Wondering how to restring an acoustic guitar?
The strings on your guitar make a huge difference when it comes to sound, feel, and overall performance of your acoustic.
That's why we created this guide, to help you easily restring your guitar so you can always keep the best strings on it for every given occasion!
In my latest YMI guide, you will learn the following:
- When you should restring your acoustic guitar
- How much it costs to restring a guitar
- Supplies you'll need to restring your guitar
- And much more!
So, if you want to know how to easily restring your acoustic guitar, keep reading to learn everything you need to know!
When Should You Restring Your Acoustic Guitar (And Is It Easy)?
Unlike a fine wine or single malt Scotch, guitar strings definitely do not get better with age!
The buildup of oils and dead skin from your fingers coats the strings in gunk that collects within the grooves of wound strings, leading to a dull tone and loss of intonation.
As well as the loss of sound quality, old strings are also much more likely to break.
The question is, when exactly should you change them? A good rule of thumb that I tend to follow is to change them out at least every 3 months.
Now, if you play more than an hour every single day then you might have to bring that down to a 2-month interval or less.
I’d also advise you to change strings before a live performance or before recording. These are both situations that you need to be sounding your best for, and dull strings just won’t cut it.
Changing strings is a fundamental skill that every player should master early on. In fact, I’d say it’s just as important as learning chords and scales.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take a luthier to take care of this essential guitar maintenance, it’s a simple task that you should be able to complete in 30 minutes or less.
How Much Does It Cost To Restring?
Restringing a guitar is an inexpensive task. The only costs involved are new strings, a string winder (if you plan to use one), and potentially bridge pins (in case you end up losing or breaking any in the process).
What Tools Do You Need To Restring Your Acoustic Guitar?
When you’re working on your guitar, I firmly believe in using the right tool for the job. Yes, it’s possible to change your strings using no more than a pair of pliers with wire snips, but the chances of doing damage to your guitar are high.
Companies like Fender, Ernie Ball and D’Addario make specialist tools for changing guitar strings, these include bridge pin removers, string cutters, manual string winders and even electric string winders.
If you need 100% dependability, this tool from D’Addario takes care of winding, bridge pin removal and even tail end snipping all in one package. It’s made with the same high-quality that you’d expect from the D’Addario name, and should serve you well for years.
On the other hand, if you need to restring quickly, this electric winder from Ernie Ball makes light work of the process.
How To Restring Your Acoustic Guitar In 5 Steps
Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace
It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an uncluttered, quiet space with plenty of room to lay down your guitar without any risk of knocking it over.
I like to use my bed, it has all the space I need, and because it’s a softer surface the back of my guitar doesn’t get scratched up.
When you lay down your guitar make sure to keep the neck supported. A firm pillow underneath should do the trick.
Keeping it quiet is good to make sure you hear your guitar properly when it’s time to tune. Get your tools and new strings ready, and you’ll be good to go.
Step 2: Removing Your Old Strings
There’re two schools of thought here – some say it’s best to change them one at a time to maintain a constant tension on the neck, while others argue that modern guitars are more than capable of surviving temporary fluctuations in tension without any damage.
Either way you do it, the process is the same for each string. Loosen the string by turning the tuning head by hand until you have at least a couple of inches of slack. Next, unwrap the string from the tuning post.
Finally, carefully slide your bridge pin removal tool under the pin and lift up to remove it. Once the pin is removed, life the ball end of the string out of the recess, and the string is removed.
Step 3: Install Your New Strings
I like to keep each new string in the packaging until it’s time to install it. This stops any tangles or kinks working their way in.
Starting with the 6th string (low E), put the ball end into the hole, turn the bridge pin to face the sound hole, then push down on the pin while applying some tension to the string. Make sure that the pin is as flush as possible.
Turn the relevant tuning peg so that the hole aligns with the fretboard. Place the loose end of the string through the hole and pull it tight with your left hand.
Next, slightly back off the tension using your right hand and begin turning the tuning head. The first turn should go over the top of the loose end, with each subsequent turn underneath it – this might seem fiddly at first, but it’s a much more secure way to fasten the string.
Step 4: Wind The Strings
Using your string winder, turn the tuning head until there is tension. It’s best to wait until all six strings are on the guitar before moving on to tuning. Continue the above steps for the remaining strings in the order of 5A, 4D, 3G, 2B, and finally 1E (i.e. thickest to thinnest).
Step 5: Tune Up
Once all of the strings are on board it’s time to start tuning! Using your perfect pitch (or clip on tuner!) adjust each string until it’s in tune.
If this seems like too much work, you could always invest in a tuning machine like this Smart Automatic Guitar Tuner. It’s available from Amazon, and it’s a combination of string winder and tuner - I think it’s a bit of a game-changer!
My Closing Thoughts On Restringing Your Acoustic Guitar
Restringing an acoustic guitar is by no means a difficult job, but it is a task that requires care and attention.
Missteps can lead to broken strings or worse, and if you’ve just shelled out on a new pack of Elixirs, you’ll be a bit disappointed if you’ve broken one before you’ve even gotten to strum a chord.
This method is focused on acoustic guitars with bridge pins, the method is quite different for electric guitars and classical guitars.