How To String A Guitar

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To Start:

  • To start, lay your guitar on a towel on a flat table and use a stack of books to support the neck, ensuring it is level and steady.
  • First, loosen the old strings by turning the tuning knobs counterclockwise and then remove them from the bridge, starting with the highest-pitched, thinnest string.
  • Next, insert the new strings into the bridge and thread them through the tuning pegs, beginning with the thickest, lowest string.
  • Securely wind each string onto its respective tuning peg and tune your guitar. Finally, trim any excess string using wire cutters.

BASIC SETUP

1. Ensure that you place your guitar on a flat, clean surface.

Select a environment devoid of any commotion or disturbances to enable you to hear the resonance of the strings clearly. To avoid any unintentional scratches, cover the table with a towel before placing your guitar.

2. To restring a guitar, you’ll need some tools including new strings, wire cutters, and a string winder.

With the help of a notch on the string winder, you can easily pop out the bridge pins if you’re working with an acoustic guitar. Once you’re done, use the wire cutters to trim off the long tails of the strings to avoid any discomfort or scratches.

  • To choose the perfect strings for your guitar, consider your personal taste, budget, and the sound you want to achieve. In case you struggle with tuning by ear, keep a tuner nearby to assist you.
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3. Balance the neck of your guitar.

Achieving a balanced neck on your guitar is a task that can be accomplished without the need for specialized equipment, as expert luthiers typically employ. Simply arrange a stack of books to an appropriate height to ensure that the neck is held in a level position.

In order to prevent damage to the guitar’s surface, it is advisable to cover the stack with a towel.

Restringing an Acoustic Guitar

1. To loosen the strings, simply turn the tuning knob.

It is recommended to begin with the highest and thinnest string, ensuring that you are turning the correct knob in the proper direction. If the pitch lowers, then you are successfully unwinding it.

Proceed to loosen all strings from the highest to the lowest. While a string winder is not required, it can significantly speed up the process.

2. Remove guitar strings

To remove the guitar strings, simply remove the pins from the bridge using a slot on your string winder or needle-nose pliers if necessary. Then, pull out the pins and the strings. The order in which you do this doesn’t matter, and taking off all the strings at once won’t harm your guitar.

This is a good opportunity to clean the guitar and fretboard. If you prefer, you can remove the strings one at a time, but this will take longer to complete.

3. Insert each new string into the bridge and securely fasten the bridge pins.

Next, bend the string at a 90-degree angle just above the ball-end to prevent it from sliding down too far when you replace the pin. Use your thumb to push the pin back in place and repeat this process for all six strings, starting with the thickest and moving to the thinnest. Remember to wind them in the same order.

4. Begin by pulling each string up towards the headstock and through its respective tuning post.

Commence with the thickest and lowest string, raising it and passing it across the groove in the nut. Subsequently, thread it through the opening in the tuning post, tugging it until approximately 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) of excess string protrude from the post.

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5. Begin by pulling each string up towards the headstock and through its respective tuning post.

Commence with the thickest and lowest string, raising it and passing it across the groove in the nut. Subsequently, thread it through the opening in the tuning post, tugging it until approximately 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) of excess string protrude from the post.

6. Trim excess wire

After locking the string, it’s recommended to trim any excess string with wire cutters, cutting as close as 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) from the tuning post. This will prevent the sharp points of the string from causing scratches or poking while playing the guitar.

However, if unsure about the string slipping, it’s better to wait until after tuning to trim the excess. This way, threading it back through and rewinding it will be easier.

7. Tune your guitar to pitch

Achieving pitch-perfect tuning for your guitar is vital. To maintain its optimal performance, give your strings a slight stretch while tuning. This will help them maintain their tune for a longer period of time, reducing the need for frequent retuning.

Stretch each string by holding it up by half an inch and sliding your finger towards the nut, repeating the process in the opposite direction. This is especially important for frequent players who demand consistency in their sound.

Restringing an Electric Guitar

1. Loosen the strings at the headstock

To loosen the strings at the headstock, turn the tuning knobs for each string until they are no longer audible when plucked, but there is no need to completely unwind them.

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2. Cut the strings and remove them

Using wire cutters, sever the strings and gather them around the neck pickup. Ensure that the ends are sharp, and they do not prick you, before you cleanly slice through them. After that, remove the strings entirely from the guitar.

3. Push the strings up through the saddle.

To install the strings on an electric guitar, start by inserting the non-ball-end of the string through the rear of the guitar and over the bridge, unless you are working with a Floyd Rose or tremolo system. In these cases, remove the ball-end, center the string in the saddle, and trap it there.

Alternatively, for Les Paul-style guitars, feed the non-bell-end of the string through the tailpiece and pull until it reaches the bell-end and stops.

4. Thread the strings through the tuner from the inside out

To properly thread the strings through the tuner, begin by feeding them from the inside out and aligning the tuning posts perpendicular to the neck of the guitar. Then, insert each string through the inside hole of its tuning post and guide it through to the other end.

If your guitar lacks a locking nut, loop the tail end of the string back around the tuner and secure it under the string to create a kink that will hold it in place.

5. Tighten the strings on the tuners. 

To achieve optimal sound, it is important to adjust the strings on the tuners. If you do not possess a locking nut, ensure that every string is placed in the appropriate groove on the nut as you tighten it. To expedite this process, utilize a string winder.

If you have a tremolo system, it is recommended to reset each fine tuner screw to its mid-range.

6. To ensure proper tuning of your guitar, it is recommended that you stretch each string individually before tuning.

You can do this either by ear or with the aid of an electronic tuner. After bringing your guitar up to pitch, lift each string about 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) from the neck and gently pull down on it while running your finger up towards the nut. Repeat this process a few times for each string before tuning again.

7. Use wire cutters to neatly trim the ends of your strings.

When cutting the tails of your strings, leave approximately 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) from the tuning post. As your strings are already securely stretched, you may safely cut them as close as possible to prevent any unintended injuries or scratches.

Once you’ve tuned your guitar, its time to start playing! Get your first lesson with 6 MONTHS FREE at Skillshare and learn from a master teacher!

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