If you are like I was when I started playing guitar, restringing your instrument seems completely overwhelming, and you might even be spending way too much money to have someone do this task for you.
Good news! It’s actually quite easy. Today we’ll be breaking down every step to restringing your guitar so you can get back to the important part – playing music!
First things first. You need to assemble a couple tools. While technically possible without them, trust me when I say it’s much easier with them.
You need the following:
You can even get this handy multi-tool.
Now that we have assembled our tool set, let’s get into it!
Step 1: Remove Your Old Strings
Take your string winder and loosen your old strings until you can easily pull them out of the tuning pegs. You could also use your string cutters to cut the strings loose and remove them that way.
If you’re using an acoustic guitar, you’ll need to fully remove the bridge pins in the bridge of the guitar to get your strings out.
Throw the old strings away, you won’t need them anymore!
Pro tip: coil the strings in a bunch to avoid the strings popping out of the trash, poking holes in the bag, or stabbing the next person who throws something away.
Step 2: Clean Your Guitar
When your instrument is strung up, it can be hard to keep all the nooks and crannies clean. Take advantage of the time your strings are off to really get in there and get all the dust off.
I recommend using a soft cloth or microfiber rag. If you really want to do the job right, buy a decent guitar cleaning kit.
Make sure you wipe down in between the pickups, around the bridge, and around all the tuning pegs on the headstock.
Next, grab some lemon oil and gently rub into your fretboard with a soft cloth to really get your guitar looking spiffy.
Step 3: Let’s Begin Restringing
Start with your low E string. Different guitars have different bridges and therefore have different ways of threading the string into the bridge.
If you’re restringing an acoustic, you’ll need to put the ball end of the string through the bridge hole, then put the bridge pin back in on top of it. Push down firmly!
If you’re restringing an electric, bridge types can vary – but all are easy to restring. A stratocaster-style guitar usually requires you to push the string through the back of the body, then up through the bridge. Whereas a Les Paul-style guitar usually requires you to simply thread the string through the back of the bridge and up towards the neck.
It’s important that we ensure we end up with roughly the same amount of string winding around the tuning pegs so each string has a similar elasticity when we’re done. But don’t worry, it’s very simple to do!
Simply place your 4 fingers vertically under the string at the 12th fret (as if you were karate chopping the fretboard!). Run the string over your hand and through the hole in the corresponding tuning peg. It’s that simple!
Now, pull the excess string (the part hanging out of the other side of the tuner hole) against the tuning peg. This creates a kink in the string to mark the length we will use. Don’t overdo this. Be gentle! With your right karate chop hand, hold the string and relatively firmly – this will hold everything tight as we begin wind.
Grab your handy string winder and begin to slowly but surely wind the string!
It’s very, very important that you make sure the string is being wound to the inside of the tuning peg. If you wind the wrong way, the string will end up going to the outside of the tuning peg and that’s not good.
So the easiest way to ensure you haven’t wrapped the wrong way is to verify that your string is on the inside of the tuning peg!
Step 4: Repeat for the Remaining Strings
Follow all the steps you just went through for the next 5 strings.
Remember to keep gentle tension with your right hand as you wind. This will help you get a professional, clean wind around your tuning pegs.
Once you’re finished, cut the excess ends of the strings off with your string cutter.
Step 5: Don’t Forget to Stretch
Now we tune up right? Not so fast.
Brand new strings need to be gently broken in first. Otherwise they lose their tuning quickly and it can be very frustrating to constantly keep tuning.
The way we do this is to stretch the strings! This isn’t rocket science. Simply grab a string and pull it to and fro as you work up and down the string. Repeat for the other strings. Done!
Now you can pull out your tuner and tune to the desired pitch. Remember: E-A-D-G-B-E for standard tuning.
If you find yourself still having to constantly tune after your new strings are on, feel free to give them another stretch or a few good string bends along the neck. They’ll settle in in no time.
Step 6: Get Back to Playing!
That’s it! Changing strings can seem overwhelming at first, but when we break it down into manageable chunks, it becomes quite easy (not to mention you’ll save money by doing it yourself!).
Now, get back to practicing and enjoy your brand new strings! Need an instructor? Check out our guitar lessons!