Replace your guitar strings like a pro with our step-by-step guide.
If you play guitar, chances are you’ve broken a string. While some advanced guitarists may be able to change their own strings, for the majority of people, learning how to restring a guitar may seem like a daunting task. Before you take your guitar to your local shop, try this step-by-step guide that makes replacing strings a breeze.
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How to String a Guitar
1. Removing the Strings
The first step to learning how to string a guitar is learning how to remove the strings. You can either remove the individual string that is giving you issues, which can help to protect the neck from strain when removing the strings, or replace them all at the same time. Once you’ve decided which strings you’ll be changing, the next step is to loosen the string in order to remove it. You loosen the string by turning the tuning pegs until free enough to remove.
Depending on whether you’re stringing an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar, the removal at the bridge will vary. Most shops sell pin removers, which will help to take out the pins holding your string in place. Once the pin is removed, the string should easily slide out. Be sure to remove the guitar strings one at a time in order to protect the guitar from any damage.
2. Clean the Guitar
Now that the strings are removed, it’s your chance to clean the guitar. As you play, dust and grime can all find their way onto the fret board. When you change only one string, it may be difficult to clean the fret board easily. This is why doing a complete removal on an older guitar may be a great way to refresh your instrument. A large buildup of grime on the fret board can actually take away from the sound of your guitar, lowering the quality while playing.
3. Prepare the Strings
Once the guitar is clean, it’s time to prepare your string. If you’re only replacing only one string, then you can move on to step four. If, however, you’re learning how to restring a guitar completely, then it’s important to organize your strings. Some strings will come with marks that will help to identify the particular note they are tuned for.
While the installation can vary from person to person, it’s usually recommended to put one string on each side at a time. In other words, you would place a thick string then a thin string to ensure the pressure on the neck is balanced throughout.
4. Stringing Time
The next step is to begin the stringing process. If you have an acoustic guitar, you’ll thread the string into the nob hole and then use the peg to hold it in place. Be sure to get a secure fit using a tool, as this is key to ensuring quality sound. After the nob section is in place, stretch the string all the way to the tuning knob and thread it through.
Be sure to give it enough slack that it can be properly tightened and tuned according to your specific sound. It’s important to make sure that each string lies properly in the fret board. If a string is not installed properly it will snap or simply be unplayable. Repeat this same step for all the strings being replaced. The first time may take some trial and error, but, eventually, it will become second nature.
5. Tuning and Snipping
Once all the strings are in place, it’s time to tune the guitar. At this point, you can turn the knobs clockwise to tighten or counterclockwise to loosen. Depending on the desired sound, the tightness of the string will vary. There are plenty of easy tuning tools that make the tuning process easy.
After the guitar is tuned to your specifications, use wire cutters to snip off the excess string. Be sure to leave a small amount to allow for tightening and loosening as needed while playing.
After that, you’re ready to play. The first time you learn how to change guitar strings it may be a bit of trial and error. Once you get a knack for it, however, you will easily be able to care for your guitar as needed.
When is it Time to Replace Guitar Strings?
While learning how to restring a guitar can be a useful skill for guitarists, knowing when to replace the string is also important. Some key signs that your strings need to be replaced include:
- Excess gunk on the fret board
- Old strings
- Strings won’t hold tune
- Frayed strings
- Improper string installation
Changing guitar strings can also depend greatly on how often you play. If you’re playing daily, then strings may need to be changed more often. This is when learning how to string your own guitar comes in handy.