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 Electric Guitar
Guitar expert Franklin Taggart demonstrates how to restring an electric guitar.
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Franklin Taggart: Hi! I am Franklin Taggart, I am a guitar teacher in the Washington, DC metro area and we are talking about restringing an electric guitar. First step whenever you are restringing your guitar, of course you are going to have to take off the string and what I like to do is I like to take out one string at a time and replace it before I take out another string. Some people like to take all of their strings out at the same time, I found that sometimes that if you do that, taken all of that tension off the neck; sometimes it require you to get a neck adjustment on your guitar after you put back all of your strings. The neck is used to having so much tension on it and when you take all of that tension off usually it can cause problems. So, I usually just change one string at a time, get the new string on and get it up to pitch and that way all the tension stays on the neck, you dont have any problems that way.
First thing that you have to do of course is you have to loosen the string. The pitch is getting lower here, you are loosening it and I like to have my guitar standing up for a lot other things that need to be done. When you are loosening the string basically what you want to do you want to loosen it until you can get the string up over the peghead and unwind it, like this and I have loosened it enough that I can unwind it and then pull the end out off the peghead. Now, with an electric guitar such as this one, the string actually goes through the back of the guitar underneath the bridge; there is six holes there, one for each string and so one of the things that I like to do when I am taking the strings off rather than pull all of the windings through the hole on the back of the guitar, I am just going to go ahead and cut the winding off the string so that the string is straight and wont put any kind of damage or any kind of pressure on the back, on the hole going through the back of the guitar. So, now we have loosened the string up and you can see now the bottom end comes through and we can just pull that out of there. When you discard your strings its important to make sure that they all get thrown away, strings are very sharp you dont want them to go into anybodys foot or you dont want little fingers to get a hold of them. So, the next piece is we need to get the new string, you want to make sure that you get the right string for the job and in this case we want to have small gauge string for our first string which is in this case its called a 10 gauge. Again, we are going to feed the pointed end of the string through the back of the neck, I am just going to put into the hole that corresponds with the bridge place that it needs to be and I am going to go ahead and push it through until I can feel that its gone all the way through and now I can pull it from the front and you want to make sure the guitar that has it has the string goes through the body will have often bridge pieces that have a little slot in them and you want to make sure that your string goes through the slot and the bridge piece.
Now, we are ready to get the string around the peg, notice that you have got these little trees between the first and second and between the third and the fourth string. Those trees play an important part the intonation of an electric guitar, it's important that when you restring your guitar that you make sure that those strings get under the correct tree on the guitar. So, what I am going to do with this one is I am going to go ahead and put it through the nut right here then I am going to run it underneath the tree. On a guitar like this you want the string from the wood to the pegs thats going to give you the best, the best wrap and your tuning will be in the correct direction. On an unwound string which doesnt have any windings on it, its just plain steel, I would like to wrap it about four times and then pull it tight using my finger or thumb to hold the windings down and then as soon as I have got it into the hole and tight; I am going to go ahead and crimp it, pulling it away from the guitar so that the string will tighten. Now, I am going to grab, hold it with my right hand I am going to grab hold the string, I am going to put tension on it the whole time that I am tightening it. You can see I have got my thumb and my index finger on opposites of the strings, this allows the string to set very well on both the peghead and down on the bridge, it also keeps the string from jumping out from underneath the tree there; what I am going to do is I am going to just retain it back up to its pitch and I have retained it now all the way up to its pitch. I am going to tighten it a little bit more and stretch a little bit more, just so that it wont go out of tune.
Last step when you are restringing guitar is you need to cut the excess string off, its where these little pliers come in handy, they have a wire cutter on them and I usually I cut even with the peghead, just like that and thats how it is. You repeat that process for all six guitar strings and you are ready to play with new bright strings that sound great and feel good under your fingers, thats what it takes to restring an electric guitar.