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How to String a Guitar in 6 Easy Steps

String a guitar

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Learning to play the guitar can be challenging. However, as a beginner, the guitar is an excellent instrument to work with. There are numerous great beginner songs you can learn pretty quickly to become a better guitar player.

Owning a guitar, whether an electric guitar or an acoustic, one of the first things you learn is how to tune it to play correctly. Taking guitar lessons is the best way to ensure that you know how to play equipped with the proper fundamentals, and identify and adapt to your effective learning style. 

Another aspect of owning a guitar is understanding how to change the strings. Understanding how a guitar works can go a long way to your knowledge of playing. 

Guitar strings become old and worn or, at times, may break due to tension, so you will need to know the steps to replace them if you’ve ever played with a ukulele with strings like a guitar that need changing from time to time. There are fewer strings on a uke than on a guitar, so you could start there if you want to practice. 

It can feel overwhelming if you’ve never done it before, but we have created a guide to help you learn the steps involved in changing them.

Can I Change Guitar Strings Myself?

While it may be more convenient to take your guitar into a shop to have the strings replaced, it can aid in your ability to learn how to change them yourself. Follow the guide below that walks you through how to change guitar strings on your own.

What You’ll Need to Change Guitar Strings

Here is a breakdown of the things you’ll need when changing guitar strings:

  • New strings (nickel plated, pure nickel, or stainless steel, depending on the type of guitar. Nickel-plated are the more popular type of string)
  • Wire cutters or string clippers
  • Neck support
  • String winder
  • Towel, blanket, or other soft fabric

You do not necessarily need all of these tools to change guitar strings. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough:

How to String a Guitar Step-By-Step

Step 1 – Finding a Space to Work

To make changing your guitar strings more manageable, you should locate a space with a desk or table where you can set the guitar down. Laying a towel down or soft blanket is helpful so that you don’t scratch the back of the guitar.

You can also purchase a neck support for the guitar or use something to hold the neck upright, such as a stack of books or something that has some height.

Step 2 – Removing the Strings

The next step is removing the strings from your guitar. Again, you have the option to restring one string at a time, or you can take all of the strings off at one time and replace them all. Depending on your preference, you can do it either way.

If you find that your fretboard is covered in dust and grime and you want to wipe it to clean it and add some oil, you might prefer to remove all of the strings at once. On the other hand, if you’d like to take your time or it is your first time changing them, you might want to go slowly and just change one at a time.

Do you Cut the Old Strings?

If the strings are still okay, you might consider just unwinding them and saving them if you need spare strings. You don’t have to cut them unless they are already broken. If you want to, you can loosen the strings and cut them.

Step 3 – Changing the String at the Bridge

Bridge pins are what hold your guitar strings in place at the base. A string winder is a helpful tool since it has a slot for removing the pins. If you use your fingertips to pull out the pins, just be cautious – they are in place tightly and can be challenging to remove.

Step 4 – Putting in New Strings: Start at the Bridge

The ball end of your string needs to go under the bridge pin at the bottom. The ball end of the string is a small, round piece of metal that you’ll see at the end of the new guitar string. 

Slide the string into the hole and put in your peg loosely, about halfway or a little more than halfway in, then pull up the string until the ball end it at the bridge pin. Finish pulling the string and push the pin in all the way.

You must ensure your string is secure and in place before you wind it. You can check this by pulling the string upward to ensure it’s not loose and is set in the pin.

Step 5 – Finish Putting in the New Strings at the Tuner (Top)

Give yourself enough slack so that when you wind the string around the pegs at the top, you have enough string to help it stay in place. A good rule to follow here is using the space between one tuning post to the next, which is about two inches.

Next, you want to be careful in the direction you wind your strings and wind them towards the center, so they don’t get tangled. Wrapping the strings is another place you need to be careful because you need to put the string through the tuning peg hole, give it some slack, and then push the string up and around the peg, making sure to wrap above the hole, so you have the excess string out.

Changing guitar strings

When you wind the string, have the wrap go under the hole with extra to keep the strings from slipping. The thickness of the string is known as a string gauge. Your treble strings will be smaller, have a smaller string gauge, and will be easier to wind. The bass strings are thicker. Then you can tighten each string to the correct tune or pitch. 

You can utilize a guitar tuner app to help with this part. Each time you tune it, be sure to pull on the string and stretch it a little, knowing it’s at the correct pressure and tightness. Of course, you will have to tune it again once you stretch it each time. 

Step 6 – Trimming Down the New Guitar Strings

Save trimming your strings down as the last step so that you don’t short yourself from being able to wrap the strings tightly enough. Trim close to the peg where the string is sticking out from its wrapped point, but not too close so that it becomes unwound. 

You have completed changing the strings on your guitar. Play a chord or two and enjoy the lovely sound from your new strings to test your job. Next, take your guitar pick and try plucking to test the sound. It might take a day or two for your hands to get comfortable on them.

How Do You Change Guitar Strings at Home Without Tools? 

Neck supports, string wideners, and wire cutters are unnecessary when changing your guitar strings. There are other methods for removing and changing strings without any need for tools. For instance, if you don’t have a string widener tool, you can stick your hand in the guitar’s sound hole and push them up gently.

Is it Hard to Change Strings on an Acoustic Guitar? 

An acoustic guitar, also known as classical guitar, has strings that need changing, and they may seem more intimidating than electric guitar strings when changing. However, changing the strings on your own can save you time and money. Slackening the old strings, removing them, and installing new strings is easy if you follow the simple steps outlined above.

Electric guitar strings are slightly different; you will twist the string in an “S” shape and slide your strings between the nut and the post when you are restringing. Twist in the opposite direction for high strings on 3 + 3 headstocks. Then you will create the loop to pull the string through and tighten it before trimming off the excess string, which is the same as on an acoustic.

How do I get to Know the Right Time to Change my Guitar Strings? 

There are some signs to look for to be more aware of when it is time to change your guitar strings. If a string breaks, that is a clear indication that you need to replace it. Other signs that point to it being the right time to change strings include:

  • Strings won’t stay in tune or become slack
  • Your guitar’s tone sounds dull
  • The strings are discolored 
  • The guitar strings feel too stiff (they should feel flexible)
  • The strings have dirt on them or feel grimy when playing

The more you play the guitar, the more noticeable it will be to you when it’s time to change the strings. As you feel more comfortable with your playing style, you can practice playing more fluidly through guitar riffs. It will also aid you in knowing how often you’ll want to restring your guitar.

Why is it Important to Change the Strings on my Guitar?

Changing guitar strings isn’t as challenging as you may initially think. Learning how to change the strings, besides playing, will help you improve your guitar skills. You will be more equipped to understand your instrument more fully and be prepared during a performance to change your strings at a moment’s notice. 

Some key takeaways to remember include:

  • Give yourself a few inches of slack to wind your strings and repeat for the others
  • Don’t trim the strings until you have completed restringing and secured it to the peg
  • ​Keep stretching the strings as you tune until they don’t slip
  • Pack a new set of strings with you every time you play

Feel confident in your abilities and work on changing your own guitar strings. You’ll save yourself time and money, feel more confident in your guitar skills, and be a proper guitarist.

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