Have you ever wanted to make your acoustic guitar sound even better? Well, here’s a simple solution: change your guitar strings.
By doing this yourself at home, you can save money and greatly enhance the sound of your instrument.
Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or just starting out, learning how to change acoustic guitar strings is an important skill that will definitely make a difference.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the basic steps to change your acoustic guitar strings, so you can take control of your sound.
Get ready to unlock the full potential of your acoustic guitar, all by changing its strings.
When should you change your guitar strings?
You should change your guitar strings:
If you feel roughness when you put your finger between the fretboard and the string
You can feel roughness when you put your finger between the fretboard and the string because, over time, dirt, sweat, and oil can accumulate on the strings. If your fingers don’t glide smoothly along the strings, it’s a good indicator that a string change is needed.
If you see spots on the strings
You can see spots on the strings when there is corrosion and rust. They can display dark spots or discoloration on the strings.
These spots not only affect the appearance but also impact the overall sound quality. When you notice such spots, it’s time to replace the strings.
If you have tuning issues
If you have tuning issues and constantly struggle to keep your guitar in tune despite thorough tuning attempts is a strong sign that your strings have lost their ability to hold pitch. Changing the strings will help alleviate tuning problems and ensure better stability.
If the tone sounds dull
If the tone sounds dull and lacks the vibrant and lively tone it once had, it’s a clear indication that new strings are needed to restore that crisp and resonant sound.
If it’s been a while since the last string change
If it’s been a while since you last changed your strings, even if you don’t notice any specific problems, we strongly recommend doing so.
As a general guideline, consider switching out your strings once a month. However, if you’re a frequent and passionate player who strums away for hours on end, it’s advisable to replace them every two weeks to maintain optimal playability and sound quality.
By keeping an eye out for these signs and following a regular string-changing routine, you’ll ensure that your guitar always performs at its best. Fresh strings not only improve the sound and playability but also enhance your overall musical experience.
How hard is it to change the strings of a guitar?
It is not that hard to change the string of a guitar. Actually, it’s quite easy.
As a beginner, you may feel overwhelmed by the task, which is totally understandable.
How to restring your acoustic guitar: A step-by-step guide to changing guitar strings at home
Follow our easy step-by-step guide, and soon you will be restringing your guitar like a pro.
Let’s dive in:
Prepare everything you need
- A Guitar: Of course, you’ll need your acoustic guitar ready for a string swap.
- Pack of Strings: Choose a light-gauge set of strings that won’t break the bank. Opting for light-gauge strings is recommended, especially if you’re new to restringing.
- Tuning Peg Winder: Once you become proficient at changing guitar strings, a tuning peg winder becomes an invaluable tool. It saves time and effort when tightening your strings securely.
- Wire Cutters: Wire cutters are essential for snipping through the excess string length. You can either get individual string cutters or opt for a winder that has built-in cutters.
- Hexagon Wrench: If your guitar features a Floyd Rose bridge, you’ll need a hexagon wrench to loosen the string lock at the nut.
- Neck Cradle: While not mandatory, having a neck cradle can provide stability and balance for your guitar while you work on it.
- Polishing Cloth: Before installing the new strings, take the opportunity to clean your guitar with a polishing cloth.
You can technically change your guitar strings without any tools, but it will be much more challenging and time-consuming.
And we remind you to be cautious of the sharp ends of the strings to avoid injury.
Now that you’re equipped with the necessary tools, let’s continue with the next step.
Remove the old strings
Follow these steps to remove the old strings from your guitar:
Loosen the Tension
Using the tuning key, gradually loosen the tension of each string. Start with the highest string, the high E, and work your way down to the lowest string – the low E.
If you’re unsure how to turn the tuning peg, give the string a strum and adjust accordingly. If the note increases, you’re turning in the wrong direction.
Cut Above the Soundhole
Once the strings are nicely loosened, use string cutters to snip each string right above the soundhole.
This prevents the sharp ends of the strings from damaging your guitar’s finish.
Remove the Bridge Pins
With the help of a string winder, remove the bridge pins that hold the strings secure.
