How to String a Guitar

By Jonathan Grossman
Items you need to restring an acoustic guitar.

Putting strings on an acoustic guitar is a simple and easy task. The most common strings for a steel string acoustic guitar are phosphorous bronze, gauge 13 to 56. Any brand will do. In addition to a fresh set of strings, you'll need: Wire Cutters String Winder Small Bowl Guitar Tuner

Release String #6 from the Tuning Peg

Start with the low E string, String #6.

It's important to only remove one string at a time, replacing it with a new string before moving on. First start with the thickest string, the low E, referred to as String #6.

Lay the guitar in your lap with the head stock pointing to the left. The tuning peg closest to you on the inside is the low E. To loosen, attach the string winder to the tuning peg and turn clockwise until you can remove the string completely from the tuning peg.

Release String #6 from the Bridge Pin

Release String #6 from the Bridge Pin.

Next, use the notched side of string winder to carefully remove the corresponding bridge pin. Once the bridge pin pops out, set it aside in a small bowl so it doesn't roll away. Carefully remove the string from the bridge and discard.

Connect the New String to the Bridge

Put one end of string into the vacant bridge hole with bridge pin.

Unpack the new low E string and unwind it. Take the side with the metal nub and insert that in to the vacant hole in the bridge. Use the bridge pin to push the nub into the hole and lock it in place.

Attach the New String to the Tuning Peg

Pull string through tuning peg hole.

Twist the tuning peg until the receiving hole faces the bridge. Lay the string into the vacant nut groove and then slide the free end of the string through the tuning peg hole and pull it all the way through.

Create Slack for Tuning

Pull string 4-5 inches above 12th fret to create slack.

Hold the loose end of the string with your left hand. With your right hand grab the middle of the string, right above the 12th fret, and lift it up 4 to 5 inches above the guitar neck. As you pull, you'll need to allow the string to slowly come back through that tuning peg hole, creating slack in the string for tuning purposes.

Crimp the String

Crimp string at right angle away from head stock.

Crimp the string at the tuning peg at a right angle bending the string outward, away from the headstock.

Tighten the String While Holding it in the Nut Groove

Hold the string in nut groove.

With your left hand, put the string winder on the tuning peg and turn counterclockwise, tightening the string. Use your right index finger to hold the string in the nut groove.

Cut Excess String with Wire Cutters

Cut any excess string.

Once the string is fairly tight without slack, use the wire cutters to cut the excess string at the tuning peg.

Stretch and Tune the String

Stretch out strings by gently pulling at 12th fret.

With the string locked in at the bridge and wound around the tuning peg, gently pull it away from the neck at the 12th fret to slightly stretch it out. Use the guitar tuner to tune the string to low E.

Repeat with Remainder Strings

For strings #1, #2 and #3, flip the guitar in your lap so the head stock is facing right.

Repeat the same instructions for strings 5 and 4.

Once done with the low strings, flip the guitar in your lap so that the head stock is on the right. Repeat steps 1 through 9, doing one string at time.

Once all the strings are replaced, tune your guitar one more time. Replacing those old dead sounding strings can truly add some zing to your string so enjoy the new bright sound.

About the Author

Jonathan Grossman is a songwriter, TV composer/mixer. After graduating Cornell University in 1991 (BA, Music) he first toured the world with his band, Dogwood Moon, eventually landing in Los Angles to start his composing career. A husband and father of two, he created a children’s music project, Call Me A Nerd, which focuses on developing self-confidence and leadership skills for children K-5.