Stringing a guitar is an integral part of guitar maintenance. The method of stringing a guitar is not that difficult but it should be done in the right way to prevent your guitar from going out of tune. Setting or changing the string on your guitar is definitely a crucial part of the proper maintenance of the guitar. Since it’s so easy to do, there is really no reason you need to pay somebody else to set the string for you. You can very easily learn to set it yourself by following a few simple steps.
Understanding Guitar Strings
Firstly, you must find out which guitar string brand would perfectly match your guitar. Usually, acoustic and electric guitar strings are prepared by twisting a wrap wire around a metal wire. Materials such as nickel, phosphor bronze, nylon and stainless steel are used for the wrap wire, which determines the sound.
The gauge or diameter of the strings should also be kept in mind while buying the set of strings. The sets are available in numbers that represent the diameter of either only the first string or of both the first and last string, in inches.
Before we begin, one of the most crucial things to take note of is not to remove all the strings on the guitar before replacing them with fresh strings. Removing all the guitar strings from the guitar at once might result in damage to your precious instrument, which might include warp necks. Bearing this in mind, here are the simple steps to string a guitar successfully.
Start Unwinding the Strings
The first part of stringing a guitar is to start to unwind the strings. My personal preference is to unwind the thickest strings (with the highest tension) first but this is purely personal preference. One way to unwind and wind the strings faster is to use a string winder, which I recommend you get if you want to change strings quickly.
Remove the Old Strings
After the string has been unwound, you should remove the string from the guitar. For some electric guitars with Floyd rose bridges, you might need to do some unscrewing at the bridge to remove the string successfully. For acoustic guitars, the strings might be secured by a peg at the bridge and you might need some pliers or other peg removal tools to remove this.
Stringing The Guitar
This is basically the reverse of the previous step. For electric guitars with Floyd rose bridges, you can affix the string and tighten the screw to secure the string. For acoustic guitars, you will want to secure the string peg strongly.
It is important to leave enough string left over when winding to allow the string to grip onto itself as it rotates. Crossing them over helps to strengthen this also and prevents slipping and therefore your guitar suddenly going drastically out of tune. Be careful not to wind too much either, this can also cause bad tuning. I would suggest about 3 to 5 rotations. 3 for the thicker strings and 5 for the thinner ones.
Just like a warm up before sport you need to stretch your strings. Once you have all your strings on, tune them, then grab the string in the center of the guitar and pull on reasonably hard it stretching it, you won’t break it unless you pull much too hard. Do this with all the strings. Play an open note before and after the stretch and you will see just how much a difference it makes.
Then retune the guitar and repeat the process around 3 times or until you remain in tune even after a 2 fret bend. This point is probably the most important on how to restring a guitar as you may have done everything else right, but if you haven’t done this then you will be out of tune after your first bend.
The above steps should be repeated for each string and then you can proceed to tune the guitar to the desired pitch. Do tune all the strings before cutting any excess string length as there is a possibility that the string will run as it stretches. You should also attempt to play with the guitar as much as possible to stretch out the strings. This will lead to a more stable tuning as you enjoy your fresh, bright and new strings.
When you break a string, it is advisable to replace the whole set instead of a single string so that the new string does not sound completely different from the old strings. During the replacement, make sure that you oil the fret-board with walnut, olive or linseed oil and polish the guitar with a guitar polish.
The process involves securing the 6th string to the guitar’s tail or bridge piece. After aligning the tuning peg with the nut slot, the string should be put through the tuning peg’s hole and kept at around 5 cm left, within the fret-board and string. This will leave you with enough string to make 2 to 3 windings sufficiently. You need to ensure that the wraps are neatly spread around the post and do not run over each other. Avoid excessive winding to prevent the strings from slipping.
The string must be bent upward using a tuning fork or string winder. The tuner must be turned in clockwise direction until the string attains the right pitch. At the midway point, the string must be pulled and stretched. After tuning, it needs to be stretched some more so that it does not go out of tune any longer. With the help of a wire cutter or needle-nose pliers, the leftover string must be cut down. This process needs to be done for the remaining five strings.
The need to change strings depends on the amount of time you play a guitar and the kind of care you take. Usually, when the guitar strings lose intonation and brilliance, it needs replacement. For those who play guitar regularly, are advised to change their guitar strings within every four to eight weeks. It should be done to maintain the condition of the fingerboard and neck of the guitar and keep the guitar’s playability and longevity.
Contributed via: guitar-heroes.com