How to Change Strings
How to Change Strings
by RA (Bob) Campbell
Campbell's Music is here to help you learn how to put strings on your guitar the right way. Actually, there are several methods, but this is the one we've used and shown many customers for years. It's always valuable to learn some basic maintenance for your guitar. We've even included photos to aid you.
We've used an acoustic guitar as our example so we could show you a bit about dealing with the bridge pins. On electrics there are too many variations to show you examples but it is generally easy to anchor the strings at the bridge. Assuming the strings were put on right to begin with, it's always a good idea to look over how they're attached to give you an idea of what you should end up with.
Step 1: Remove the old strings. Loosen each string until it is slack, then cut them off. Some people like to change their string one at a time (this can be a good idea for guitars with locking tremolos) fearing that loosening the tension completely will harm the neck. True, loosening the tension all at once would cause the neck to snap back and that isn't good, but a gradual loosening should not cause any problems. I figured that in my career I've changed something like 55,000+ strings so far and have yet to run across problems using this method.
Once all the strings are removed you'll find that this is a good time to clean the area under the strings which is usually difficult to do. Also, this is a great time to check over the guitar, tighten loose gears, clean the fingerboard, oil any components that may be rusting in place, etc.
Step 2: Slide ball end of string into hole approx. 2 inches and put bridge pin (pin slot facing string) into hole while gently tugging the string upward. You should feel the ball slip into place as pin is pushed down. The ball is NOT being held in place at the end of the pin, but instead sliding up past it and resting on the underside of the bridge.
If, by pulling up on the string the bridge pin comes up with it, then the ball isn't seated properly. If this is the case, repeat the above process till it catches. Try jiggling the string a bit while pulling it upward and simultaneously pushing the pin down. Be careful not to bend the string. Once secured, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Feed the string through the tuner 3a
3a 3b 3c
Allow yourself some slack, but not too much (approx. an extra 2 inches)3b and kink it to hold it in place 3c
Step 4: Keeping pressure on the string by extending the fingers as shown, using the index finger to keep downward pressure on the string as you wind it 4a.
Begin winding the string, turning gear button counter clockwise on left side of the guitar, opposite direction on strings for the right side. If you do not have a peg winder, get one! It's a small investment ($1.50) and worth every penny. Wind slowly and evenly, till you get used to it, making sure that each winding goes below the previous one. The windings on the post should snug up against the prior ones 4b. Do not tie knots as they will slowly tighten causing tuning problems.
Tighten the strings just below where you think they should be. Repeat for each string, giving yourself a little extra as you move on to further away tuning pegs. A tuner can be invaluable and are relatively inexpensive. On plain strings we often use an over-under method for fastening the strings to the post. This helps hold these strings in place, whereas wound strings have better grip because of the windings. Follow the above instructions to point 3c, before tightening the string, take the excess end of the plain string, bring it back around, pull it underneath the main length of string and while maintaining pressure on both halves, pull the excess back over. It's important to do this so that the end result is very snug, no looseness or you will have tuning slippage.
We hope this helps you! Don't be discouraged if it doesn't turn out picture perfect the first time, it takes awhile to get the hang of it, but once you do, it's pretty easy. Keep in mind that every guitar is a bit different but the above steps should guide you along for most standard setups. If you don't have a tuner or you're just too out of tune to even know to tighten or loosen the string, loosen it to where you're sure it's too low and slowly bring it up to your reference pitch. Also, always tune "up" to the note, rather than arrive at pitch by lowering. The reason for this is, if you have binding in the nut, the string may slip loose and go out of tune. Tuning "up" alleviates this usually.