Replacing Your Guitar Strings (Part 3 of 3)

Glenn Sutton teaches guitar, electric bass, keyboard, theory and improvisation for over 30 years, he specializes in rock, blues, jazz, Latin, Brazilian, classical, country, and folk.

Part III: Final Steps and Tuning Tips

Congratulations! You are almost finished with the process of restringing your guitar. Before we conclude this series, here are a few important things to remember.
Always remove and replace your strings one at a time to avoid neck warp.

Take the opportunity to clean under each string during the process.

Before snipping off the ends of your strings, pull them out and stretch them for several seconds, then wind the strings again. This helps to properly ensure that the strings are properly wound and maintain their pitch.

Let’s continue with the process.

The Last Step: Properly Tuning Your Guitar

Now that your guitar is properly strung, it’s time to tune your axe. If you have a piano, you can use it to tune your strings. But if like most people, you don’t have a piano, a portable tuner is a must. They come in many different types from the cheap, dependable “blower” tuner to the highly accurate electronic device, there is a tuner just for you. The latest trend is a tiny electronic tuner that actually sits on the neck of your guitar while you are tuning.

Even after you have pulled the strings and re-wound them, it is likely that you will need to tune them more frequently in the beginning; this is normal. After a while, you can settle in and play for a long time before needing to re-tune.

Accessories and Maintenance

Now that you have re-strung your own guitar, you probably appreciate the importance of maintenance more than ever. Here are a few optional purchases you may want to consider. These will help you maintain your strings and your guitar in general.

Humidifier: If you live in dry conditions, a guitar humidifier is a great idea, particularly for acoustics. Many humidifiers attach to your guitar and keep the humidity at the proper level. A hygrometer is also a good idea. It maintains a humidity reading and informs you when you should use a humidifier. These instruments are available separately or in a package and are surprisingly inexpensive. They are a great investment for arid conditions.

String Cleaner: You can now purchase a liquid polymer string cleaner that removes dirt and oil from your strings and protects them from further damage. One bottle contains over a hundred treatments and is considerably less expensive than new guitar strings. There are also complete string cleaning systems available. They are a decent way to prolong string life.

String Winder: If you removed and replaced your strings without one of these, you undoubtedly spent more time and energy than you needed to. For less than $5, you can make your future re-stringing episodes much more efficient.

Extra Strings: Always have at least one extra set of strings in your case! If a string breaks during a live performance, you will want to have a replacement at hand. If you decide it’s time to change the strings after a reasonable amount of play, you will be able to do it immediately and not have to rely on the music store’s hours.

Conclusion

With the information provided in this series, you will, in time, become quite efficient at changing your own strings. Be patient with yourself and you’ll become an expert in no time.

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