How To Change Acoustic Guitar Strings: A Detailed Guide!

Many guitarists fail to change their strings frequently enough. Even if they do, they frequently do not know how to change guitar strings properly. The truth is that changing your guitar strings regularly is one of the many ways you can show your instrument the respect it deserves.

And if you take the time to do it well each time, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you completed the task and did it properly.

Below, we demonstrate how to change acoustic guitar strings in the simplest, most straightforward, and most effective manner possible so that you can get it correctly the first time.

How To Change Acoustic Guitar Strings  

1. Unwind the string

Loosen the tuning peg on the high E-string with the peg winder first. You won’t need to unwind the thread fully, just enough to remove the string from the peg manually. It will help your tuning key mechanism last longer. Remove the string from the peg, then the bridge, and discard it (it’s typically best to coil the string once or twice around itself first, so it doesn’t pop out of the garbage can).

2. String up the new string

Thread the fresh E-string through the tuning post after stringing it into the bridge and pulling it towards the nut. Hold the string above the nut, then pull at the middle of the string until the string and the fretboard are about six inches apart. That’s just the right amount of slack for winding. You’ll spend days winding up if you leave more slack; if you leave less slack, you’ll have tuning instability for the string’s life.

3. Wind to Tension and Tune

You can start winding the thread once you’ve left enough slack. Make sure you’re winding from the top to the bottom of the peg at a constant speed and without catching the extra string. Also, make sure the string is wound on the side of the peg closest to your headstock’s center.

Once you’ve reached the desired tension, fine-tune the string to maintain the same torsion on the neck as before the string was removed. Bend the excess string back out of the way behind the tuning peg.

Repeat with each string until they’re all finished.

4. Stretch out your strings

Anyone who has re-tuned their guitar knows how exhausting it may be to re-tune the strings every few minutes for two or three days. The instrument seems to be losing its melody. The strings will gradually expand until they reach their maximum torsion. You may avoid this continual tuning right now by stretching the strings.

Cover the bridge with a folded towel and secure it. Pinch the low E-string near the bridge and begin tugging it up, dragging the string up towards the nut. You don’t want to tug too hard, just enough to feel the string stretching. Do the same with each string. (The towel is not required.)

You can now gently press down on the short string lengths between the nut and the pegs, pre-stretching the string. Pre-stretching will not eliminate the need to re-tune, but it will assist your strings in adjusting to the tune much faster.

5. Clip those hanging ends

Those sharp and pointed tips hanging from the tuning pegs will prick you when you least expect it, aside from appearing messy. Trim the ends neatly to approximately a quarter to an eighth inch from the peg. If you don’t want to be pricked in the future, you can always push the ends down, so they don’t stand out, but that’s not required.

Just one more tune-up, and you’re good to go! The easiest method for changing guitar strings is, like with many things, the best method.

Always play your guitar with clean hands, and wipe your strings with a cloth before putting it up to extend the life of your strings. You’d be surprised how far a little extra caution may get you in this area.

How Often Should I Change My Acoustic Guitar Strings?

Determining when is the right time to change your acoustic guitar string might be a challenge. 

If you can’t see anything on the strings, it’s time to switch things up. If black sludge comes off when you scrape your fingernail under the string, then it’s time for a change. If one string breaks, I recommend replacing them all so that the tone remains consistent.

Even if you don’t break any strings, if you practice for 30 minutes most days, you’ll probably want to change them every month. After a few tweaks, you’ll be able to tell when the strings start to sound ‘dead,’ and you’ll want to replace them.

Are Acoustic Guitar Strings Expensive?

Are acoustic guitar strings expensive? When making a budget to fit purchasing acoustic guitar strings, that’s a question that comes to mind. 

Acoustic guitar strings are not expensive as you can get cheap ones. Although acoustic guitar strings are one of the guitar supplies, you can see the difference between a cheap and a high-end model. However, not all inexpensive strings are poor, and not all costly strings are excellent!

One thing that low-cost strings will almost surely lack is consistency. They’ll most likely be composed of lower-grade metals, which means they’ll dull rapidly, corrode, and even rust, have less sustain and break much more easily than a premium string.

How Do I Get the Strings Into the Bridge Correctly?

