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3.8 Changing Strings

Changing guitar strings is really not a complicated task, but it is definitely something that “scares” the new guitarist.

First of all, reduce the tension of the string(s) using the tuning pegs, then remove the bridge pins from the body of the guitar to completely remove the string. It is up to you, but Andy removes all of them before replacing the strings so he can give the neck and body a good polish. However, there is a school of thought that says to remove and restring one at a time to keep string tension in balance with truss rod tension.

There is a great tool called a peg winder which reduces the time taken to unwind and wind the strings –we reckon this is an excellent investment.

Now get your strings ready (some strings are colour coded to indicate which string is which) and either start using the top or bottom E (up to you). The most preferred method is to first put in the thinnest string, then the thickest, then alternate to the next-thinnest, then the next-thickest and so on (1, 6, 2, 5, 3, 4). Alternating in this fashion keeps a more even left-to-right pull on the neck of the guitar and makes later tuning less problematic, especially for older guitars.

Once each string is in its peg hole, stretch it up to its appropriate tuning peg and insert the end through the hole in the peg. Keep in mind that you will want to be turning the guitar tuning key ALWAYS TO THE RIGHT to tighten. If the tuning keys on your guitar are on opposite sides of the head (as is usual), you bring the string up between the two rows of key pegs and to the outside.

Thread the string through the hole and pull tight You will want to leave just a little bit of slack to have some excess string to wind around the tuning pegs. If you do not, you will run out of string too quickly and the strings will loosen when you are playing. This is a trial-and-error process and is different for each string. Just remember, you can always cut off more if you leave too much. You can never add back what you cut off.

Bend the string (90° perpendicular to the guitar) and turn the tuning key so you get several winds around the peg. Make sure that when you tighten the string that each subsequent wind stacks one below the last, so that none of the winds overlap. This ensures both a cleaner looking wind and a longer life to the string itself, as well the guitar itself staying in tune

Do not tighten the string to its usual pitch, but rather a few semi-tones below. You want it tight enough to hold in place and put enough tension on the bottom peg to not come out again, but now is not yet the time for “tuning”. Repeat this procedure with the rest of the strings.


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