How to Change Your Guitar Strings

Many of the new guitarists are unnerved at the idea of changing your guitar string. Some of you dare not to do it yourselves in the fear of damaging your instrument. Well, rest assured, changing your guitar’s strings is one of the easiest tasks out there! If you want to be a guitarist, you need to take care of your instrument, know how to tune it, and change its strings. If you are looking for ways to change your guitar strings we are here to offer you a complete guideline of how to do it. Read our article, and know all about how to change your guitar strings the easy way.

How to Change Your Guitar Strings

Photo by: Rock Zhou

How Many Strings are there in a Guitar?

The number of strings on a guitar depends upon its type. 6 string guitars are the most common and popular type, however others have fewer or more strings.

  • Six-string guitars: All six-string guitars are tuned to pitches: E2, A2, G3, B3, E4, and D3. Both electric and acoustic 6 string guitars are tuned in this way. 
  • Twelve-string guitars: you will find professional singers and famous musicians playing the 12 string guitar. These guitars contain one thick and one thin string joined in a pair. 12 string guitars produce a fuller and smoother sound than 6 string ones. 
  • Seven- and eight-string guitars: You will find electric guitars having seven or eight strings. 7 or 8 string guitars are for playing metal or rock music. These guitars follow the conventional tuning pattern too. It has extra pitches that are added under E2.

Four-string guitars: Most bass guitars contain 4 strings. They have a very narrow and thin fingerboard and are tuned to E A D and G.

Here is a Wikipedia page on Guitar Strings 

Steps on how to change your guitar strings

Items that you will need:

  • Your guitar. (classical, electric, or acoustic)
  • A new set of strings. You can buy a string set of any brand you want, however, make sure the strings are of the same gauge as your previous guitar strings. Different gauges exert different amounts of tension and string on the guitar’s neck.
  • Wire-cutter
  • A String winder
  • A piece of cloth to polish
  • Fretboard cleaner (optional)

Photo by: Maxime Favier

Follow the step-by-step procedure

Step 1: Find a suitable place

First of all you need to find a suitable place to change your guitar strings. Find a clean table or desk for the task. If you have an uneven surface try to make sure you keep an object under the guitar’s neck to support it.

You can use a pile of books or boxes of similar height and place it under your guitar’s neck for support. Keep your guitar on the table and then gather all the items that are needed to change your guitar strings. Also, remember to lay a small cloth or a towel beneath your guitar to prevent it from sliding while you restring it.

Step 2: Remove the Strings

Before removing your strings you need to consider few things. You can restring your guitars all at a time, or one by one. The safest option would be to restring one at a time.

Removing all the strings together causes tension in the guitar’s neck. It can also hurt your fingers or damage the fretboard as it snaps. Now, you need to loosen up your strings as you prepare to remove them. 

You can also cut the strings off directly with a wire cutter. Cutting the strings would mean they are unusable now, so it you want to keep your old springs as spare, gently unwind them and keep them in a case. Get each string off the peg one by one.

You will find each guitar string held in place with the help of a bridge pin. A string winder can help remove these. Instead of sticking your hand inside your guitar’s hole in the bridge and pushing them up using a string winder and make the entire process much easier. If you use your fingers you may hurt yourself, since they are wedged it will be a difficult process. 

You can check this YouTube video out to see how replacing string from the bridge side works.

Step 3: Put on your new set of strings

Bridge Side

After removing all your old strings, you need to make sure is to place the ball end of your guitar below the bridge pin. If you do not know what a ball end is, a ball end is the small round metal piece at the end of every string. The round-shaped metal that you use to tune. 

You can start by sliding the string inside the sound-hole and then insert the peg slowly and steadily until it reaches ¾-th of the path inside. Next, you have to pull up the string until you can feel the ball end touching your bridge pin.

From there, you will need to pull the string and slowly push the pin inside. You can test whether you have done this correctly or not, by pulling the string in the direction of the headstock. Check if it is seated and secured.

Tuner Side of the guitar

While putting on new string people often make mistakes while changing their guitar strings from the tuner side. While restringing from the tuner’s end there are few things you need to get right.

The string should be able to wind around your guitar’s peg and stay settled. You should keep about 2 inches of distance between your current and your next tuning post. Do not make a mistake in getting the direction of the string right. Wind the strings towards the center so that the strings do not interfere with one another.

Take good care of the first and second strings, so that they do not get intertwined. Wrap the strings in a way so that they stay clamped together and do not slip.

You need to do this by inserted this string down the tuning peg-hole, then you have to push the string up, get it around the peg, and towards the center. You need to carry out the same process for all the strings of your guitar.

Then tighten them in an anti-clockwise direction. Make sure each of the strings matches properly under the tuner’s face. You will find some of the strings are extending out, cut the ones that are sticking out with a string cutter and you are all set.

Do not cut the strings too much, keep them as close to the peg as you can. Make sure the string does not snap back under tension.

Check these YouTube links to restring from the tuning end

How to tune your guitar

After changing all your guitar strings clean your fretboard with a fretboard cleaner. This is not a compulsory step. However, cleaning will make your guitar look neat as good as new. For tuning there are many ways how you can tune after restringing.

You can either tune by using your ears only, using a keyboard, or with an electronic tuner. You can also use guitar tuning apps that are easily accessible in both Apple and Android app stores.

If you have no keyboard or an electronic tuner by your side try tuning with your ear. For those of you who are not from a musical background, this can be both challenging and intimidating. However, with practice you will get the hang of it. You can tune using the 5th Fret method. 

If you are not familiar with the 5th fret method you can check these links. You will find a detailed video explains how you can successfully tune your guitar.

Once you have tuned your guitar, you need to check your final G chord tune.

Play the G Chord

After you are all done with setting all the strings and tuning your guitar, play the G chord and check your tunes. Check out the bright tones of your newly stringed guitar. Playing the G chord is not so tough.

All you need to do is, place your index finger on the second fret of your guitar’s 5th string. Your middle finger on the 3rd fret of 6th string, and place your ring finger on the 3rd fret of the 1st string. Strum across the strings and play.
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