Guitar maintenance, and working on a guitar in general often seem to be one of the most daunting thoughts to a beginner guitarist. As guitars can cost a lot of money, many do not take the chance to do anything to their guitars in fear of making a mistake and messing something up.
Changing the strings on a guitar is one of the simplest jobs a guitarist can do. However, in the event you should have any apprehension, the information I’ve provided for you in this article should answer any questions you may have.
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Why Should I Change My Guitar Strings?
Over time, your guitar strings will begin to corrode and lose their integrity. This will cause the tone of your guitar to sound a little flat, rather than resonant and pristine.
If you leave your strings on long enough, they could actually start to rust on the guitar. This is caused by all of the oils transferred from your skin during use, as well as the moisture levels that may be present in the air at any given time.
Should a set of strings actually rust on the guitar, you could have components that start to corrode and rust as well. This is particularly seen with metallic bridges and string saddles.
Nonetheless, changing your strings will help to keep your guitar clean, especially the fretboard. It will also give you a smoother playing experience that is likely to be much more enjoyable than playing a dead set of stiff strings.
How Much Do Guitar Strings Cost
While the expense of having to change your strings can add up over time, single packs of strings are relatively affordable. This is a blessing compared to the costs that bass guitar players experience when they have to purchase a new set of strings.
Depending on the brand and type of electric guitar strings you buy, you can expect to pay anywhere from $4 to $32 for a single pack of strings. However, there is likely no need to have to buy an expensive pack, as most people generally spend about $6 to $15 for a single pack.
As with most things, buying strings in individual packs is likely going to be more expensive in the long run than it would be to buy a bundle of packs. Many guitar shops will sell bundles for a lower cost per unit.
To give an example, a bundle package of 25 packs of guitar stings might cost about $120, which has a per-unit cost of $4.80. In individual packs, the same strings could cost about $13.
How Much Do Acoustic Guitar Strings Cost
Acoustic guitar strings are relatively comparable to the cost of electric guitar strings. Again, much of the cost depends on what brand and type of string you are purchasing.
Specialized strings and strings from boutique companies are likely to cost more than strings from a larger company that produces more strings. It is always wise to experiment to make sure you aren’t spending more than you need.
For the most part, a single package of acoustic guitar strings can run from about $4.50 to $40 for the most specialized type of string. As would be imagined, sets for 12-string guitars are a little more in cost due to the fact that double the amount of strings is needed to complete a set.
Like the electric strings, acoustic guitar strings tend to be cheaper by buying bulk packs than individual strings. To give another example, a 25-set box of strings could cost (at most) about $250, which gives a per-unit cost of $10. The same strings in individual packs would run about $15.
How Will I Know Which Strings To Buy?
When you purchase a package of strings, you will want to buy the type of string appropriate for the guitar you have. Electric strings should go with electrics and acoustic strings with acoustics.
You can get away with using electric strings on an acoustic if you are in a pinch. However, the guitar will not have the same response and tone when strung with electric strings.
Both acoustic and electric strings come in a large variety of different metal compositions and manufacturing processes. Some strings even have a coating that helps to protect and add life to the string.
When it comes down to it, the only way to know which strings are right for you is to take the chance and experiment with different types. Only by having the strings under your fingers will you be able to tell if they feel and sound good to you.
Should I Restring My Guitar Myself?
Restringing your guitar is one of the very first guitar maintenance tasks you should learn how to do. You could think of learning how to change your strings as a rite of passage that any serious guitar player has had to go through.
There are several reasons why you should learn to do it yourself. The biggest one is cost.
If you take your guitar to a shop purely to have the strings changed, you will be charged anywhere from $15 to $35 just to change the strings. Please note that this cost does not include the cost of your strings.
Save yourself the money, and save your local guitar tech a minor annoyance by learning to do it yourself. This leads to the next major benefit of learning how to do it yourself, which is independence.
As a guitarist, you will need to be able to have certain skills under your belt. Learning to change your strings will help to ensure that your guitar is always going to play at its best, especially when you need to demand performance from the instrument.
If you aspire to play live, you’re likely going to want to change your strings before a performance. This makes your guitar sound its best and gives a better playing experience overall.
If you were to completely rely on having a guitar tech change your strings every time, you will quickly find out how much of an inconvenience it is to not do it yourself. Having to rely on your tech (outside of repairs and setups) is not going to sustain your efforts to play the guitar.
Restringing your guitar also gives you the perfect opportunity for other types of guitar maintenance including cleaning and polishing your guitar, cleaning the neck, and adding oil to the fretboard (if the fretboard is not lacquered).
Is It Easy To Restring A Guitar?
Fortunately, changing the strings on your guitar is one of the easiest maintenance jobs you can perform on the guitar. It is as simple as loosening the tuning pegs, removing the guitar string from the body, and putting a new string in its place.
Of course, electric guitars vary in how they are strung up. Some guitars, like the Fender Stratocaster, have strings running through the back of the guitar. Other guitars only require the string to be strung up through the bottom of the bridge (as seen on many Gibson-style Tune-o-Matic bridges).
Despite the difference, the method of changing the string is fundamentally the same. But what about acoustic guitars?
Acoustic guitars are strung up similarly to electric guitar, with one major exception. More often than not, the strings are anchored into the bridge by plastic bridge pins.
Removing the bridge pin (after loosening the string tension) will allow the string to be removed. Have issues removing the bridge pin? No need to panic, there is a life hack that will make the process easier.
All you need is a standard spoon that you would use to eat food. You can place the spoon under the head of the bridge pin (similar to how you would scoop food from a bowl).
The curve of the spoon will give you leverage that will cause the bridge pins to become unstuck. It also prevents any cosmetic damage to your bridge pins that could be caused by using pliers to remove the pins (don’t do that).
How Long Does It Take To Restring A Guitar?
The process of restringing a guitar could take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on how relaxed you are when performing the process. If you are changing strings and watching TV at the same time, it might take a little longer as you likely aren’t concerned about time.
Of course, there are some tools and methods available that can save some serious time. For instance, a string winder can allow you to loosen and tighten tuning pegs in less time than it would take to turn by hand.
String winders come in both manual and electric varieties. The manual tools essentially turn the tuning peg into a crank wheel which can then be turned easily. Electric versions are a power-tool version, similar to a drill.
After slackening the strings, some people will actually cut the strings directly in the middle of the guitar to make the process of removing the strings faster. However, you have to pay attention when doing this method, as removing all the strings at once could warrant a guitar needing a setup.
Cutting your strings will also give you twice as many bits of strings to worry about. You might end up spending more time finding out where your string ends went before they get caught up in the vacuum cleaner.
Last but not least is the process of stretching your strings and retuning. This sometimes takes as long as it does to restring the guitar (if you’re quick about changing the strings).
How Much Does It Cost To Restring A Guitar? Final Thoughts
Guitar strings, and changing them, are just another recurring part of life in the guitarist’s journey. Learning to change them yourself can give you a deeper relationship with your guitar.
There is no need to fear changing your own strings, and you certainly don’t have to rely on a guitar tech to do it for you. You likely know how to do other “hard” tasks, and you will find that changing your strings is much easier than you might have initially thought.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!