How to change Electric Guitar strings

The following section will show you exactly how to change electric guitar strings. There are many benefits to keeping your strings fresh. Better tone quality, better right and left hand finger response, wider range of dynamics possible and more range of tone to mention a few. Besides your guitar looks and feels better. A guitar with clean, new strings practically begs to be played.

Change with the same gauge of strings as you used before. Your intonation may be off if you use a heavier or lighter set than you currently use. Most electric guitars come with extra-light or "9's". Acoustic guitars tend to come equipped with light strings. You can experiment with other gauges but this might entail a setup of your guitar to accommodate the change in tension. A trip to you local guitar shop might best be advised.

Guitar strings should be changed every 6-8 weeks, more often if you can.

String Changing Tools Preparation: You need the tools for the job. This includes a string winder, guitar tuner and wire cutters. Purchase a string winder. It will save you a great deal of time, well worth the dollar or two. Additionally, they are made to cleanly pull out the bridge pins on acoustic guitars.

String Changing Tools

String Changing Position Step 1 - Hold the guitar in your lap or on a padded table with the neck supported. The strings can be removed in any order, though starting at either the 1st or 6th string and working across keeps things organized. Loosen and remove the strings one at a time. Do not cut the string while it is under tension, as that is a jolt to the neck.

String Changing Position

Tip: Take advantage of the removal of the strings to clean the face of the guitar under these normally hard to reach areas.

Bridge Step 2 - Insert the guitar string into the bridge. For many electric guitars you will slide the guitar through the back. Pull the string through gently until you feel the ball end of the string seat in the bridge. For acoustics, put the bridge pin in while pulling upward. You should feel the ball slip into place as the pin is pushed down.

Tuning Key Step 3 - Feed the string through the corresponding tuning key. Allow enough slack for two to three windings around the tuning key. Winding the entire string will result in too many wraps causing the string to wrap upon itself and cause instability in tuning. Less than one complete wrap and the string may slip out.

TuningKey2 After coming through the string hole, wind the guitar string one-half way in the reverse direction around the tuning peg (clockwise when the tuning keys are on top; counterclockwise when the tuning keys are on the bottom). Kink the guitar string to hold it in place. This will enable you to form a lock on the string to avoid slippage.

Tuning Key Step 4 - Wind the string with each wrap under the previous one, or closer to the base of the peg. This holds the strings in tune better and looks neater. You can help by keeping slack out of the string with your free hand and guiding the string downward. If your guitar has string trees on the headstock, have the string pass under the tree as you wind the string up to pitch.

Tuning Key 5
Wind evenly, making sure that each wrap goes below the previous one. Each winding should be snug up against the previous one.

Tuning Key Step 5 - Tighten the string up to pitch. Don't tighten so quickly that you break the string before you ever get to play on it! Next, stretch the string gently along its length. You should find that the string has gone flat. Retune the string. This stretching will minimize your retuning for the first days of your new strings. Trim off the excess string length with wire cutters.

Repeat on each string.
Clean up - Get rid of the old strings. They are no fun to step on with bare feet. And not good for your vacuum cleaner either.

Finally, to maximize the life of your strings, wash your hands before you play and wipe down the guitar strings with a clean cloth after you practice. This will slow the build up of oils and dirt on the string which dull their look and sound. You have now learnt how to change electric guitar strings.

Now make music. Happy picking.

By Storm Stenvold.