How To Change Strings On An Acoustic Guitar

Your complete guide to changing strings on an acoustic guitar - the right way!

View the full lesson at How To Change Strings On An Acoustic Guitar | JustinGuitar

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I have a Taylor Academy 12e with the pickups in the bridge. Is there anything I need to do differently or watch out for when I change the strings on this?

I have changed the strings on a standard dreadnaught acoustic. That went ok - windings are ugly, but it stays in tune reasonably well, so that’s alright and I am sure I will get better at I with a few more sets of strings.

if you’re new to changing strings, I recommend buying another set of strings just in case one snaps while you’re winding it. (Don’t forget your first aid kit as well!)


@Dave911 sorry for the late reply Dave, no you don’t need to do anything differently. The pickup is well out of the way for you to worry about it at all.

@Sorenramsey haha yeah I remember my first string change clearly. If it’s your first time make sure to take extra care when tuning up the G string especially.

And tune up thick strings first to take tension off the thin ones!


Solid advice. Can’t go wrong with an extra set of strings even if you don’t break one during changeover!

What a great lesson. Followed it step by step and the strings are changed.

The things that really made the difference was the holding the string down on the headstock with index finger while maintaining tension with the middle and ring finger and the outside over the top inside first loop.

Still can’t say I was relaxed throughout the process and tuning up stresses me. Every little plink sound.

Did the stretching in and have to say erred on the side of caution stretching them up a couple of cms rather than inches. Definitely way more gentle in the stretching than Justin was :laughing:

@Twin_Six Jonathan, based on a string review I read, I’ve put Martin’s Retro Acoustic Monel nickel 12s on as an experiment. Now according to the marketing statement on the package I will ‘Discover your guitar’s true voice’ :hushed: Hope I like what I hear :grin:


@DavidP David, from what I’ve read about the Martin Retro Monels, they sound best on mahogany guitars, but can sound “dead” on rosewood guitars. They seem to be strings you either love or hate, so I’ll be interested to find out what you think of them.

I’m about to order a set of D’Addario nickel bronze strings, which I don’t think are quite the same as monel.

Jonathan, my guitar is rosewood. I wouldn’t say dead, though maybe I don’t know what properly dead sounds like. I think just a little metallic, not the warmth of the strings I’ve had before. But will give them a chance. The guitar doesn’t sound terrible.

Yes, give them a chance. I’ve found that new strings often take a week or so to break in. Also, from what I’ve read about the Retro Monels, they last a long time and are also easy on the fingers. But you’re the one with the experience, so let us know what you think about them after a few weeks.

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I have a Seagull Performer Mini-Jumbo acoustic guitar with a pickup (see here Performer Cutaway Mini-Jumbo Flame Maple QIT | Seagull Guitars ).

I want to change strings but I am confused about this instruction that I found in the Seagull manual that came with the guitar.

Note from the manual: As a general rule, it is better to remove and replace strings one at a time to maintain neck tension. This is especially important if your guitar has an under-saddle pickup installed where removing all of the strings at the same time might upset the position of the pickup underneath the saddle

As opposed to this video, it looks like the manufacturer recommends changing string one at a time to avoid problems with the pickup. Therefore, my question is : will it still be possible to clean the neck with lemon oil if some strings are still on ? Have you ever tried it ?

You can, but don’t have to do it any specific way.

If you change one at a time, the saddle stays in place and if the nut isn’t glued down, it stays in place better as well.

If you take all the strings off at once, the saddle might fall out exposing the under saddle pickup. There is no reason this should cause harm unless you try to fiddle with it. Or drop a bone saddle onto a hard floor, I suppose.

Just be careful and remember that the saddle is loose and there is a pickup under there. Also make sure you know which side of the saddle faces the neck, in case you find a need to put it back.

I take all my strings off, remove the nut (mine is loose) and the saddle and then clean the guitar. I use McKnight fretboard revival on the fretboard and bridge.

I don’t mess with the pickup, and I do it all with care.

Yes, absolutely. Just slacken them off enough (it will be quite a lot) to be able to tuck them over the edges of the guitar neck out of the way.
Lemon oil no more than once or twice a year.
Some would suggest it isn’t needed at all.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

As Richard says, you can absolutely do this (I’ve done it). As for the time intervals, how often oil the fretboard, the reason is to prevent the wood from cracking when it’s dry. I’ll do it every 3 months to keep the color deep and the guitar is more pleasant to look at. Same idea when applying vax on leather car seats, it keeps the nice colour and prevents the leather cracking.

This method gives a much more attractive “knot” especially on the thickest strings than, say, the d’Addario how-to vid, although their “kink up” way is easier if you are nervous or slow about the whole thing
I struggled with Justin’s method for a while. But now I completely get it. It’s one of those things that if you are tentative, it can go wrong.
The 2 key moments that made the penny drop for me are:

  1. Once the live end has wrapped over the peg, you have to get the tension with your first finger on the headstock Straightaway, immediately, in the same movement, no hanging around.
  2. Using the second finger to keep the tension is really really what makes the whole thing work, although in the lesson it’s easy to miss this
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After hesitating for 3 weeks, I finally dared to change the strings for the very first time. (The high E string was broken. But as I’ve got a 2nd accoustic, there was no real need to change them immediately.)

Justins video was tremendously helpful.

Interestingly, the most difficult part was removing the pins. It looked so easy in the video, but mine were really stuck.

I feel very relieved now I have changed them :blush:. As I put on coated strings, the sound is a bit different, of course. But not bad :slightly_smiling_face:.
The next time, I wont wait that long :innocent:.

True, some pins are difficult to remove and using a “default” pin extractor usually damages the bridge. What I use prevents this from happening not to mention it is far more efficient then what usually comes for pin extractor.

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Thanks a lot for the tip, Radek. You’re absolutely right, the normally suggested tool scratches the bridge - and is useless :unamused:.
I finally removed the pins with my finger nails, but it was a struggle…

Glad you find it useful. I was struggling to find the right tool tool, removing the pins was always a risky operation until I found this tool.

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Very helpful lesson. I prefer this way of wrapping the string around the tuning head to the way shown for electric guitars and I am wondering if there is any reason not to adopt it for electric too. I tried in on my Telecaster and it seemed to work fine too.