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Wednesday, September 19th 2018.

Changing Electric Guitar Strings

One of the most aggravating things about an electric guitar is changing the strings. Fortunately, electric guitar strings are built fairly durable and are therefore not as prone to breaking as steel strings designed for acoustics. They are much slinkier, which adds to the ability of the musician to produce the sounds unique to the instrument through better manipulation. Nevertheless, strings on electric guitars do need to be changed every once in a while. If you are a successful musician, it might be that you can afford roadies and other people who act as your guitar technicians. In order to keep playing that power guitar, however, the rest of us need to change the strings on our own.

First of all, you will need to buy strings to replace the ones on your guitar that are broken or that are just old. All major manufacturers of steel strings make ones designed for electrics, so whether you are used to D’Addorio, Ernie Ball, or Yamaha, you will find your favorite brand. Like with acoustic strings, you will want to find a gauge that feels right for you. Lighter gauges are less durable, but easier to play, while heavier gauges require a bit more finger strength and resistance. Heavier strings are also less prone to humming and have a heavier sound.

Keep some strings in your electric guitar case in the event that you break one while you are out. This will give you some quick accessibility. You should also have a tool kit along, as you will need to get into the panel that houses the end pegs (usually on the middle of the back of the guitar) in order to change them. A peg winder is also a good tool to have along, it will make tightening the new string a lot easier.

When you are changing strings, make sure that you do only one at a time. This will give you a reference point if you forget how the strings are mounted (you should always change all your strings at once so your guitar has a consistent tone from string to string).
Unwind the string from around the machine head, then pull it through the pickup/end peg housing that was covered by the panel. You may have to manipulate some of the springs on the front of the guitar in order to pull it through.

Next, feed the new string back up through the hole and down the guitar, through the hole in the post. There should be no slack in the string. Feed a small amount, about an inch and a half, back through the hole; this will give you all the slack you need for winding the string. Make one loop around the post with the slack you gained through feeding the string back. Snip off a little bit of the excess string so that it is not in your way while you wind it up.  All of your successive wraps should go underneath this initial wrap, and you can make sure they are by using your index finger as a guide. Use the peg winder to turn the machine heads.

When the string is tight on the instrument, snip off the excess for appearances. Make sure that you don’t leave a jagged edge that will puncture your hand! When you are done all the strings, replace the panel and get ready to turn on the power. With electric guitar strings placed correctly over electric guitar pickups, any number of sounds is possible.