How to Restring a 12-String Guitar for Optimal Performance

Are you ready to breathe new life into your 12-string guitar?

The secret lies in maintaining fresh strings that bring out its full potential. In this easy guide, we’ll walk you through the simple and essential steps of changing strings on your 12-string guitar.

Don’t let worn-out strings hinder your musical journey – join us as we unlock the secrets to preserving optimal sound quality and ensuring an enjoyable playing experience.

Essential tips for restringing your 12-string guitar:

Here are some essential tips for restringing your 12-string guitar:

  • Use lighter guitar strings because heavier strings can strain the neck due to the extra tension from the 12 strings.
  • Be cautious when tightening and avoid overdoing it, as excessive tension can cause strings to break.
  • Take your time because restringing a 12-string guitar requires patience and precision to ensure proper string alignment and tension.
  • Seek professional guidance if needed If you’re feeling unsure about the process.
  • Keep an eye on the neck and overall condition of your guitar to address any potential issues promptly.

Essential tools for restringing your 12-string guitar:

Here’s a list of essential tools for restringing your 12-string guitar:

  • Wire cutters: Used for trimming excess string length after installation.
  • Tuning key or String winder: Helps with efficient and precise winding of the strings.
  • Allen key: Used for adjusting the truss rod or other components on the guitar.
  • String action gauge: Ensures proper string height for comfortable playing.
  • Bridge pin puller: Facilitates the removal of bridge pins for string installation or maintenance.
  • New strings: The heart of the restringing process, make sure to choose the appropriate gauge for your 12-string guitar.
  • Electric tuner: Assists in achieving accurate tuning for optimal sound quality.

While not every tool is required for the task, having them on hand can greatly simplify and enhance the restringing process. Once you have all the necessary tools, you’re ready to start restringing your 12-string guitar.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Change Strings on a 12 string guitar

Follow this step-by-step guide to change the strings on your 12-string guitar:

Remove the old strings

Remove the old strings following this steps:

  • Loosen the strings: Turn the tuning pegs clockwise to loosen each string individually.
  • Remove the strings: Once the strings are sufficiently loose, pull them out one by one. Take care to remove each string individually.
  • For electric guitars: Pull the string out through the bottom of the bridge, except for Epiphone and Gibson models, which require pulling down and out from the back.
  • For acoustic guitars: Remove the bridge pins that secure the strings in place. Gently pull them out one at a time using either your fingers or pliers.

Before installing the new strings, I’m always take the opportunity to clean and polish the guitar.

Install the new strings

twelve string guitar

When installing the new strings, we recommend you to treat each pair of strings as if they were 6 individual strings.

Instead of separating them, add both strings together. For the best placement, if the body of the guitar is on the right side and the neck is on the left, install the thicker strings on the row of bridge pins farthest from the center of the body, and the thinner strings on the front row.

Now let’s install the new strings:

  • Start with the low E string. Insert the metal ball end into the first bridge pinhole on the back row.
  • Reinsert the bridge pin to secure the string, ensuring the ball’s hole is not facing upward.
  • Repeat the process with the matching E octave string, placing it in the first hole on the front row.
  • Follow the same order for the remaining pairs: A, D, G, B, and high E.
  • Turn the tuning post hole to face down the neck.
  • Push the end of the high E string through the tuning post farthest from you.
  • Keep the string slightly loose, wrap it around itself, and tighten it, creating a few wraps around the tuning post.
  • Repeat this process for the other strings, working in a counterclockwise direction.
  • Start winding the strings by going back to the low E octave. Ensure the strings are tight and flat.
  • Use a string winder to turn the tuning peg counterclockwise while pulling the string with your right hand.
  • Repeat the winding process for each pair of strings.
  • Finally, trim off the excess string with wire cutters.

Tune your 12-string guitar

You can tune your 12-string guitar with an electronic tuner or by ear.

Start tuning once all the strings are installed on the guitar.

Keep in mind that tuning a 12-string guitar may take some time to achieve perfect harmony.

To help with the tuning stability, we recommend stretching each string by gently pulling it away from the body. Play the guitar for a while and then tune again, as strings may need some time to settle.

Pay extra attention to the treble G string, as it is more prone to breaking during the tuning process.

Read our complete guide on how to tune your 12 string guitar.


Knowing how to change strings on a 12-string guitar is a valuable skill for any guitarist.

By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article, you can confidently restring your instrument and maintain its high-quality performance.

Remember to use the recommended tools, be cautious when removing and installing strings, and pay attention to proper tuning.

Regularly changing the strings on your 12-string guitar will not only preserve its sound but also enhance your playing experience.

With these tips and techniques, you can keep your 12-string guitar in optimal condition and continue creating beautiful music.


How often should we change the strings on a 12-string guitar?

We recommend you to change the strings on a 12-string guitar every 3 to 6 months. However, the frequency can vary depending on factors such as how frequently you play, the condition of the strings, and your personal preference.

Keep an eye out for signs of wear, such as stickiness, spots, or a dull sound, as these indicate it’s time for new strings. Additionally, if any strings break, it’s best to replace the entire set for optimal sound and playability.

How much time does it take to restring a 12-string guitar?

Restringing a 12-string guitar can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your experience. Taking your time and carefully following the steps will ensure that you restring your 12-string guitar properly and achieve optimal sound and playability.

How far should strings be from frets?

The ideal distance between the strings and the frets, also known as the string action, can vary depending on personal preference and playing style. 

However, a commonly recommended standard distance is around 1.5 mm (0.063 in) for the high E string (thinnest string) and around 2.5 mm (0.098 in) for the low E string (thickest string). 

These measurements are typically taken at the 12th fret. It’s important to note that the string action can be adjusted to suit your playing comfort and to avoid unwanted buzzing or fretting out. 

If you’re unsure or want to achieve a specific string action, consulting a professional guitar technician can provide more precise guidance and adjustments.

What are the benefits of changing the strings?

Changing the strings on a 12-string guitar brings several benefits:

  • It improves the sound quality by restoring brightness and clarity to the tone.
  • It enhances playability, making it easier to navigate the fretboard and perform techniques.
  • It improves tuning stability, keeping your guitar in tune for longer periods and reducing the need for frequent adjustments.

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