Changing Guitar Strings: Perfect this Easy Guitar Mod

Changing Guitar Strings: Perfect this Easy Guitar Mod

Changing your guitar strings can feel intimidating for a new guitarist. Don’t let it scare you, though. It's one of the simplest and easiest mods on your instrument.

Briefly, the basic steps to change your strings are all the same regardless of the instrument. Whether you play an electric, acoustic, electroacoustic, or bass guitar you will need to follow the same steps.

Here's a quick guide to changing your strings, with a more in-depth explanation of each step lower down.

First, detune your strings to relieve tension on the neck. Never just cut them off. Once you have got your strings off the machine heads, you can remove them from the other end.

Next, you will want to put your new strings on the guitar. On an acoustic, this could mean removing bridge pins. Electric instruments will either string through the body or the bridge.

Now, you are almost done. Trim your strings and wind them onto the machine heads, and you are done.

Need Some More Detail?

In our article 7 Easy Guitar Mods That Will Make Your Guitar Sound Better Than Ever, we covered super easy mods you could do yourself. We gave you a great starting point and covered the basics of each mod, guitar part, and what you need to get started.

In this series of guitar mod tutorials, we'll do a deep dive into everything you need to know to do these mods yourself step-by-step.

What tools do you need?

Which adjustments can you safely do on your own electric or acoustic, and what should be left to the professionals?

Why do you need to change guitar strings?

This simple mod can make your guitar tone brighter and bring your electric or acoustic back to life. Taking things slowly and calmly will soothe the inevitable nerves, and by the end of this tutorial, your guitar will be singing again.

For guitarists, changing your electric or acoustic strings will be one of the more frequent maintenance tasks you do.

When strings get older, they begin to wear and accumulate dirt and grime from being played. This can influence the tone and intonation of your guitar. See our beginner's guide to Guitar Intonation for more info.

Your electric or acoustic guitar strings need to be changed often to maintain the clarity and tone of your instrument. You will have an easier time keeping your tuning and intonation stable with newer strings.

What do I need?

Okay, so now we know why we are changing the strings. Let’s look at the tools you are going to need. The type of guitar you play will determine what you need. In this article, we are mostly going to be looking at electric instruments. So let’s start there.

  • A new set of strings
  • String winder (optional)
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Pliers to cut strings
  • A tuner and cables
  • A towel to lay your guitar on
  • Surface to work on

Let’s change those strings

The first step is to get those strings off your guitar. We want to release the tension from the string before we remove it. Never just use pliers to cut them off under tension. This can damage your guitar and hurt you (a guitar string to the face is never painless).

This is where that string winder will come in handy for quicker string changes. Once there is slack, you can use wire cutters to cut the strings off.

Some people like to detune and replace the strings one by one to keep tension on the neck. I prefer to remove them all first because this gives me a chance to clean my guitar and fingerboard.

You can get any fingermarks and grime off the body using a soft cloth. Your fingerboard, depending on the material it is made of, should be cleaned and oiled.

Once your guitar is clean and shining, it is time to get those new strings out. I like to start with the low E.

For the second step, slide the new string through the hole on your bridge, or the body of your instrument, and across the saddle. And if you have any confusion about Guitar Anatomy, check out our guide.

Once you have the string anchored, you can stretch it up to the tuning/string post. From there, cut the string at about 2-3 inches past the post. This is the length of string that will wind around it.

Now you can thread the string through the tuning post. For the string to wind properly, you need to bend it first so that it creates a grip on the string post. Once you have the string bent, you can begin winding it onto the post.

Follow these steps with each string, and you are ready to tune up.

When to change your guitar strings?

Well, that is down to individual choice and playing habits. If you gig often or play heavy music all the time, then you'll need to change your strings fairly regularly.

But less frequent players will still need to keep an eye on those strings. Most of the strings on acoustic and electric guitars are made of steel and can oxidize quickly and become brittle if exposed to air.

So, if you’ve been letting your guitar gather dust for a while, you may want to change those strings too.

Choosing your Guitar Strings

Whether you play a bass, an electric, or an acoustic guitar, you need to buy the right strings for the kind of music and the instrument you play.

String Gauge?

Gauge refers to the thickness of a string. It's the first choice you need to make when choosing strings.

If a string has a larger gauge, this means they are thicker. Thicker gauge strings are appropriate if you are an aggressive player or play very heavy music. Heavier gauge strings will have an easier time staying in tune with metal’s more forceful playing style and tendency towards alternate dropped tunings.

However, if you are new to guitar, it is important to remember that the string gauge also affects the playability of your instrument. Lighter gauge strings are thinner, and therefore bend much easier. This will make fretting a note on the guitar much pleasanter for fingers that haven't developed calluses yet.

The best way to find what guitar string gauge works for you is to experiment. Try a few different gauges until you find one that suits your music and playing style.

Final Notes

New strings will take a while to settle, so be prepared to tune until they are stretched in. You can stretch the strings as you are winding them by pulling them from the body.

I prefer to tune a half step sharp, and then leave the guitar overnight to settle.

That pretty much covers string changes, so happy playing and keep an eye out for the rest of the series.


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