Stringing Tips

Guitar/Stringing the Guitar

Aside from the physical shape of the guitar body, strings are the most important thing for determining the sound of a guitar. New strings sound bright and full, while old strings tend to sound dull and dead. Many guitarists believe that strings should be changed regularly, not just when they break. This is because sweat and dirt corrode the strings, and over time this degrades their sound quality.

When one breaks a string, all of the strings should be changed. This is especially true if the newer string is of a different brand or gauge. The string's manufacturing process, thickness and age all affect it's tone, and one new string being played with a bunch of old strings can make your guitar sound strange. Players should be advised that guitars are usually set up for a particular gauge of string. The guitar will still function fine with a different gauge of strings, however for optimal sound, the guitar may need to be adjusted.

Because there are several different types of guitar, and each type is designed differently, each type has it's own method of stringing.

Different Types of Strings

Each type of guitar uses its own type of strings. Strings are specifically designed for a type of guitar to give it a particular sort of sound. The differences between string types affect the guitar's tone, and it is not recommended to use a set of strings not made for your guitar. Not only would the result not sound good, but attempting to string a guitar with the wrong kind of strings would be both difficult and frustrating. In some cases, it may even damage the instrument.

The most common type of guitar is the six string acoustic. A set of acoustic strings has four bronze wound strings and two silvered steel strings, the steel ones being the thinnest and highest pitched.

A twelve string acoustic has the same set of strings as a six string acoustic, but there are also six other silvered steel strings.

A classical guitar has three bronze wound strings and three strings made out of nylon, which are the higher pitched. An electric guitar's strings are similar to an acoustic's, except the strings are made of nickel instead of bronze and steel. There are four wound strings and two nickel strings.

Gauges and Brands of Strings

Most guitar strings for electric and acoustic guitars come in Extra Light, Light and Medium guages, although there are several other different guages for both such as custom light and light top/heavy bottom among them. Most new guitars come standard with Light guage strings. All guages for all strings on globalstrings.com are labelled, just click on the string set for more info.

The two most common gauges for the high E string in electric guitar are .009 inches and .010 inches (these measurements are used even in most countries using the metric system). Often a whole set of strings is referred to by the gauge of the high E string, e.g., "nines" or "tens" for .009 and .010 gauges respectively. The beginning guitarist is recommended to start with .009s; many professionals also use this gauge, so many guitarists never "outgrow" it.

For Acoustic the High E are Extra Light .010, Light .012, Medium .013

Stringing a Guitar

The first thing you need to do when stringing a guitar is to take off the old strings. To do this, turn the tuning peg to decrease tension, until the string is completely unwound from the peg. In most cases, the string is bent at the end where it was inserted, to insure that it would stay during tuning. Unbend the string, then pull it out of the peg hole and slide it out of the bridge at the bottom end of the guitar.

Some people string one at a time to make sure the neck sustains tension, or some just take all of the strings off at the same time. We recommend removing 3 strings at a time. This keeps neck tension and is faster than 1 at a time. While the strings are off is a good time to clean everywhere before putting the new ones on.

For the 6th string (the low E), take the string out of the package and insert the straight end through the bridge of the guitar, for steel string acoustics you would feed the ball end into the bridge hole and insert the bridge pin. Pull it all the way through until the ball at the end of the string stops it from being pulled further. Feed the string into the peghead leaving enough slack to wind the string about 3 to 4 times around. Bend the string toward you to insure that it will not slip away from the tuning peg.

Wind the string around the peg making sure it does not overlap but flows downward. Pull the string to add tension, so the string will stay around the peg during tuning. Turn the tuning peg to increase tension until the string is around the desired pitch, to make certain it will stay on properly. Check that the string is in the notch in the nut and the bridge, if it is not, decrease tension on the string until you can move it into the notch, tune it back up.

Do this for the rest of strings and you are done!

They're are helpful hints and other small things that can be done during a string change that have not been written about here. We hope to have a video up soon but for now this blurb should hopefully help. If you have any questions please send us an email. We would be glad to help.

Classic strings must be tied around the bridge. Video coming.

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