Stringing a guitar is an integral part of guitar maintenance. The method of stringing a guitar is not difficult , However, it should be done the right way to prevent your guitar from going out of tune. Setting or changing the strings on your guitar is definitely a crucial part of proper maintenance. It’s so easy so there’s really no reason to pay somebody else to set the string. You can easily learn to string a guitar yourself by following a few simple steps.
Understanding Guitar Strings
First, find out which guitar string brand perfectly matches 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 be kept in mind when buying the set of strings. Sets are available in numbers representing the diameter in inches of either the first string or both the first and last string.
Before we begin, do not to remove all the strings on the guitar before replacing them with fresh strings. This is crucial. Removing all the guitar strings at once might result in damage to your precious instrument including a warped neck. 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 unwind the strings. My personal preference, unwind the thickest strings (with the highest tension) first. One way to unwind and wind the strings faster is to use a string winder. I recommend getting one if you want to change strings quickly.
Remove the Old Strings
After the string has been unwound, remove it from the guitar. For some electric guitars with Floyd rose bridges, you’ll 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. You might need 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, affix the string and tighten the screw to secure. For acoustic guitars, you will want to secure the string peg strongly.
This process involves securing the 6th string to the guitar’s tail or bridge piece. Align the tuning peg with the nut slot. Put the string through the tuning peg’s hole keeping it at around 5 cm left within the fret-board and string. This leaves you with enough string to make 2 to 3 windings sufficiently. You need to ensure the wraps are neatly spread around the post and do not run over each other. Avoid excessive winding to prevent the strings from slipping.
When winding, it’s important to leave enough left over to allow the string to grip onto itself as it rotates. Crossing them over helps strengthen and prevents slipping. This keeps your guitar from suddenly going drastically out of tune. Be careful not to wind too much either as 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.
Like warming up before running, you need to stretch your strings. Once your strings are on and tuned, grab the center string and pull reasonably hard to stretch. You won’t break it unless you pull much too hard. Do this with all the strings. Play an open note before and after stretching and you’ll see how much a difference it makes.
Retune the guitar and repeat the process around 3 times or until you remain in tune even after a 2 fret bend. This is probably the most important point on how to restring a guitar. You may have done everything else right, but if you haven’t done this you’ll be out of tune after your first bend.
These steps should be repeated for each string before you proceed to tuning the guitar to the desired pitch. Tune all the strings before cutting any excess as there is a possibility the string will run as it stretches. Make sure to play the guitar as much as possible to stretch out the strings. This leads to a more stable tuning allowing you to enjoy your fresh, bright and new strings.
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.
You can do it
The need to change strings depends on the amount of time you play and the kind of care you take. Usually, guitar strings need replacement when they lose intonation and brilliance. Those who play guitar regularly, are advised to change their guitar strings every four to eight weeks. It should be done to maintain the condition of the fingerboard and neck of the guitar keeping the guitar’s playability and longevity. When you break a string replace the whole set instead of a single string . This is advisable so the new string does not sound completely different from the old strings. Take the time to oil the fret-board and polish the guitar during the replacement.