Learning how to change electric guitar strings is part of the coolness factor of playing guitar. When you are at home trying to put as much of your precious time as you can into playing your guitar, the chores of tuning the guitar and changing the strings are a real pain. But when you tune your guitar or change a string in record time in front of an audience, you get the feedback. You know you are bad! Anyhow, whether it is cool or not, changing guitar strings has to be done. If you play your guitar every day, you will probably need to change your strings every couple of weeks.
To make sure you do not have to change your electric guitar strings too often, there are some things you can do to keep your strings in shape. A good habit to get into is to wipe your guitar strings down with a dry cloth. Give them a good wipe in the front and then push the cloth in and drag it between the fretboard and the strings. Do this at the end of every practice session. This cleans off the gunk that sticks on the strings from your fingers. And it does not matter how clean you keep your hands; we all have some oil on our fingers. Also if you are in a humid environment, that will also help to deteriorate your strings.
You will need a gadget called a string winder. They do not cost much from your local music store or amazon.com. Many string winders have a cutter built in so you can trim the ends of your strings. Or you could use pliers or a nail trimmer. If your guitar came with an instruction manual, get it out before you start. If you do not have a manual for your guitar, see if you can find one on the internet. Sometimes you will get one in pdf format from sites that keep documentation for all sorts of things. The reason a manual could help is that you need to know how your strings are connected to your guitar so you can put the new strings on correctly. Use your phone to take a picture of your machine heads and bridge if you do not trust your memory.
On electric guitars, you will find the first three strings are plain wire, and the other strings are wound around a central core. Some strings use nickel-plated wrap wire which gives a great overall sound, but if you’re after a brighter sound you’ll be using a stainless-steel wrap which gives you a brighter sound.
I always replace my strings one at a time. I tune them as I go, and by the time I have the last string on, much of my tuning has already been done. So, let us begin. Do the sixth string first, using your winder to turn the machine head till the string gets loose, then cutting the string as close as you can to where it fits into the tuner. Now pull the wound bit of string from the hole. Next, remove the string from where it joins the bridge.
To fit a new string, push it into the hole at the bridge end of the guitar, and pull it through until the ball in the end of the string stops you from pulling. Now pull your string over the bridge and put it into the hole in the tuner. Check how your old strings are wound on to make sure you will be winding the string in the right direction. There is no advantage in using the whole guitar string. Just pull it through until it is slack and then wind it onto the tuner. Cut off all the string you have left over. Use the winder to wind long lengths of string and make final adjustments by hand.
Once you have changed your first string, you just repeat the operation on the other strings. If you made any mistakes with the first string, you will have five more opportunities to perfect your technique. Once you have changed your electric guitar strings a couple of times, you will be comfortable doing it and it will not take up so much time.