The cost to restring a guitar depends on three factors.
- The string type that you choose to use on the instrument.
- Whether you have an acoustic, electric, bass, 12-string, or a hybrid that requires service.
- If you decide to do the work yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
The cheapest way to restring your guitar is to do it yourself at home.
As long as you have compatible strings to use for your instrument, the process is usually straightforward and takes about 15 minutes to complete.
This guide looks at how to accomplish that task and how to keep your strings from breaking in the first place.
How Much Does It Cost to Restring a Guitar?
Most guitars can get restrung for $60 or less. Even if you purchase high-quality strings for your instrument, a dual set for a 12-string guitar fits into this price range. If you hire a professional to do the work on your behalf, you could pay up to $100.
When you play the guitar for a while, the strings eventually wear out. These items should get treated as a consumable instead of a one-time expense.
It would be best if you planned to restring your guitar at least twice per year.
It’s usually better to do it at least once per season because temperature and humidity changes cause your guitar to swell and contract naturally.
If you don’t restring your guitar because the strings are still in excellent shape, a thorough tuning is likely necessary.
When you restring your guitar at home by yourself, the only cost is the price of the strings and any shipping charges you pay. If you multiply that expense by four, you’ll get the annual budget to plan for with this expense.
Four Steps to Follow When Restringing a Guitar
When you need to restring your guitar because one of them broke or the sounds are no longer pure, four steps are required for you to follow.
- You must purchase the new guitar strings that you want to use.
- The older strings and broken ones must get removed.
- New guitar strings must get added to the instrument.
- You must retune your guitar after putting on the new strings.
With those steps in mind, here is a closer look at what to expect during each step.
1. Choose Your New Guitar Strings.
If you have an electric or bass guitar, your string choices are relatively straightforward. You’ll need to select the correct gauge for your instrument or playing style.
Thinner strings are usually a little easier to play. If you get a thicker gauge, the product offers more tone and vibration for enhanced sustain.
When you have an acoustic guitar to restring, you can select from classical or acoustic strings for your instrument.
Classical guitar strings receive tension measurements that provide some unique advantages to consider.
|Low/Light Tension Strings||Medium/Normal Tension||High/Strong Tension Strings|
|Offers easier fretting for guitars with higher action.||Strikes a balance between the characteristics of the low or light tension strings and the high or strong ones.||Harder fretting, especially on an aggressive guitar.|
|Has less projection.||Enhanced projection and volume.|
|Provides less volume.||A stronger attack with less tone and sustain.|
|Creates the foundation for a smoother legato.||Offers more rhythm and beat options.|
|Has more buzzing on the frets to manage.||Can cause damage to fragile instruments, bridges, and necks.|
If you select nylon classical strings, you’ll receive help with folk, bossa nova, and classical music.
When you need something closer to rock or blues, the traditional acoustic strings are a better selection.
You’ll find that each material composes a different sound type that your guitar can produce.
- Bronze strings provide brightness that rings clear and true, but the product ages quickly because the materials oxidize.
- Phosphor bronze strings offer a darker, crisp sound with more lifetime strums to use.
- Aluminum bronze puts more emphasis on the bass frequencies while developing crisper high tones that provide extra clarity.
- Brass strings tend to have too much brightness, making them better suited for fingerpicking or strumming.
- Polymer strings have less brightness and sustain, but they make up for those losses with extra warmth.
- Silk strings have delicate tones that require a softer touch, although the steel core still provides an authentic sound.
Discovering the right strings for your guitar is most of the battle. It would help if you considered the instrument’s age, your preferred tone, the playing style, and the body shape to create the perfect combination.
2. Remove the Old Strings from Your Guitar.
Once you’ve selected the best strings for your guitar, it is time to restring the instrument. The best way to accomplish that task is to follow these specific steps.
- Place a towel on the floor to prevent your instrument from getting scratched. This step also protects your tile, hardwood, or linoleum. Even if you have carpeting, you’ll want to start here to avoid a static charge creation.
- You’ll need to place a second towel on the floor to provide your guitar’s headstock with some extra support.
- The best way to remove the strings is to unwind them from the headstock. If the tension is too strong there, you can use wire cutters to snip them near the top.
- You must loosen the strings one at a time, starting with any that broke on you while playing.
- After the strings are unwound and loose, you must pop the fixing pegs out to remove the item.
Some guitars don’t have fixing pegs, relying on a “knot” that keeps the string in its place.
It might be easier to have a professional restring your instrument if you’ve never tried this task before.
Place the fixing pegs on your towel in the order you removed them to ensure the tone and quality sound the same once you get the new strings on the instrument.
3. Install the New Guitar Strings.
Once you’ve got all of the strings off of your guitar, it is time to start putting on the new ones.
It helps to start with the ball end of each string so that you place them in the correct peg hole.
The correct guitar string order follows this order: E-A-D-G-B-E.
If you have numbers on your guitar strings instead of the note, you’ll need to know which one goes where.
Most string manufacturers start with the six-string because it is the thickest one. That means your order would be this: 6-5-4-3-2-1.
If you have cipher strings for your guitar, the numbers would be in the opposite order: 1-2-3-4-5-6.
Whenever you have doubts about the order because of how the strings get labeled, just remember that the thinnest ones are the furthers away from you.
As you place the ball end of each string into its appropriate peg hole, make sure it is firmly in place before continuing. The top-end must go into the right tune hole to give you a straightforward installation.
Once you have the string secured, start turning it counterclockwise to begin tightening it to the instrument. It’s going to take a few turns before you start seeing some results.
Don’t try to tune each string immediately. You’ll want to leave some slack with the installation on all six so that you can complete the final step relatively quickly.
It’s okay to have the new strings firm at this step, but they should not be over tightened to the point where you can pick out specific notes.
4. Tune Your New Strings.
Tuning your new strings depends on what notes you intend to play. If you follow the standard process with your installation, the tuning will be true to the format of E-A-D-G-B-E. That means each string will play that note.
Turn the string clockwise or counterclockwise to make the appropriate adjustments.
You’ll need to continue with each of the six strings until you get them all positioned accurately.
If you don’t have a guitar tuner at home to use, an online option is available from Fender for free. It allows you to hear a pure tone from your computer, laptop, or mobile device.
Strum the string to listen to a comparison note, moving it clockwise or counterclockwise to match.
This process works for all guitars, including electrics and basses. You can even tune a ukulele this way.
Each guitar can get tuned to a different note sequence depending on what you prefer to play. It’s up to you to determine the key that you choose.
If you don’t do the standard tuning, the next popular option is to set the instrument for what is called the “Drop D.”
You would set it for D-A-D-G-B-E to hit the correct notes. Your chord fingerings would remain relatively the same.
Should I Hire a Professional to Restring a Guitar?
Although restringing a guitar is a straightforward job, some musicians prefer some professional help for this task.
You can take your guitar into most music stores to receive help with your tuning. If you have a national chain, such as a Guitar Center, in your hometown, the service price is typically in the $20 to $40 range.
It is usually a common courtesy to purchase the guitar strings at the store where you intend to ask for help. You might get some comments about restringing an instrument with cheap $4 products if that’s the route you take.
Although it can be a little nervy to restring a guitar, it isn’t an impossible job. If you keep this guide available throughout the task, you’ll get the job done faster than you thought was possible.