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Restringing a guitar is a process that is easier than most people think and something that you will eventually have to do if you’re a guitarist who plays frequently or even if you haven’t touched your guitar in a long time. Your guitar’s strings will eventually wear out and lose tension, rust, and even break, which is why you’ll need some fresh strings to help restore the guitar’s tone and remove the buzzing and other unwanted sounds caused by the old strings.
This guide is intended for guitarists of any experience level. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been playing guitar for 20 years or if you just got one last week; this step-by-step guide will ensure you get the job done. So make sure you keep reading!
So let’s check out the best and quickest way to replace them.
How to Restring a Guitar?
Restringing a guitar is an easy process that involves removing the old strings and replacing them with new ones. All you need to do is loosen and remove the old strings, clean and oil your fretboard, which is a great but optional step, install a new set of strings, and tune them as you continuously stretch them.
Of course, there are various classical guitar models and tuning methods. However, the biggest thing you’ll notice is the different types of bridge and tie blocks. Please keep that in mind as you find out what works best for your guitar.
For the bottom three bass strings, you will need silver-plated copper strings, as that is the most common acoustic guitar material used for the E-A-D or bass strings. You can also find phosphor bronze or silk and steel strings that are also used solely for the bottom strings. As for the top three treble strings (E-B-G), you will need nylon or fluorocarbon polymer strings. So make sure you have these on hand before you start restringing your guitar.
The first step is always to loosen your guitar strings with your hand or a string winder, regardless of the type of bridge or tie block you have.
The next step is to remove your strings by untying them or lifting the bridge pins (if your guitar has them) and pulling them out of the bridge and headstock. It is recommended to take out all of your strings so you clean and oil your fretboard before you install your new set of strings.
The third step is to install your strings. If your guitar bridge doesn’t have a pin, you’ll have to follow the general rule of classical guitar strings, which is “over then under.” That means you grab your string, go over the nut, then under and through the tie block. Once you catch the string from the other end, you go over the tie block again, then under the string. The final step is to go over and then under the string again to create a tie. You can always add an extra loop to make the string more secure.
Now that your string is securely attached to the bridge, it’s time to move on to the headstock.
So grab the loose end of the string and come up to the top of your guitar. Slide the string through the hole of the string roller, using the same “over then under” rule as before. Grab the end of the string and go over, then under the string again to create a tie twist. Once it’s secure, start slowly winding using the tuning pegs.
Repeat this process for the remaining strings.
Once you’ve finished installing all of your strings, make sure to clip the excess strings off, leaving about half an inch. Clip it too short, and the string could slip while you play; leave too much, and the instrument will buzz and rattle. So leaving half an inch is ideal.
Check our article on How To Choose The Most Suitable Guitar Playing Styles.
Step-by-Step Method to Restring a Guitar
To change the strings on a guitar, you will need to gather a few tools, including a new set of strings, a string winder, wire cutters, and a 10mm nut driver.
Here are the steps you should follow:
1. Loosen Old Guitar Strings
- Start by choosing the string that you want to remove.
- Find the tuning peg for that string on your guitar’s headstock, and turn the tuning peg in the opposite direction you would normally turn to tune the string, using your hand or a string winder. As a result, the string will loosen up, and you’ll be able to take it off the guitar. Avoid turning the peg too quickly or tightly because doing so could cause the string to break.
- Keep turning the peg until the guitar string is loose enough to be removed.
- To quickly remove the string, cut it off at the bridge using wire cutters or a string winder.
- Repeat this process for each of your guitar’s remaining strings.
2. Remove Strings
Now that your guitar strings are loose, it’s time to remove them.
- Use your side cutters to lift and remove the bridge pegs gently.
- After taking out all the pegs, pull the string from the bridge by applying tension and lifting it straight out of the hole.
- You should still have one side of the strings attached to the headstock.
- Unwind all strings and be careful not to cut yourself while doing so.
You have now removed all of your strings.
3. Clean and Oil the Fretboard (Optional)
Since you already have a naked fretboard, it’s a good idea to clean and oil it, which can help keep it hydrated and prevent the wood from drying out and cracking.
- First, you will need to clean the fretboard. Use a soft cloth or rag to clean off any dirt, grime, or sweat accumulated on the fretboard while paying special attention to the spaces between the frets.
- If you’re using a fretboard cleaner, apply it to the fretboard following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- After the fretboard has been thoroughly cleaned, apply the oil. Use a small amount of lemon oil on a cloth and rub it in circular motions on the fretboard.
- Use a clean rag or cloth to remove the excess oil, as leaving a residue on the fretboard can attract dirt and grime. So be sure to remove it completely.
After completing these steps, your guitar is now clean, oiled, and ready to go!
4. Re-String Your Guitar
Grab your 10mm nut driver, move over to the top of the tuner post, and use the driver to slightly tighten the capstans (or string posts) before replacing your strings. Doing this will help the guitar stay in tune.
To re-string your guitar:
- Choose the string that you want to wind first.
- Find the bridge pin for that string on your guitar’s bridge.
- While holding the string in place with one hand and inserting the bridge pin with the other, carefully insert the string’s end into the bridge’s hole. The string should fit into a tiny groove on the bridge pin. Push the bridge pin back into position once the string is in the groove.
- The string should sit firmly in the hole without slipping out.
- Repeat this process for each string, starting with the lowest and working your way up, making sure that all of your strings are installed into the bridge.
Now it’s time to wind the string around the tuning peg.
- Begin by grabbing the low E string and lining it up into the correct string post while keeping a little tension on the string.
- Start slowly winding the string and wrapping it around the string post.
- As you wrap the string around the peg, keep tension on the string to keep it from slipping. You can hold the string in place as you wind it around the peg with the restringing tool or your fingers.
- Continue turning the peg until the string is at the proper tension.
- Repeat this process for each string.
- Cut the excess string as close to the peg as possible with wire cutters.
5. Stretch and Tune Your Strings
- Determine your guitar’s standard tuning. The standard tuning for a guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E (low to high), but there are numerous alternate tunings available depending on the type of music you are playing.
- Use a guitar tuner to ensure your guitar is in tune. With the help of one, you can accurately determine the pitch of each string and tune your guitar. There are many different kinds of guitar tuners available, such as electronic tuners, clip-on tuners, and smartphone apps.
- Start by tuning the low E string. Play the string and adjust the tuning peg until the string’s pitch matches the reference pitch displayed on the tuner.
- After the low E string has been tuned, proceed to the A string. Adjust the tuning peg until the pitch of the A string matches the reference pitch displayed on the tuner.
- Repeat this process for the remaining strings, working your way up to the highest string. As you tune each string, be sure to check the pitch against the reference pitch displayed on the tuner.
- When all of the strings are in tune, grab each one and lightly stretch it from the sound hole to the headstock.
- After stretching your strings, you can adjust the tuning pegs to control the overall tension of the strings so that they feel balanced and the guitar is in tune.
- Continue to tune and stretch your guitar strings until they are perfectly in tune.
All done! With a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to change your guitar strings quickly and easily.
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To summarize, being able to restring your guitar is a fundamental skill that every guitarist should be capable of mastering. It helps the guitar stay in tune, which is key when playing with other musicians or recording. It ensures that the guitar is in pristine condition, delivers excellent sound quality, and is ready to be played whenever and wherever it may be needed. All it takes is a bit of practice and patience, and you’ll be able to master this new skill in no time.
Just make sure always to follow our instructions and the step-by-step guide we provided for you today, as it is the best guide you’ll find online. Keep in mind that although restringing your guitar may be a frustrating experience the first time around, you’ll gradually get quicker and more adept at it the more you do it.