Last update 30/11/2023

Your Steel-string guitars need to have their strings replaced periodically. This guide will give you all the information you need to replace your acoustic guitar strings in 6 easy steps. A new set of strings will make your guitar sound like new again.

Changing acoustic guitar strings

If you don’t have a commercial neck support, no problem; roll up some old towels or use a suitable cushion to ensure the guitar is stable.

2. Remove the old strings

Replace guitar strings - Remove all the Strings & Clean the Fretboard
Remove all the Strings and clean the Fretboard.

Now, release the tension from all strings. Note: It is perfectly acceptable to remove and replace all the strings together instead of one by one. Most reputable guitar builders, including Martin and Taylor, recommend this method.

Next, remove your old guitar strings by loosening all the tension from all six strings by turning the tuners clockwise and keeping a little pressure under the string with your finger.

Remove all the bridge pins
Remove all the bridge pins.

After loosening all the strings, remove the six bridge pins and put them to one side. Preferably where they can’t go missing now; if any of the pins are difficult to remove with your fingers, take your wire cutters and use a pivoting (cantilever) action on the saddle; gently apply a small amount of upward pressure on the pins.

They usually pop up quickly, allowing you to take them out with your fingers. Pull out all the strings and tie them together into a loop. That will stop the strings from going in every direction and minimize the chance of scratching the guitar.

Next, pull the other end of the strings out of the pegs and put them to one side. Then. Dispose of the old strings. See photo.

Guitar strings - Hole is at a 45-degree angle
The hole is at a 45-degree angle.

Turn all six tuners so the hole is at a 45-degree angle. See photo.

3. Clean the fretboard

Clean the fretboard with a little Naphtha on a paper towel
Clean the fretboard with a bit of Naphtha on a paper towel

Now is the time to clean your fretboard with a bit of Naphtha (lighter fluid) and a clean paper towel. There are lots of commercial products available to clean and condition the fretboard. 

Note: Before fitting the new strings to your guitar, this is an ideal time to consider some additional steps, such as performing thorough cleaning and maintenance if required.

4. Fit the new strings

Guitar strings - Lock the Strings Into Place
Lock the Strings Into Place

Refer to the photo above. Now, insert the ball end of the 6th string, the high E (thickest bass), into the bridge hole and secure it with one of the bridge pins.

Hold the bridge pin down and pull the string up until you feel it’s firm. Taking this action will lock the ball into the pin as intended.

Trimming the E bass string
Trimming the E bass string

Again, refer to the photo above for reference. Pull the string across the peghead and cut it at the 5th string peg ( 1 post to post length). Make sure the bridge pin does not pop up. If it does, push it back down. See photo.

Guitar strings - Insert the String Into the Post
Insert the String Into the Post

Now, Insert the end of the string into the peg hole. The end of the string should exit about 1/8th from the hole of the tuner. (refer to the photo above)

Guitar strings - Tune E String To Pitch
Tune E String To Pitch

Guitar strings - Trim the D String to size
Trim the D String to size.

Now trim the 4th D string the equivalent of one post to post length. See photo.

Guitar strings - Cut and Install the Treble Strings
Cut and Install the Treble Strings

Next, trim all the remaining strings, the G, B, and high E (treble) 1 1/2 tuner post lengths past the post that it will be fitted to. Also, note that the treble string tuners need to be tightened counter-clockwise.

Guitar strings - Treble String Wraps
Treble String Wraps

Furthermore, the treble strings need about six wraps, ideally. See the photo above.

String Wraps around the post
String Wraps around the post

At this point, ensure the string wraps wind down below the tuner peg hole. In doing so, you will avoid a kink in the string and avoid breaking it.

5. Stretch the strings

Stretch the new guitar strings
Stretch the new guitar strings.

This is an important step. Make you stretch all strings by running your finger from end to end 6 to 8 times per string while maintaining some tension. As a result, this will help keep the guitar in tune during its break-in period.

12-string guitars

Trimming the E bass string
Trimming the E bass string

Now, for 12-string acoustics, the re-stringing process is the same for the six-string guitar except for the following. You must cut the bass strings E, A, and D, two full tuner post-to-post lengths, from where they passed the post, as shown in the photo above.  

Also, in a similar way as for the last step. You need to cut the treble strings G, B, and E, two full tuner post lengths from the post they will be installed.

Slot Head guitars

Suppose you have a slot-head guitar like a classical guitar. You will find it has nylon strings rather than steel.

Slot Head - Trim the Strings
Slot Head – Trim the Strings

In a similar fashion to steel strings. Trim the strings for a slot head guitar 1 1/12 post-to-post lengths.

6. Tune all the strings to the correct pitch.

Now, it’s time to tune your guitar to pitch, and the string replacement part of the job is done.

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Clean your guitar

Keeping your guitar clean is essential for maintaining its sound quality and appearance.

Here’s how

Guitar cleaning cloths
Soft cleaning cloth

A soft, damp cloth

Wipe down the body with a soft, damp cloth. A microfiber cloth is ideal, as it won’t scratch the finish.

Guitar polish

Use a guitar polish occasionally to remove any stubborn marks or scratches. Be sure to follow the instructions on the polish carefully.

String cleaner

Clean the strings with a string cleaner. This will help to remove dirt, grime, and sweat that can build up on the strings.

Guitar polish kit
Guitar polish

Additional tips

Don’t use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on your guitar. These can damage the finish.

Store your guitar in a cool, dry place. This will help to protect it from moisture and temperature fluctuations.

Humidity can be a very big problem, especially with acoustic guitars. Monitor your acoustic guitar’s environment humidity.

Read more about humidity and acoustic guitars.

Following these tips can help keep your guitar clean and look great for years.


1. Changing Steel Strings. Taylor Guitars. Published in 2020. Accessed May 1, 2020.