The time has finally come to let go of your little buddies. They have served you faithfully to the best of their ability and are now ready for the next step of their journey. Whether you use them in your own creative D.I.Y projects or recycle them your worn out guitar strings will have helped you become a better musician throughout their lifespan.
While parting with them may be sweet sorrow, see this as an opportunity to make new friends who shall help you grow and reach even further heights. Change is a part of life and changing your strings is a part of guitar life, so let me help you make the change a little bit easier with this super helpful walkthrough on How To Change The Guitar Strings.
Out With The Old – Respectfully
It is now time to carefully remove your worn out set of strings. I stress carefully friend because you must remember your strings are always kept at quite a high tension. It is important to remember this so that you don’t try to cut the wires or detune them to quickly. If a string has damage that you can’t see and you change its tension erratically it may snap and hurt you.
After all, you have been through together your strings do not want this so please be gentle and careful when detuning. The correct procedure for safely detuning you strings is as follows:
- Observe how your guitar is currently stringed (where it is held on both sides) as you will be replicating this when you restring
- Point your instrument with your strings facing away from you and anyone else.
- Slowly detune each string one by one until they are all flat (very loose tension)
- Now start with the high E string and continue to slowly detune it until you can unwind the string from around the eye of the machine head. (be careful not to get stabbed by the end of the wires)
- Remove this E string completely from the bridge side (this helps avoid string tangles)
- Wrap this E string into a neat circle shape (similar to how the new string come packaged)
- Repeat step 3,4 and 5 for every other string, until all your old strings have been removed.
- set all your neatly wrapped strings out of the way.
Showing The Fretboard Some Love – A Quick Clean
You have successfully removed the worn out strings (Yay, well done!). This is the perfect opportunity for you to free your fretboard from all the oil and dust grime build up on your fretboard. You may not have noticed it but if you look carefully you will be able to see colour or variation between your fretboard and the grime – This has got to go.
You shouldn’t have to do this too often usually once or twice a year should be sufficient. I have used Lemon Oil and it works fantastic for my guitar but please read the labels before you buy a fretboard cleaner as some of them are not compatible with different types of wood such as rosewood fretboards.
All that is required is a small dab of the cleaner on one fret and then using a dust free (to prevent scratches) clean cloth gently work the grime off the fret. Most fretboard cleaners do not require you to use too much liquid which means it should last you a while. When moving to clean a new fret use a new clean section of cloth to prevent cross-contamination.
In With The New – Happy Days
It is now time for you to get your guitar back into singing shape. To accomplish this task you will have to put your new set of strings onto your guitar. While this may seem daunting, guitar string manufacturers have done their best to make your life easier, from colour coding to writing the string name on individual packets.
This makes your job of identifying the correct strings much easier and believe me when I say it is very hard for the human eye to see the 0.05 or 0.1-millimetre difference between the strings (I have tried). Once you know which strings you have you have to know where to put them. You can see a detailed tuning guide here (With tuner; Without tuner).
For simplicity sake standard tuning on a 6 string guitar is E, A, D, G, B, E. In this world there are many types of guitars. For me personally, the hardest type to restring was one with a Floyd Rose bridge (it involved a butter knife and stuff!). Now, this may just have been me, but for ease of example, I will assume your guitar is not that intense.
Just to let you know this is how I do it, it isn’t the wrong way or the right way but it is effective. In any case to restring your guitar:
- Start with the thickest String (6E), remove the string from all packaging and unwrap it from its coiled position until it is straight.
- Carefully take the sharp end (not the one with the little ball) and thread it through the “Anchor Holes” (usually on the bridge side of your guitar) and pull it towards the headstock.
- Pull the string all the way through until the ball end of the string gets caught by the “Anchor Hole”.
- Continue threading the string through the machine head for the Low E string.
- Pull the string tight then slowly pull some back through the machine head hole.
- Bend the sharp und up by the hole, then around and down.
- turn the tuning key until the string is lifted off the fretboard but do not tune just yet
- Repeat Steps 1 through to 7 for all of the other strings.
- Get your guitar into tune, pull each one of the strings away from and towards the fretboard – this helps your strings to “set”. Tune your strings again and then pull them a few times again. (Tune,pull,tune,pull,tune)
- Play your favourite songs
I felt it necessary to give you a well-deserved pat on the back. Whether this is your first string changed or your thousandth one, do not undervalue the task you have completed. It may seem small, mundane or even common to you, but remember that this is a skill that is not common to the everyday human.
While the same could be said for any instrument, this one is yours and knowing how to properly take care of it is something to be celebrated. So the next time you “have” to change your strings, remember that this is a skill in its own regard and that makes you a little cooler in my book, because any skill requires time and effort to master and that speaks to your
discipline and consistency.
Ready To Roll – And Rock If You Want 🙂
So you’ve successfully Restringed your guitar. GREAT WORK FRIEND! You will no doubt be doing this again and now that you have successfully done it once you can be more confident when the next time comes around. You are an individual, so depending on how frequently you play and how aggressive you are with your strings you will change them accordingly.
Some change their strings as often as they play, others can go for 6months to a year without changing strings. A great indicator of the right time to change is the sound. If your guitar sound starts to fade or become dull after a while or if your strings start to make funny buzzing noises when they didn’t before it’s probably time to change them out.
Until we meet again (In the next post).