To restring an acoustic guitar, you’ll need to unstring the old set from the guitar at the bridge and the head, then replace it with the new one while maintaining some tension on the guitar. It’s a relatively simple process once you understand the method. You also don’t necessarily need many tools.
You might need to change your strings if they are dirty, dulled, or if one breaks. You can either replace all of the strings or replace them one at a time.
Can You Restring A Guitar Yourself?
Though it may seem daunting at first, it is actually relatively simple to change your guitar strings yourself at home. There are many online guides to help you choose appropriate strings and tools, as well as to show you the process step by step and help you retune your guitar afterward.
Broken strings are a common problem, and delays in maintenance time can be detrimental to your practice and mastery of the instrument, especially when you’re first starting out. You don’t have to wait on a shop to replace your strings, meaning you can get right back into playing.
On top of that, it’s good to know how to change your strings so that you can remove them while doing your biannual deep clean of the instrument. Knowing how to restring your guitar yourself is a good way to make sure your instrument is well maintained at all times.
How Do I Change My Strings Manually?
To restring your acoustic guitar, you’ll need wire cutters, a string winder, and your new strings. Set your guitar down on a flat surface and have your materials at the ready. Fender recommends changing the strings two at a time rather than all at once, to keep adequate tension on the guitar and prevent any warping or damage.
Here’s how to change the strings on your acoustic guitar manually:
- Loosen the strings at the tuning peg. Turn the tuning peg in the opposite direction from which you would normally tune the guitar. Using a string winder can save your hands and your time.
- Clip the string above the soundhole. Be careful to have enough slack that you aren’t hitting yourself with recoil, as that can cause serious injuries.
- Unwind the strings from the tuning peg. Wind the peg completely out and take the string out of the hole that runs through the middle of the peg.
- Use a string winder to remove the peg from the bridge. Pop up the peg and remove the string from the bridge. Set the pegs down in the order that you’ve removed them so that you can replace them correctly later.
- Find the appropriate replacement string. Most strings are labeled with a color-coordinated loop at the end so that you can easily tell which string belongs where on the guitar. Check the guide on the package before you open it, and keep it nearby as an easy reference.
- String the new strings through the bridge pins. With the groove in the pin facing the soundhole, just insert the appropriate string into the top of the bridge. Place the pin on top of the loop at the end of the string and, while pulling the string away gently, push the pin firmly into place. This gives you appropriate tension on the bridge.
- Precut the string at the head. Pull the string up to the head so that there is very little slack, but it isn’t tight. Measure the extra you need by using the machine heads; Fender recommends one and a half times the distance between tuning pegs.
- Thread the string through the tuning peg. Come in through the center of the head.
- Wind the tuning peg until the string is tight. Be careful to wind toward the outside, as if you were tuning.
When you’ve finished replacing your strings, tune your guitar as you normally would. Over time, the strings will stretch and loosen with regular use, so be sure to check the tuning of your guitar before every play session.
How Do I Change My Strings Without Tools?
Although they were mentioned earlier, you don’t necessarily need most tools beyond your hands to restring a guitar. The tools simply make it easier.
For instance, while you can just unwind the string completely and remove it without cutting it in the middle, this can lead to tangles of string and may cause it to get caught up in the other strings. If you plan to do this, just be careful about the placement of the loose string as you’re removing it.
You can also remove the bridge pins by hand without any additional tools, and replace them the same way. This can be difficult, as the pins are small and well-fitted to the guitar, but not impossible. Be careful not to damage the pins when you do this.
You will, however, need a wire cutter to trim the excess string from the head of your guitar. Not doing so can cause tangling and minor injuries from the sharp metal strings.
Can You Change Strings Without a String Winder?
A string winder is a tool that allows you to wind and unwind the strings of a guitar quickly. It acts as a crank that gives you more leverage over and space from the tuning peg.
You don’t need a string winder to unwind old strings from your guitar, though it does make the process quicker. You can simply unwind it by hand by, as mentioned above, turning in the opposite direction that you would to tune. This takes quite some time.
Acoustic guitars are beautiful, classic instruments that many musicians take extreme pride in owning, playing, and displaying. To make sure your instrument is always ready to be seen and heard, you’ll want to keep it properly maintained. That means keeping it clean, tuned, and, yes, with fresh strings.
Knowing how to change acoustic guitar strings yourself, with or without the aid of tools, is a fantastic skill to practice as a beginner and one that you’ll use throughout your career as a musician.