How to Change Strings On a Guitar

How to Change Strings On a Guitar

Sooner or later, as a guitarist, you will have to change the strings of your guitar. It is improper to wait until the guitar strings are torn or become dysfunctional to change. Such a delay makes the impact of the guitar when playing very limited.

The primary reason you need to change guitar strings regularly is to produce a clear sound. Changing the strings happens to depend on the uses of the guitar. If you are recording, then you will have to change after every session.

Stage performances will also need changes every time before you get on stage. The major cause of why people fail to change the strings is because they lack basic information. Our guide will make everything possible and easy for you.

Importance of changing the guitar strings

If you know that playing the guitar isn’t an achievement until you do it well, you probably know the importance of quality strings. However, afar you buy the strings and begin to use them, their quality begins to lower. A constant and routine change is therefore vital.

Below are some of the benefits that come along with changing the guitar strings.

  • Improved sound quality– The sound produced by a guitar is dependent on two factors. The quality of the strings and the body of the guitar. If your guitar has a large body, then it will deliver an extensive and quality sound. If it is small, the quality will retain, but the sound may not be adequate.

New strings will deliver a more precise sound compared to the old one that can be misleading. The sustain produced by the old strings is also inferior compared to the new ones.

  • The durability of the guitar– Changing the strings frequently improves the life of the guitar. It ends up serving for a more extendedperiod because you do not have to force the strings to produce the sound. When making the changes, you also can work on basic things such as the broken parts of the guitar.
  • Simplicity of use– Changing strings is also vital because it makes the strings simple to play. When the strings are old, they get exposed to damage when playing as they quickly cut off. Another thing that happens with strings is that when they go unreplaced, they may develop rust which is not friendly to the hands. If the string has rust, you will not get the sound quality you aspire to have.
  • Comfort when playing– If there is a beautiful thing that comes with playing, guitars arecomforting that your strings are okay and the guitar is in the best state.  Changing the strings is, therefore, something you should not ignore. It will limit the chances of having disappointments when getting on stage or even during your playing sessions.

Types of strings

Before we get into the details of changing strings, it is essential to understand the various strings. You will be comfortable knowing what type of strings you need, and the specific time you need to use them.

Strings either come on a lighter gauge which offers lots of simplicity when playing. Medium gauge that boasts of excellent stability and needs some strength to play. They play rock and hard music conveniently. Heavy and extra-heavy strings have a rigid gauge often fight back when you pluck them. Guitarists who want a more potent punch prefer to use these strings.

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For an electric guitar, the strings are slightly different.  You will get the;

  • Nickel-plated steel strings– These strings have some brightness and are generally warm.  Electric guitars make the best choices for stage performances as they will manage to sustain even the heavy strikes. You will love their use because they are rigid and less exposed to breaking down.
  • Stainless steel strings– These strings are nice because they are less exposed to noise. If you are looking for a more incredible sustain and high-quality sound, they are excellent choices. Navigating through the fretboard becomes very easy when you have these strings.
  • Nickel strings– The strings that have pure nickel are excellent choices for delivering responses and deeper bass. A warmer tone that is good for learning gets delivered when you play using these strings.

When using acoustic and classical guitar strings, you will find different types of strings. The standard strings used are as follows.

  • Nylon strings– These strings are also called classical strings because they are suitable for classical music. One thing you will love the strings for is their softness. Both flamenco and classical guitars make great choices with these strings. Beginners and people who want proper note definition will love these strings.
  • Stainless steel strings-  These are explained in the previous section. For strong vibes and vibrant music, they make the best choices.
  • Coated strings– These are strings that have an inner material and a coat to the outside. A plastic polymer gets added to prolong the guitar’s life and offer comfort, especially to people with acidic hands. Some coatings are purely to save on cash for the users.

What happens about the types of strings is that they help determine the changing style and where they getused. Each guitar has its unique areas where they work best.

How to change strings on a guitar

Removing the old guitar strings

When preparing to do the replacement, you will have to remove the old guitar strings. The process of removing the strings is as follows,

  • Loosen the strings

You will begin by loosening the strings, and it is always good if you do the whole process with some order. Doing it with alternation from first, fifth, second, fourth, and third strings is the best way of doing it.

  • Remove the strings

Once you finish loosening, you will remove each string individually. Some people will suggest that immediately you remove a string, you put the new one. However, this method isn’t the best because you will not do maintenance to the whole guitar.

