How to String a Guitar

how to string a guitar
A musician playing an acoustic guitar. Photo by Pexels.

Playing the guitar is a hobby that is taken up by many people throughout their lives. From young children to adults, there are millions of people worldwide who play the guitar. But before you can become a pro, you need to know how to string a guitar so you can change your guitar strings when the situation calls for it.

Regardless of whether you are a beginning guitarist or a seasoned professional, you still might not know how to restring a guitar. Keep reading this step-by-step tutorial to learn about how you can change guitar strings on your own guitar.

Guitar pins
Close-up view of Guitar pens. Photo by Rahu.

How to Change Guitar Strings

The process of changing your guitar strings is quite simple. There are only a couple of steps involved that you can easily perform at home. Despite the steps being fairly simple, you might want to read the steps a couple of times and follow each step as you read it. 

Step 1: Gather Supplies

The first step to changing your guitar strings is to gather all of your supplies. In order to change your guitar strings, you will need the following: a new set of strings, wire cutters, a string winder, a polishing cloth, and some fretboard cleaner.

Step 2: Loosen Old Strings

Once you have gathered all of your supplies, the second step is to loosen all of your old strings.

Some people believe that it is better to only change a couple of strings at a time because they believe that the neck of the guitar will get messed up because there is nothing to counteract the tension created by the truss rod once all of the strings are removed.

However, if you don’t take all of the old strings off, then you are going to have a really hard time cleaning off your fretboard. In order to take a string off, you need to pluck the string ends and then follow the string to the tuning machine on the headstock of the guitar. You can wind the tuning machine clockwise to loosen the string.

A good tip to keep in mind is to listen to the sound the string makes as you wind it on the tuning machine. If the sound is dropping in pitch, then you are doing it right. If you are not listening, you might not know whether you are winding the string up or down, which could cause it to snap. 

You should continue to unwind the string from the tuning machine until you can fully remove it or use a pair of pliers to cut it off once it is loose enough. 

Step 3: Remove String Ends

The next step is to remove the string ends. It is important to note that this step varies depending on whether the guitar you have uses steel strings, nylon strings, or is an electric guitar. If you are changing strings on your acoustic guitar, you will need to remove the pins before you begin.

If you are wondering how to change acoustic guitar strings, you will want to follow either the steel string or nylon string instructions depending on the type of strings your guitar has.

Steel Strings

For guitars that use steel strings, the string wire is usually attached to a ball-end which is secured in the bridge by small pins. There are usually six of these bridge pins to hold the strings together at the ball-end. In order to remove the strings, these bridge pins need to be pulled out. 

Some acoustic guitars use a pinless system that allows you to push the end of the string in the opposite direction of the ball-end to remove the string from the ball-end.

Nylon Strings

Guitars that use nylon strings have a simpler process. The strings on nylon-string acoustic guitars are usually just tied through the bridge in a small knot. Once you have removed the string from the tuning machine, you can pull on the knot to remove the string from the guitar.

Restringing Guitars: Electric

The last type of guitars to be covered is electrical guitars. Electric guitars vary in the way that they are run through the bridge. Sometimes they are fed through the back of the guitar, which is very different from acoustic guitar strings, or they are run through a hard-stop tailpiece. Regardless of how your string is run through the bridge, pulling it in the opposite direction should remove it. 

What to Do When a String Gets Stuck in the Guitar?

Whenever string gets stuck in the guitar, you don’t need to worry. This is something that is very common regardless of the type of guitar or string. If this happens, you don’t have to panic, all you need to do is cut a small piece of string to push the piece that is stuck out of the way.


Step 4: Clean Your Fretboard

This step is entirely up to you, although it is recommended. This step involves cleaning and polishing your fretboard. This is your best chance to clean all of the dirt that gets in your fretboard and around the frets. After you have cleaned the fretboard, you can polish it so that it is shiny. 

