Changing Electric Guitar Strings

In this guitar lessons we are going to take a look at how to change electric guitar strings. Changing strings is a skill that every guitarist should have. This lesson will let you know when you should change your strings, what you need to change your strings, and how to change your strings.

Knowing when to change your strings is something that a lot of beginners don’t know. What your strings look like and what they sound like are the two basic indicators that you should go by when deciding when to change them. If your strings are rusty or really discolored, that is a good indication that you should change your strings. More importantly, if your strings sound muddy or dull sounding, you should go ahead and change them. Some people change their strings every few days while some people go months between string changes. How often you change your strings can depend on how humid your climate is, how much you play, and how clean you keep your strings. The two things that you can do to make your strings last longer are washing your hands before you play and wiping down your guitar after you play.

When you get ready to change your strings it is a good idea to have a string winder and a string clipper. I like to use the Planet Waves Pro-Winder because it is a string winder and clipper all in one tool.

The next thing that you will need is a new set of strings. When you go to buy new electric guitar strings you have to decide on which gauge, or thickness, to use and which brand to buy. You can buy electric guitar strings from about .008 inches all the way up to about .012 inches. The gauge is just a measurement of the thickness of the high E string. It is most common to see .009 or .010 gauge strings. Usually, .009 gauge strings come on Fender or Ibanez style guitars. These are easier to play but do not get quite as full of a tone. Gibson style guitars usually come with .010 gauge strings. These strings can be a bit harder to play but the sound is a bit thicker.

There are many brands of electric guitar strings to choose from. I prefer D’Addario EXL110 electric strings. D’Addario strings are great because they are inexpensive, rarely break, and the balls on the ends of the strings are color coded so that you always know what string you are grabbing.

The first step in changing the strings is to take off one of the old strings. If you have a string winder, place it on the tuning peg of the high E string and start to turn it until the string is loose. Once it is loose you should be able to just grab the string, unwind it off of the post and take it off. Be careful not to poke yourself with the sharp loose end of the string that you just loosened.

Now we have to get the string loose from the bridge of the guitar. There are a lot of guitars out there with many different types of bridges. The guitar in this video has a string through the body design where you load the strings from the back of the guitar. If your guitar is not exactly like this don’t let that throw you off. Just experiment with your guitar and find out how your bridge holds the strings. Odds are you have a Fender or Gibson style guitar, so the strings won’t be very hard to get off. If you have Floyd Rose style guitar you will need some allen wrenches. Changing strings on this style of guitar is a bit more difficult so you may want to get some professional help the first time.

Once you have the old string off it is time to put the new one on. If you have a set of D’Addario strings, the high E string will have a silver ball on the end of it. Feed the string through the bridge the same way you took it off. Bring the loose end of the string down to the tuning peg for the high E string. Put the loose end through the hole in the peg. Try to leave enough slack on the string to have about three or four wraps around the tuning peg. Put the string winder on the tuning peg and start winding. Make sure that the string is going on the same side of the tuning peg that it was before you took it off. The first wrap should go over the top of the loose end of the string. All of the following wraps should go under the loose end of the string.

Continue this process for all six strings. If you have a string tree for a few of your higher strings make sure that you are using it. A string tree is just a small device on the headstock of the guitar that is used to hold the higher strings down. Many guitars have all of the tuning pegs on one side of the headstock, but yours may have three on each side. Don’t let that confuse you, just be sure to pay attention to which peg goes with which string.

It is a good idea to stretch out your strings a bit once you get them on. Don’t be afraid to change your strings. You can never learn how to change your strings unless you try it for yourself. The worst thing that can really happen is a broken string or two. Again, if you have a guitar with a Floyd Rose style tremolo on it, you might want to have a pro change your strings the first time. This lesson did not really cover tuning up your guitar after you get the strings on, but if you need help with that you can go to the lesson on How To Tune A Guitar. Also you can learn how to change acoustic guitar strings here!