You might think that once you’ve strung one guitar, you’ve strung them all. However, that is not the case, particularly when it comes to electric guitars. Usually, the strings on an electric guitar will need to be changed more often than on a classical or on a regular acoustic guitar. The process for doing so is very straightforward.
When we discussed how to string an acoustic guitar earlier, we said that it was okay to remove all of the strings or do it one at a time. With an electric guitar, you should do one string at a time, to maintain a consistent level of pressure on the neck of your instrument. This prevents it from getting damaged due to you taking it from high pressure, to low pressure, and back to high pressure within a short space of time.
Obviously, you don’t need to worry about things like tuning one string at a time, so when you get to the end of stringing your electric guitar you can carry out the tuning process as one bigger job.
Therefore, we’re going to talk you through changing the sixth string of your guitar. Once you’re done, simply go back, and repeat for the other five.
Either manually or using your string winder, start loosening the sixth string on your guitar. Check that it actually is becoming loose; if you wound the string on in a strange way when you last changed strings, you might need to turn it the opposite way to usual.
Checking whether it is loosening is easy enough, even before it slackens. Simply play the string and listen for a lower pitch; you shouldn’t need your tuner for that!
As your string becomes completely loose, you can remove it from the tuning peg and pull it through the back of the guitar or the tailpiece, depending on your guitar. You can save time here by cutting the string so there’s less slack to pull through at the end. Have a bag handy so that you can throw the old string away immediately; you don’t want to be taking a trip to A&E because you forgot about it and sliced yourself open!
Give the areas of your guitar where the string was a quick clean up before fitting the new string.
Find the sixth guitar string in your new packet, and carefully unwrap it.
How you fit the new string will, like removing it, depend on your instrument. If you’re feeding your string through the tailpiece, it should be relatively straightforward, while you will need to take a little more care if you need to feed the string through a hole in the back and into the body of your guitar.
If your guitar means you’re doing the latter, the hardest part is getting the guitar string to come through the correct hole on the front of the instrument. If you’re used to stringing electric guitars, however, this will be easy.
Pull the entire string through the bridge, until it is tightly fitted and can be pulled no further.
Prior to fitting the new string, use the tuner so the whole in the tuning peg sits at 90-degrees to the neck of the instrument.
Pull the string along the neck, keeping it tight without pulling it as hard as you can. Take the string a little past the tuning peg, and gently turn the end of the string to a 90-degree angle. Now, slide the string through the tuning peg to the point where you gently turned it; it might be worth doing the same after feeding it through the peg – it should look like a chicane – in order to keep it in place. Turn the tuner to begin tightening your string, making sure you watch the string on the neck to ensure it doesn’t move and is lying how it should.
To ensure your string tightens as well as possible, you’ll need to create tension close to the tuning peg yourself. It is wise to pull the string back towards the bridge gently as you tighten, so that the string wraps as tightly around the tuning peg as possible.
If you don’t do this, you’ll have to either start again, or risk damaging your fingers through having to pull the string through the peg to tighten it yourself. Don’t allow any slack to form as you’re turning the peg, and the strings will tighten nicely.
Different guitarists have different preferences when it comes to how they wrap strings; as long as it’s neat and stable, you can wrap them however you want.
Once you’re done, cut off any excess string and, like when you removed the old one, throw it away immediately.
When you’ve repeated the process for all strings, you’ll then tune them. When strings are new, they might fall out of tune reasonably quickly. Get around this by stretching the string by lifting it up from the neck of the guitar, and then retuning; the sound should then stay consistent, although it is still recommended you tune your guitar before each use.
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