In the world of music, your guitar is not only your best friend, but your most valuable tool as well. If you frequent a pair of wrenches, you aren’t going to let them sit out in the rain and collect rust are you?
No, you aren’t. So why would you let your strings rust over or droop into horrid posture with age? Changing strings is one of the most important things we as musicians are taught to do.
The fact of the mater is, though, that not all strings are created equally. In fact, changing a set of nylon strings can seem a tad bit frightening at first.
Well, consider us your nightlight in the dark because we are here to walk you through ever step of the way.
Step One: Old String Removal/New String Replacement
First off, before we change strings, you need to consider string tension. Strings are like clothing, and we need them to fit properly in order for them to due their job. Too loose and they will sag and flop uselessly, but too tight and they will pop. It is best you use a string tension calculator to pick a set best fitted to your tuning of choice.
Like all things past their prime and use, guitar strings need to be take off before a new set can be put on. It may seem like common sense, but the part that guitarists often overlook is that the way you take off your strings can have either a positive or a negative impact on your instrument.
The worst thing you can do is cut your strings at the bridge while they are under tension. This will cause your bridge to jerk backwards, which can in turn throw off your intonation. Do not do this!
The best way to remove strings is to use a string winder, unwind the strings until they are nearly off and then cut them at the bridge, which will make removing the tangles much easier for you.
Do each string one at a time. When you remove the low E, replace it with the low E. For bass strings (low E, A and D) twist under once. For treble strings (G, B, and high E) you need to twist under two or three times.
Each string should be secured at the bridge with a thick, semi-bowed knot.
Step Two: Attaching Strings at the Headstock
When attaching strings at the headstock twist the loose end of the string around the taught end of the string twice, then pull the loose end upwards while you tune so that the roller catches it.
Step Three: Maintenance
The most important part of changing strings is maintaining their integrity. Wash your hands before you play, and if you take breaks during your playing sessions, wash your hands before picking your guitar back up. This will easily add months of life to your strings.
Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down strings after each playing session. This not only helps preserve your strings but also helps remove impurities which can cause rusting or dullness.
If you take care of your guitar strings after each change, you will soon notice that your string expenses plummet, which for a guitarist is something of a miracle. Now that you have your guitar strung, go play!