It’s easier than you think to restring your acoustic guitar. If you’re still having your guitar strings changed at a local store, now is the time to learn how to do it yourself! 🙂 YOU ARE CAPABLE!
In this session, I’ll walk you through the entire process of changing your acoustic guitar strings. It’s simple, and once you get the hang of it, it gets easier. By itself, the sound of new strings may be rather rewarding and exciting!
I’d like to caution you before I tell you how to restring the guitar. Guitar strings are under a lot of tension, and if they break free or shatter, it can be dangerous. Also, be cautious when discarding your old set of strings. Chewing on them is a deadly habit for cats and dogs.
Let’s get this party started! Here are some generic suggestions:
PREPARE YOUR GUITAR STRINGS CHANGING TOOLS!
You should have at least two sets of guitar strings on hand in case one breaks and needs to be replaced. You’ll also need a tuner; learn which one is best for you in this course.
You may change the guitar strings on your guitar without any equipment, but to save time, I recommend using a string winder. I also use the time without strings to clean the fretboard, so I always have my cleaning supplies ready.
TIP: Make sure you know where you should put your guitar’s bridge back in. When you’re removing your old guitar strings, it’s fairly uncommon for the bridge to come loose.
GET RID OF THE OLD STRINGS
When you read this, it may sound apparent, but it’s amazing how many people cut the strings with tension on, or don’t coil the strings and end up with them poking through your bin liner… thus…
- Slacken each string by at least 5 turns, or until they are so slack that they don’t produce a sound.
- Around the 12th fret, cut the strings.
- Remove the tuning pegs from the strings.
- Remove the String Pins with your Winder Tool’s cutout, your fingers, or pliers if necessary.
- Remove all of the remaining strings.
- Put the strings in the rubbish after they’ve been wound up.
CLEANING YOUR ACOUSTIC GUITAR
This is an optional step, but it may be worth your time to do. I don’t normally polish my guitars, but I do prefer to maintain the fretboard clean and the wood in good condition. I strongly advise you to do the same! Lemon oil is my go-to neck treatment, but there are plenty of alternative options. There are a variety of guitar polishes available for the body of the guitar!
CORRECTLY INSTALLING THE STRINGS IN THE BRIDGE
Changing the strings on your acoustic guitar is simple with the right method. Take your time placing the strings in the bridge; it’s not difficult, but many people, including pros, are unaware of this technique.
- Each string should be kinked about 2-3cm away from the ball.
- 10cm (about) into the hole, insert the ball end of the string.
- Replace the peg, this time with the slot towards the neck.
- Then, while keeping some pressure on the peg, carefully pull the string until it is taut. Although it appears to be insecure, if done correctly, it will be extremely strong.
If the peg appears to be slipping out, keep pushing it in (quite hard). There should be no give after it’s pulled firmly.
TUNE THE TUNERS BY WINDING THE GUITAR STRINGS ONTO THE TUNERS
This section is the same for all guitars (except classical guitars). It’s critical to place the guitar strings on the correct side of the peg, and here’s how:
- Make sure the peg’s hole is facing straight down the neck.
- Pull the string back through the hole so that there is some slack. Depending on the thickness of the string, you’ll need different amounts of slack. The 6th string only requires 5-7cm, while the first string can require up to 10cm. Most of the time, it takes a little practice (and getting it wrong!) to get it right!
- Now, as shown in the video, take the live thread and wrap it around the top of the peg. TIP: Turn the winder clockwise on most Fender guitars and any pegs with left-hand winders. You’ll wind on this initial wind Anti-Clockwise for all the pegs with the winders on the right (the three facing the ground on Gibson model guitars).
- Hold the live part (the part you’ll play) firmly against the wood and begin winding the tuner so that the live string wraps around the dead string (the slack). As you tighten the knot, it will lock onto the string. All of the wraps should be under the first string, with at least 2 wraps on the thickest string and 4 wraps on the thinnest string (thinnest). More isn’t necessarily better, but less may cause the string to slip. Avoid allowing the string to overlap, as this will make it more likely to break.
TUNING YOUR ACOUSTIC GUITAR
A clip-on tuner is recommended, but you can use whatever you choose. Also, keep in mind that getting the strings closer to where they should be may require using your ears.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE ACOUSTIC GUITAR STRINGS?
If there’s a lot of visible string on the strings, it’s time for a change. If black sludge comes off when you scrape your fingernail beneath the string (yuck!) then it’s time for a change.
If one string breaks, I recommend replacing them all so that the tone remains consistent!
Even if you don’t break any strings, if you practice for 30 minutes most days, you’ll probably want to change them every couple of months. After a few tweaks, you’ll be able to tell when the strings are starting to sound ‘dead,’ and you’ll want to replace them!