How to Restring A Guitar: A Step by Step Guide

A beginner's guide to re-stringing your guitar.

Ultimate Guitar
If you're new to playing the guitar learning all the ins and outs of being a guitar pro can seem a little daunting. One of the first things you're going to have to learn is how to restring your guitar. Now you could ask a guitar playing friend to do it for you, but that's lazy and pretty embarrassing. Even worse, you could take your instrument to a guitar shop and ask them to help, but be prepared for them to laugh you out of the shop. Want to avoid that? The answer is almost definitely "Yes!" so to save you the embarrassment, here is a simple step by step guide to restringing your guitar. What you'll need:
  • A quiet place to carry out the procedure. You don't need any distractions and you don't want to lose anything vital!
  • Something to balance the neck of guitar on. You can get a specialist piece of equipment for this, but a curved piece of polystyrene will be just as good.
  • A tuning machine. If you're a beginner it's unlikely that you'll be able to tune your new strings by ear.
  • A pack of new strings. The type you choose depends entirely of the sort of guitar you have and your own personal taste.
  • A pair of wire cutters.
  • A string winder. You don't have to have one of these but it certainly makes the tedious task of winding guitar strings quicker and easier.

    How to restring your guitar:

    1) Turn the tuning key until the tension in the string is loosened. You will then be able to unwind the string from the tuning post. 2) Remove the string from the tuning post. 3) Pull the bridge pins out of the bridge. 4) Take the string out of the bridge of the guitar. 5) Put the 6E string in the bridge hole. Then put the nut in the hole and put the bridge pin over the top of it. 6) Put the string through the tuning post. 7) Pull the string tight and then push about three inches back through the tuning post towards the bridge. 8) Tighten the string by turning the appropriate tuning key. Don't worry about it being in tune, it just needs to be tight. 9) Repeat steps 5 to 9 placing the strings in this order: 5A, 4D, 3G, 2B, 1E. 10) Tune your guitar. You might have to tune the strings several times before they stay in tune. If you don't know how to tune your guitar then you might have to risk the music shop! 11) Cut the excess string using wire cutters. Job done! You can follow these steps whether you've got an acoustic or a six-string electric guitar. Remember that an electric guitar will need restringing more often than an acoustic guitar, so you'll become an expert pretty quickly! Wondering why you need to change electric guitar strings more often? It's because the strings are lighter so they'll corrode faster than the strings on an acoustic guitar. Sam
  • 26 comments sorted by best / new / date

      You forgot to tell about the dangers of doing this: rusty bleeding fingers!
      Nice article. Couple of tips for anyone interested: -if you want the string to stay in tune, don't overdo the number of wraps around the tuning peg - 2 to 5 is recommended - less wraps for thicker strings (you get the point..) - make the first wrap OVER the string and then go under the string - this will hold the string more firmly, thus improving the tuning - keep the string tense while wraping it - simply pull it with your right hand and turn the string winder w/ the left If you're interested even more, watch this Tommy Emmanuel tuning tip video: Tommy Emmanuel strings and tunes his Maton TE1 Cheers
      "- make the first wrap OVER the string and then go under the string - this will hold the string more firmly, thus improving the tuning" Not necessary.
      For some it may not be necessary, but it somewhat helped me. Then again I bought the roller nut and must say it improved the tuning, especially on a strat with a bar, tremendously. Use whatever works though
      "2 to 5 wraps" and "keep string tense" thats useful information for a beginner like me...thanks alot, appreciated.
      Also, try not to overlap the string on the tuning post. If you do the string could slip and drop out of tune while your playing.
      Strange that stretching strings wasn't mentioned.
      Sometimes it isn't necessary, I've found that the benefits of stretching varies from brand to brand.
      Yeah, I'm not really even sure why stretching strings would affect anything because don't the strings stretch over time when you bend strings and tune your guitar? But yeah, people always recommend to stretch my strings so I do it. I want as good tuning stability as possible. At least there's no harm from stretching the strings.
      Thank you, Thank you PH6 - far too often people criticize these 'articles for beginners' and yet, offer no advice to balance that criticism. Your efforts to inform and share are deeply appreciated; thank you kindly, and i hear you. i will get one
      sorry MM...wrong comment i posted too. But your post seems to have led to discussion...i will stretch mine. As a beginner...every little tip and trick helps.
      I can't count how many times I've seen guides to restring your guitar in guitar websites...there has to be something new to instruct these days...
      I'd say a couple things here: 1. If you have a square head, make sure you are turning the tuning pegs so that the string is winding up and out (clockwise for the right pegs, counterclockwise for the left pegs). That way the strings don't look retarded at the top. 2. Don't clip the excess off for a couple days. I don't have too much of a reason for this, but if something gets screwed up, you still have the ability to use those strings. (I have a Bigsby tremolo and the root of the string goes over a little peg to hold it in place. I have had it accidentally come off of there after I clipped the strings. It was almost impossible to restring from the bottom). 3. Dust and polish your guitar when all the strings are off. TREAT YOUR GUITAR LIKE YOU TREAT YOURSELF. 4. The person says a string winder isn't required but helps. F that. I say it's required. You have no idea how amazing it is until you have one. Don't even question it. Just get one. 5. While the strings are still loose, but a little tight, grip the string with both hands and push, flexing the string, with your thumbs and fingers. This will stretch out the string and keep it in tune for longer and make it less likely to snap.
      Thank you, Thank you PH6 - far too often people criticize these 'articles for beginners' and yet, offer no advice to balance that criticism. Your efforts to inform and share are deeply appreciated; thank you kindly, and i hear you. i will get one
      Be prepared to have them laugh you out of the shop? i've been playing guitar for over 25 years and if any shop ever laughed at me for PAYING them to change my strings they would lose this customer for life.
      Also, if you're a beginner and have a guitar with a floyd rose they are probably the biggest dbags on earth for laughing at you just because you can't change your strings.
      When I was a beginner all the places I went to did it for free (as long as I bought strings from them) without charging extra including guitar center and never saw anyone laughing but they might of just waited till I walked out
      This instructional is missing out in many respects. 540_guitar just touched on it. Depending on the type of guitar there are TONS of ways to wrap string around a post, each of which has benefits for tremolo-equipped guitars or whatever. The tutorial is also somewhat wordy and smacks of "water is wet".
      It's for beginners though, don't fuss about. You said there are tons of ways, yet mentioned none.
      I just recently bought a Les Paul, Gibson states "change one string at a time" as removing all the strings at once will mess with the set-up...i have been playing since 1991 and have never done it their have always been fine.