How to Change the strings on your Steel String Acoustic Guitar

Author: Artist Guitars  


Find out the best way to change your strings for optimum tuning & stability

Learn how to change strings on your acoustic (steel string) guitar like a pro! This article will show you how to do a perfect string change. Check out how to change Classical guitar strings here.

When you change your strings be careful to keep your guitar in tune at all times, and replace 1 string at a time (1 by 1). Your guitar likes to be tuned, if you take off all the strings it can affect the neck.

Here are the parts of the guitar you'll need to be familiar with:


1. Lay it Down

Lay your guitar down on a nice flat surface (a desk or table is often a good place).

Step 1


2. Remove one string at a time

Remove just one of your strings (it's really important to do these one at a time). Keep loosening the machine head until the string is completely loose. When the string is loose, you can just unwind it from the machine head. 
Pro tip - use a string winder, a string winder will make this step a lot easier and quicker


3. Bend the End of the String

Now take your new string from its packet and bend the end of the string. This prevents the string getting caught under the bridge pin. The role of the bridge pin is to hold the string in place, but the strength of the string actually comes from the string touching the underside of the top of your guitar. You should never need to force the bridge pin in — if you do, it makes them very hard to remove.

Bent end of the string



4. Place the String into the Bridge

Place the bent string into the bridge and gently push the bridge pin in. You can then pull back on the string (see picture below) to make sure the string is securely connected to the soundboard. If the bridge pin comes out when you do this, you might need to bend the string a little more, or just hold the top of the pin when you pull back on the string. Just remember to never wedge the bridge pin into the bridge as this will make it really hard to remove when you change your strings in the future.


5. Cut the String to Size

Now you have to work out how much of the string you need to cut off. Lie the string flat on the guitar and go 8cm past the machine head. the goal is to get 3-4 turns on the machine head. If you get too many of too few turns it will make it hard to keep in tune. 


6. Bend it like KISS

Now put the string into the machine head, extend the string to its full length, and hold it there with one hand. Now with your other hand grab the string at the nut and pull it back approximately 1.5 - 2 frets back. Now make a 'crooked S' bend where the string is in the machine head. This will give the string its 'locking' bend, like the 'S' in the "KISS" logo:


7. Apply Tension

Use your hand to make sure the string has tension while it is still loose. This helps the string go on nicely and neatly. Tune your string up to pitch (when the slack has been taken out of the string you can remove your hand). Try and make sure the string doesn't go through the nut while you tune as it will wear the nut down (and may eventually make it too low).

String tension using your hand

8. Cut off Excess

If you have done everything correctly, the string will be in tune and you will have 3-4 turns of string on your machine head. You should now cut off the excess string as close to the machine head as possible so that it can't hurt you.

Machine head wound correctly

9. Play, Pull, Play, Repeat

Now this is the critical step to a perfect string change. Play the note, then pull on the string and play the note again. Does it sound like the string is lower in pitch? If it does you have some slack in your string and you need to remove it. Pull on the string again and test it to see if the note changes pitch at all, you might need to do this 3-4 times.

String Stretching

Congratulations! You now know how to change your strings like a professional!