Changing your own strings is something every guitarist should know how to do. There’s a lot of different approaches to changing strings, this is the one that works for me.
1. Use a peg winder to loosen all the strings. Unwind each string and remove it from the tuning peg.
- Electric - Push the strings down into the hole in the bridge and grab the ball end of the string that is now sticking out of one of the holes in the back of the guitar and pull the string all the way out.
- Acoustic - You’ll need to pull out the bridge pin. Most peg winders are made to help with this, but you can also push the string down into the guitar and the pin will usually be easily pulled out by hand.
2. With the strings off, now is a good time to clean your guitar. Wipe off all the dirt and grime with a soft lint-free cloth. You can also use some lemon oil to clean and condition the fretboard (don’t use lemon oil on maple fretboards).
3. Restring the guitar. I always start with the low E.
- Electric - Push the string through the hole in the back of your electric.
- Acoustic - Put the ball end of the string right at the opening in the bridge and push the ball down into the hole using the bridge pin. Pull up lightly on the string as you’re pushing the bridge pin into place to make sure the ball end of the string seats properly and won’t suddenly pull tight as you’re tuning the string to pitch.
4. Pull the string tight along the neck and make a 90 degree bend at the tuning peg past the one you’ll be using for this string (this makes sure you have the exact amount of slack you need to get three winds on the tuning peg - every time).
5. Now thread the string through the correct tuning peg up to the point where you made the bend. Make another bend in the end of the string coming out of the tuning peg in the opposite direction of your first bend (this keeps the string from pulling out of the peg while you’re winding it).
6. Hold the string down at the nut with your finger(s) and take up the slack in the string with your thumb while you wind the string onto the tuning peg. It’s important to hold the string tight as you wind it, so you get neat, tight wraps on the peg (this will help keep your guitar from going out of tune). Repeat this process for the other five strings.
7. Stretch the strings. Carefully stretch each string a few times, retune, then stretch again. Repeat this process for each string until they stay in tune when you stretch them. Cut the excess string off close to the tuning peg with wire cutters. Tune up and go play!
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Chad Cheadle is a guitar teacher and the owner of SonicStrings.net - an online guitar and accessories store. Visit http://www.SonicStrings.net for more lessons like this one.