Strings affect how a guitar sounds more predominantly than any other aspect of it. A good set of strings can make a regular guitar sound expensive and high-end. They are considerably cheaper too, making it easy to experiment. In this article, you’ll gain a basic idea about everything you’d need to know about acoustic guitar strings and how to change them, of course.
Things you will need to change the strings:
- String cutter or plier
- A cloth
- A new set of strings
- Guitar cleaner
How to Change Acoustic Guitar strings
It is recommended u don’t replace all strings at once and do it one by one. It will help you avoid misplacing the pins and also help in the ordered placement of strings. It won’t cause a pressure indifference problem at the headstock as the common rumours suggest unless you have pickups It will keep the new and old strings organised. a good way to go about is from the thickest to the thinner strings
Steps to Restring an Acoustic Guitar:
- Start with unwinding the pegs to loosen up the strings until they are easily removable from the port use a string winder if u have one, it is easier and more efficient than winding and unwinding manually.In case your strings are old, grease them or cut them into half near the hole
- After removing the strings from the headstock, the next step would be to remove the string from the other end i.e the bridge. Removing the bridge pins can be tricky if you have a new guitar or an infrequently used one. U might want to use a plier or cutter to pull up the pins. Another method to loosen the tight pins would be to hold a coin and push your hand inside the sound hole and push up the pin from the inside to upwards.
- Once the pins are loose removing the strings is an easy task. Make sure to keep the removed pins in order because they are of different sizes sometimes and can cause trouble later on.
- Now it’s perfect timing to clean parts of the guitar that would be otherwise hard to reach- the headstock and the neck. Feel free to condition and deep clean your guitar using stuff that is specially designed for guitars. Just use a damp cloth and wipe off the dust for a minimal regular clean up.
- The next step would be to put in the new guitar strings. Most strings come in labelled packages marked as treble and bass sides or more particular as a-b-c-d-e colour coded strings with instructions manual on the cover.
- Follow the string arrangement instructions according to your specific guitar and strings and insert the ball end of the strings into the bridge string holes. If your guitar has slots then be sure to place the pin slot on the correct side and push it down securely. The pin and the string should not wobble with a little tug.
- Here comes the tricky and intimidating part of guitar changing- the slack, the posts and winding. but don’t fret (get it?), a detailed explanation follows:
- Pull up the string straight to the headstock into the respective post hole. Place your hand on the neck of the guitar below and string and measure the slack. One more efficient way to take slack is to measure the distance of one adjacent post and you’ll be good to go
- Now slightly bend the string in such a way that it is out of your way and create a small lock so it won’t interrupt your winding.
- After the lock is done, start winding the peg keys in the direction that tightens the string and in such a way that the new string coils down sandwiched to the existing coil so as to create a strong lock mechanism that will ensure your strings won’t untie when playing.
- Cut the extra string left on the post. Try to keep the string length shorter than the post height, it will help avoid you some cuts and bleeding.
- Repeat the above steps for all other strings. Push down the strings at the bridge and check until you are satisfied with the tones. Use a tuner to tune up all your strings and your guitar is ready to be used!
Before moving ahead it is important to know what kind of strings are suitable for your guitar. So whenever you want to change the strings or get them changed at a store, it is important you know what kind of strings you prefer best.
Important Factors to know about an Acoustic Guitar String
There is a solid core wire beneath the outer winding of the strings. This wire can be of two types: round-core or hex-core.
The first guitar string cores were all made round until 1980s and then D’Addario introduced hex strings to the market. In a short time, hex cores became the industry standard for the majority of manufacturers.
The reason for the popularity of hex cores is that their sharp edges grip the outer wire very well, which prevents slippage. The hex shape also allowed to make machine winding more accurate and consistent. hexagonal shape in the core improves tuning stability, flexibility, and reduce string breakage, compared to round core strings Partly due to their inconsistency, round-core strings are very commonly assembled by hand nowadays
Guitar strings have different types of windings around a core wire that can be made of different materials and have different shapes and textures.
A flat wind is used to create a string with a smooth surface. Flatwound strings give a warmer sound and have a longer life. less grip makes it harder for bending, and generally cause less fret and fretboard wear and less suitable for picking. These strings are generally better for jazz and blues artists. due to the less surface area and the flat surface, it makes it harder to collect dirt and moisture and prolongs the life of the strings.
