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Changing Guitar Strings

Updated on July 1, 2016

Guitar Strings

Changing the 6th E string.
Changing the 6th E string. | Source
The string goes through the hole
The string goes through the hole

How To Change Strings On Guitars

I would like to show anyone who is interested how to change their guitar strings. I have worked with guitars since 1980 and enjoy answering any questions about acoustic guitars This Hub is about changing guitar strings..Changing guitar strings is a very simple thing to do once you learn how. I taught myself the guitar when I was 15 years old and changed my guitar strings myself. I played the cornet and was in Concert Band, Marching Band and Pep Band. I was self taught before I went to school to get certified to teach the guitar. I studied for almost 4 years and hold a teaching certificate. I love what I do and love working with kids and seniors. Music is a wonderful experience and a real joy in my life. This has been very rewarding and I meet so many nice people. The kids I teach are age 7 to adults the oldest being 74. I am surprised that people can learn something new at the older ages. The seniors have fun, meet new people and do progress and learn to play their guitars. They come back and seem more happy that they mastered something new. I do have a lot of patients with people, I have to when teaching seniors and kids. It can be challenging sometime.

The class I teach for the seniors has asked me an important question about how to change guitar strings and what kind to buy. I like strings that are either made in the USA or Mexico, I feel the quality of the string is better. Before I can change strings I need to know what kind of style of playing you are working on. In my seniors class we only had one style pick style music. I find for the seniors a lighter string is much easier to play but we have to be careful for fret buzz and adjust the bridge. I use medium gauge for my Bluegrass guitar. If it is a 12 string guitar I always recommend light gauge. Never put on strings that are heavier than the guitar recommends. You can destroy a guitar by too heavy of strings. My seniors all have the same book and do the same assignment. It has to be that way or we would get nothing done. I had to warn the seniors that they need to be careful opening the package the strings are in.. My first class that changed strings the lady whacked herself in the face. She laughed and told me I was right. Also, there is always a threat that during tuning a string could break. We all laughed but the string could cause serious injury.

Why Do We Change Guitar Strings

1.they can lose their brilliance

2.they become corroded

3 they are muffled

4.the sound is dead from skin moisture


I like to take one string off at a time and then replace with a new one. I start with the 6th string. Once you have the old string off take out the new one from the package.If your guitar is steel strings you should be taking the sixth string bridge pin out, now put the string end in the 6 string hole in the bridge. Next, I put the pin back in the hole. You should see a notch in the pin. I make sure the ball end of the string is pulled tightly before I put the pin back in the bridge. Use your thumb to push in tightly. It will not come out if you do it properly. Do not force the pin in. If you hammer the pins in too hard it can get wedged and cause the bridge to split. Next, move to the top of the guitar find the tuning machine for the 6th string and put the string through the string hole. When I do this I wind the sting halfway around the post The string should be locked after it passes under the string and is bent back. This process will keep my string from slipping. If your sting should slip it was not properly put around the string post. Remember, short part of string goes under longer part of your string..I have seen many new people try and change their strings. I believe in trying to do this on your own but get some instructions before you start. The most common mistake I see is that people forget bass strings go clockwise and the treble go counterclockwise. I have seen everything. The one that sticks in my mind the most was the kid that put the strings on backward. He insisted on taking them off himself. He never did it again. I recently saw him, he is a retired captain from the army and still playing the guitar. I thought at 7 he wasn't paying attention. He was the little boy that use to drag his guitar around till he finally got a case. I am so proud of him.

When each string is in the right pitch I cut the excess string off. I use wire cutting pliers they are nothing special and can be bought where tools are sold. My only other tool is a butter knife that I have padded with a little bit of material to get the bridge pins off. I put padding on the tip of the knife so I don't scratch the guitar. All you will need other than that is a nice table to put it on.

I recommend a nice clean table with no clutter, if its an expensive guitar I make sure there is a pad under it. This make sure there are no dropped guitars. It is better to spend the money and get a pair of cutting pliers than try to use the toenail clippers and ruin them. Yes, we see everything in this job, not just dropped guitars.When I remove a string I like to clean on the fingerboard where I took the string off, before I put the new string on. I use a soft dry cloth with a little bit of linseed oil, I found out it works excellent on the fret board . I clean it then put the string back on. I have also used Fast Fret on the finger board, this is a personal preference but I do suggests to change strings each year. I like to change mine every three months or when I can hear that they have lost their brilliance and they make that thud noise.. I practice everyday so I do change my strings more often. Every person should be able to change their own strings. By changing your own you will be saving a lot of money. It can cost as much as $30.00 or more to have the music store over a lifetime of playing that's a lot of money, guitar strings wear out, changing guitar strings is easy if you follow the first step and repeat it 5 more times. Stick with light strings your first time out and be patient. If you can't find the pitch for tuning, ask someone, buy a clip tuner at any music store. Do not keep turning the tuning machine and let a string break Buy a decent string if you do not know where its made find another string. It has been fun watching the seniors put their string on, and yes we get a lot of laughs in this class.We have our new strings on, we tune our guitars and play a few songs. There are always one or two seniors out of time, you can always hear it in the music. We all laugh at them but I know they will do it again next week. Hope this was helpful.

Changing Strings

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Dean Marley

The Dean Marley strings may cost more, but them seem to last a little longer.

Do It Right

I also want to reinforce that the first three strings near you 6,5,4, are the bass and they go clockwise. The next three strings the trebles 3rd,2nd.1st. will string counterclockwise. I make sure my string will pass around the post at least one full turn.

Changing your own guitar strings is fun and gives each child especially a sense of accomplishment. Even our senior citizen's group can change their strings. Have fun. It is especially fun to watch the seniors change their guitar strings, we only change one string a night, or we would be there all night. My favorite is a lady that does not stop until she can do it herself. I love them all. The hardest part is pushing the pin in with her thumb.

In conclusion, we can all do this if we continue to try. It may take awhile but we can do this. Remember to change one string at a time until you change them all. If you have trouble ask your teacher or me. Almost everyone makes a mistake the first time it can be corrected, go head laugh at yourself, try not to break the guitar. Updated Aug.12, 2015.

Guitar Players Buy Martin Strings

New Comments

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  • ladyguitarpicker profile imageAUTHOR

    stella vadakin 

    3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

    Thanks and I hope the Hub help others. I'm sure there are many others who need this information. It is really very easy after the first time. Stella

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 

    3 years ago from North Texas

    This is a very useful article. Hopefully those people who need this information will find it and I'm doing what I can to bring some attention to it. I think it's great that you are sharing this information.

  • ladyguitarpicker profile imageAUTHOR

    stella vadakin 

    4 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

    Thank you for your comments. I will see what I can fix, and continue to practice. God Bless.

  • manatita44 profile image


    4 years ago from london

    Welcome here and very happy to see you. I am not musical in this sense but I feel that there is much love in what you do and in trying to share your gifts. This makes you a giver and God loves givers.

    You wanted a critical appraisal, I believe. There is much promise here, and with practice you will iron out the little things. I suggest you make the later paragraphs shorter and more reader-friendly, so to speak. Tend to look daunting when they are too long. Some spelling errors and the odd grammar probs.

    Your Hub is heartening and loving and so just some minor things to do.

    God bless you. Love and Light.

  • prasetio30 profile image


    4 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I love playing guitar and I love your tips here. Thanks for sharing with us. I really enjoy reading this hub. Voted up!


  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 

    4 years ago from southern USA

    What a useful hub here! I always had to take my son's guitars to the music shop just to have them change the strings. Thank you for this helpful hub.

    Up ++ tweeting and pinning



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