How To Restring A Guitar

How To Restring A Guitar

How to restring a guitar… the right way. There are many ways you could restring a guitar, and most of them are wrong. Or at least they aren’t good ways to change guitar strings. If you follow this tutorial you will be sure to avoid common mistakes.

How to restring a guitar

Table of Contents

Tools For Changing Guitar Strings

The tools used to restring a guitar are shown in the image below, and only the wire cutters are absolutely essential. That said, the use of a string winder is recommended. I always use a string winder because it saves a lot of time. Also, I have fashioned some polystyrene into the shape you see as a support for the neck when working.

Tools for changing guitar strings
Tools For Changing Guitar Strings

Workspace To Restring A Guitar

The first thing to do to restring a guitar is to find an appropriate place to carry out the procedure. I use my dining room table with a folded sheet over to protect the body of the guitar.


Release The Tension

When you have the tools ready and the guitar lying on the table, you can start by slackening off the strings until there is no tension left. The string winder is perfect for this.

Release The String Tension
Release The String Tension

Snip The Strings

Now, with the wire cutters, cut through all the strings one at a time. I do this down near the soundhole. Be careful not to damage the body varnish at this point!

Snip The Guitar Strings
Snip The Guitar Strings

Remove The Tone Pegs

Now remove the tone pegs from the rear of the bridge where the string disappears into the body. You may need to prise these out! If so, you can use your speed winder! It should be noted that some guitars have a loose saddle, and you should take note of how it sits should it come out!

Remove The Tone Pegs
Remove The Tone Pegs

Remove The Strings

Next, unwind the strings from the tuning pegs and carefully dispose of them!

Again, some guitars will have a nut that comes loose! Be aware of this when the strings come off. You don’t want to lose it! BEWARE. The ends of the strings are very sharp and will pierce the skin quite easily, disgorging huge amounts of the red liquid all over your nice clean sheet!

Once all the strings have been removed. Now is the time to give the guitar a good clean. Paying particular attention to around the tuning pegs, and the neck. Ask your local music shop for a good oil for the fingerboard.

Guitar Bridge and Guitar Bridge Saddle
Guitar Bridge and Guitar Bridge Saddle

Start Stringing The Guitar

Armed with your new set of strings, start with the bottom E (Thickest ) Unwind the string taking care not to crease it! Take hold of the ball end and push it into the hole, then push the tone peg down into the hole, ensuring the groove is facing toward the headstock.

String The Guitar
String The Guitar

With your finger pushing down on the peg, pull the string up quite hard ensuring the peg doesn’t come out and taking care not to crease the string.

You can wrap the string around your hand.

Push Down On The Tone Peg
Push Down On The Tone Peg

Follow the same procedure with the remaining strings. Be careful when you pull up on the thinner strings!

All strings attached at Bridge end. (Not the place in Wales)

Acoustic guitar midway through a restring
Guitar Mid-restring

Now you can move to the headstock.

Taking the bottom E string, pull toward the tuning peg until the string is taught. Place it in its correct position on the nut and with the string in between the tuning pegs, wrap it around the first peg once or twice, then push the end through the hole.


Once through, you can pull it tight and bend it back around the peg.

Tune Peg
View Through The Tuning Peg

This ensures it doesn’t slip back through the hole when you tighten the string. With the speed winder, you can now put some tension on the string by winding it up until it no longer buzzes on the frets. (Not too tight at this stage) It helps to hold the string on the neck, pulling it tight away from the tuning peg, but also placing tension from the tone peg.

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Rest The Neck On A Support
Rest The Neck On A Support

Now take the top E string (Thinnest) and follow the above procedure, except this time, you need to wind the string around the peg 4 or 5 times before pushing it through the hole, this is because they have less grip than the wound strings. Also, make sure that when you push the string through the hole, it is sitting on top of the windings!

Guitar tuning peg
Guitar tuning peg

Again, bend the string back on itself to stop it slipping and, using the speed winder, put some tension on the string. Ensure that the strings are sitting correctly on the saddle and the nut.

Now do the same for the other strings. in the order, A, B, D, G.

Now that you have some tension on all the strings, and they are sitting correctly on the saddle and the nut, you can give them a stretch. This is an essential part of the process. If you don’t stretch your strings, you will find it virtually impossible to tune the guitar.

With the guitar laying flat on the table, halfway along the length of the string, take the string between your finger and thumb and pull upwards until you feel the string really beginning to tension. Then ease off and pull again. Do this 6-7 times.

Be careful that the tone pegs don’t pull out! If they do become loose, just push them back in whilst stretching the string. The string should bed into the final resting place at this point!

Stretch the guitar strings
Stretch the guitar strings

Then tighten the string on the tuning peg. Don’t worry about getting it in tune at this point. Now do exactly the same with the other strings. Give each string a good stretch then apply some tension. Now you can tidy up the ends!

To do this. I bend the string back on itself to cause it to crease, then chop the end off with the wire cutters. Like this!

Guitar headstock
Guitar Headstock

Then is the time to tune the guitar! I use this for tuning my acoustic.

Acoustic guitar tuner
Acoustic Guitar Tuner

Now You Can Restring A Guitar

That’s it!

If you find the guitar going out of tune unexpectedly, then you probably need to stretch the strings a little more. Do each in turn and then re-tune the guitar.

I hope you find this article of use? Hopefully you now know how to restring a guitar! If you have any questions? Please start a topic in the guitar forum. Meanwhile! I found this interesting clip on Youtube about how strings are made:

How Strings Are Made


Discuss this article in our Music Forum.

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