For guitarists, needing to change your strings is a fact of life. While most people change their strings the recommended 3-6 months, professional players may change their strings as often as every day! For most people, you leave changing your strings to the professionals. A friend, local shop, etc. If you’ve ever seen your strings changed, you know it can look complicated and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! In this guide and the above video, we will go over how to change the strings on a steel string acoustic guitar. Be sure to check back next week for a 2 part guide on how to choose what strings you should be using!
Tools For Changing Strings
While you can change your strings with nothing but your hand and a pair of wire clippers, it’s often worth it to buy a tool that can help you change your strings, making it easier and faster so you can get back to playing and making music. Something like this D’Addario Pro Winder makes it a lot easier to both unwind and rewind the strings, and it comes with a wire cutter! If you are changing your strings frequently, something like this Planet Waves Drill Bit Peg Winder is a great option, too! Toss it into a drill and you’re ready to go.
Taking The Old Strings Off
Taking the top of the strings off at the headstock is as easy as twisting the pegs until the string can be pulled out of the peg hole. Taking the strings off the bridge can be a little more daunting, but it’s as easy as putting one hand in the sound hole, and pushing up on the bridge pins that hold the strings in place. They’ll pop right out (you may have to push a little harder than you think!) and out will come the string.
Once you’ve got your old strings out, make sure to not lose the six bridge pins or the bridge nut itself! The bridge nut isn’t held on to the guitar by anything except the tension of the strings, so if you aren’t careful it can fall out and disappear!
Installing Your New Strings
Reinstalling your strings is as easy as following the steps backwards. First, you’ll need to find the bridge pin that goes with the corresponding string. Put the string through the bridge in the proper hole and follow it with the bridge pin. Make sure that the string loop at the end doesn’t get caught at the end of the bridge pin. It can cause weird tinny sounds as well as the potential of the string popping out and losing all its tension. The easiest way to do this is to put your hand back through the sound hole and feel for the loop, making sure that it is pushed up directly against the bridge itself.
Once you have all six strings attached to the bridge, take the strings to the top of the headstock and feed them through the headstock tuning pins. Pull the string tight, and then pull it out of the pin about an inch (or from the headstock nut to the first fret). That will give you enough extra to wind the string around the tuning peg. Repeat that for each string, cut off the excess, and you’re done!
And you’re all done! Changing your strings can be a daunting task, but once you’ve done it, you’ll realize it’s actually quite simple! Stay tuned next week for a two part guide on how to choose what strings are best for you!