How to change the strings on an acoustic guitar

The sound and quality of a guitar have as much to do with the strings as with the instrument itself. This is why many guitarists choose to change their strings frequently even if none of their strings have broken. It may seem like a daunting task to change your strings, especially if you are a beginner, but there is no reason to pay somebody at the music store to accomplish the task. If you follow a few simple steps, you will find that changing strings will become as simple as forming a basic chord.

The first thing you need to do when changing strings is to remove your old strings. This is a very easy process. First, unwind the strings from the tuning peg by detuning. Do not cut the strings with a wire cutter, as this sudden change in pressure can adversely affect the instrument. Instead, continue to turn the tuning peg until the string is loose enough to slide through the hole. Repeat this for each string. Once the strings are loose, remove the plastic (sometimes metal) pins at the bottom of the guitar which is holding in the wound end of the string. Sometimes you may need pliers to gently remove these pins just be careful. Put the pins somewhere safe, and remove the strings. These can be discarded.

Your next step is to install the new strings. The strings will be individually wrapped in paper envelopes and labeled so you know which string goes in which hole. They should be labeled both by the diameter and by the note that the string will be ultimately tuned to. As long as you remember that the strings go from lightest to heaviest (from right to left, if you’re looking at the guitar straight on) you should have no problems with the order.

Unwind the strings, one at a time, from the envelopes. Be careful during this stage, as the strings are tightly coiled and can spring loose. Some experts recommend wearing eye protection during this process. You will notice that at one end of each of the strings the string becomes thicker and end in a small hoop or ball. Put this end into the appropriate pin-hole, and slide the pin into the hole to secure the string. There should be a groove on each pin which should face the top of the guitar as you slide it into place. At the same time, gently pull on the string so that the ball or hoop at the end of the string sits tightly beneath the bridge of the guitar. You can feel through the soundhole to make sure they are not dangling into the body of the guitar.

Once the pins are snugly in place, you are ready to attach the strings to the pegheads. First, arrange the tuning pegs so that the holes of the pegheads are angled at a convenient position for sliding the string through. Most guitarists like to place the hole so it is at a forty-five-degree angle, facing away from the head of the guitar. You don’t want to have to bend and twist the string during the initial insertion.

Slide the string into the peghead, bringing the string from the top of the peg itself, and extending it toward the outer edge of the guitar, so that the string forms a cane-shaped curve. Pull the string fairly tight, allowing for a little slack while tuning. Bring the end of the string back up and around the peghead, so it doubles back on the original curve, and bring it underneath where the string originally goes into the hole of the peghead. Once underneath the original string, pull the end of the string back over the original string, and back toward the top of the guitar. Hold this in place, and turn the tuning peg until it tightens. Repeat this process for each string and tune-up. If there is any leftover the string that you want to remove you can clip them with a good pair of cutters.

Changing strings requires practice and patience, but it is really a very simple process. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and expense by being able to do it at home, and you can change your strings as often as you like.

Changing strings

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