In its most simplistic form, the acoustic guitar is nothing more than wire and wood. There is the neck and body and strings, and even though there are a few metal parts, such as the frets and tuning knobs, the sound is achieved through the resonation of the strings in the hollow body of the acoustic guitar. Since the strings play a vital role in an acoustic guitar’s sound, learning how to change the strings is an essential skill.
There are a variety of guitar strings that can be used to re-string an acoustic guitar, but most musicians prefer bronze-coated strings, because they provide a warmer sound than the nickel or steel strings that are used on electric guitars. Although electric guitar strings can be put on an acoustic guitar, they will often produce a “tinny” sound.
The first step in changing strings is to remove the old strings from the instrument. This is done by slowly twisting the tuning knobs until the string is loose. Once the string has been loosened, unfasten the string from the tuner at the end of the guitar’s headstock. Depending on the type and model of the guitar, the instrument may have string pegs which are used to secure the string to the bridge of the guitar. Most acoustic guitars have string pegs. The string peg must be removed in order to remove the string from the bridge of the guitar. This can usually be done by pulling on the peg with the fingers, but if the peg is stuck, it may be necessary to reach into the soundhole of the guitar and push out the peg from the inside of the instrument.
About half an inch forward from the string pegs on the bridge is the saddle. This is a thin strip of material, often made from bone or plastic, upon which the strings rest. Most of the time, the saddle isn’t mounted to the guitar, but is held in place by the tension of the strings. After the strings and string pegs have been removed, it is important to make sure that the saddle does not fall off the bridge.
Once the strings and pegs have been removed, it is time to put on the new strings. A guitar string will have a tiny brass cylinder attached at one end of the string. This is called the ball end. Take the string by the ball end and feed it through the hole in the bridge and then push the string peg back in place, securing one end of the string to the bridge. Feed the other end of the string through the tuner on the guitar’s headstock, and twist the knob until the string becomes taut. Trim off any excess with a pair of pliers. Repeat this process until all of the strings have been replaced.
Once the instrument is re-strung, use a guitar tuner to tune the acoustic guitar. Most musicians use a “standard tuning”, in which case the six strings are tuned (from low to high) to E, A, D, G, B, E. At this point, this instrument is ready to be played.