Last week we discussed when and why to change your guitar strings. This week lets look at how to change them. Hopefully, this guide will get you going. Remember, there is more than one correct way to do this, this method is the simplest.
The basic tools necessary to do a proper restring are a peg winder and pair of basic angle cutter nippers available at any hardware store. Most peg winders feature a handy bridge pin puller. This makes removing the pins holding the ball end of the string much easier and safer for you and the guitar.
Begin by loosening the string. This will remove tension and allow you to safely cut the string. Do not cut the strings under tension. The drastic change in tension is not good for the guitar and the flying sharp string is not good for you.
Using the pin puller in the peg winder, carefully pry the pin out to loosen the end of the string. Unwind and remove both ends of the string. Repeat this for each string if you would like to clean the fret board. Otherwise, it may be wise to change one string at a time as to have a reference if you get confused.
This is the best time to look over and inspect your guitar. Keep an eye out for any cracking in the wood. It is wise to address any issues asap. Also, tighten any loose hardware like tuning machines and strap buttons.
If you find anything obviously wrong with your guitar, it is advised you bring it to a repair shop. Most things are simple fixes. For example, while making this tutorial I noticed the saddle of this Fender acoustic.
There are many polishes out there in the world. It is wise to use a gentle polish made for instruments as they are safe on 99% of finishes. We like Dunlop Formula 65 polish on a micro fiber towel.
Put the ball end into the hole in the bridge. Make sure you have the right string! Lower the string until the wrap disappears and place a bridge pin with the slotted side towards the saddle (soundhole side).
Place you finger on the pin and apply pressure while simultaneously pulling the string gently back. The ball end should be snug against the top inside the guitar. You know the string is well seated when the pin goes in smoothly and a little bit of the wrap is visible in the slot.
Now line up the tuning key so that the hole in the peg is parallel to the neck. Run the string through the key all the way through.
Pull the string back a few inches, 3-4 inches will do. You don't wrap the whole string as this may cause too many wraps making the string kink and prone to break at the peg. Hold the string down near the nut and apply pressure on the main part on the string. There is more than one way to position your hand while doing this. Find whats best for you. I use the two in the pictures below.
While maintaining tension on the main part of the string, start winding the string onto the peg so that it wraps from the inside part of the head stock. This should be clockwise.
As the string comes around apply slightly more pressure to the string and make sure the tag end wraps above the main part of the string. This will make the string wrap neatly down the post.
Then keep wrapping. The 3-4 inches of slack you gave yourself should allow for 4 or more wraps on the thin strings and 2-3 on the wound strings.
Bring the string up to pitch using an electronic tuner like a Snark. This takes the guess work out of tuning and insures your guitar is at a safe tension.
Clip the tag end close to the peg.
Repeat this process for each string. Once they are all on there, it is a good idea to gently stretch the string between you thumb and first finger being cautious not to cut your finger on the thin string or to break the string. Stretching the string allows the string to settle faster making it play in tune faster.
Admire your handy work. If you get lost or frustrated, stop by our shop during business hours and someone, probably myself or Jeff, will help you out. We can show you how to do it in person or we can do it for you. We restring guitars around our shop daily for as little as $8. All in all, it is a skill worth knowing, not only to save a little money by doing it yourself but also to avoid disaster at a performance or jam session .