How To Change Electric Guitar Strings in 7 Easy Steps

Changing strings is the most basic part of setting up a guitar. If you are a guitar player or a beginner guitar player this is a must know skill to have. For all of you seasoned guitar players don't worry about this post. The guitar model (Sparrow Primitive, 335, Boss/Pro, Transparent Red) pictured in this post is for sale on our guitar page.

Step #1: Clean your work station.
  • Having a clean work station may be obvious to some, but to others it can be a real challenge. Take five minutes before you begin to change your strings to make sure that your work station is cleaned up from you previous project. I suspect that some of you will be doing this on your kitchen table, on your guitar case on the floor or on your lap watching a football game. Anywhere is fine as long as you can get the job done!

Step #2: Remove old strings.
  • This step is what is coming between you and your guitar being newly stringed. This is the most dangerous part of the job! The key to not having strings flying around the room is to unwind them before you cut them, or just unwind them all the way. If you have a string winding tool it can really help to speed up the process. 

Step #3: Clean fretboard.
  • You may not realize that your fretboard wood and frets are likely dirty. The oil from your skin, dust in the air, and dirt from strings and fingers get on the wood of the fretboard and the metal of the frets and create a sort of tone dampening effect. It is best to clean your fretboard when you have your strings off. I like to use a high grit steel wool 'Super Fine Grade #0000'. With this grade of steel wool you can even polish your frets while you are cleaning them. If you do this step improperly you can leave sanding scratches in the wood and metal. So take your time and work at it until the dirt is clean and the wood and frets are polished.  *Note: it is best not to use a polishing machine to polish the frets and fretboard, it seems to make the frets look the most polished, but in reality it will leave your fingers the dirtiest when you play. 

Step #4: Oil fretboard.
  • This is a simple and important step. After you blow away all of the steel wool bits, take some time to wipe some high quality oil on your fretboard. I like to use lemon oil for this job. Put some oil on a cloth and rub it in to all of the fret board wood, and frets. This step is also part of cleaning the fretboard, when you rub the oil in you will notice that your rag is getting dirty, that is a good thing, just remember to use different parts of the rag as you move down the fretboard so that you are not rubbing the dirt from the first frets into the last frets. After you have thoroughly oiled and cleaned your fretboard wipe away excess oil. 

Step #5: 'Do The Gun!'

  • The gun is our signature move, it took a lab full of geniuses to come up it so please enjoy. The gun will help you understand the amount of string necessary for the correct amount of winds on the tuner. *Note: it is important to say that my pointer finger is 3 1/2" long and this maneuver may need to be adjusted if you have smaller or bigger fingers. With your left hand insert the end of the string into the tuner, and pull the string tension. With your right hand make the gun shape and hold the string in the three fingers other than your pointer finger. The string will make a wide triangle shape with the neck of the guitar. Now when I place my pointer finger on the 7th fret and pull the string under tension with my other three fingers I have the correct length of string to have the proper amount of wraps. Remember when things don't work out just  'Do The Gun!'

Step #6: Wrap strings on tuning machine.
Correct wraps for low E string             -                 Incorrect wraps for A string
  • I have seen people have all types of wraps, knots, and other types of loops around the machine head, if the guitar stays in tune then it is ok, if it does not stay in tune then the wraps have to be adjusted. It matters to have the correct amount of even wraps so that your sting can hold the proper tension and not go in and out of tune while you are playing. I will show you an improper wrap and a proper wrap. The low E and A string should have two full wraps, and the part of the string going towards the bridge should be on the bottom. The middle D and G strings should have 2.5 wraps, and the high B and E strings should have 3+ wraps. This would give your guitar the most amount of tuning control and longevity of string life. Before you begin your wrap and after you have done 'the gun' bend your string so that there is a 90 degree angle that holds it in place while you tighten it. Put downward pressure on the string so that the bottom wrap is pointing towards your bridge. 

Step #7: Stretch, play guitar, repeat.

  • Once all of these steps are complete you need to stretch, tune, and play your guitar multiple times. I think that three times is the proper amount. If you are happy with one or two times that is ok, but the guitar is potentially going to go out of tune when you play it next. So make sure that you take your time for this final and important step. Last of all enjoy your guitar that sounds like it did the first day you bought it, or if you bought it and it was setup poorly then enjoy it like it played the first day after you got it setup by a professional. 

Keep on rocking in the free world!

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