How to change guitar strings

Rosanna D'Agnillo Music Studio - how to change guitar strings

Thanks for coming to today’s workshop on how to change guitar strings Students changed strings on their own after I modelled one string on their instrument, and we even troubleshot some annoying problems, where strings were wound the wrong way and had to be redone, or when the lock wouldn’t take, or when the bridge pin was hard to get out or kept popping out. Please find below the handout attendees took home:


  • Equipment: flat surface, wire cutters, new strings of correct material & gauge (electric, classical and acoustic steel-string guitars all have different strings)
    Optional: clean cloth, neck brace, string winder/peg remover, steel ruler or other blunt tool (that won’t damage wood) like a spoon to scoop out stubborn pegs cleaners/polishers.


  1. Loosen strings – don’t cut without loosening first. If one snaps and hits your eye, this could be very dangerous. Check by sound or visually to make sure you’re turning the peg the right way; if you wind tighter, certainly the string will snap! As happened in today’s class to two attendees despite my warnings.
  2. Pop up bridge pins with a steel ruler, spoon, tool, or get inside sound hole to push them up. Stubborn pegs might be stuck in place; you’ll need to muscle them out as gently as possible without damaging your wood. Put them back in place so you don’t lose or mis-order them. Each might fit best only in the slot it is used to, since the fluted front face of the peg is accustomed to a certain string’s width.
  3. Cut & remove strings; can be recycled with metal.
  4. Clean fretboard & headstock. A barely damp cloth is all that is needed, but you can also use this opportunity to use special guitar cleaning/oil products to clean & oil both wood and fretboard.
  5. Line up the tuning pegs with hole forward.
  6. Review string envelope labels to make sure you get the right string in the right peg-hole. They are all color coded or labelled. Get this part right since winding a string intended for lower pitch too tight will certainly snap it.
  7. Do strings 1 at a time for beginners: uncoil and line up notch in fluted bridge pin toward saddle. Pull up on string while pushing down to seat the ball end.
  8. If you cut now, leave slack for 2-3 winds (cut 1.5 pegs or about 2″). Or bend excess upward and cut later. I prefer to cut first; it’s more accurate for getting enough winds.
  9. Thread through the tuning peg hole (eyehole); line up string with correct nut notch and crimp end upward. Lock by wrapping beneath the tuning post on first wind toward the inside of headstock. (Over-under method; the first wind goes above the crimp, and the others go underneath). Most important is to wind the string on the inside of the post.
  10. Wind by hand or with string winder. Keep face out of path of potentially breaking string. Wind down toward headstock. Pay attention for bridge pin popping sounds; if that happens, keep a finger on the pin whilst winding.
  11. When you’re done all six, pull up and stretch the strings while pushing down on bridge pin.)
  12. Tune and then tune again frequently; new strings lose tune until they adjust to the tension. You might need to tune several times each practice period; the more you tune the faster they will stay in tune.

    That’s all, folks! Next workshop October 17; hope to see you there for some ear training and harmonizing skills.

    Kind regards, Rosanna
    P.S. want to get announcements for my workshops? Usually free for my students? Follow my instagram account at Thanks!