How to change acoustic guitar strings?

How to change acoustic guitar strings?

Do you play an acoustic guitar? Looking to get a better sound out of it?

Changing your strings is one of the best ways to do it.

And you can do it from the comfort of your own home. It’s easy, saves money, and improves your play.

Do you play an acoustic guitar? Looking to get a better sound out of it?

Changing your strings is one of the best ways to do it.

And you can do it from the comfort of your own home. It’s easy, will save you money, and definitely will improve your acoustic guitar sound.

When to restring your guitar?

1. If you feel roughness when you put your finger between the fretboard and the string

2. If you see spots on the strings

3. If you have tuning issues

4. If the tone sounds dull

5. If it’s been a while since the last string change

As a general guideline, switch out your guitar strings once a month. If you’re an avid player who strums away for hours on end, then think about swapping them out every two weeks.

Check our complete guide on When to change your guitar strings if you need more info on the topic.

Is it hard to change the strings on an acoustic guitar?

It’s quite easy.

As a beginner, feeling overwhelmed by the task is totally understandable. But if you follow this easy guide, soon you will restring your guitar like a pro.

How to restring your acoustic guitar step-by-step guide

What do you need?

  • A guitar
  • Pack of strings 

I’d recommend getting a light-gauge string that won’t break the bank in case something goes wrong while putting it on.

  • Tuning peg winder

Once you’ve got the hang of changing guitar strings, a peg winder is an invaluable tool. It’ll save you time and effort when tightening your strings.

  • Wire cutters

Wire cutters are handy tools for snipping through metal.

You can get individual string cutters or go for a winder with them built in.

Changing strings should be easy. Just make sure you don’t damage your guitar! Once you know the steps to restring, double-check and snip off.

  • Hexagon wrench 

If you’ve got a guitar with a Floyd Rose bridge, you’ll need to loosen up the string lock at the nut. For that you need a Hexagon wrench.

  • Neck cradle 

It would help to have a neck cradle to вalance the guitar while working.

  • Рolishing cloth 

It’s a good idea to clean the guitar before putting on the new strings.

You can change your guitar strings without any tools, but it will be a lot harder and take forever. Plus, you might end up injuring yourself with the sharp string.

How to remove the old strings?

  • Using the tuning key, lose the tension of each string and remove it. 

Start with the highest string, the E, and work your way down to the lowest one.

If you’re unsure how to turn the knob, give it a strum and adjust accordingly. If the note increases, you’re heading in the wrong direction!

  • Use the string cutters to cut the string right above the soundhole.

Snip the cords above the soundhole to keep your hardware from marring up your guitar’s finish! It is good to relax the strings before cutting so that there is no sudden change in the tension of the neck. If you don`t have a wire cutter, check here how to cut your strings.

cutting the strings

  • Remove the bridge pins with the string winder. 

When you’re getting the hang of stringing your steel-string guitar, you’ll have to deal with bridge pins that keep the strings secure.

String winder makes it easy to remove them without damaging your guitar. Just pull each 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.

Important! If your guitar doesn`t have bridge pins, then check this page – How to string a guitar without bridge pins?

  • Remove the strings from the headstock 

Вe careful, because the strings are very sharp and you can hurt yourself.

An excellent way to avoid any potential injuries is to twist the strings together.

Clean your acoustic guitar

Once you’ve removed all the strings, it’s time to get into those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

For some of you, this won’t be necessary. But it’s good practice for me always to 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

Give your fretboard and the frets one last professional finish with a bit of lemon oil. Please don’t go overboard, though cleaning up is not fun.

Rub the oil in until it’s all gone for a smooth, fragrant and shiny fretboard that you can play on.

Getting the strings in the bridge correctly

Replacing strings on your acoustic guitar is a breeze once you know the right way to go about it. Don’t be intimidated by putting them on the bridge – it’s simple! Believe it or not, even experts don’t always know this little trick.

  1. Wind each string around 2-3 cm away from the ball.
  2. Stick the balled-up end of the string about 10 cm into the hole.
  3. Put the slot in place of the peg to face the neck.
  4. Gently pull the string, giving it a bit of tension as you go. It may seem small, but it’ll be good and secure if done correctly!

Be careful if the peg looks like it’s trying to come out – give it a good shove back in. Once you’ve got it tight, it shouldn’t slip at all.

By the way, if you are planning to replace your acoustic guitar bridge, now it is the best time to do it.

Winding the strings onto the tuners

No matter what kind of guitar you’re playing (classical guitars are the exception here!), it’s super important to ensure the strings are on the right side of the pegs.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Align the hole in the peg, so it is pointing directly downward.
  2. Thread the string through the hole and tug at it to create extra space. It depends on how thick the string is – for example, the 6th string only needs around 5-7cm, but you might need up to 10cm of slack with the 1st string.
  3. Grab the string and wind it around the top of the peg.

A helpful tip:

  • If you have a Fender or any pegs with the winders on the left, twist them clockwise.
  • For Gibson-style guitars (with three pegs facing down) and winders on the right – turn the string anti-clockwise.

4. Press the live string down onto the wood, then start winding the tuner so that the active string wraps UNDERNEATH the slack string. You should aim for at least two wraps on the thickest string (6th) and four wraps for the thinnest one (1st).

Tuning 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.


Here are the most common questions that we receive regarding the restringing of acoustic guitars:

Should I loosen the guitar strings when I am not playing?

No, you should not loosen the strings when you are not playing. However, there are some cases when this is recommended. Check this article to learn when and why to loosen your guitar strings.

Can I use the same strings I took out if I just needed to swap one of them for a new one?

Switching out all the strings is a good idea 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. It is not recommended to use old guitar strings.

What kind of strings should you put on your acoustic guitar?

I believe D’Addario makes the best strings. 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 folks.

How often should you switch up your acoustic guitar strings?

  1. If there’s a lot of junk on the strings, it’s definitely time to replace them. Give them a good scrape with your fingernail, and if you find any black goop, you know it’s time for some new ones!
  2. If you snap a string, replace them all so they sound good together!
  3. If you practice for a half hour most days, switching out your strings every few months is a good idea, even if they haven’t broken yet. After switching them out a few times, you’ll notice when the strings don’t sound as vibrant.

Swapping out your acoustic guitar strings is a great way to ensure you get the most out of your sound. Different strings give off different vibes, so why not try out different brands and gauges until you find the ones that work for you?

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