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A Beginner’s Guide to Restringing Your Acoustic Guitar

Restringing your guitar is a right of passage for most acoustic guitar players. The skill doesn’t just save you cash. It also deepens your understanding of your instrument’s mechanics and quirks. That understanding, we hope, gives you a greater sense of appreciation for your guitar. That being said, cutting your first string can be intimidating. Here are the steps and tips for the complete amateur. We’ll walk you through when to change your set, what tools you need, and how it’s done.

How often should I replace my strings? 

When you lose the tone you like. Recognizing when to replace your strings is the first step to restringing, and depends on a number of factors including the frequency with which you play and your taste. Of course breaking one string is often reason enough to replace them all. In this article, however, we’ll assume you’re managing a routine string change.

Listen to how your strings feel and sound a day or two of playing after a new string change. This period is often when the strings are designed to perform best. Once you’ve learned to hear when your strings sound and feel optimal in your taste, it becomes easier to determine when they’re begging for a shift change. Perhaps the strings feel less smooth on your fingers, or their full sound is replaced by a duller sound. DOESN’T stay in tune. Strings get stickier. If you’re playing fairly regularly, changing your strings every month or month and a half is a common cadence.

Note: Players that gig often, will likely change their strings in accordance to their show schedule, and more frequently than most beginners (~bi-weekly). Also, properly humidifying your instrument is the best way to elongate the lifetime of your strings. See tips for humidifying your guitar in Spring or cold month care.

What do I need to change my strings? 

    • Strings: Strings are most often sold in a pack of six. We recommend buying multiple packs of strings. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of as a beginner to break a single string while changing the set. If you avoid that misfortune, you’ll make one less trip to the shop!
  • Wire cutter
  • String winder: Many shops sell a useful wire cutter / string winder combo tool.


  1. Begin by loosening one string. I begin with my thinnest (high E/1st string), and tune the string down to loosen, so I can remove it easily from the tuning post.
  2. Remove the string from the tuning post.
  3. Carefully remove the bridge peg that is holding the other bridge end side of the string in place. Though this can often be accomplished with your hands, it can be tricky with tight pegs. Many string winder tools include a cutout that functions like a hammer claw. Slide the peg into the cutout and use leverage to gently remove the peg. If you don’t have a handy tool, use your string. Wiggle and push the string gently down into the guitar to release some tension and help you take the bridge peg out of the hole. Note: if you have a pinless bridge see our video on how to change strings on pinless bridge.
  4. Set your peg aside in a safe place!

You’re at a decision point here: deep clean your fretboard, or proceed with a regular string change? If you intend to clean, you can proceed to removing all strings before replacing the set. However, for a standard change, it’s healthy to keep some tension through the neck. For that reason, we recommend you work with one string at a time.

  1. Open your package of strings, and find the corresponding string. Most packages place the 1st string first in the pack. Remember, the “1st” string is the highest pitched string while the “6th” is your low E string in a standard tuning.
  2. Bend the last 1.5 inches of the ball end side of the string at an angle (somewhere between 45-90 degrees). Guide the ball end into the bridge pin hole, and insert the corresponding bridge pin back inside the hole. Do not jam the bridge pin in. It should be firm enough so that the string doesn’t pop out. The ball should rest beneath the bridge pin while the string will run along the groove or cutout in the pin.
  3. Run the string between your fingers and feed the other tip of the string into the nearest hole on the corresponding tuning post.
  4. The string will have minimal tension on it (should bulge about 3-5 inches above the fretboard at this stage. Get your string winder ready on the tuning peg button. Wind the tuning peg tighter, while your other hand holds the string in place on the nut. There should be some tension between the nut and the tuning peg to make winding easier. Wind the peg until the entire string is taught and at a pitch just higher than the 2nd string. If your bridge peg pops up, that’s ok. Place is back down and begin again. This stage is perhaps the “meat and potatoes” of replacing your strings. It requires practice.
  5. Tune your string.
  6. Strings need to stretch and warm up a bit. It’s very common that new sets of strings go out of tune multiple times before holding their tune. To speed up the process of stretching, tune the strings (roughly) to the note, then take two or three fingers under the string and stretch up away from the fretboard. Tune again. Do this two to four times, or until the strings hold their tune.
  7. Cut off the excess string on the other side of the tuning peg.

Voilá! Complete these steps for each string. We promise it gets easier with time, and we know you’ll hear the rewards. Sometimes a new set of strings can really reinspire your playing. If you’re eager to prolong the life out of each new set, dig into our support resources, and care and maintenance posts.