Rhythm & Binary

Bringing Some Music Here

This blog is about both technology and music, so I decided it’s due time for my first music post.

I recently restrung my acoustic guitar, and wanted to discuss the experience with some pictures.

I have a cheaper Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar. It has moderate action (distance between frets and strings), which makes it somewhat easy to play. Also, the fact that its acoustic-electric makes it handy if I ever want to go on tour (wink).

The first step was to identify what type of strings I would need. When I first learned guitar, everybody told me to look at Elixr strings https://www.elixirstrings.com/ .

There are also much cheaper alternatives from Martin, Taylor, and others. However, I wanted to use Elixr because I liked the coating as it was easier on my hands. I also liked the “bright” sound that Elixr strings provide. They cost a little more, but they last longer than the alternatives. If you have questions about which one to pick, I’d recommend some googling and talking to your local guitar store for help.

For my purpose, I chose the Elixr Phosphorus Bronze https://www.guitarcenter.com/Elixir/Phosphor-Bronze-Acoustic-Guitar-Strings-with-NANOWEB-Coating-Light-012-053.gc . The link here is for the 12 gauge, I actually used the 11 gauge but it’s the same technology.

Basically, the Elixr strings provide a coating which increase the longevity of the guitar string and also protect your hands. Some purists claim that the coating takes away from the sound, but I’m playing a cheap Yamaha and I liked the feel of the Elixr strings, so I wasn’t hugely concerned with that.

Once the strings were picked out, the next step was to restring the guitar. I have to provide one side note here, I actually had to do this twice. Be careful not to trim the strings until you’ve tuned them. I trimmed them too early and it caused issues when I was tightening them (more on that below).

The basic process itself is very straightforward. You take off the old strings and put on new strings one at a time. I heard that you shouldn’t remove all the strings at once because it potentially could affect the alignment of the neck. I also saw a YouTube video where a guy was talking about how the alignment of the pickups on an acoustic-electric could be impacted. If you’re a guitar newbie here, a pickup is essentially the electronic component that translates the strings vibration into sound that is output in an amplifier. Since I have an acoustic guitar here (with no such pickup), that was not a big concern for me.

So here are the tools I used. A set of pliers, wirecutters, a wind tool, and a tuner. I don’t have a picture of the tuner but I have pictures of the rest. The winder is easy to find at your local guitar store.

Just go for the big string (E string) to start with. Loosen the E string by turning the tuning pegs for the E string (at top of guitar). Once the string is loose enough, you can remove it from the tuning pegs. The bottom of the string is attached to the bridge with pegs (bridge is right next to the big hole). You’ll need to pull out the peg for the big E string there to remove the string fully. There’s a small little circle at the bottom that locks in place with the peg there as well. Once you’ve loosened the string, you might be able to pull this out by hand, but if it’s a tight fit, then that’s what the small pair of pliers is for.

Once you’ve removed the string, now you pull out the new big E string (heaviest string from the set). Secure one end in the peg at the bridge (what you just pulled out). Then insert the other end in the tuning peg and follow the outward pattern that is shown on the picture.

Please note when you put the end in the tuning peg, try to bed the string just a little so and tuck it under the overlap. This will lock in place when you tighten it up.

What I mean by “outward pattern” above is just the way that the strings are tightened. If you notice the base strings (the top three) are all tightened by the tuning peg counter clockwise. The lower three strings are tuned by turning clockwise. This is so that the strings don’t overlap and line up correctly.

So lots of words, let’s do some action. Tighten up the big E string until its good and taught. Don’t trim the string yet. I did that by accident and that’s why I ended up buying two pairs of strings.

So now that you have the big E string ready to roll, go ahead and do the same process for the remaining ones. It’s pretty easy to match up the gauge of string between what you’re putting on and what you’re taking off. Worst case google it or look up some YouTube videos. The progression is biggest to smallest, as I’m sure you’ve already seen.

Once you’ve got everything strung up, take out the tuner and work on each string one by one. Normal tuning is the following (biggest to smallest string)

  • E
  • A
  • D
  • G
  • B
  • E

When everything’s tuned up, trim off the excess wires with your wire cutters and you’re good to go! Enjoy your freshly restrung guitar!