Stringing a guitar mainly depends on the different kinds of bridges and tuning systems that your guitar employs. One thing to know whether you have a fixed bridge, Telecaster type or a Les Paul, stringing a guitar is very doable, with a little practice of course.
So let’s get to it
The need for stringing (or restringing) :
The question is, how do you decide when to change the strings? Well, it depends.
How often do you use your guitar? How often do you clean it? How good was the quality of the strings? Can a guy with small hands change the strings? What about humidity and maintenance? we could go on….
Simple tips to help with the dilemma would be to not wait too long to change the strings, they might break when you might have wanted to use the guitar, and clean them with a micro-fiber cloth every time after use
What you’ll need : (optional)
- Pliers/cutters for cutting the string
- Good replacement strings
- Cleaning substances of your choice
- Cleaning cloth
- A stand to keep the guitar safe
Steps to Restring an Electric Guitar:
Get an understanding of your guitar:
This step is probably the most important part of any guitar maintenance process
What string type suits your music the best? What type of gauge and material do you prefer for your guitar? We’ll take a look at commonly available options and try to get a brief understanding of what u might like to try…
There are few kinds of gauges found in the market. Gauge is the diameter of a string and decides flexibility and durability amongst other factors
- Lighter gauges are really easy to play (too easy even a kid can change it) having a starting range of 0.006 inches gauge size. So really suited for beginners or 3/4 guitar players or fast playing that won’t be possible in heavy gauges and especially for bending and vibrato techniques and producing some bright tones. But since the string is thin, it is more prone to damage and breaking and will also need more frequent changing.
- Heavier gauges can go up to 0.042 inches are great for playing drop tones and are usually favored by punk, metal and funk musicians because of the extra sound they can create. It is better suited for skilled and experienced guitarists because of the higher strength in these strings as compared to the lighter ones, they are more durable and don’t break as easily and produce much clearer sounds
- Medium gauges like you might have guessed, are placed in between both extremes. They are thick enough to tune well but thin enough for a good pitch and widely used amongst lot of guitarists
- Hybrid gauges combine the best attributes of light and heavy gauges usually use light ones for treble and heavy for the rest. Although some guitarists dislike them due to the need of having to put different pressures on different strings, it is widely popular for bringing in a more diverse tonal palette and seem like a no brainer to musicians who tend to switch between two different techniques
NOTE: The pack number of a guitar is referred to by its high E string’s diameter (E-B-G-D-A-E). So for example in a 10s pack would have the dimensions of
10 – 13 – 17 – 26 – 36 – 46 . As in 10 would mean a diameter of 0.010 inches. 9s and 10s are the commonly used sizes, you can experiment and choose according to your liking.
The other vital factor to look at while choosing strings is the material. Some popularly used types are mentioned below
- Stainless steel is a common option due to its non-corrosive properties and its ability to produce long bright and sustained notes
- Nickel strings give that authentic old-school vintage melody most suitable for warm and balanced tones
- Cobalt or cobalt plated strings are setting new trends for their strength and ability to attract magnetic in pickups the best .known for loud and non-harsh creamy tones and is referred to as the next-gen guitar strings
There are hundreds of options out in the recent time with companies trying out new alloys frequently including zinc, copper, phosphor, gold, tin, carbon steel to superalloys
Take a look at the bridge and body of the guitar
the bridge will give you signs of how much more time you can wait until changing the wires and how the strings run through the body. Some guitars go through the body as in the case of Stratocaster or on the front like in Les Paul.
Observe string pattern:
It is advisable for newbies at this point to takes a picture of the existing string pattern to avoid extra hassle later on. take a good look at the different alignments of treble
Loosen the wires:
Go to the tuning machines and turn the pegs in such a way that it loosens the wires, which is usually counterclockwise. string winders will ease the job if u can get one.
Cutting the strings:
Use a plier and cut the wires in the center while making sure that there’s no tension in the strings or it might give you an injury .it’s not really necessary to cut the wires but it makes the disposal much easier and makes it easier to remove from the bridge
Removing the strings:
A guitar string has a ball on one side that needs to be pulled out from the bridge side of the guitar. if you have cut your strings then it would become easier for you to pull through strings from both sides (pegs and the bridge)
Clean the guitar:
The placement of strings really hinders the cleaning of a guitar. So cleaning the bridge, the fretboard, neck and the head now would be a convenient procedure. it is also a good time to oil and condition your entire guitar
Install the strings
This is the most tricky part of this entire process and needs to be done with patience. beginners must consult someone with more experience a few initial times or at least watch a video on the internet.
- Insert the non-ball part of the string into the bridge and be careful not to bend or cut the strings while doing so.
- Pull the string all the way to the tunings machine through the bridge saddle and measure the string to two extra pegs’ distance and cut the extra wire. That would be your slack! This step may vary depending on if your guitar has vintage slotted style, string through posts, or locking tuners
- Insert the string in your tuning post and wrap from the inside towards the headstock
- Bend the string upwards to get it out of your way to winding (a 90 degree ) to get it away from bothering your winding
Secure the strings in place:
While winding the strings around the post, newer wraps should go underneath the older one, so it can create a tiny locking mechanism and secure the string in place.
Sever any extra string and Voila your axe is ready to be used!
Maintaining a guitar can be daunting and intimidating in the beginning, but you can always run down to a nearby store for a service until you are ready. Have fun experimenting with different gauges and coatings materials and brands until you find what suits you best.