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How to Change the Strings on an Electric Guitar

August 1st, 2009

electric-guitar-change-strings.jpgOver time guitar strings wear and as a result your guitar’s tone suffers. In addition to this strings can collect nasty gunk and oils from your fingers, so it is very important to change your guitar strings regularly. This is an easy process that any new guitarist can quickly learn to do, and this article is meant to show you how.

The first step is getting the old strings off of your guitar. To do this, turn the tuning pegs on your guitar’s headstock so that the strings produce a lower pitch (like when you tune to drop D). You’ll notice detuning makes the string looser. Keep turning the tuning peg until your string is really loose and the end can be removed from the headstock. Once a string has been loosened, turn your guitar over to find 6 holes along the backside of the guitar’s body (assuming you have a 6 string electric guitar). Slide the strings out through these holes.

Once all your strings have been removed, it’s time to put on the new ones. Start with the low E string; this should be the thickest string in the pack. String it up through the first hole in the back of your guitar’s body (the end without the metal stopper goes first) and pull the end of the string up to the headstock and through the little hole of the metal pin connected to the tuning peg. Leaving some slack in your string, loop the very end of the string back around under the string on the other side.

Now, the key is to bend the string end back over the string and pull. This will help to keep your strings in tune. Simply turn the tuning peg to tighten the string until it is fairly taut, i.e. at least resembling a guitar string rather than a piece of spaghetti. Make sure the string has fallen into its appropriate slot on the bridge and nut of your guitar (the metal bit on your guitar’s body and the little piece at the beginning of your fret board respectively). Repeat this process for the other strings.

To prevent creating uneven tension that could potentially damage your guitar’s neck, don’t tune the strings all the way until you have all your strings on. While the risk is slight, it is possible to warp the neck of your guitar, which would greatly affect its playability; therefore, it is recommended not to fully tune strings until they have all been installed.

For tuning, plug your guitar into a tuner for the most accurate results. You may find that after changing strings your guitar goes out of tune more easily. This is because you have to let your strings stretch out. All you have to do is play your guitar a lot after changing the strings and within a few days your tuning should be just as good as normal. Because of this, it’s best to change to new strings a few days prior to any gig or concert you may have to help ensure your guitar will stay in tune for your performance.

A common question beginners ask is how often they should change strings. It really depends on how often you play, but once every couple months should be just fine. It’s really up to you and whether or not you notice any loss of tone. So, enjoy your newly strung guitar and rock on!


Mike123 has produced four articles and two sales at Constant Content.


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