Restringing Your Guitar

First and foremost I want to tell you that I am by no means an expert on anything related to guitar, and in most areas I’m barely experienced. I’ve been playing the guitar for a few months now on a guitar I got for free. While the guitar itself isn’t worth much replacing those old strings that have been in place for who knows how long with some new strings would go a long way to improving its sound. These instructions have been written after my first, mostly successful, attempt to restring my guitar. I discovered a few things that I can hopefully help you avoid. I’m also now proof that you don’t need to be a guitar expert to do this yourself. The restringing is not a super hard task, and once you have the tools you need and a new set of strings it shouldn’t take any longer than a half hour to finish. So, let’s get to it.

  • What You’ll Need
    • A set of new strings
    • Wire Cutters
    • A pair of Pliers
  • Picking Out a set of Strings

There are a lot of options out there in regards to the strings you can get. It is not too hard to find a set for $5-7. You’ll notice different gauges on the strings and this relates to the thickness of the strings. The lighter the gauge the thinner the string and the easier to play on, but if you’ve been playing for a while and you’ve got some good calluses on your fingers it doesn’t matter too much which gauge you go for. It seems to be agreed upon that the thicker gauge strings will produce a better tone, but really it’s all a matter of personal preference. As for the brands of strings, D’Addario’s and Elixer’s seem to be the most popular brands, according to, and would be a pretty safe bet. Bronze and brass strings are for acoustic guitars and nickel strings for electric, so there is another thing you want to watch out for. Hopefully that’s enough for you to make a semi-educated decision on what to get.  (If you end up with a pack of four strings you probably bought a set for a bass, I did this on my first try. There’s not much on the packaging to distinguish between bass and guitar strings, at least on the D’Addario packaging.)

Once you have everything ready to go you should probably only need around a half hour to finish the dirty deed.

  1. Loosen the strings on your guitar all the way.
  2. Use your pliers to pull out the plugs holding the strings in at the base of the guitar. Then you can remove the old strings (I couldn’t find a pair of pliers at my place so I popped them out using my claw hammer really easily.)
  3. While the strings are off the guitar it is a pretty good opportunity to give it a little bit of a polishing/dusting. The strings are gone so it’s pretty easy to hit areas that are normally a pain; the fret board and the head. Then when you’re done it will almost feel like you have a new guitar.
  4. Put the new strings in the guitar. The strings should be color coded on the end to tell you which one is which. While you’re putting the new strings in line up the groove inthe plugs with the string and direct it so the string can easily be run up the fret board.  The order of the strings is E, A, D, G, B, E when you’re looking down on the guitar as if you were going to play it.
  5. Thread the top of the strings through the tuners. Tighten the strings using the tuners. Once you’ve got all six strings done you should have a mess of string coming out of the head of your guitar.
  6. Trim down the mess of strings using the wire cutters. You’ll want to wait until after you’ve tightened the strings because if you don’t you might not be able to get the strings as tight as you need. I waited to tune my guitar until after I clipped the strings down with the wire cutters and my little e-string was clipped too short. While I was trying to tune it, it reached a point where it was tight enough that the string slipped out of the tuner, and I was out of luck.
  7. You’re done; with the strings trimmed up you are ready to get back to playing.
    Note: Over the next few days the strings will probably stretch out a bit, and will need to be tuned several times before they settle in.

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