In the previous part in this series we were talking about how often you should change strings and what strings to choose (make sure to check it out if you haven’t already – how often should you change guitar strings). So today it’s time to start discussing how to change strings on some specific instruments. Let’s start with how to change acoustic guitar strings.
In the end, the procedure is not that different for different types of guitars, but there are still some nuances you should be aware of.
First rule of string changing
Change one string at a time.
This is simple yet very important. I know that removing all six strings at once seems like a good idea because that way you can to do some cleaning work on your guitar more easily, BUT … it isn’t a good idea at all.
The thing is that six guitar strings produce some tension on the neck. This tension keeps the whole instrument together in a configuration that makes it possible for you to tune it properly, among other things.
Losing this tension may cause all sorts of tuning problems and even cause new strings to sit higher off the fretboard once they’re on.
How to change acoustic guitar strings
Start with the E6 string.
E6 is the thickest string and a good starting point when changing strings. The whole procedure is rather simple, here’s what you do:
- Uncoil the string from the tuning peg completely.
- Remove the bridge pin from the bridge. This may require using some force.
- Remove the string from the bridge.
Now your guitar has no E6 string. This is perfect time to do some cleaning work. Take a soft cloth and wipe down the fretboard and all the other parts of your guitar (like the body) that the string went over when it was on, now you’ll have easy access to those areas.
You may also want to check out my post on how to clean guitar for more instructions.
Once you’re done with the cleaning it’s time to move to the second stage of learning how to change acoustic guitar strings – putting a new string on.
Take your new E6 string and notice there’s a small ball-like thing on one side. This is the part that goes into the hole where the bridge pin was.
- Take the string and slide its ball-end into the hole where the bridge pin was.
- Put the bridge pin back into position.
- Check if the string is sitting tightly by pulling it lightly.
Now it’s time to coil the string on the tuning peg.
- Start by pulling the string carefully up the fretboard.
- Crimp the string to a 90 degree angle about one inch past the tuning peg. This is not mandatory, but it will make coiling the string much easier.
- Slide the string through the tuning peg.
- Start tightening the string by turning the peg. Do it slowly and gently.
- Make sure that the string wraps around the tuning peg neatly – one wrap-around under the other. The wraps shouldn’t lie on top of each other, or cross over.
- Bring the string into tune by using a digital tuner. Then tune it one semitone higher. This will stretch the string a bit more so it will be able to keep its desired tune more quickly.
- Use wire cutters to get rid of the excess string.
There’s one important thing to mention here. New strings don’t keep their tune that well right after they have been put on. They need a couple of tuning cycles to get into shape, so to speak. So be patient.
Changing the other strings
The procedure is the same for all the other strings. Simply move to the A5 string and repeat the process. Then D4, and so on…
Some nice acoustic guitar strings
Just to help you select some quality strings for your acoustic guitar, here are some links to Amazon.
That’s it for this part. Hopefully, now you know how to change acoustic guitar strings.
Tune in next time to learn how to change strings on a classical guitar. This is somewhat different due to a different construction of the instrument itself.