How To Change Acoustic Guitar Strings
Whether you’re a beginner or a guitar expert, learning how to change your strings is a helpful and important skill. This is because changing your guitar strings helps to maintain good sound quality.
There isn’t much to changing your guitar strings, so, you don’t have to worry if you are a beginner. It becomes easy as soon as you start doing it frequently. Just like the same way constant practice makes you better at playing the guitar.
This is why we have come with step by step instruction on how to do this by yourself. But first, let’s talk about why restringing your acoustic guitar is important or necessary.
Why and When Do You Need To Change Your Guitar Strings?
The why, has a pretty much straightforward answer. You should change your strings if they are old. There is no way your acoustic guitar would be in good working order if you have old strings.
So, when do you need to change your strings?
- When your strings refuse to snap when you pick them as most new strings do.
- When you notice that they produce dull sounds. As soon as you realize that they do not produce those rich notes anymore, it is time for a change.
- You need to change your strings as soon as you notice them going out of tune. This change should occur after you must have set up your guitar properly and the problem persists.
- If you happen to have coated strings on your guitar and you notice them shedding flakes, then it is time for you to purchase new strings.
- Corrosion sets in when your strings are old. It also turns the strings black. It goes without saying that you have to change them once you notice this.
- When you notice kinks or dents forming on the strings. These kinks will affect the tone of the string and can also cause the strings to break without warning.
Changing The Strings
The things you would need include a new set of strings, pliers, string clipper or wire cutters, a string rewinder (optional but makes the task easier) and a clean cloth, in case you decide to clean your guitar after removing the strings.
Remove The Old Strings
Before you go about changing strings on an acoustic guitar, you have to remove the old strings.
- Place your guitar on a flat surface like a table or the floor. You can place a towel or blanket on this surface to prevent it from leaving scratches on your guitar’s finish. Balance and secure the neck of your acoustic guitar. Position yourself in front of your guitar in a way that your guitar’s sixth string is the closest string to you.
- The next step is to loosen each string. Start with loosening the lowest and thickest string on the acoustic guitar by turning the tuning peg. You will see the tension loosen for each as you do this. Repeat this process for each string.
- After loosening the tension, start unwinding the strings of the tuning post and remove them. You can use the string rewinder to do this. It makes the winding and unwinding process faster and effortless.
- Finally, you should resist the urge to remove all strings at once. Your guitar neck might not react well to this. Also, you might end up having your replaced strings sitting too high above the fretboard, so, it is advisable to change your strings, one at a time.
Remove The Bridge Pins
After removing the old strings, the next phase involves removing the bridge pins. The pins are the knob-headed parts near the guitar’s soundhole.
These pins are designed to secure the strings. They are fitted snugly, so this might make their removal a daunting task sometimes. Using the in-built string winder, remove the pins carefully.
In some cases, you might encounter a stuck bridge pin. Here, you will need a lot of patience and your pliers, of course. After removing the strings from the tuning post, snip them close to the bridge. With your hand inside the guitar, find the underside of the pin.
After this, use your pliers to gently tap the pin’s underside. The bridge pin should start sliding out after this. You should be careful with the use of pliers so as not to damage your guitar.
Clean Your Guitar
Now that you have everything laid out, use the opportunity to clean your guitar. Apply fretboard conditioner to a toothbrush and scrub away. You can also add few drops of lemon oil to a clean cloth and clean every leftover grime lodged in your fretboard.
Restring Your Guitar
After you have removed the old strings, the bridge pins and cleaned your fretboard, your guitar is ready to receive new strings. Open the pack containing the new strings and identify each string gauge. Lay them out, from the thickest to the thinnest. This is to prevent restringing them wrongly.
If you don’t know how to go about it, use this hint. When you have your guitar in a playing position, the thinnest string is close to the floor, while the thickest is close to the ceiling.
When you pick up the string, you will notice that it has a ball or a circular end. Position the circular end in the bridge pin hole and place the pin over it. Pull the string till its circular knob end is snug against the bottom of the bridge pin.
This should be followed by stretching the string across the fretboard and threading its other end through the hole in the appropriate tuning peg. After this, tighten the string. This is done by turning the tuning peg to the right.
You can use a peg winding tool to make it easier. Keep at it until the string tightens enough to create a musical pitch. If you have any excess string, make sure you clip it off with wire cutters. Repeat this process for each string. We should also point out that you will have to keep retuning the strings to prevent them from going out of tune.
As you can see above, the process is not that daunting. All you need is patience, getting quality strings and following the instructions. However, if you are afraid to attempt it, you can easily change your acoustic guitar strings at any guitar or music instruments store near you.
Furthermore, if you want to prevent having to change the strings of your acoustic guitar, you have to be intentional about the maintenance. Before you play your guitar, always wash your hands. This is to reduce the amount of oils on fingers getting on your guitar strings. These body oils can make your strings corrode easily.
Also, make sure that you never forget to wipe down your guitar strings before and after playing. To do this, you can use rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, or specially designed conditioners for cleaning guitar strings.
Lastly, you should invest in good quality guitar strings. Doing this will help you get extended use out of your strings.
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