You will therefore remove all the strings individually without replacements.

  • Clean the guitar

After removing, you will check on the fretboard and the soundboard, then cleans them. Cleaning all parts is vital because it keeps the conditions best for your new strings.

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Removing the strings of an acoustic guitar

The process of changing guitar strings on an acoustic guitar is slightly different. Its strings get fixed with plugs on the bridge. You will need to do some gentle pulling to get them off. The bridge’s complexity is that it has plastic holders that can quickly break if you handle them poorly.

Special pliers are vital because they help in maintaining care when handling the plugs. Getting the devices whose sizes are proper is vital as they will help you quickly achieve the objective to have the strings removed and replaced.

A classical guitar is unique because there is a loop knot that you will need to untie to have the strings off. But changing the classical guitar strings is a simple task that you will do even without any complicated guide. Therefore, stringing a classical guitar is more straight forward as compared to acoustic guitars.

An electric and bass guitar does not have much difference. They are only thick, but removing the strings is simple as you will loosen them then pull them out. They are the most straightforward strings to remove and fix.

String installation

After removing the strings, the next big job is fixing the new strings. There is something fundamental you need to note about installing the strings.Always change the strings when there is optimum tension. Note that you will need to put the string on the right hole to ensure space to do the coil.

When you fix the string, it is vital to ensure that you have put the string under lock not to move until you have to adjust it or tune it. Ensure that everything is in place.

Unpack the new set

There are different packing methods that manufacturers use. one essential thing is that they will come sealed to open the seal before installation. You will notice a polymer coating that protects the strings from corrosion as a result of oxidation.

Some strings come in different colors to make the process of identification easier for you. This arrangement allows you to have the right strings getting on the suitable holes hence convenient for daily use.

Installation procedure

When installing, there is a process that you must always follow. You will start with the sixth string and then the first. Such an installation order aims at making string balancing convenient. The next thing you need to do is to have the fifth and the second string. Finalize by fixing the fourth and the third strings

After you have all the strings in place, ensure that you tighten them to ensure that they do not get loose. Fine-tuning is also important at this stage. You need to have some caution when tuning the strings to ensure that you don’t destroy the soft strings with too much tension.

Some strings are soft to tune, while others are rigid. For instance, the bass strings are tough hence will take some time before they get to the required rigidity. The trick that you will use when tightening is to do a small pluck then adjust the string.

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Tightening the strings that have balls

Once you have the strings in place, you will need to tighten them ready for playing. You may experience a challenge because of the strings that have no balls. Such strings require you to make several rolls until they form a loop.

Cutting off excess wire

Once done with the tightening, you will have to cut off the excess wires. A special cutter or pliers will help you to achieve the objective quickly. When cutting, ensure that you do not cut off the root of the wire. Ensure that you have left some small space that will make the adjustment process convenient for you.

Final tuning

You will then need to do some final tuning of the guitar to ensure that it is ready for use.  When tuning, ensure that the pull you do is correct and with a lot of caution as they may cut off.  Ensure that you take time of around 15- 20 minutes to have the stretch adequately achieved.

For the best outcomes, it is best if you focus on each string individually until you do all the strings. You also need to ensure that you have the proper tuning tools to do an effective tuning process.

Challenges when changing strings on the guitar

Changing the strings will not be a straightforward task as there will be various challenges. One of the challenges you will face is the removal of the strings. You will notice that some guitars will come with very rigid holders, makingthem very difficult to remove.

The process of installation of various strings is also different. Therefore, you will need to do some research to ensure that you make use of an effective installation method that will bear fruit. Understanding each guitar individually is an excellent thing as it will give you room to know the limits of every process.

Sometimes the strings cut off while doing the installation process. To encounter this challenge, you will need to be very cautious, especially in following the instructions,to have the whole process achieved quickly.  When tightening the strings, you will also need to take time and do it slowly not to spoil the guitar and the strings.

The sound production of the guitar is strongly dependent on how you do the whole installation process. You will have very heartwarming moments when you focus on making the strings playable depending on the user’s type.

Related Article: 11 Best Classical Guitar Strings for Beginners


Changing guitar strings is a straightforward task so long as you have the basics to doing it. When you embrace a guide like the one we have provided, doing everything becomes a cake. When you do the task two or three times, you will have mastered the whole art. Frequent changes are essential as they will make the quality of the guitar outstanding.