How do I properly restring an acoustic guitar?

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Answered by: Ben, An Expert in the Newbies Category
It becomes necessary to restring an acoustic guitar when the strings become frayed or sound dull. To begin, loosen the worn strings by turning the tuning machines to the left. Once the tension is reduced, the strings should be flimsy enough to fit wire cutters in-between the strings and the guitar’s fret board. Snip away at the strings one by one. Make sure to remove any lingering pieces still clinging to the tuning machines. The bridge pins, once anchored to the guitar by the tautness of the strings, are now loose. Announced by a large “pop”, the bridge pins often free themselves. Remove the remaining pins with your fingers; if stubborn pins remain, use small pliers carefully to ensure you do not scratch the body or bridge of the guitar. With the strings and bridge pins removed, your guitar is in a prime state for cleaning. Overtime, fretboards develop a thick mixture of oil, skin, and dirt. To clean the fingerboard of buildup, use a gentle cleaning solution purchased at a music shop. Circular motions with a soft washcloth are often all that is required. Now that your guitar is destrung and tuned, get your new strings ready by ordering them from thickest (the low E string) to thinnest (the high e string). Don't worry if you get the order confused, all strings are clearly labeled and has at its end a circular knob. On the bridge of the guitar, place the strings knob-first into the peg hole and secure them by reinserting the bridge pins. Remember to apply tension, as this is the only thing keeping the pins from popping out again until the strings are attached to the guitar's neck. Stretch the strings up the neck of the guitar and insert their end into the holes of the tuning machines located on the headstock. Tie the string around the machine’s peg once or twice before securing a knot created by looping the string back into the opening. Make certain the strings are inserted properly, i.e., tightening should be achieved by turning the machines to the right. Repeat this for each string. Do not worry about fine-tuning just yet, the strings need only be tight enough to stop the bridge pins from freeing themselves. Slowly begin adjusting the tuning pegs to tune the guitar. An electronic chromatic tuner may be required for less experienced musicians. Begin with the top string. Turn its peg to the right until your tuner’s “E” section illuminates with a green light. Work your way through the remaining A, D, G, B strings and down to the final string, the high e. Because the high e string is the thinnest, exercise care when tightening it to reduce the chance of snapping. It is normal to require multiple tuning passes, as the change in tension may cause a previously tuned string to become flat. You have now learned to restring an acoustic guitar. Use wire cutters and remove any extra string length from the headstock for a clean look. Make certain to leave a “stub”, as cutting the string too short may cause the knot to come undone. Your guitar—destrung, cleaned, restrung, and tuned—is ready for playing. Slowly strum your favorite chord.

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