One way or another you’re going to have to restring your guitar when the guitar strings give up. Breakage, dead strings, loss of tone, rust, and wear are some of the reasons why you need a fresh set of electric or acoustic guitar strings.
Beginners will need some assistance in the process before they can do it all on their own after a few tries. But restringing your guitar actually is an opportunity to set up your guitar nicely in terms of its action as well as intonation. But just how much does it cost to restring a guitar if you do it yourself or from a local music store? Let’s find out.
Step by step (with cost) on how to restring different types of guitars
Beginner or not it is quite easy to DIY the restring process for your guitar. Especially nowadays there are a bunch of references online if you don’t have a mentor just yet to teach you hands-on.
What you only really need:
- Your new set of electric and acoustic guitar strings ($5 to $20) [$10 to $150 for bass guitars]
What you might want to have:
- Microfiber cloth
- Metal polish ($4 to $5)
- Guitar string winder ($2 to $5)
- String Cutter or Wire Cutter ($2)
- Tuner ($10 to $100 – stomp box type) – highly recommended
When it comes to the things that you’re going to need for the restring you’re only going to actually need a fresh set of strings. If you want to clean and polish your frets and other metals on your guitar then use a microfiber cloth and metal polish. To make things easier for you then you may employ a good quality string winder and cutter. There’s also an all-in-one winder and cutter tool that you can purchase.
Special consideration: Knowing the string gauge you want for your next set of guitar strings is a great way to help improve and aid you in your playing style. String gauge is a factor to consider to find the right tone and sound for your guitar. Generally, you’d want 0.9 to 0.46 gauge strings on a standard EADGBE tuning if you want something light. You can as high as 0.11 to 0.48 if you want something heavier and this all depends on the kinds of music that you play. But of course, these considerations can be made by more advanced players, and beginners aren’t advised to really care about string gauge early on.
STEP # 1: Remove the old set of strings
In these steps, we consider a standard guitar type like your usual acoustic guitar. When you’ve determined that it’s time for a restring and already bought a fresh set then loosen your existing strings one by one using your tuning pegs. Remove the strings from the headstock then slide them out of the saddle and the bridge according to your guitar’s design.
You may use a cutter and just cut the old strings to push the pins up from the bottom in case of bridge pins become stuck due to the jammed ball end of the strings. You can also use the peg remover tool from your string winder to remove the stubborn bridge pin.
STEP # 2: Clean The Fretboard
Use your microfiber cloth and metal polish and use this opportunity to clean it as you restring the guitar. Make sure to polish all of the metal parts to make sure your guitar will look good as new. Not just the frets, make sure to clean the saddle and the bridge too for these are the parts that accumulate dust and all sorts of dirt. Your fretboard also accumulates oil from all that usage so cleaning it goes a long way.
STEP # 3: Install New Set Of Strings
One by one slide the ball end of your new strings back into the peg hole and check that each ‘ball end’ is lying at the bottom end of each peg and the string peg is unshakable. Position them on the saddle according to the gauge. The smallest one first from the bottom moving up.
Drag the string over the top of the nut and insert it through the hole in the machine head accordingly. Then begin to wind anti-clockwise and make sure the acoustic guitar string is on the inside of the tuning post.
Leave the right amount of slack on the string to allow enough length to wrap the tuners. Ensure the wraps are placed one after another from up to downwards and need to be tight but not overly done. Repeat this process for all strings.
Use a string cutter to cut the excess ends of your guitar strings if you want to for a cleaner look. Some prefer to just let them be for aesthetics.
STEP # 4: Tuning
Use a handy tuner and as you tighten your strings tune them accordingly. In fact, you can tune your instrument without a tuner or an app. You need to know what the low E string sounds like or take a reference to tune the thickest string to E. Then place your finger on the 5th fret of the 6th string and that will sound like an A note. You need to gain the same sound on the 5th or A string. In this way, you can tune the rest of the strings except the G string.
Check here for details and some other ways to tune your guitar. Also, This video should help a beginner guitarist to understand the stringing method of an acoustic guitar.
Is it easy to restring a guitar?
Yes, it is easy and takes only 10-15 minutes. Most guitarists do it themselves instead of going to a guitar shop or music store for professional help. If you are a beginner guitar player, then rely on a guitar tech from the local music shop for the first 1-2 times.
There are a lot of self-help videos available on the internet. After finishing the restring operation for the first time by following our mentioned steps or any other instructions, you will realize that it’s not that complex to do. Just do not hurry when restringing the guitar for the first time.
If you try to do it faster, you may break the high E string. Also, you may not get the expected sound and have to change the strings after a short period. There is no reason not to learn how to restring your guitar.
Need Professional help?
Guitar shops like the Guitar Center offer restringing services but if it’s just restringing that you need you should be better off doing it yourself to save money. Professional restringing service may cost you around $20 plus the cost of your electric or acoustic guitar strings.
What you may take advantage of rather when you go to the pros for some guitar help are some other added services. We’re talking about a full setup service for your guitar and usually, this job involves adjusting the action, adjusting the tension of the neck as well as a realignment process for your guitar.
This service will help your guitar improve its tone and overall sound quality. This full setup thing should cost you between $40 – $100 (strings not included). This is actually recommended to do for your guitar maybe 2-4 times a year depending on usage and actual condition of your instrument.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Often Should You Restring A Guitar?
It is recommended to restring a guitar every 3 months or 100 hours of usage to keep a fresh tone. But you can get maximum mileage out of your strings if you can keep them clean by wiping them down every time you finish playing. In fact, it all depends on different factors like how much and how frequently you play, how you take care of your instrument and strings, etc.
How Do I Know If My Guitar Needs Restringing?
It’s time for a restring when your guitar strings no longer ring right like they are dead. When the tone is not as full or bright as it used to be or you see wear like the coating is coming off. Also, if you use your guitar regularly it is recommended you change it after 3-4 months.
How Much Does It Cost To Restring A Guitar At Guitar Center?
The whole restringing process should cost you about $20 at the Guitar Center. You also then need to consider the cost of your new set of strings. Standard guitar strings for a 6-string guitar should cost you around $5 to say $30. Bass guitar strings will cost more from $10 at the very least to as high as $150 depending on the brand.
Should You Restring A New Guitar?
It depends on what you’re going to use the guitar for. If it’s just going to be a practice instrument for a while then the strings that come with it should be fine. But if you’re going to throw it in action right away like a professional gig then it is recommended to restring a newly bought guitar for the best tone.
Watch out for the signs and know when your guitar needs a restring. This process is vital when it comes to keeping your guitar at peak capacity. Don’t let it rust and ruin your entire fretboard as well as your bridge.
For the best tone, smooth playability, and sound quality, always keep your string fresh.