Changing Guitar Strings

By Greg Cisko

This page will show the beginner when and how to change the strings on their guitar. Many times beginners with old worn out strings think something is wrong with their guitar. They believe it is in tune, and it still sounds bad. Or they will have a very difficult time getting in tune to begin with. These are all signs of a guitar that needs new strings. Also how you re-string your guitar has a huge impact on how well your guitar stays in tune. I rarely have had to retune in between songs during practice jams or at gigs.

Changing strings with locking Tuners:
By far the easiest solution is to get something like SPERZEL locking tuners for your guitar. You make a 90 degree bend in the string at the tuning peg string hole, insert the string, lock in place and trim the string. BOOM DONE! The main thing to remember here is that the string coming through the tuning peg should point toward the tuner. No problems with your guitar going out of tune because you strung it wrong. Those days are over!

Changing strings the conventional way:
If you do not have something like the SPERZEL locking tuner, you will have to do it the old fashioned conventional way. You can just slap the strings on and re-wind and go for it. Or you can use the following procedure and ensure that you will have a setup that will stay in tune. You should have a peg winder and wire cutter hand for this. I use the Planet Waves Pro String Winder/Cutter. It has both the peg winder and string cutter in one nice convenient tool.

This procedure is simple once you get the hang of it. For the E (1st), B (2nd), G (3rd) and D (4th) strings, you can make the 90 degree bend about one inch past their respective tuner post. The A (5th) string, I would make the 90 degree bend about 3/4 inch past the A strung tuning post. The E (6th) string should be about 1/2 inch. The reason for the different lengths is that the thicker strings will wind much more material than the thinner strings. So I have found you do not need to use the same lengths on the E (6th) and A (5th) strings. But if you want to do them all one inch past their respective tuning posts, you can. I did for many years.

The purpose of the 90 bend locations is to put slack in the string to allow the string to spool on the peg when you rewind it. So keeping this in mind, look my re-stringing illustration. Start with the E (6th) string and remove it. Put the new string in the bridge and make the 90 degree bend as appropriate. Then insert the string through the tuning peg hole so that it comes out of the hole in the direction of the tuner. Wrap the string around the back of the peg and being under the 90 degree bend. Then lift up at the bend and bring back again as the illustration shows. Now pick up the slack of the string with one hand and start winding the string taught. Repeat for each string. When finished I cut the strings at the top of the tuning peg.

Why not take all the strings off at the same time?
Many people do with success. The fear is that taking tension off of the neck for an extended period of time will cause warpage. So if you do take all the strings off for cleaning the neck, have a plan to have your guitar re-strung fairly quickly.

Special precautions for acoustic guitars:
One thing that I always seem to have some problem with while changing strings is my acoustic. It seems that some times it is difficult to keep the string peg on the bridge locked down. When you tension the string, it pops out. One thing to try is to bend the string at the ball. This is the part that goes into the bridge and is pushing the peg out. Try bending it at a 45 degree angle or so. Another option is to file the bottom of the nylon peg so it is as a 45 degree angle. This way the string will not directly push against the string, but lock in the 45 degree angled part of the peg.

Please email with any comments or suggestions.

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Guitar Lessons for Beginners