How to Change the Strings on an Electric Guitar — Video
You should always change your strings before a gig so as not to break a string during your ripping solo moment.
Surprisingly enough, most of us regard changing or replacing strings as arduous and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending upon the type of electric guitar you own, string changing can be accomplished in a matter of minutes. In order to be adept at changing strings, constant repetition is the key—kind of like practicing—and as a guitarist, that’s what you do.
Changing is the process of removing your old strings and replacing them with the same brand of strings or moving on to a new brand.
Note that to get started, you’ll need a string cutter, a peg winder and a guitar neck support (Yes, it's optional—but it's ideal).
If the video alone doesn't give you total string-changing confidence, I also break down the process in the photo gallery below. Before getting started, bear in mind that some guitarists like to remove all their old strings at once, which is fine if you are skilled, but I recommend changing them one at a time to make things less complicated and to leave some tension on your guitar as you replace the strings.
Step 2: Thread the new string through the tailpiece (on a Gibson style), underneath the body for a string-through guitar or through the tremolo cavity (on a non-locking Fender-style electric).
Step 3: Turn the tuning key so that the hole in the post is perpendicular to the neck.
Step 4: Pull the string taut from the bridge and measure two tuning posts out (roughly 3 inches) to give enough slack for winding. Use your thumb as a mark, then thread the string into the post and insert until it meets your thumb and stop.
Step 5: Grip the string with two hands — one above the post, the other below it — and twist the string around the post in one smooth clockwise motion. For high strings on 3 + 3 headstocks, twist in a counterclockwise motion. What you’re doing is making an “S” shape, but more like the S-shape logo from the rock band Kiss.
Still step 5, but with a better view of the "S."
Step 6: Take the part of the string that’s through the post, wrap it around the post and slide it under the length of string between the nut and the post. To visually understand this, you’re taking the top part of the “S” shape and making it a “P” shape but going underneath the bottom part of the “S.”
Step 6, part 2
Step 7: Once you’re underneath, loop the string over the string — crimping it — and pull it tightly toward the top of the headstock almost effectively locking the string in place. Who needs locking tuners?!
Step 8: Anchor the lower half of the string coming from the body with your thumb just below the post. Place your string winder on the tuning key and quickly crank in a clockwise direction until the string begins to feel taut. Watch that the string wraps uniformly (2-3 times) around the post as you wind.
Still step 8 ...
Step 9: Tune. Stretch. Repeat. I cannot stress this more. Fret the string at the 5th fret, and with your free hand, pull the string up while moving your hand up the fretboard. Retune and repeat at the 3rd and 2nd frets. You’ll feel the string give way as you stretch. Do this until the string stops slipping. You can cut away the excess string length after you finished stretching using wire cutters.
Step 8, yet another look ...
Step 10: Shred at your gig, sign a huge record contract, collect cash, become famous, and last but not least … hire a guitar tech so you don’t have to change your strings ever again.
Before you start: Grab a set of strings ...
Step 1: Lay your guitar flat on a solid surface and use a guitar support for the neck if you have one, if not, just keep the neck close to your torso when you begin to unwind so as not to drop the guitar. Begin by slacking the string and with wire cutters, sever the old string by the body’s midpoint or by the neck pickup on electric. Remove the string ends.