Every guitarist knows the significance of classical guitar strings for a good performance. However, even with proper maintenance, they eventually need replacing.
Changing classical guitar strings can seem complicated, but following the right steps makes the process easy.
The restringing method depends on the guitar type. We’ve prepared a complete guide on changing classical guitar strings and how to maintain nylon strings.
Tools needed for changing classical guitar strings
Before starting, gather the necessary tools. You’ll need standard items found in most homes:
- Small scissors or nail clippers
- Soft cloth
- Flat surface
For more advanced players with restringing tools, you can also use:
- string winder
- neck cradle or headstand
Don’t forget the most important item: new classical guitar strings!
Steps to restring classical guitar strings
Remove the old strings
There are different methods for removing old strings. Some suggest changing one string at a time, while others recommend replacing treble strings first, then bass strings. We recommend checking the manufacturer’s recommendations or consulting a technician.
Regardless of the method, start by tuning down each string until they’re loose enough to unwind from the headstock and bridge.
Clean the guitar
Though optional, cleaning is highly recommended. With the strings removed, easily access areas that collect dust and are hard to clean. Gently wipe the fretboard and bridge with a soft cloth.
You may use guitar oils, but avoid applying them on the guitar body, as they may damage the finish. Allow the oil to dry before installing new classical guitar strings and ensure it isn’t too oily.
Installing nylon treble strings on a classical guitar
The treble strings include the high E, B, and G strings.
Insert the string through the bridge
Start by inserting one end of the new 1st E string into the first-string hole in the bridge, leaving some extra string through the hole. Use the extra string to wrap it around itself 2-3 times in a figure-8 pattern, clockwise when facing the guitar. The wraps should lie flat on the bridge top, with the string’s tail tucked on the backside.
Insert the string through the headstock
Press a finger on the wraps at the bridge top and pull the rest of the string with your other hand. Insert the other end of the string into the first hole of the headstock and pull slightly to stretch it. Wrap the string similarly to the bridge, but make the tail point in the opposite direction of the wraps for the E string. For B and G strings, the tail should point toward the outside of the headstock.
Repeat the process for B and G strings
Ensure each string tail is secured by the following string, meaning the tail needs to rest on top of the next string to be secured by it.
Tune each string after placing it
Tune the string right after installing it to help it adapt to tension more quickly. Retune previous strings each time you add a new one.
Installing nylon bass strings
Placing bass strings is easier, as they don’t require winding as many times (once is enough). The treble strings’ nylon material is more slippery, requiring more winding. Tune each string after placing it.
Cutting excess strings
Lastly, cut the excess strings using small scissors or nail clippers. This crucial step prevents buzzing caused by longer strings rattling against the guitar’s body during play, creating an unpleasant sound.
Here is another good guide on the topic, including images.
Making your nylon classical guitar strings last longer
To extend the lifespan of your nylon strings, consider the following tips:
- Avoid storing your guitar fully tuned for extended periods, as the strings may lose tension.
- Ensure proper installation of strings and check for sharp edges on the bridge.
How often should you change classical guitar strings?
The frequency of changing strings depends on how much you play:
- If you play more than three hours a day, change the strings at least once a month.
- For one or two hours of daily playing, change the strings every two to three months.
- For less than an hour of playing a day, change the strings every four months.
Signs it’s time to change nylon strings:
- The guitar sounds dull and lacks resonance.
- The strings struggle to stay in tune.
- The strings feel stiff.
- The strings have lost their original color or have stains.
- The strings appear dirty.
- You haven’t changed the strings in over six months.
Can I put steel strings on a classical guitar?
No, you should not put steel strings on a classical guitar, as they can damage the instrument and won’t produce the desired sound. Classical guitars don’t have truss rods to protect their necks from the increased tension of steel strings.
How do you string a classical guitar with ball end strings?
The method is similar to stringing steel strings with a ball end. The ball rests in the furthest hole in the bridge, and the string is looped around the bridge before passing through the hole in the ball on the opposite side.
What strings do professional guitarists use?
Every musician has their preferences for guitar strings. The most popular nylon strings are:
- Hannabach 815 LT Classic Guitar Strings.
- Savarez 540R Classical Guitar Strings.
- D’Addario EJ49 Pro-Arte Black.
- D’Addario Pro-Arte EJ43, Light Tension.
- D’Addario EJ27N Student Guitar Strings.
- D’Addario EJ45TT ProArte DynaCore with Titanium Trebles.
Even if it seems complicated at first, don’t get frustrated. With more practice and patience, you’ll even start enjoying changing strings on your classical or flamenco guitar.
You can watch this video for more clarity: