How to String a Guitar


I just sat there looking at my guitar with its dangling broken string wondering, “what now?”

Whether you’ve just bought some new strings or need to fix the one that snapped on you recently, the process is fairly simple.

Make sure you watch the detailed, step-by-step video from Taylor Guitars below!

How to String a Guitar:

  1. Loosen and remove all of your old strings.
  2. Clean your fretboard from any leftover dirt or dust.
  3. Use a 10mm nut driver to tighten down the tuning posts (to avoid any tuning slip).
  4. Lock your new strings in place.
  5. Trim your strings, being sure to trim at least one peg above the peg of the string you're currently working on (to leave extra tightening room).
  6. Insert your strings into their respective posts.
  7. Tighten and tune each string to its final pitch with a string winder.

The video below shows a great method for going through the entire stringing process, start to finish. Everything from removing your old strings to inserting new ones.

What types of guitars does this process apply to?

  1. 6-String Acoustic Guitars (0:12 video time)
  2. 12-String Acoustic Guitars (10:47 video time)
  3. Slotted-Headstock Acoustic Guitars (11:28 video time)
  4. Electric Guitars (12:02 video time)

What equipment do you need for stringing a guitar?

  1. String Winder
  2. Side Cutters
  3. 10mm Nut Driver
  4. A Guitar Tuner
  5. Safety Glasses
  6. Guitar Strings

String Winder

A String Winder is one of the more important tools you’ll need. 

This is what lets you loosen/tighten your strings with an extra bit of torque without relying purely on your own hand strength.

I recommend getting the Music Nomad MN221 GRIP String Winder. It does the job well. 

Side Cutters

You'll need Side Cutters in order to cut your strings to length.

These Micro Cutters (2-Pack) from Hakko are solid and reliable. 

10mm Nut Driver

You’ll need a 10mm Nut Driver to lightly snug the posts down in order to keep your guitar in tune after you install your strings.

Over time, these posts can loosen up -- this means that if you don’t verify their tightness before installing your strings, they can slowly slip and pull your strings out of tune.

Check out this Klein Tools 630-10MM Nut Driver

Guitar Tuner

The final piece of equipment you'll need is a guitar tuner for tuning your new strings back into pitch once you're done changing them out.

We wrote an in-depth article on tuning 12-String guitars and recommended some tuners in there. The good thing is, these tuners can apply to any guitar, not just 12-strings. 

The first one we recommended was the KLIQ UberTuner. And if you were looking for a less costly tuner on the budget side, the Fender FT-1 will do you well. 

Safety Glasses

Important Note: Don't forget your safety glasses! There was an incident with a prominent Bluegrass guitarist who lost sight in one eye after a guitar string came loose.

Don’t be that guy. Don't let something like this happen to you.

Always make sure you're wearing safety glasses when working with guitar strings since there’s a real danger one of them can snap out and come flying into your eye.

Here are some good Anti-Fog, Scratch-Resistant Safety Glasses from NoCry

Quality Guitar Strings

These are the bread and butter of your sound, and we make it a point to use high-quality strings whenever we can.

For acoustic guitars (both 6-string and 12-string), we like going with Elixir Strings 80/20 Bronze (with nanoweb coating). The Ernie Ball Paradigm 80/20's are also great for acoustics. 

If you’d like more options, we recently wrote a detailed post that talks about 9 of the best guitar string brands you can get for your acoustic.

For electric solid body guitars, we recommend going with either D’Addario EXP coated nickel round wound strings, or Elixir Nanowebs once again (the electric guitar version).

How do you prevent your strings from breaking when tightening and/or tuning?

This is a common question and something that can happen if you’re not extra careful.

If you want to prevent your strings from snapping when you're tightening them, or even during the tuning process, you’ll have to take a few precautions.

Remember, when you tune the G, B, and E strings you have to turn the tuner knob counter-clockwise.

For the E, A, and D strings you have to turn the tuner knob clockwise.

If you turn the knob the wrong way you'll be putting too much tension on the string and there's a very high chance it can snap.

Make sure you don’t cut your strings too short

Do not cut the strings right at the knob you’re installing the string into. You want to leave an extra bit of string at the end for tuning purposes.

If you cut it off right at the peg, you won’t have any string left to wind up.

A warning for round core strings

If you’re using round core strings, please pay extra attention here:

You should bend the string and use the “kink” method (as mentioned in the video above at 5:02 video time) instead of clipping. I repeat, do NOT cut round core strings before you start winding or the whole string will unravel.

Overall, if you follow the steps in the video and carefully follow all the precautions, you should be good to go with stringing your guitar!

It might seem scary or even intimidating at first, but if you really take it slow and carefully change each string, you'll have your guitar ready to go in no time. 

How to string a guitar so it stays in tune

As we mentioned, the easiest way to do this is to use a 10mm Nut Driver to tighten your tuning pegs after your strings are off.

By tightening your tuning pegs (make sure you don’t overtighten!) you remove any possibility of your pegs slipping after you’ve tuned your guitar.

Imagine that for a second. You didn’t check and make sure your tuning pegs were snug, and then you go to the next step and install your new strings. You tune your new strings and everything seems to be going great… until a week later.

You wake up the next morning, start playing your guitar, and quickly realize that you’re out of tune due to peg slippage.

By tightening these pegs during the string replacement process you can solve this problem way before it occurs. 

How long does it take to string a guitar? 

This depends on the type of guitar and your experience.

On a typical 6-string, for example, someone who's done it once or twice can complete the entire process in around 15 - 25 minutes.

A less experienced guitarist, maybe one who’s doing this for the first time, can take up to 45 minutes to change a set of strings.

In general, experienced guitarists and/or luthiers can string a guitar from start to finish in approximately 5 - 15 minutes.

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