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How to Restring an Acoustic Guitar

Last Updated: March 26, 2021 / by Joseph Evans

There are a few things that every guitarist needs to know. How to restring your guitar is one of them. Like most things, even a guitar’s strings will begin to show wear and tear after a while. So it’s absolutely necessary hat you know how to restring a guitar. If you have been lucky enough to not have a string break in the middle of a performance, make sure to change the strings when it looks discolored or starts to influence the quality of the sound. Follow these steps to learn how to restring your acoustic guitar. 

Step 1: Remove The Old Strings

Turn your tuning key anti- clockwise to release the tension and remove the end of the string from the tuning key. Your strings are now supposed to only be attached to your guitar at the bridge pin.

At the bridge pin, push the end of the string down into the body of the guitar and use your other hand to pull out the pin.

If the pin is tight, don’t worry. You can then use a bridge pin puller to remove the pins. Once you have pulled the pins out, remove the strings from the holes.

Another method you can try is to push the pins out from the inside of the guitar by using a coin. Once the pin pops free, you can gently pull it out.

Step 2: Clean Your Guitar

Cleaning your guitar after you have removed the strings is the ideal time to do so, as you can easily reach previously hard to reach spots.

Put some lemon oil on a cloth and rub it into the fretboard to give the wood the needed nourishment. Dirt also loves to build up on the sides of the frets, so make sure to pay close attention to the frets while you clean.

After you finish cleaning the fretboard, give the rest of the guitar the proper polish it deserves.

Step 3: Put On the New Strings

Putting the new strings on can be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. But don’t let that get you down! If you make a mistake, just go one step back and try it again. It's important to take it slowly. If you think that you haven’t executed a step properly, undo it and try again. You’ll save yourself a lot more frustration later on.

Organize the Strings

Planning ahead makes the job a little easier. So before you start pulling and turning, get your strings ready. You will notice that each string has a round-shaped ending, which is put in the appropriate hole in the bridge pin.

Some strings’ ball-end are color-coded to indicate where it belongs. If it’s not marked, make sure you place the strings in the correct order in front of you. This will help you keep track.

Insert the String

Unwind the string and place the ball-end into the pin hole and place the pin back in. As you place the pin back in, you should firmly hold the string.

To prevent the bridge pins from falling out, pull the string towards the head of the guitar while pushing the pin into place. By doing this, you increase the tension, which keeps the pins in place and prevents it from falling out.

Stretch the String

Once you have the string firmly in the pinhole, stretch the string to its appropriate tuning key and place the end through the hole.

With most guitars, the tuning keys are positioned opposite each other on the head. This means you should stretch the string between the rows of tuning keys and thread it from the inside to the outside.

Remember... to tighten the tuning key, you always turn it to the right.

Thread the String

As you thread the string through the hole, pull it relatively tight. You must leave a little bit of slack to ensure you have some extra string to wind around the tuning keys. If you forget to do this, you might run out of string; resulting in the strings loosening while you’re playing.

Make it a general rule to leave the string longer than necessary because you can always cut off more if you need to. But if you cut it too short, you will end up wasting your entire string.

Wind the String

Bend the end slightly toward the guitar and start turning the tuning key clockwise. You should aim to get several winds around the key. Don’t try and tune the string immediately. It’s better to keep it a few semi-tones below until you complete the restringing process.

When you tighten the string, focus that it winds from the top to the bottom part of the tuning key. By stacking each wind below the previous wind, you will have a cleaner look and prevent it from going out of tune too quickly.

Repeat these steps with the rest of the strings until you're done; working your way through from the thickest to the thinnest string and then cut away the excess string close to the tuning keys. Once you’ve completed putting on the new strings, you can tune your guitar to get the best quality sound.

As tedious as this process might seem in the beginning, you will quickly get the hang of it. With time it will become second nature. The most important thing you need to remember is that if you make a mistake, you can go one step back and try again. 

About the Author: Joseph Evans

My name is Joseph Evans and I am a guitar playing, freelance writing, online teaching music lover based in Seattle, WA. Growing up in a musical family naturally lead to obtaining my Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition & Music Theory degree, after which I taught and traveled my way across Europe for 7 years before returning back home to settle in beautiful Seattle. On a typical day, you would find me playing my guitar, pottering around in the vegetable garden, going on long hikes, reading and/or writing.

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