How To: String an Electric Guitar

String an Electric Guitar

A First Timer's Guide

How to String an Electric Guitar

When some new guitarists break their first string they stash it in the closet and forget about it. Me, I put the sweaty axe back in its case and asked my parents to take me to the local music store. After a morning full of senseless racket emanating from my bedroom, my mom welcomed the drive.

A new guitarist probably has not yet noticed the difference in sound quality between a new string and the old gritty ones still gasping on to the tuning pegs. As an experienced guitarist, I cannot bear to have a mixture of old and new on my guitar, but I remember the first couple of years where I would go to the music store and buy one new "e" string for $1. When I got home after my big purchase I would string it up and then five minutes would pass by and the "b" string would pop off.  I learned the hard way that when one string breaks (unless you just put it on), they all are about to go. Which is just as well because a complete set of fresh strings will bring back a nice tone to your guitar.

The process of changing guitar strings is not hard, but the first couple of times you do it you're bound to make a few mistakes. So let's take a look at my method to help you get started off right:

Step 1 Lay it down

First, lay your guitar on a surface, like a bed, your lap or a table. You can use a cloth or towel to put under the guitar, so that it does not get scratched. If the headstock of your guitar is built at an angle, make sure that it is not resting on the surface with the body of the guitar.

Step 2 Unwind

Now, start unwinding the sixth string using its tuning peg. Notice when the string becomes loose enough to remove it from the peg and carefully pull it out. 

Warnings

  • Do not remove all of the strings at once. Doing this releases a lot of tension on the neck of the guitar and can cause serious damage.

Step 3 Change the thing

Next, simply remove the string from the bridge. Open and unwind the new sixth string. Thread the string through the hole in the bridge. Pull it until the ball connects firmly with the bridge. Now, thread the string through the inside of the tuning peg. 

Tips

  • Leave enough slack so that you can wind it a few times around the peg.

Step 4 Wind 'er up

Check to make sure that the string rests in place on its saddle and on the nut. Holding the string in place with one hand, its time to wind the string with the other. Using your fingers or a string winder, turn the tuning peg counter-clockwise. Turn the string until it becomes tense enough that you no longer need to hold it in place.

Step 5 Repeat, stretch and tune

Now, repeat these steps on the rest of the strings. After you have finished changing all six strings, tune the guitar. Gently stretch the strings by pulling up on each one individually and then tune it again. 

Step 6 Cut the excess

Now cut off the excess string and enjoy.

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