Changing your guitar strings is really not that difficult, but for some reason many new-fangled guitarists often dread it. Intimidating or not, it's an easy-to-learn skill that no self-respecting guitarist can do without. (Note: This guide assumes you have a "dreadnought" type of acoustic guitar (steel strings). Electric and classical guitars are slightly different, but mostly the same rules apply.
Part 1 of 2: Removing the strings and bridge pins
Step 1. Choose a method
There is still disagreement as to whether it is wiser to change each string individually, or simply remove all the strings and then re-string the guitar. The choice is yours.
- By changing each string individually, you largely maintain the tension on the neck, so that the string tension remains in balance with that of the drawbar.
- Removing all the strings at once gives you the opportunity to clean the fingerboard without having to lift the strings and be difficult to clean around them. Keys accumulate dander, grease, and grime over time, negatively affecting the guitar's tone and duration).
Step 2. Remove the strings until there is no tension left
Then release them from the tuning pegs (unscrew the string even more if necessary).
An inexpensive and handy tool is the peg winder (for turning the tuning knobs), and is available at any music store that sells guitars
Step 3. Remove the bridge pins
These resemble knobs (usually white or black) that hold the strings in the guitar. If necessary, use a special bridge pin puller, available from music stores. Bridge pins can be tight, especially when the guitar is new. You may be tempted to pull them out of the guitar with pliers, but most of the time this really isn't necessary (be careful anyway).
Another way is to push the pins out from the inside of the guitar with a hard object such as a coin. Sometimes it can also help to push the string further into the guitar, as the end of the string clamps itself. Once free, the pins can be removed from the pin holes
Step 4. Remove the strings from the pin holes one at a time
Step 5. Clean the guitar if necessary
This means that you clean the body, fingerboard, neck and headstock of the guitar. Use a cleaner that you can get in the music store for this. Never use furniture cleaner, glass spray or other common household cleaners. If you have nothing else, simply use a slightly damp chamois cloth or lint-free cotton cloth. Grease from your hands will have built up on the fretboard over time, requiring a lot of dirt to be removed remarkably quickly.
If you do have to use water, this may only be a miniscule amount, you will hardly notice that the cloth is slightly damp. Too much water can ruin unpainted wood
Part 2 of 2: Changing the strings
Step 1. Get the new strings ready
Some ends of strings are color-coded to indicate which string it is.
Step 2. Choose your own order
There are many theories in which order strings should be swapped. Some guitarists start with the highest strings and others with the lowest strings.
The most common method is to start with the thinnest string first, then change the thickest string, then the second string, then the fifth, etc. So in order (1, 6, 2, 5, 3, 4). By working this way back and forth you maintain a more even tension on the neck, which prevents tuning problems, especially on older guitars
Step 3. Put the end of the string with the ring in the pin hole and push it in with the pin
Hold the string and make sure there is some tension on it (using the tuning pegs), as this will cause the pin to get stuck.
Step 4. Attach the string to the tuning peg
Once the string is secured with the pin, pull the string through and attach it to the associated tuning peg, putting the end through the hole in the peg shaft. Remember to always turn the tuning knob to the right to tighten the string.
Step 5. Pull the string through the hole and then tighten
Make sure you leave some space to wind the string around the shaft. If you don't do this, the string will loosen or come loose during playing.
Unfortunately, this is often a matter of trying and differs per string. Remember that you can always cut more string if you have leftovers, but you can't stick it on if you make the string too short
Step 6. Bend the string up at a 90° angle to the guitar, and turn the tuning knob to rotate the string around its axis
This may mean that you are spinning for quite some time (again, a peg winder can be very useful now). When tensioning the string, make sure that each subsequent turn is placed below and tight against the previous one so that none of the turns are on top of each other. This ensures a neater appearance and a longer lifespan of the string. In addition, the guitar stays in tune better.
At this point, there is no point in trying to tune the guitar string exactly. Make sure the string is tight enough to hold the pin in place
Step 7. Repeat this procedure with the rest of the strings
Step 8. Now you can start tuning the guitar
Step 9. Use pliers to trim protruding parts from the strings, leaving only about 1/2 inch of string
Don't cut the string too short, as you run the risk of the end sliding back into the winding, causing the string to become loose.
- After changing the strings you will have to tune the guitar a little more often, in the beginning.
- To keep the right amount of string, as a rule of thumb, you can place 4 fingers under the string at the 12th fret.
- Another method of removing bridge pins works with a shoelace. Make a loop with the lace, put it around the pin and pull the lace tight. Make sure the lace fits snugly between the pin and the bridge. With a little patience you can work the pen out of the guitar without damage that other tools can cause.
- You don't have to cut the strings, but you can curl them with a flick of your thumb and a pick (like you do when making ribbon embellishments).
- If you use pliers to remove the pins, cover the pin with a cloth to prevent damage.