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How To Change Strings On An Acoustic Guitar's Essential Skills for Guitar Players

Don't be scared - it's easy and an essential skill if you want to call yourself a guitarist!

Learning to restring a guitar is a lot easier than you might first think, if you do it the right way. If you can't do it at the moment, and are taking it to your local store to get it done, now is the time to learn. Do be careful though, there is a lot of tension on guitar strings, and if they come loose or snap, they can do you some damage (especially your eyes).

Also be careful to dispose of your old string carefully. Cats and dogs really like to chew on them, but they can go straight through their cheeks. So please dispose of them safely (perhaps rolled up and wrapped in paper?).

Video Guitar Lesson


Step 1 - Remove

Slacken each string by at least 5 or so turns, until they are slack enough to not really make a note. Then cut the strings around the 12th fret.

Remove the strings from the tuning pegs.

Remove the String Pins using the cut out in your Winder Tool, or fingers, or pliers if you need to.

Remove the rest of the strings.

If you broke a string, the ball on the end of the string may have fallen into the body of the guitar, and can be removed by shaking the guitar about until it falls out the soundhole or you might also like to watch my stupid video about getting a pick out of an acoustic guitar ;)

Step 2 (optional) - Clean the neck

I take the opportunity the opportunity of having the strings off to clean the neck. I always use Lemon Oil - Rosewood fingerboards drink it in, maple and ebony boards don't benefit much from the oil but I use it anyway, still helps clean up.

Step 3 - Replace

Kink each string and then put the ball end of the string 10 cm into the hole and replace the peg. Then slowly pull the string while keeping some pressure on the peg until the string is tight. Although this may look a little insecure, if done correctly it will be very strong. Watch out if the peg seems to be coming out, just keep pushing it in (quite hard). Once pulled tight it should not have any give.

Step 4 - Attaching string to tuning peg

This part is the same for all types of guitars (except classical guitars). The most important part of this is getting the string on the correct side of the peg, and here is how to do it. First of all line up the hole in the peg so it is facing straight down the neck. Put the string through the hole and pull it back so you have some slack. The amount of slack you need will vary, depending on the thickness of the string. The 6th string only needs about 5-7cm but the 1st string can take up to 10cm, or thereabouts.

Now take the live string and wrap it around the top of the peg as shown in the video. For most Fender guitar,s and all pegs with winders on the left, you put the wind on Clockwise, for the pegs with the winders on the right (the three facing the ground on Gibson style guitars) you'll wind on this first wind Anti-Clockwise).

Now hold the live (the part you'll play) right down to the neck and start winding the tuner so the live string wraps UNDER the dead string (the slack). This will make it lock onto the string as it gets tighter (it is OK for all the wraps to go under, it is just more secure if you get the lock). You should aim for atleast 3 wraps on the 6th string and 5 wraps for the 1st string. More will not hurt, but less and the string may start to slip. Try not to let the string overlap itself, as this may make it easier to break.

Step 5 - Tuning Up

The next step is to tune the string. I use the Peterson iStrobo Soft app on my iPhone, or my TC Electronic Polytune on my pedalboard.

Tune the string to the right note, but don't get fussy about it yet!

Step 6 - Stretching In

Lastly, and quite often forgotten, is to stretch the string in. Just gently pull on the string with your right hand, using your left hand to hold the string in its correct position in the nut. You should notice it going out of tune considerably, and will need to tune it again. Continue stretching until you no longer need to tune it up and you are ready to rock!



Lesson ID: ES-111