What Do You Need to Restring a Guitar? 4 Things & Tips

by Madonna

Restringing a guitar is a fundamental maintenance task that every guitarist should master. Not only does it ensure your instrument sounds its best, but it also prolongs the life of the guitar. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced musician, understanding the tools and steps required for restringing your guitar can make the process smoother and more efficient. In this article, we will cover everything you need to restring a guitar, including selecting new strings, using string cutters, considering a peg winder, and the crucial role of a guitar tuner.

New Strings

The first and most obvious requirement for restringing a guitar is a new set of strings. Selecting the appropriate strings is crucial as it impacts the guitar’s sound, playability, and longevity. There are several factors to consider when choosing new strings:


1. String Gauge

The string gauge refers to the thickness of the strings, which is measured in thousandths of an inch. The gauge affects the tension, tone, and playability of the guitar. Lighter gauges (e.g., .009 to .042) are easier to play and bend, making them suitable for beginners and lead guitarists. Heavier gauges (e.g., .011 to .049) offer a fuller tone and more volume, preferred by rhythm guitarists and those playing genres like rock and blues.


2. Material

The material of the strings also significantly affects the sound and feel of the guitar. For acoustic guitars, the most common materials are:


80/20 Bronze: Known for a bright, crisp sound, these strings are popular for their clear, articulate tone.

Phosphor Bronze: These strings offer a warmer, more balanced tone with enhanced longevity due to their corrosion-resistant properties.

For electric guitars, the common materials include:

Nickel-Plated Steel: Offering a bright tone with good sustain, these are the most popular choice for electric guitars.

Pure Nickel: These strings provide a warmer, vintage tone, preferred by players looking for a classic sound.

Stainless Steel: Known for their bright tone and excellent durability, these strings are resistant to corrosion.

Selecting the right gauge and material is essential for optimizing your guitar’s performance and matching your playing style.

String Cutters

String cutters are a crucial tool for restringing a guitar. After threading the new strings through the tuning pegs, there will be excess length that needs to be trimmed. Using string cutters ensures a clean cut, which prevents the ends from fraying and potentially damaging the guitar or causing injury.

Why Use String Cutters?

Precision: String cutters provide a precise cut, essential for ensuring that the strings wind neatly around the tuning pegs.

Safety: Cutting the strings with a dedicated tool reduces the risk of injury from sharp, jagged ends.

Cleanliness: A clean cut prevents the string ends from interfering with the tuning process or getting caught in other parts of the guitar.

Investing in a good pair of string cutters is a wise decision for any guitarist who frequently changes their strings.

Peg Winder (Optional)

A peg winder is a handy tool that, while not strictly necessary, can significantly expedite the string-winding process. This tool fits over the tuning pegs and allows you to wind the strings quickly and evenly.

Benefits of Using a Peg Winder

Efficiency: A peg winder can save time, especially when restringing multiple guitars or all six strings at once.

Consistency: It helps achieve even winding, which is crucial for maintaining stable tuning.

Ease of Use: Especially useful for beginners, a peg winder makes the stringing process less tedious.

There are various types of peg winders available, including manual and battery-operated versions, to suit different preferences and needs.

Guitar Tuner

After restringing your guitar, tuning it accurately is critical. A guitar tuner is an indispensable tool that ensures each string is tuned to the correct pitch. There are several types of guitar tuners available:

1. Clip-On Tuners

These attach directly to the headstock and detect vibrations, making them highly accurate and convenient for tuning in noisy environments.

2. Pedal Tuners

Popular among electric guitarists, pedal tuners are robust and can be incorporated into pedalboards for quick tuning during performances.

3. App-Based Tuners

Smartphone apps provide a convenient and cost-effective tuning solution, though they may not be as accurate as dedicated tuners.

SEE ALSO: What Do You Use to Clean a Guitar

Steps to Restring a Guitar

Now that we’ve covered the essential tools, let’s outline the steps for restringing a guitar:

Remove the Old Strings: Loosen the tension and cut the strings using string cutters. Carefully unwind and remove them from the tuning pegs and bridge.

Clean the Guitar: Take this opportunity to clean the fretboard and body, removing any accumulated dirt and grime.

Install New Strings:

  • Acoustic Guitars: Insert the ball end of the string into the bridge pin hole and secure it with the bridge pin.
  • Electric Guitars: Thread the string through the body or bridge, depending on the guitar model.

Wind the Strings: Use a peg winder to wind the strings around the tuning pegs, ensuring they are tight and secure. Leave some slack to allow for proper winding.

Tune the Guitar: Use your guitar tuner to bring each string up to the correct pitch. Stretch the strings gently to help them settle and retune as necessary.

Trim Excess Strings: Use string cutters to trim any excess string length, ensuring a clean and professional look.

Final Tuning and Stretching: Retune the guitar and stretch the strings again, repeating until the tuning stabilizes.


Restringing a guitar is a straightforward process that becomes easier with practice. By ensuring you have the right tools—new strings, string cutters, a peg winder, and a guitar tuner—you can maintain your guitar in top condition and enjoy optimal sound quality. Selecting the right strings for your guitar type and playing style is the first step, followed by careful installation and tuning. With these steps, you can ensure your guitar performs at its best, allowing you to focus on making music.


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