I started playing guitar on a classical nylon guitar. I learned all my first chords and songs on that guitar. But it was technically my father’s guitar, so at one point I had to buy one for myself.
I got a way too cheap started-pack type of guitar, and within hours of buying it, one of the strings broke. I never had this problem with my father’s guitar, so I legitimately thought the guitar was broken.
I freaked out and went to my mother because my father was away for the weekend, and she calmed me down and told me this was normal.
Over the years, I’ve had to restring my guitar so many times that it’s become second nature. As a busker, I sometimes did it weekly, because I wanted the guitar to be as loud as possible, and I liked that initial sound of a newly strung guitar.
But I remember the struggle of having to do it on my own for the first few times. It took ages and I was awful at it.
So how do you change the strings on a guitar? Here is my method:
How To Change Strings On A Guitar
This is the guitar that we’re going to restring:
It’s a Yamaha APX500III. It did a review on it here: APX500III Review.
As you can see, the old strings are still on there. We’re going to do this from beginning to end.
Most acoustic guitars have a bridge like this:
For classical and flamenco guitars, it’s a bit different. Those guitars don’t work with pins. It’s a bit different there, but the essence is the same.
The first step is to loosen the strings.
Loosen The Strings
When you twist the tuners along with the clock, the strings will start to come loose. If you’re not sure which side to twist, you can hit the string while turning. If the sound of the string is getting lower, you’re twisting the right way. If it sounds higher, and you’re feeling pressure, you’ll have to turn the other way.
When you’ve loosened all the strings, it will look like this:
Now you can take them all out of the tuners. Be careful that you don’t hurt your fingers.
Removing The Pins
Taking out these pins can be annoying. I like to use pincers, but make sure you don’t squeeze too hard when you use those because too much pressure can damage or break the pins. Keeping the pin in a light grip and using the pincer as a lever is the most effective method in my opinion.
The thin strings will give the least resistance. The lower strings will give more resistance.
You can now take the strings out of the bridge.
You can now take your new strings. I usually buy D’addario strings, like the ones below. It’s really easy to see what string belongs where, because it’s indicated with a clear color system.
Not all brands have a system like this, but usually, it’s clearly indicated.
Put all the strings in the according hole.
Now you can put the pins back in. When you do this, make sure the hollow side of the pin is facing the neck of the guitar.
Slightly pull on the strings when you push the pins in until you feel they’re stuck.
Now place the low E string through the first tuner. Pull it all the way through, as shown below.
Now, pull the string back one or two inches. You can now start twisting the tuner. Make sure you’re turning against the clock this time.
Once you’ve made a circle make sure the residual part of the string comes out on top as shown in the picture below
Always make sure the “incoming” string joins in from below, so it becomes a downward spiral.
I usually do one string until I feel like there’s enough pressure. I start refining and tuning when all the other strings are on there.
Refining & Tuning
As you can see, it still looks kinda messy, and the strings are not ready to be played yet. There are still a few important steps.
When all the strings are on the guitar, I cut off the residual parts of the strings that stick out with a pincer. This can be done to taste, but don’t go to close to the tuners.
Now, the guitar needs to be tuned. You’ll need a tuner for that, or you can use the following clips and tune accordingly. If you don’t know how to tune a guitar, or where each string belongs, this lesson might be helpful to you: How To Tune A Guitar.
You’ll notice that they’ll go out of tuning quickly. You might have to do the process twice because once you’ve done all six of them, the one you’ve done first might be out of tune again already.
Now gently pull on each string around the twelfth fret. Don’t pull too hard. Just pull until you feel some pressure, and wiggle around a little for five seconds.
Do this with each string.
Your guitar is now ready to be tuned for the last time.
Tune it to perfection, and play a few chords. Depending on your guitar it might go out of tune in the first thirty or so seconds. This is normal. The strings have to settle in. This can take a while, and the best way to allow the strings to settle in is by playing music on them.
This first few times, changing strings will be a tedious process. I hope I made it a little easier for you. Just know that like pretty much anything in life, you’ll get better at it in time.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.