How to Reset an Acoustic Guitar
Change your acoustic guitar strings is such a treat. You’ll hear a new definition of your guitar and it’ll feel and play better too. But how do you know when it’s time for new strings? And if you’ve never done it before, where do you start and what tools do you need? This handy article will show you step by step exactly how to restore your acoustic guitar. The best thing is that with a little time, patience, and a little practice, changing your acoustic strings will become second nature.
In this example, we’ll show you how to fit new strings to an acoustic guitar with bridge pins.
Why change the strings of your acoustic guitar?
So why would you want to replace your strings? Old guitar strings reach a point where they no longer work as they did when they started. For starters, over time they corrode with sweat and other dirt, which not only changes the color of the strings, but also makes them duller. Worn strings can also warp, most obviously on wound strings where they can be dented where they dig into the frets. This makes them more easily subject to breakage.
Dirt that accumulates on old strings can even cause them to play out of tune. When the mass of a string changes, it doesn’t sound the way it should, meaning the higher you play on the fretboard, the more out of tune it will sound.
Leaving old ropes too long can also pollute your guitar case; especially the furry types. If the case is dirty, even your new strings may be contaminated with old dirt. yuck!
So, in a nutshell, changing strings regularly will keep gunk at bay and ensure your guitar sounds fuller, brighter, and fresher.
What you will need
To rearm your acoustic guitar, you won’t need too much equipment to get the job done. You’ll need a new set of strings (duh!), a string winder to save you time, heavy-duty wire cutters, pliers, and a guitar tuner. It should be noted that some companies such as D’Addario offers an all-in-one tool which includes a winder, bridge pin puller and string cutter to make the job even easier. Although stringing your acoustic guitar is a pretty basic job, the ends of the strings can be sharp, so go slow and steady and be careful with your hands. Young readers should ask an adult for help with this task.
How to rearm an acoustic guitar: step by step
1. Loosen and cut old strings
Our Yamaha acoustic has been long overdue for new strings, so this guitar will be the subject of this tutorial. To start, loosen the old strings using the tuners. You can speed up this process with a manual or even motorized winder if you’re really impatient. Once they’re loose, you can cut the strings with a quality pair of wire cutters – scissors won’t hack it unless you’re happy to dull them.
2. Remove the string pins
Most string winders also have a built-in tool for removing string pins. Pull each string pin to release the ends of the string balls from the bridge. Be sure to observe the small groove in each string pin – this is for each string to fit and should therefore be fitted the correct way round when fitting your new strings; the groove should point towards the neck of the guitar. We suggest storing your wire pins in a safe place, such as a bowl or coffee mug, until you need them.
3. Remove leftover cords from machine heads
Now is the time to remove the pieces of string still wrapped around your machine heads. Use pliers for this. These little guys are vicious and lively, so show them no mercy (but watch your hands!).
4. Launch the installation
Once you’ve removed your old strings, it might be time to quickly clean your guitar’s body, neck, and fingerboard with a lint-free cloth. Lots of gunk builds up over time and harder to access with ropes in place. Once you’re ready to begin installing your new strings, the first step is to thread the ball end of your first string through the bridge hole of your guitar. Then push the pin of the string past it (with the groove pointing towards the neck).
5. Allow for a little slack for each string
Then thread the string through the hole in the corresponding machine head (also known as the tuner or tuning peg). It is important to create some slack in each string before tightening so that there is enough excess string to wrap a handful of times around the tuner. To do this, while holding the string at the end of the machine head, do a “karate kick” on the neck – place your right hand, halfway up the neck, and pull the string over the above your hand.
6. Secure the string in place
With the right amount of slack, now is the time to start securing the rope ready to be tightened. Wrap the tail of the string around the tuner and place it under the string. Pull the tail tight and up, this will create a bend in the rope which will help hold it in place.
7. Wrap the Strings
With the bend in the rope at the end of the machine head, it should be fairly secure under slight tension. Pull the main body of the rope and start rotating the machine head to start winding the rope, making sure the tail of the rope stays under the main part of the rope. The ropes must be wound inside each machine head. On acoustic guitars, the top three strings (the thicker strings) should be turned counter-clockwise, while the bottom three strings (the thinner strings) are turned clockwise. Clockwise. Aim for four or five neat wraps on the tuner post with no unsightly overlaps. Now repeat this process on the remaining five strings.
8. Tune and Cut Excess String
With all six strings installed, now is the time to grab your guitar tuner and start tuning properly. Turn the tuners to get each string in tune, but remember to keep a thumb on the string pins in case they think of flying off before full tension is reached; Sometimes the end of the ball rests on the pin end of the string, which can pull it out. Finally, take your wire cutters and cut off the excess wire at each machine head. Throw rope tails safely. You are now ready to start playing your freshly strung guitar!