How To Change Strings On An Electric Guitar

The other day my friend, Dennis Ellington, asked just out of curiosity how I string my guitar. It was hard to explain in writing, but when I was done he said my method is unusual. So I thought it would be easier to demonstrate on video:

Here is what I originally wrote:

If you are looking down at the head, I turn the tuning posts so the holes are all pointing up-and-down. I thread each string through the post, and give it a slight tug. Keeping tension on it, I wrap the string clockwise and down, and pass it under the string that is coming into the post. Again keeping tension, I then wrap the string up towards me and bend it over the string I just went under. So I have just gone 1/2 way around the post, and made a little hook around the string. I then tighten the strung using the tuner. The tension I was putting on the string by hand is negligible, so I usually turn the tuning post about 3/4 way around or a bit more. Then I cut off the end of the string.

I know that many say you need to wrap the string fully around the post multiple times, for a “better connection,” but I cannot see how this actually helps. It may even make the connection with headstock worse, as the wrapping multiple times can be uneven. My method the string is in direct contact with the post ONLY.

The partial wrap and hook around the string are enough to fully seat the string. No slippage. Stays in tune once strings are stretched through use. To see what this looks like (it is more complicated in writing than in reality), see 6:40 in the video.



Published by

Brad Rourke

Executive editor of issue guides and program officer at the Kettering Foundation.

11 thoughts on “How To Change Strings On An Electric Guitar”

  1. Wow! .054 for the low E. That’s heavy. I set up guitars for people, but I’ve never used the “hook” method. I’ll have to try it…probably on my acoustic…next year. Two of my electrics have locking tuners and my Tele has the vintage style that you clip the string then push it down through the tuner (as if you’re attempting to push it through the headstock), so the “hook” method wouldn’t actually benefit my electrics.

    Thanks for the vid, cuz.

  2. That was incredibly helpful — I wish I had found this earlier, before slogging through YouTube hell. I had been using the hook method on the wound strings, but not unwound. Now I see it can be done. :) Thanks for your time and effort.

  3. Changing guitar strings may be quite a task to some guitar players. The information form your video is a great resource for those who would like to do it by themselves. Thank you for posting such an informative video.

  4. I’ve done this in the past but thought it was wrong. Everybody says you should wrap the string a couple of times around the post, even with the hook. Do the strings stay well in tune with your method? No risk the string will snap off because of few wraps? It looks very handy, thanks!

  5. I haven’t had my strings snap, and the “wrap many times” thing is a myth — there is no need to do that. Strings stay well in tune. Hope this helps!

  6. No manufacturer ever suggested to multiply the wraps around a string post. For example, in a Fender owner’s manual, they state you shouldn’t go more than 1 1/4 turns around the post, as this actually causes continuous tuning instability. No research has ever proven winding more than this gives any increase to sustain or tuning stability, plus, it looks like a teenager strung the guitar, not a competent player. I promise, it doesn’t help to overwind, been stringing my straits Paul’s and tales this way for nearly 20 years, and is the secret to why my guitars do not fall wildly out of tune when simply strumming chords like my friends’ axes do. Don’t buy into myths, the OM from your guitar’s manufacturer will explain what is best inside.

  7. I have also done your method for many years. Every time I take my guitar into a service shop, people say what are you doing only wrapping once, don’t you know that causes instability? But that’s bull. With multiple wraps, you have multiple points of contact and multiple opportunities for going out of tune. I wrap once, make a right angle at the tuning post, and tune to pitch.

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