Changing the strings on your acoustic guitar is straightforward with the appropriate technique. Take your time putting the strings in the bridge; it’s not difficult, but many people, even professionals, are unfamiliar with this technique.

  1. Each string should be kinked away by about 2-3cm.
  2. Insert the ball end of the string 10cm (about) into the hole.
  3. Replace the peg in such a way that the slot faces the neck.
  4. Then, slowly pull the rope taut while keeping some pressure on the peg. Although it appears to be insecure, it will be very strong if done correctly.

Continue to push the peg in if it looks to be slipping out (quite hard). When pulled tight, it should have no give.

Which Acoustic Guitar Strings Should I Buy?

There are numerous acoustic guitar string options available. So it’s understandable if there’s some ambiguity. Remember that your strings’ brand, gauge, and substance are all a matter of personal preference. There is no “correct” or “incorrect” response.

The most popular acoustic guitar strings are 12 gauge. If you want something lighter, go with 11 gauge, and if you want something heavier, go with 13 gauge. String gauge impacts both playability and tone, so experiment to find what works best for you.

There are two primary materials: phosphor bronze and 80/20 bronze. Phosphor bronze has a well-balanced tone, while 80/20 bronze has a brighter sound.

What is Acoustic Guitar Strings Made Of?

Have you ever sat down and wondered what acoustic guitar strings were made of?

Acoustic guitar strings are made up of a metal core (typically stainless steel) with thinner metal windings wound around the thickest four strings. Although the specific materials vary, they are commonly constructed of bronze or copper.

On the other hand, electric guitar strings are frequently strung with steel or nickel to better cooperate with the magnetic field formed by the pickups.

It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t use steel acoustic strings on a classical guitar because they could damage the instrument.

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings

1. D’Addario Nickel Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings

If coated strings aren’t cutting it for you, the D’Addario Nickel Bronze set might be the ticket.

Uncoated strings provide the most clarity and crispness, ensuring that your guitar sings just as the manufacturer intended. It is possible that they will not last as long as they should. However, acoustic guitar strings are often inexpensive, so if uncoated strings feel right for you, the extra regular expenditure is well worth it.

Nickel-plated phosphor bronze is wrapped around a steel core in these strings. Nickel bronze strings are often used for electric guitar strings, but they do a fantastic job of highlighting the mid-range frequencies of an acoustic guitar for us. It makes them ideal for full-band settings when the guitar must blend in with the rest of the band. 

Pros:

  • Lets your guitar’s tone breathe
  • Great for full band setups

Cons:

  • Not as durable as coated

2. Fender Dura-tone Acoustic Guitar Strings

Despite the tonal advantages of uncoated strings, there are times when coated strings are preferable. String life, tuning stability, and tone can all be affected by changes in humidity. Furthermore, if multiple players utilize the guitar, the string life may be diminished.

Fender states that treating the strings with their patented ‘Dura-tone’ micro-treatment can last up to five times longer than untreated strings. If you’re a sweaty player or dread changing your strings, these coated strings might be worth it.

Fender offers an 80/20 Bronze string for less money and a Phosphor Bronze string for more money, both with Dura-tone coating.

Pros:

  • Unrivaled durability
  • Range of gauges available
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Coating changes the feel

3. Martin ‘Clapton’s Choice’ Acoustic Guitar String

When you think about the greatest guitarists of all time, Eric Clapton is bound to mind. While most guitarists would consider getting a signature guitar a major accomplishment, Eric has achieved the rare distinction of having his own set of signature strings.

The Martin Clapton’s Choice acoustic guitar strings are made of phosphor bronze, and their consistency was outstanding in our tests. Unlike ‘bright’ strings, which might become dead and dull after a while, they keep their clarity far longer than expected. They’re probably good enough for Clapton if they’re good enough for you.

Pros:

  • Clapton-endorsed
  • Consistent from pack to pack
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Phosphor bronze can lack that ‘zing

Conclusion

Nothing beats an acoustic guitar or an acoustic-electric guitar when it comes to guitars and that clean, clear sound. However, we are primarily concerned with how to change acoustic guitar strings in this article. Strings, undoubtedly one of the most important components of a guitar, can significantly impact the tone it creates.