Round wind is used to create a string with bumps to provide a textured surface. Roundwound strings typically have a shorter life, lower tension, brighter sound, longer sustain of sound notes and better grip for bending and cause more fret and fretboard wear. These strings are more suitable for music like rock n roll.
Halfwound strings are a mix of the previous two techniques, with the round wire flattened only partially. They are made by winding a round wire around a hexagonal core and then polishing the surface into semi-flat form. This enables a better grip than flat wound strings but saves from all the squeaking and is comparatively easier on the fingers.
Types of String Materials
- Nylon strings are the most typically used strings on classical guitars. A classical guitar is a specific type of acoustic guitar that is generally used to play complex orchestral music. It has a softer feel and touch and mellow sound. Nylon strings produce a quieter sound compared to steel strings and are more suitable for beginners who do not have finger strength for steel strings. You can use nylon strings on a standard acoustic guitar even though the practice is not common. While the reverse is very rare and quite dangerous and might break your classical guitar because it is not built to sustain string wires.
Standard Acoustic Guitars typically use steel strings. There are two types of steel strings for acoustic guitars:
- Bronze-plated Steel Strings: Bronze-plated steel strings, on the other hand, have a much more mellow and bass-laden tone known as the brightest and most articulate string. While they’re not as loud or ear-catching as brass-plated strings, they are very pleasant and to listen to. If you play a lot of fingerstyle guitar, it’s recommended that you use bronze-plated strings. They are great for acoustic guitars of all sizes.
- Brass-plated Steel String : Also known as 80/20 bronze strings, composed of copper and zinc. they have a clear, bright and cutting tone. Because of this, they work best on big-sized guitars which can counter-balance them with bass. suitable for metal and jazz and used for rock genres. The composition slows down the ageing process.
- Aluminium Bronze – provide a high and crisper sound than bronze and have a pronounced bass
- Silk and steel. These strings have a steel core and a silk wrap on the lower strings. Steel strings produce a more delicate tone and are soft to the touch, which makes them popular among fingerstyle players. preferred by people who do fretting and picking fingers for its soft touch and feel.
- Polymer-coated. Polymer-coated strings have less brightness and tone sustenance than uncoated strings. The advantage of polymer coating is they provide great corrosion resistance. nanotech has enabled ultra-thin coatings of polymer that provides both corrosion resistance and bright sounds from different metals. best of both worlds.
Professional and high-end musicians have also tried alloyed combinations of gold and titanium to fight corrosion in their strings but since it is a metal coat, they provide crisp and clean tones and do not dull over a short period of time.
The size of the gauge (diameter) plays an important role in the sounds produced by a guitar. We’ll take a look at some of the commonly available options in the market. The numbers on the package indicate the size of the strings i.e a 10s would mean a 0.010-inch diameter
10s: are extra light string.10s are typically the lightest gauged acoustic guitar strings and because they’re so light, they produce a bright and punchy tone. Easy to do fretting and bend notes as they aren’t as rigid Typically used on small-sized guitars will not work very well on big ones.
11s-Often referred to as custom light strings, they give a bright, punchy tone. Also, a great option for beginners, as they are easy to push down and bend. When used on big guitars, they can provide quite a pleasing lead tone.
Although 10s and 11s are prone to breakage and buzzing. Their lightweight makes them suitable for old vintage guitars and necks with low strength and suitable for fingerpicking and producing treble notes.
12s; Also known as light strings, 12s are a suitable option for guitars of all sizes. Not only are they weak enough to accommodate the limited strength of small guitars, but they’re also strong enough to accommodate the huge guitars. If you’re not sure which gauge to buy, this is a great option to test.
HEAVY GAUGED STRINGS
13s called medium-heavy gauged strings, 13s provide a resonating, bass-laden tone that goes great with big guitars. Whether you’re accompanying yourself, playing rhythm, or just playing instrumentals, these strings are a great option.
14s: typically, the thickest gauged strings you might come across for acoustic guitars are these heavy gauged strings. These strings are designed to accommodate large guitars such as dreadnoughts and auditorium guitars. Producing a big accentuated bassy sound and heavy strumming, they can resonate throughout an entire room
That’s all for this post. We would encourage you to try out strings from different brands, materials and sizes. And to definitely try changing your strings by yourself, the worst that can happen is having to buy a new set of strings. Until next time, Happy shedding!