There are a ton of methods to change your acoustic guitar strings, and there is no one right way! In this tutorial I will show you how I change my acoustic guitar strings and also give you an extremely helpful tip that I learned from Kieth Richards’ guitar tech!
Let’s get right into it!
Changing your acoustic guitar strings
Step 1: Lay your acoustic guitar down on a table
Find a level area to lay your acoustic guitar down. You can use a table, desk, or really any flat place you can find.
Step 2: Find something to stabilize the acoustic guitar
In a lot of tutorials, they have a little brace that holds up the neck, however most of us don’t have that. You can place a folded piece of cloth and place it where the neck meets the body to level the acoustic guitar out. Alternatively if you have a tall enough pillow, you can place that under the neck to get the same effect.
Step 3: Loosen your strings
Twist your tuning heads with your fingers to loosen the strings to release most tension on the neck.
Step 4: Cut the strings with your wire cutters
Use your wire cutters to snip each string. You can snip them somewhere around the hole of the guitar.
Step 5: Pop out your bridge pins
This is where the string winder can come in handy. It has a little notch in it which you can use to easily pop out each of the bridge pins.
Step 6: Unwind and get rid of your old strings
Unwind the strings and pull out both sides of the string, removing them from the guitar completely. You can keep them tidy and together by holding all of them in one hand, coiling them together, and sliding one end through the centre of the coil you just made.
Step 7: Use your pencil to draw inside the nut creases
Use your pencil to draw in the creases of the nut. Pencils are made of graphite, which is a great lubricant for your strings, and will ultimately help protect your nut!
Step 8: Putting on new strings
Measuring the slack needed for winding the string
• Measure the string slightly past the next tuning peg. Hold the string in your fingers at that position, and slide the string towards the tuning peg it belongs to.
Twist the string over the top and hold it down
• Twist the string with your other hand around once, but be sure to go OVER the string to lock it in. Make sure there is one wind on the top, the rest should be at the bottom
Then twist the string under the string coming from the bridge of the guitar.
Strings must be on the inside of the post
• Make sure that your strings are being wound from the inside of the head, towards the outside.
Snipping the remaining excess string
• Once your string is wound, you can cut off the excess remaining string. You can do this as you go, or all at once at the end.
Step 9: Stretching your acoustic guitar strings
• Pull them to stretch
• Start towards the bridge and gently pull the strings away from the guitar. Continue doing this up the neck of the guitar.
• Use your paper package to pull the strings evenly (Keith Richards Guitar Tech trick)
• If your strings came in paper packs, you can use these to evenly stretch the string by folding it in half and using it to pull the strings away from the guitar. You can do this up the neck of the guitar.
Step 10: Tuning your acoustic guitar
Start tuning your guitar strings. You can do this with any kind of tuner you have. Once tuned, go back through each string and tune it again as added tension on the neck may cause some of them to slightly detune.
Step 11: Stretching & Tuning
You strings will still stretch for probably half an hour after playing them for the first time. Repeat steps 9 & 10 until your strings are staying in tune.
Tools you’ll need to change your acoustic guitar strings
1. String Winder
You can pick these up at most music stores or on amazon.
2. Wire Cutters
Any wire cutters will do as long as they close all the way and can easily cut through your guitar strings.
3. New Strings
A new pack of acoustic guitar strings of your choosing.
4. Guitar Tuner
Any guitar tuner will do!
5. A pencil
A regular pencil. Make sure it’s sharp!
Optional items needed when changing your acoustic guitar strings
Fretboard cleaning kit
You don’t need to clean your fretboard every time you change your strings. If you’re giving your guitar a complete clean, then you can use one of these kits to get the job done.
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Benefits of changing your acoustic guitar strings
Depending on your situation, there are a variety of benefits to changing your acoustic guitar strings. The 3 areas we’re going to focus on are tone, tuning, and reliability.
This one is pretty obvious, but as your strings age, the tone changes. New strings often sound brighter and have more character than old ones; they sound better. Your strings may also become corroded over time, which will affect their tone.
If you’ve played guitar for any amount of time, you’ll notice that the older your strings are, the less they’ll hold their tuning. This is due to the stretching of the strings over time. Over time, strings will deteriorate, causing inconsistencies. This will impact their ability to hold their tuning.
You want your guitar to be ready at to be played at any moment. You don’t want to have to worry about a string breaking or it detuning while you’re playing it! If you’re playing a show and you’ve got old unreliable strings, you might break one when you’re playing that killer solo- or even while strumming a chord a bit too hard. If you’re in the studio tracking the take of your life, you don’t want it to be ruined by a string that can’t hold its tune!
Watch the video below for a complete breakdown of how to change your acoustic guitar strings!