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How To Change Guitar Strings (A Helpful Guide)
Posted on February 26, 2019
Table of contents:
Oh no, you were jamming to your favourite song and you broke a string!
We will go over how to change a guitar string, this method remains the same for all of your strings.
You will need:
- New Strings (check which gauge you need)
- Something to cut the excess strings with
- A guitar tuner
Optional, but highly recommended:
- A string winder
- Soft cloths to protect your guitar body
Headstock – the widened piece at the end of the neck of a guitar, to which the tuning pegs are fixed.
Tuning Peg / Machine Head – any of the pegs in the neck of a stringed musical instrument around which the strings are wound, and which are turned to adjust their tension and so tune the instrument.
Nut – The nut is a small strip of bone, plastic, brass, corian, graphite, stainless steel, or other medium-hard material, at the joint where the headstock meets the fretboard. Its grooves guide the strings onto the fretboard, giving consistent lateral string placement.
Neck – The neck of a guitar includes the guitar’s frets, fretboard, tuners, headstock, and truss rod.
Trussrod – The truss rod is part of a guitar or other fretted, stringed-instruments that stabilizes the lengthwise forward curvature (also called relief), of the neck
Bridge – A bridge is a device that supports the strings on a stringed musical instrument and transmits the vibration of those strings to another structural component of the instrument—typically a soundboard, such as the top of a guitar or violin—which transfers the sound to the surrounding air.
Bridge Pin – Most steel-string guitars use bridge pins to hold the strings against your guitar’s bridge and bridgeplate. Bridge pins come in various sizes and can be made from plastic, wood, ivory, bone, and even brass. Each material offers a different tone and various degrees of longevity.
If you are desperate to get back to playing as soon as possible, you can change your single broken string in place with no issue. If you’re going to change all of the strings, we still recommend changing your strings one at a time; to reduce the amount of tension lost across the neck of the guitar at once.
If you’re changing an intact string
You will need to loosen the string and then cut it in two. On the headstock of the guitar, turn the tuning attached to the string you’re changing so that the tension starts to decrease. You can check this by playing the string and listening for the pitch lowering. Once there is some slack to the string you can use your cutting tool to cut the string in the middle, near the playing area of the guitar.
If you’re changing all of your strings
This is a good time to clean your guitar!
Remove the string
With your string in two pieces:
You can remove the part attached to the bridge of the guitar by firmly holding the pin that holds down the string with your fingers and lifting upwards. Keep this pin safe, you will need it very soon! If it is very tight you can wrap it in a soft cloth and get a firmer grip using a pair of pliers.
You can remove the part attached to the headstock of the guitar by carefully unwinding the string out of the tuning peg, be careful not the let the ends of the string scratch your guitar.
Install your new string
First, you will need to get the correct gauge string from your pack of new strings.
The 1st string is the thinnest, 6th is the thickest. Check on the packaging of your strings to make sure you’re putting your new string in the correct position.
Place the ball end into the hole, past the length of your bridge pin. Insert the bridge pin afterwards, with the notch facing the string. Apply firm downward pressure on the pin, while gently pulling the string up and away from the pin. Once the string feels firmly in place with the pin, you can move onto securing the string to the tuning peg on the headstock.
Secure the string to the tuning machine
Thread the free end of the string through the tuning machine on the headstock of the guitar and pull it straight. Thread the string about 2-3cm back through the machinehead so there is some slack. Turn the machinehead so the string begins to tighten. Once the string has completed half a revolution on the machine head, pull it tight to form a kink in the string. Continue to wind the string around the machinehead. Make sure the winds on the machinehead are forming below one another. Ensure the string is lined up with it’s corresponding slot in the nut.
Tune up and Clean up
Once the string is in place and has some tension to it, it’s time to bright it up to pitch. You can use a guitar tuner app for this.
You can now clip off the dangly end of the string.
A new guitar string will need stretching out before use, otherwise it will stretch as you play and constantly fall out of tune.
Firmly grip the string and pull upwards, while securing the string with your other hand. Do this along the length of the string. Repeat this two or three times, retuning the string between each stretch.
If you’ve stretched the string and it hasn’t gone out of tune: congratulations, you’ve changed your string!
Now you can get back to playing your guitar songs!
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