There comes a time in every guitarist’s life when you need to change the strings on your instrument. And if for the majority this is a completely trivial task and does not require much effort, then for a beginner, changing strings turns into many hours of “dancing with a tambourine”, and not everyone succeeds in changing strings the first time.
Why change strings at all? Over time, their sound gets worse. And sometimes it happens that the strings break. Then you have to replace them. What happens to strings if they are not cleaned and changed?
That is why we decided to dedicate this article to the question: “how to change the strings on a guitar?”. Here we will try to give the most complete instructions, as well as analyze all the possible complications that may arise during this simple operation.
What is needed when replacing
So, to change the strings on an acoustic guitar, we need to prepare the following tools:
Removing old strings
First we need to remove the old strings from the pegs. Many people think that just cutting them is enough, but there are a number of reasons not to do this.
Firstly, thick and metal strings will be extremely difficult to cut. I personally tried to cut the strings with various cutting tools, ranging from kitchen and outdoor knives to wire cutters. These attempts only led to the fact that the strings were either bent, or the knives and wire cutters stupidly fell into disrepair.
And the second reason not to cut the strings is the possibility of neck deformation. We will not go into details, as the explanation of this phenomenon will take us a very long time and requires some additional reasoning, so just take this fact on faith.
In general, we realized that the strings should not be cut. Now let’s see how to remove them correctly. If you are a complete beginner, you should first familiarize yourself with the structure of the guitar.
We start by completely weakening them. After loosening, remove the strings from the pegs. It is almost impossible to make mistakes in this operation, so do not be too afraid.
And now we need to release the strings from the stand. On almost all pop guitars, this process is carried out in the same way – you pull the pins out of the stand and take the strings out of the body. Pins are such plastic rivets, vaguely resembling mushrooms, which are inserted into the stand behind the saddle. Finding them is easy, as the strings go exactly under them.
We take out pliers or pliers and pull them out. Do this carefully, as you may scratch the guitar or damage the pin itself. Put the pins in some box so as not to lose them.
With classical guitars, the situation is slightly different. If you have nylon strings with tips, then you just pull them out of the stand and that’s it. If not, then they should first be untied or cut.
Cleaning the guitar from dirt
Great – we removed the old strings. But before you start installing new ones, you should clean your guitar, as all kinds of dirt also negatively affect the sound. We take napkins and carefully wipe the deck. If you really want, you can moisten them a little, but no more. Using the same method, we wipe the back of the neck and its head. You can also read more about guitar care.
Next up is cleaning the fretboard, which is a completely different story. Lubricate our napkins with lemon oil and begin to wipe the neck. Particular attention should be paid to cleaning the fret sills, because a huge amount of all kinds of dirt and dust accumulates there. We wipe very carefully.
And now, when the guitar has regained its presentation, we can begin installing new strings.
Installing new strings
There are many opinions about the order in which the strings should be placed. I start the setup on the sixth string and go in order, i.e. after the 6th I install the 5th and so on.
Another debatable issue is how exactly to wind the string around the peg. There are those who believe that it is not necessary to wind it in principle, but you just need to insert the string into the peg and twist it. Others, on the contrary, argue that you must first wrap the string around the peg, and then twist it. Here the choice is yours, but I consider the first method much easier for a beginner.
In any case, the first thing you need to do is install the new strings in the bridge. To do this, insert the tip of the string into the hole in the bridge, and then insert the pin into the same hole. After that, pull the other end of the string until it stops, so that the tip is fixed in the pin. It is important here not to mix up the pins and prevent the strings from getting tangled, so it makes sense to secure the string in the tuning head first before installing the next one.
When setting the strings into the tuning pegs, it is very important not to mix them up. The numbering of the pegs starts from the bottom in the right row, and ends with the bottom in the left row (provided that you hold the guitar with the top deck towards you and look at the headstock).
When fixing the string in the peg, try not to bend it, otherwise it will burst in this place when you start to pull it. If you decide to twist the strings on the peg before tightening, then the following can be considered the optimal twisting scheme: 1 turn of the string above its tip, looking out of the peg, and 2 below it.
Tighten the strings carefully. Do not try to tune the guitar right away, as there is a risk that the strings will burst from this. Just pull each one lightly.
Tuning a guitar after changing strings
And then everything is quite simple. Grab a tuner and start tuning your guitar. It makes sense to start on the 6th string, so you don’t have to tune the guitar 300 times. When tuning, do not turn the tuning pegs sharply (especially for thin strings), as there is a risk that the strings will burst from too sharp a tension.
After tuning, carefully put the guitar in the case and take it out after a couple of hours to adjust and check if the neck deflection has changed. We do this several times.
Ready! We’ve installed the strings. I hope after reading this article you have an idea of how to change guitar strings.