Instructions for Changing the Strings On Your Guitar
Below you will find a free video with my easy, step-by-step instructions, on how to change your guitar strings. It’s really quite simple to do, even if you have never done it before. Your confidence will begin to grow once you’ve done it a couple of times. Besides, you can always refer back to these steps whenever you need to!
The very first thing to do is to make some general observations regarding your string setup:
- Which way do you turn the tuning keys to tighten or loosen them?
- How are they aligned from the nut to the bridge?
- How are they attached at the bridge- by tying or using a pin?
- Which one is the heaviest (thickest) and which is the lightest (thinnest)?
Taking mental notes at the outset will make the job easier, save time, and prevent unnecessary frustration.
- Needle-nose Players (to cut excess length)
- Soft Cotton Cloth
- String Winder/pin puller (optional)
- Guitar Cleaning Polish (IMPORTANT: Do not use furniture polish, oils, or wax!)
You may have some of these items already. Check online, or at your local guitar shop for additional guitar cleaning and maintenance tools you might need.
The Removal Process:
I like to remove all of the strings at once in order to give my guitar a thorough cleaning, but you can remove and replace them one at a time if you prefer.
- Using the string winder, begin slowly loosening the string(s) until completely slack.
- With the needle-nose players, carefully grab the string from the capstan (the part it winds around) and pull through the hole until it is free.
- Taking the string winder again, use the cut-out at the end of it to grab the pin at the bridge. Gently pull the pin until it comes out of the hole.
- Continue this process until all six are removed.
- Clean guitar surface thoroughly.
Follow steps one and two above. When you come to step three, take your needle-nose players and carefully loosen the figure eight knot at the bridge. Pull the string free.
Follow the same procedure as described for an acoustic guitar. However, if you have an electric guitar with a movable bridge you may want to take it to your local music store and have them show you how to do it safely. If the bridge is moved from it’s correct position you will not be able to tune your guitar after restringing it.
The Re-stringing Process:
Now it’s time to put everything back together again so you can play some music.
- Bend the ball end of the string slightly and place it inside the hole below the bridge. Some steel string guitars do not have pins. When this is the case, just pull the string through the hole.
- Line up the string with any grooves in the pin. Insert the pin into the hole, making sure it is secure.
- Take the other end and insert into the hole on the capstan.
- Pull the string through leaving a fair amount of slack between the capstan and the bridge.
- Bend the string at the point it comes through the capstan to keep it secure.
- Watching out for your eyes, begin turning the key with your left hand. Once you get it started it may be easier to use the string winder. (For safety reasons, you might want to cut off any excess. I usually wait until after they’re all on to do this).
- As you are winding, apply some tension to the string with your right hand to help keep it taught. Make sure you are winding in the right direction! On the bass strings you will be winding counter-clockwise (away from you). On the treble strings you will go the opposite direction.
- Continue to wind each string until all the slack is taken up. Do not worry about tuning yet.
- Cut off all excess string length.
- Put the string through the top of the hole found just below the bridge.
- Pull about 3 inches through.
- Bringing the string up over the tie block, pass it underneath itself at the original point of entry.
- Come down over the tie block again and wrap the end of the string around itself in a figure eight type pattern.
- Insert the other end of the string down through the hole on the capstan.
- Wrap the string around the back and then underneath itself in order to secure it in place.
- As described above, begin turning the key with your left hand while maintaining some tension with the other until all the slack is taken up. With a classical guitar you will wind clockwise on the bass strings and the treble strings.
- Keep the string as straight as possible as it continues from the capstan through the nut and down onto the neck.
- You should not have any excess string length, but if you do, cut it off.
Follow the same procedure as described for the acoustic steel string guitar.
I hope you found this information helpful. Establishing a good guitar care routine will insure many long years of musical fun and enjoyment!
Deciding which guitar strings to use for your particular guitar can be a bit confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Get my free tips on how to choose the best ones for your guitar.