How To Change Electric Guitar Strings

By Richard Pryn •  Updated: 08/09/22 •  6 min read

Are the strings on your guitar getting a little rusty and worn? This can be an issue if you have no idea how to change the strings.

In this article, we will give you a step-by-step guide on how to easily swap your old strings for brand-new ones at home.

How To Change Electric Guitar Strings

So, let’s get started.

Removing The Old Strings

Step 1: Loosen The Strings

Hold your guitar in your hands, and loosen each string by twisting the tuning mechanism or peg. You can fully unwind the string and easily take it out by hand once the strings are free enough.

If you’re not sure if the strings are loosening, try plucking them while you’re unwinding them. The sound from the string will sound considerably deeper once they start loosening up.

You can cut the strings with pliers instead, but if the strings snap back too rapidly, you risk injury. You can also reuse one of the strings later if needed by gradually pulling each string out, keeping them intact.

Step 2: Remove The Strings

You can easily pull the strings out of the rear of the instrument’s body once they have completely loosened on a standard bridge.

To simplify the process, carefully push the strings through from the opposite side, which will give them some slack and make them easier to grip. Gently grasp the string’s little, donut-shaped metal end and pull it gradually through the guitar.

Be careful during this part! If you yank out the strings too abruptly and forcefully, you may damage the strings and the instrument.

Step 3: Clean Your Guitar

Once you have successfully removed all the strings, grab a clean, dry cloth and dust away all the dirt and grime from the neck and body.

By doing this, you can rest assured that the new strings you will be adding later on will be clean and protected.

Adding The New Strings

Step 1: Prepare Your Guitar For Re-Stringing

Lay your guitar down on a clean, flat surface, facing upwards. You may also want to place a towel or sheet underneath the instrument to avoid scratching or damaging the surface you will be working on.

Before you attempt to add the new strings, make sure that they are the right strings for your specific guitar. Check the gauges and configurations to be sure that these strings will work properly on your instrument.

Step 2: Thread The First String

To begin, turn each hole on the tuning post so that they are all facing you. Each  hole should be parallel to the frets, and should point away from the strings.

From the interior of the guitar out, thread the first string through the bridge and into the tuning peg. Start with the heaviest string, or the highest gauge number.

Slip the new string through the hole in the tuning peg in the opposite direction as the old strings were removed, then draw the string away from the instrument. To avoid the string becoming strained, leave 2-3 inches of slack before starting to tighten it.

Step 3: Lock The String In Place

Tightly grasp both ends of the string, and crimp both sides of the string against the tuning post by turning your hands clockwise.

How To Change Electric Guitar Strings (1)

Next, pull the end of the string under the opposite side of the string (the side being inserted into the tuning post).

Bring the end of the string back over the top and pull it taut, pulling towards the guitar’s very tip, producing a loop with the end of the string around the remainder of the string.

Step 4: Slowly Tighten The String

Next, lay your index finger one or two inches before the string touches the tuning peg to keep it down. You don’t want to clamp it; you just want to carefully hold it down.

After that, gradually turn your tuner counter-clockwise, and be sure to keep checking to see if your string is looping around the peg in a consistent pattern.

Step 5: Cut The End Of The String Off

Once the string has been successfully threaded and tightened, you may notice part of the string hanging off the end. You can snip this off with a pair of pliers, making sure the string is neatly wrapped.

Step 6: Repeat Process For The Other Strings

After you’ve successfully added the first string, you can go through the packet and repeat the process with the remaining strings.

After removing each string, remember to clean the fretboard, leave some leeway in the string prior to tightening, and crimp the string in position before turning.

If your head is set up in a 3×3 configuration, keep in mind that the lowest set of tuning pegs must be reversed. Start replacing left with right and up with down in the preceding steps.

Tuning The New Strings

Option 1: Using Your Ears

If you are pretty experienced with guitar playing, you may be able to tune your guitar just by playing and listening. If you can identify each note by ear, you will be able to tune the guitar by sound.

Option 2: Using A Digital Tuner

A digital tuner is such a handy tool for all musicians to have handy. Make sure it is fully charged, and then use the tool to play each note while you tune the strings.

Option 3: Using A Tuning Tool Online

There are many free websites available that can help you tune your instrument. We recommend trying this free tuning website to easily tune your guitar at home.

How Often Should You Change Your Strings?

The frequency with which guitar strings should be changed is somewhat subjective, depending on the player of the instrument. It largely depends on the music you wish to make, and how often you use your guitar.

A guitar that is only ever played lightly with a plectrum may need to be restrung after a few sessions, since the moisture and oils from your hands may undermine that ‘new’ quality and tone. However, this kind of instrument will not need to be restrung frequently.

Strings may be changed more regularly by professional guitarists, perhaps on a daily basis. This will ensure that the feel and quality of each performance are constant.

Final Thoughts

So, there we have it: those are our quick and easy steps to re-stringing and re-tuning a guitar. As long as you have the correct strings at home, and you have a clean surface to work with, you should be playing clear, concise melodies again in no time.

We hope you found this article helpful.

Richard Pryn

Hey there. I am an award winning composer for movie trailers, including Bladerunner 2049, Diablo II, WandaVision, and loads more. I am the founder of The Trailer Music School where my aim is to teach everything I know about music composition, production, and generally being a functional human being. I podcast, blog, vlog and jog (sometimes). I also love coffee, nachos and self-improvement. I live with my wife, three kids and numerous pets. I am also known by my pseudonym, Richard Schrieber (it’s a long story).