How To Change Electric Guitar Strings
Replacing guitar strings is an essential skill for any musician. Whether strings break or simply wear over time, they will periodically require replacing. Learning to string your guitar can save you both time and money.
What you'll need:
Soft, flat surface
How often you restring your guitar is determined by numerous factors including your playing style, the type of music you play and how often you play it. It is generally recommended that you change your guitar strings every 2-3 months if you play fairly frequently. Gigging musicians performing and playing on a regular basis may require string changes as often as once per performance.
When restringing your guitar it is best to remove and replace each string one at a time as removing all of the strings at once will totally remove any tension from the neck. The tension will then be reapplied when the strings are replaced. This alteration in tension may damage the neck over time.
When replacing your strings, use the opportunity to clean and treat the neck. As you remove each string, wipe the neck down with a clean cloth and use a toothpick to remove any dirt build-up behind the frets. Using another clean cloth, treat the wood with lemon or linseed oil.
Remove each string by turning the tuning peg until the string slackens. Carefully unwind the end of the string and remove it from the tuning peg. Be careful to avoid the string scratching the body of the guitar or poking you in the eye. Slowly pull the string through the bridge and out of the guitar.
Using the colour coding and gauge to select the correct strings, thread each one through the bridge and up to the tuning peg. Turn the tuning peg until the hole faces straight down the neck of the guitar. Thread the string through the hole and pull it tight before measuring roughly 4cm of the string above the tuning peg. Pinch the string until it is bent to 90 degrees to the head of the guitar.
Pull the string back down towards the bridge until it reaches the bend in the string. At this point you should begin turning the tuning peg in an anti-clockwise direction. Press down lightly on the nut as you do this; it will ensure the string stays in place and wraps neatly around the tuning peg.
Ensure that the string doesn't wrap around itself; 4cm should be sufficient for between 2-3 clean wraps around the tuning peg. Don't cut off the excess just yet.
Electric guitar strings have a certain amount of elasticity when first used. They will therefore stretch somewhat with playing. Use the strings for a short while until they are able to hold pitch (an electronic tuner will help monitor this). Once you are happy that the strings have stretched, use the pliers to cleanly cut the strings. Allow about half a centimetre of the string to remain.
While a few strings might be broken in the learning process, they are relatively inexpensive and therefore allow you to practice and perfect the method with little expense.
Make a note of the string brand, gauge and replacement date. This will help you keep track of string wear and ensure you always use the same strings.