Welcome back! In this chapter I cover how to change guitar strings on electrics, acoustics and electrics with locking tuners (grovers). I do not cover classical guitars, but I will gladly do a video on them if someone buys me one
Changing strings on acoustic guitar
Changing strings on electric guitar
This video covers how to change strings on Stratocaster and Les Paul style electric guitars.
Changing strings on guitars with locking tuners
Here’s an add-on lesson for guitars with locking tuners.
How To Change Your Guitar Strings
You will need to have either a string winder/cutter combo device (like the one by Planet Waves) or a pair of pliers with a cutter at the base capable of cutting through the low E string without damaging the blade. Don’t use scissors–I cannot stress that enough. For acoustic steel string guitars you will want to get the PW cutter because it has a bridge pin remover on it, which makes life a lot easier. If you’re unable to purchase that you can remove the pins using pliers but they will bite into the pins and dent them, plus it’s a bit of a pain. Electric guitars don’t use bridge pins so you can skip that step if you’re changing your electric. Also having a string winder isn’t essential, but it helps speed up the process.
#1 Loosen the tension on the old string–you don’t want to have it snap when you cut it. Once it’s floppy cut it somewhere in the middle.
#2 Unwind the wrapped end from the peghead carefully so it doesn’t snap back and hit you. Pop out the bridge pin with your tool of choice and place the pin in a safe place.
#3 Remove the old string from the bridge. On acoustic guitars there should be a bend in the string about a half-inch from the ball end—take note of it. This will be added to the new string as we replace it (more on this to come.)
#4 Now that the old string has been removed take the new string and make sure it is the right size. Some strings have color-coded balls on the ends which helps. Otherwise check the package for the sizing chart.
#5 (acoustic only) Put a kink in the new string about a half-inch from the ball end, about a 60-degree angle or so. This is to prevent the ball of the string from getting caught on the bottom of the pin once it is popped back in. Put the ball end of the string into the peg hole, a few inches inside. Put the bridge peg back in, but make sure to line the groove of the peg up with the string—the groove of the pin should face the headstock, the string should be in this groove and able to move freely even once the peg is snug. Once the peg is pressed snugly back in the bridge pull the string lightly until you feel it catch on the underside of the peg. Now let’s focus on winding the string.
#6 Begin the winding process by pulling the string through the peghead until it is in a straight line from bridge to peghead. Next pull the string back through the peghead 2.5 to 3 inches to create some slack—this distance is VERY important so use your middle finger and thumb to hold the string, then rest them on the headstock to mark the distance. Use your first finger to hold the string down at the eye of the peghead and help guide it through once you begin winding.
#7 Begin the winding with your other hand, making sure the string is wrapping along the inward side of the headstock—again, VERY IMPORTANT. The first wind needs to go over the excess string, and the following winds go underneath it (with each wind going under the previous.) Use your index finger to help guide the string throughout the winding. You should have between 2-4 winds underneath the excess string.
#8 Cut off the excess string, leaving a couple millimeters.
#9 Tune the string up to pitch.
#10 Now it’s time to stretch the strings in. This is done to help the string reach it’s equilibrium quickly and to compress the windings around the peghead (basically to keep it from stretching out of tune.) Begin by holding the guitar in playing position. Take the fingers of your strumming hand and grab the string in the center of the neck (9th fret or so) while positioning your inner elbow on the string just in front of the bridge. Place your fretting hand over the string in front of the nut, around the 2nd fret or so. Pull the string away from the neck while countering the pressure by pushing in at the bridge and nut. This should be done moderately hard but get a feel from the string for what’s a good amount of pull—the thinner the string the less you need to pull. The idea is to counter the pressure you are putting on the bridge and nut and minimize the chance of damaging the string while it’s being stretched. DO NOT pull on the neck without bracing it as described–it’s unlikely, but you may end up snapping your neck!
#11 Re-tune the string back to pitch. Stretch once more, then tune again. Two or three times should be enough to keep it in tune.
Make sure to keep all your strings in a neat pile—I recommend coiling them up loosely in the way they come out of the box–this way they are more visible and easier to throw away. House pets LOVE to play/chew on strings and that is no good, so be sure to keep track of every piece.
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