Franklin Taggart is a guitarist, singer/songwriter, recording engineer and record producer based in Silver Spring, MD. He's played guitar since 1975 and has been involved in some aspect of performing, recording and composing ever since then. He also is a well known guitar teacher in the Washington, DC area. He has been nominated for many WAMMIE awards from the Washington Area Music Association, winning the Traditional Folk Instrumentalist category in 2001. His first CD Falling All the Way has received excellent reviews from a variety of sources and was also nominated for seven WAMMIE's.
How to Restring an Acoustic Guitar
Guitar expert Franklin Taggart demonstrates how to restring an acoustic guitar.
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Franklin Taggart: Hi, I am Franklin Taggart, I am a guitar teacher in the Washington DC Metro area. Today we are gong to be talking about restringing an acoustic and an electric guitar and we are starting off with the acoustic guitar. The way I like to restring a guitar is one string at a time, there are people who like to take all of their strings off at once. I find that sometimes is difficult for the neck on the guitar to handle, the neck is used to have some tension on it and if you take all of the tension off, it could bend in a direction that you actually will need to have an adjustment after you put your strings on. So I like to take one strings at a time off and replace that and go in order that way because it doesn't take all the tension off the neck, it leaves the tension on the neck, so that there wont be any problems later.
The first thing that you have to do when you restring a guitar of course just take off the old string. The way that I like to do that, is I just set the guitar down in front of me and I will just go ahead and turn these strings until it starts to loosen, and I like to get it as loose as I can, so that I can pull the string up over the peg head. This is where a string winder might come in handy. Let's see if I have got enough slide to pull over. I have enough slide now to unwind the string, I just go ahead and pull the string end out and now the next piece that I have to do is, is I have to pull the peg out that holds the string in the peg hole. Now for that I use these little pliers and what I like to do is to just wiggle it a little bit side to side, so that it loosen easily and pull straight out like that.
When you do that it releases the ball end of the string and you don't have to do anything more to take the string out, it is already taken out. So one of the things I like to do is to keep all of the old strings together, so that when I discard them, they all go in the same trash can and one of the reasons that's important is that strings are very sharp and if you have a loose one out in your carpet, it could puncture somebodys foot or it could get in the hands of a small person. It's really a good idea to keep all of your loosen and your old strings together and discard them altogether in one package. The next step is to put on a new string. We are going to first of all, get the correct string for the guitar. This is the first string that I removed so we are going to put the first string back in.
On an acoustic guitar the first two strings are plain steel, the next four strings are all bronze wound, they have a bronze windings around the steel core and when you are restringing a guitar, the plain strings, they don't have any windings on them, need to have a little bit of extra treatment in order to be able to tighten on the peg. So when we get to the tightening part I will explain that a little bit better. The first thing that we have to do is we have to put the ball end of the string into the peg hole on the bridge and we take this bridge pin or the peg and we are going to put it right down inside the hole. Now one of the things that you want to do when you put the peg in the hole is you don't want to push the string into the hole with the peg, you want the peg to hold the ball end of the string right against the top of the guitar underneath the bridge.
So you might have to spin the peg a little bit in order to get the peg past the ball end, so that it just holds the ball end against the top and doesn't push the ball end into the hole. So we have got that peg already inserted, the ball ends now against the top of the guitar underneath the bridge and we are ready now to go ahead and wind the string and tighten it. Now the way I like to do that is I like to keep some tension on this string while I am getting ready to wind it. Now when you are winding a string the best way to do it on an acoustic guitar ,when you have got the pegs on both sides of the head, is you want to wind from the inside to the outside. So your strings are going to come up across the net and it is going to around the peg from the inside to the outside and with this plain wound strings it is a real good idea to wind them may be three or four times or more, so that you can get the best tension on the string when you have tightened it otherwise the string might come a little bit loose.
So now I am going to go ahead and wind this string around and I am going to give it four good winds, I hold it little bit with my thumb while I am winding it. After I have gotten four wraps on I am going to hold that -- the wraps with my finger and then I am going to put the loose ends through the hole on the peg head, that is the hardest part for me because I can't see it, there we go. So I am still holding down the wraps and I am pushing the strings through the peg head. After it is all the way through you pull it away from the peg to put a little crimp in it and then go down and grab the string and keep some tension on it as you are tightening it and you are going to go and tightening it until it's in tune with the rest of the strings.
Okay, now it is fairly in tune with the rest of the strings, I am going to tighten it a little bit more with my thumb and my index finger, I am just going to kind of stretch it out a little bit because that will set the string on the peg and at the ball end. Put a little tension on it. And we have now tightened the string and our last step is to give it a hair cut. We are going to snip it right off at the top of the peg head with your clippers and you have now put one string on your guitar. Now the rest is go ahead and do the same steps for all the six strings. When you get to the wound strings you don't have to wind them as many time as the plain strings. You usually have to wind them a couple of times in order for them to grip on themselves so that they will tighten up well enough and stay tight and do not loosen up. Its' very to restring your own guitar. That's how you restring an acoustic guitar. Next I will show you how to restring an electric guitar.