Gently pull each bridge pin out, and note the slight groove in each one – that’s where the strings should sit when you’re putting on new ones, so make sure they’re facing toward the neck.
Remove the Strings from the Headstock
Carefully remove the remaining strings from the headstock of the guitar. Be cautious, as the strings can be sharp, and there is a risk of injury. One way to avoid potential injuries is to twist the strings together, bundling them up for easy removal.
Clean your acoustic guitar
Cleaning your acoustic guitar every time you can it’s good practice.
Give the fretboard, headstock, and area around the bridge a quick wipe-down. Dust loves to settle in these spots, so why not give them a good scrub when you get the opportunity.
Polish the fretboard
Polish the fretboard with a bit of lemon oil. Be careful not to go overboard, though cleaning up is not fun.
Rub the oil in until it’s all gone for a smooth, fragrant, and shiny fretboard.
Put the new strings
Putting the new strings on the bridge of your acoustic guitar is easier than you might think. Follow these steps to ensure you get it right:
Wind the Strings
Wind each string around the bridge, starting approximately 2-3 cm away from the ball end. This wrapping helps to secure the string in place.
Insert the Ball End
Insert the balled-up end of the string into the corresponding hole on the bridge, ensuring it goes in about 10 cm. This provides a sufficient amount of string for proper tensioning.
Align the Slot
Align the slot on the bridge pin facing toward the neck of the guitar. This alignment ensures that the string sits properly within the bridge pin.
Apply tension while gently pulling the string to tighten it. Even though it may seem like a small adjustment, when done correctly, it will provide a secure hold.
If you notice the bridge pin appearing to come out, firmly push it back in. Once properly tightened, the string should stay securely in place.
Secure the strings on the tuners
Secure the strings on the tuners by following the steps:
Align the Peg Hole
Ensure that the hole in the tuner peg is pointing directly downward. This alignment is essential for the string to wind smoothly onto the tuner.
Thread the String
Thread the string through the hole in the tuner peg and give it a gentle tug to create some extra slack. The amount of slack needed depends on the string thickness.
For instance, the 6th string may require around 5-7 cm, while the 1st string might need up to 10 cm of slack.
Wind the String
Hold onto the string and begin winding it around the top of the tuner peg. Here’s a helpful tip: If you have a Fender or any pegs with the winders on the left side, twist them clockwise.
For Gibson-style guitars with three pegs facing down and winders on the right side, turn the string anti-clockwise.
Proper String Wrapping
Press the live string down onto the wood of the headstock, near the tuner, and start winding the tuner so that the active string wraps underneath the slack string.
Aim for at least two wraps on the thickest string (6th) and around four wraps for the thinnest string (1st). This ensures a secure grip and helps with tuning stability.
Tune your acoustic guitar
Ok, it’s time to get your guitar tuned up.
Give each string a twist until they reach the right pitch, and keep a thumb over the pins just in case they try to make a break for it before they’re all tightened up. When you’re done, snip off any excess.
For the first hour or so of playing, you may find that your strings slip out of tune.
Don’t worry, though – start strumming and if they go out of whack, simply give each string a little tug and get them back in harmony!
Stretch the Strings
Gently pull on the strings, using your hands to raise them up and off the fretboard.
Changing the strings on your acoustic guitar is a simple process that can be done at home. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can improve the sound and playability of your instrument. So don’t hesitate to give your guitar a fresh set of strings and enjoy the enhanced music experience. Happy playing!
You can watch this video for more clarity:
Can I use the same strings I took out if I just need to swap one of them for a new one?
You can use the same strings you took out, but we hardly recommend switching out all the strings if they’re old. Otherwise, you might end up with a weird sound if you mix new and old strings or different kinds of strings.
What kind of strings should you put on your acoustic guitar?
For acoustic guitar, I believe D’Addario makes the best strings.
But the gauge you need depends on your experience level – if you’re a beginner, go for the lighter ones.
Coated strings are great too, and worth the extra cost for most players.
For more info, you can check out our article How to choose the right strings for acoustic guitar?