1. Loosen the strings
Remove the strings by loosening them until they are no longer under tension. You can either clip them using nippers or use a tuning machine to loosen until they can be taking out manually out of the tuning pegs. If you want to be extra handy when doing this step, buy yourself an amazing little tool called a peg winder.
2. Remove the bridge pins
Remove the bridge pins, which are the knob-looking tools that permit the strings to hook themselves onto the interior of the instrument. You can buy a bridge pin puller that is sold at any music shop and this will help you get the pesky little bridge pins out of your guitar.
Definitely, use a pin puller to get these little suckers out or you might do some damage to them or your guitar. You can also use a guitar pro tip by using a coin or a hard object to push the pins out from the inside of the guitar. Once the pin pegs pop loose, you can pull them out of the peg holes making the pins remove easiest.
3. Remove the guitar strings
Carefully eliminate the guitar strings from the peg holes one string at a time.
4. Clean your guitar
This is an optional step, but we think it is extremely necessary because taking care of your valued goods is a wonderful way to improve the longevity of your precious guitar’s life. Use a chamois cloth and guitar cleaner to clean the guitar’s body fingerboard, back of the guitar’s neck and headstock.
Never ever use furniture polish, glass spray or household cleaners to clean your guitar. Buy a legit guitar cleaner from a music or guitar shop to use for this process. This process helps remove excess oils, dirt and grime that builds up on your guitar over time.
5. Here comes the best part: changing your strings
The first step is buying new strings. Some strings make it simple by color-coding the strings to indicate which note they are tuned to. There is an ongoing battle of which order you change your strings in, but you can create your favorite method.
The typical method is to first put in the thinnest string, then move to the thickest and then back to the next thinnest and the next thickest and so on. This means you change your strings in this order: 1,6,2,5,3,4 – but this totally up to you.
Insert the knob end of the string into the peg hole and re-insert the end peg while simultaneously holding in the string during this time. It can be of help to you to pull a little tension on the string toward the head of the guitar because the tension helps those pegs from falling out.
Once you have each string in its peg hole, stretch each string while replacing it. Stretch each string to its suitable tuning peg and insert the end through the hole in the peg. Remember throughout this process that you will want to be turning the guitar-tuning key always to the right to tighten (lefty loosey, righty tighty).
Next, you thread the string through the hole and pull tight. Leave a small bit of slack to have an excess string to wind around your tuning pegs. This will allow for a little extra stretching room for the strings once you play again. It is always better to have more string than less because you can always cut off the excess string.
Bend each string up ninety degrees perpendicular to the guitar and turn the tuning key so that you can wind the string multiple times around the peg. This is another spot a peg winding tool will be your new best friend.
You need to tighten the string a few semi-tones below its usual pitch. This is true because you want the string to be tight enough to hold the sound in place, but you want enough tension so that it does not escape from the bottom peg.
You will continue to follow these re-stringing steps until you are done with every single string. Do not forget to tune your guitar after you re-string your guitar for the most proper guitar on the streets.
6. Cut excess strings
The last step in learning how to change guitar strings is to cut off the excess string with wire cutters. Leave about 1/8 of an inch of “stub” on the end. Do not do this step if you are using steel string guitar strings. This only applies to nylon strings, which are made to wind this way.
Wow! Look at you. You just changed your guitar string all by yourself. Give yourself an accomplished pat on the back, because changing your guitar strings all-alone is not an easy task. It is a task that every guitar player should know how to achieve because it comes with the job.
Play Your Strings
You cannot play a mean guitar but not know the basics of how to care for it and know how to change its strings. For real though, even if you crush it at playing the guitar, no one will respect you if you can’t change a D string.
How will you impress your guitar playing ideal when his string breaks on stage and he needs a stagehand that can change his string in T-minus 30 seconds? This is exactly why you need to learn how to change guitar strings for your own self and for the sake of winning over your ideal’s good graces and impressing them for life.
As with any learned skill, practice and patience makes perfect. We can promise you that you will not properly change your guitar strings perfectly the first time around. If you keep on with the hard work and continue to practice changing your guitar strings, you will eventually nail the process, and eventually, it will come second nature to you.