Maintenance and upkeep are absolutely essential if you want your guitar to sound good and last for years of playing. Following a set of concise steps to changing guitar strings correctly will keep you from getting frustrated and wasting time, while sustaining the quality of your instrument's overall sound.
Steps to changing acoustic guitar strings, bass guitar strings, and electric guitar strings all differ slightly in makeup and characteristics, but the steps to changing guitar strings correctly, no matter which type, remain the same.
There are numerous brands to consider purchasing and using, such as Ernie Ball strings, and Elixir guitar strings. Over time, and with many hours of playing and experimentation, you are bound to find a brand that best suits your overall sound and style of playing.
Steps to Changing Guitar Strings Correctly
1) Remove 1-3 strings at a time. This is one step that many individuals (especially beginner musicians) do not consider. Numerous people believe the steps to changing guitar strings begin with removing all of them at once. Removing all of the strings releases the tension on the neck of your guitar, and the tension then returns following string replacement. Over time, this causes a great deal of undue stress and wear on the neck of your instrument. For best results, maintain tension on your guitar's neck by beginning with removal and replacement of 1-3 strings at a time.
2) Use a string winder. These tools cost as little as $1-$2 and of the steps to changing guitar strings, this is the one which will save you the most time and frustration. Using a guitar string winder will cut the amount of time required to change all strings nearly in half!
3) Wipe down your fretboard as you go. When your strings are tightened on the neck of your instrument, it becomes extremely difficult to clean the fretboard. When following the steps to changing guitar strings, emphasize a quick cleaning of the fretboard between string removal and replacement to maintain the instrument's cleanliness.
4) After replacing each string, "stretch" it. Of the steps to changing guitar strings, this one seems the most odd. Believe it or not, guitar strings stretch. The tension placed on a guitar's neck comes directly from the strings. By pulling ever so gently on the strings (be careful, if you pull too hard you can damage your guitar) you will be able to avoid the need to frequently re-tune your guitar immediately following string replacement. The pulling stretches the strings so that tuning doesn't have to, leaving your instrument in tune for longer periods.
5) Leave the strings long for a week or so. Many musicians hate following the final and yet most important of steps related to changing guitar strings - keeping your strings long. Even after you have successfully replaced all of your strings, they tend to slip in the headstock during tuning. By waiting to cut them shorter, you eliminate the risk of having a string slip out of the headstock, therefore requiring another replacement. You can always cut your strings shorter, but you can never gain length back. Err on the side of caution by waiting a week or two for the strings to settle before cutting them short.
These are some of the very basic steps to changing guitar strings correctly and easily. By following them you will not only save time, but also maintain your instrument's value for years to come.