Another thing that is recommended while doing this is to oil the fretboard of the guitar. You are already cleaning it, so you might as well just go ahead and oil it while you are at it. If you choose to oil your fretboard, you should be cautious not to put too much on it because it can make a mess that you’ll have to clean up. You should put some oil on the fretboard and rub it in until it is gone. 

Step 5: Insert New Strings

This next step is inserting the new string into the guitar. Once again, this is going to change depending on the type of guitar that you have. 

Steel Strings

For guitars with steel strings, you need to start by removing the bridge pin on the low E string. Then, you will need to insert the ball end into the hole. The bridge pin has a grooved slot that is there to guide you when inserting new strings. The groove indicates where the string should rest. Once you find the groove, push the pin in with the groove facing the neck. 

Lastly, pull the string up all the way as you push the pin down. Something to consider is that the pin might pop out when you tune the strings. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to push the string hard. Once you wound the string, the string tension will keep the pin in place. 

If your guitar uses a pinless system, you might want to bend the edge of the string a little so that it makes it easier to push the string through the bridge hole. 

Nylon Strings

For nylon-string acoustic guitars, it is highly recommended that you use ball-end strings because these help massively by saving you time. If you use ball-end strings, all you need to do is slip the pointy end through the hole and pull the string tight. However, if you don’t have ball-end strings you will need to tie a new knot yourself.

Electric Guitars

Electric guitars are perhaps the easiest type of guitars to insert new strings into. All you need to do is pull the loose end of the string through the hole.

Restringing a guitar
Elanaf demonstrating the process of tying the new strings to a guitar.

Step 6: Wind the New String

Step number 6 to changing the string on your guitar is to wind the newly inserted string. To do this you will need to pull the guitar strings towards the neck of the guitar. You will then have to feed the string through the nut where the old string used to be. You will want to wind the string 2-3 times around the tuning machine.

The first time you wind the string around the nut you should do it in a counter-clockwise motion. The rest of the revolutions should be done clockwise. This makes it harder for the string to slip out of tune. Once you are done winding all of the new strings, you will need to cut off the excess string with some wire cutters.

Step 7: Tune Your Guitar

The last step is to tune up your guitar. At this point, you can use a guitar tuner to tune each string. This process can be tedious because each string will cause tension on the neck of the guitar which can affect the tuning of the other strings. You will just need to continue to use your tuner until all the strings are up to pitch. 

And just like that, you now know how to string a guitar!

Acoustic Guitarist
Photo of Guitarist with an acoustic guitar. Photo by FirmBee

How Many Strings Does a Guitar Have?

Typically, most guitars have six strings. The strings are arranged in order of thickness. Starting from the thinnest string, which is the first string, moving all the way up to the thickest string, which is the 6th string. The strings are also arranged by pitch. The strings range from the lowest pitch string, to 6th string, and move up in pitch until the high E string, or 1st string. 

How Many Strings Does a Bass Guitar Have?

A standard bass guitar has 4 strings. The standard tuning for a bass guitar includes E, A, D, and G, but some bass guitars can have 5 strings for an increased range. Some guitar players who want to bring a guitarist’s approach to bass play the bass IV, a six string bass, which was sometimes used by Beatles guitarists John Lennon and George Harrison.

Is Restringing an Electric Guitar Different from an Acoustic Guitar?

As mentioned in the step-by-step tutorial, the process of restringing an electric guitar is different from the process of restringing an acoustic guitar. One main difference between the two is that acoustic guitars usually come with four wound strings and two unwound strings. On the other hand, an electric guitar typically comes with three wound strings. 

However, some guitar manufacturers also provide the option of getting an electric guitar that has four wound strings, and acoustic guitars with a third unwound string. Overall, the main difference in restringing an electric and an acoustic guitar is the fact that you will have more or less string to insert and wind.

Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





songs about freedom

15 Best Songs About Freedom

best christian songs

15+ Best Christian Songs to Add to Your Playlist