How to Change the Strings on your Classical Guitar?

If you are a beginner guitarist you may be intimidated by the thought of restringing your guitar, but it is a skill worth learning. There are several ways to do it, but with a little patience and practice, you should be done in less than an hour. As you gain confidence you can explore different methods, but for now we will go over the basics. At the end you will also find a video of Neli restringing her classical guitar – check it out to see how it all goes down.

What you need 

Essentially, you need just a new pair of strings – nylon ones that is. The tension created by steel strings is much higher and can damage a classical guitar. A string winder, a wire clipper  (or some scissors) and a tuner will also come in handy. This is completely optional, but a soft cloth and some lemon oil for cleaning the fretboard of the guitar is also good to have.  

Step 1: Remove The Old Strings 

Your first task is to remove the existing strings. There is a lot of tension on those and releasing it suddenly could damage your guitar. It is best to unwind each string a little to release the tension and then completely unwind them one by one at the headstock and remove them. Alternatively, after unwinding them a bit you can cut them carefully for ease of unwinding and then remove them one by one.  

Optional step: Clean your guitar

When the strings are removed, you have the opportunity to clean parts of the guitar that are usually blocked. Don’t underestimate how much dust and dirt can accumulate on the guitar in even a short amount of time.

For the body, the main area to clean is the section right around the bridge. On the fretboard you should focus on the individual frets, usually most of the gunk builds around the metal frets. You can use a suitable oil in the cleaning process (you can buy those at any guitar shop). If you do use an oil, make sure the fretboard is not too oily and let it dry for a bit and wipe off any excess before putting the new strings on.

Step 2: Secure the Strings at the Bridge

Once all the old strings are removed and the guitar is clean, it’s time to open your new pack of strings. Place the guitar on your lap or a secure surface and take your first string. Take the end of the string and pass it through the appropriate hole in the bridge. Pull it through until you have enough string to work with – a couple of centimeters. Then take the end of the string tail and loop it to the right underneath the part of the string that’s above the bridge hole. Then pass the free end under the loop you have created one or more times to secure the knot. Ideally 2-3 loops for the pure nylon strings and 1-2 loops for the wound strings. Once you are satisfied with the amount of knots, pull gently, but sturdily to fasten everything and position the rest of the string on the underside of the bridge. Threaded this way, it can be secured by the wrap of next string.  

Move on to Step 3 and come back to this Step for the next string. Continue with the same process for the rest of the strings. Just make sure that as you put more strings on, each string tail gets secured by the next string. This is a more secure method, but is not compulsory.

Step 3: Secure the Strings at the Head 

After that, It is time to move to the other end of the guitar. Take the free end of the string and feed it through the hole of the appropriate tuning peg on the head of the guitar. Now you have two options to further secure the new string: you can feed it back through the hole a second time, or you can thread the string through a loop. 

For the first option, wrap the string around the peg with your fingers and pull it towards you through the space between the head and the peg. Then, stick the string end back through the same side of the hole you first put it through. But do keep in mind that not every guitar tuner peg hole is wide enough to fit the string through a second time, especially the thicker strings. 

For the second option, pass the string through the hole from underneath and pull it through leaving a little slack. Then pull the string back towards yourself, thread it through the loop you created and fasten the knot.

Whichever way you choose, then you need to continue turning the tuning peg and guide the string to ensure that it is neatly coiled and that each coil is adjacent to and not lying over the previous one.  4 to 6 wraps is enough and you can trim the rest. 

Step 4: Tune, tune, tune

Once a string is secured at the bridge and tuning peg, the only thing left is to tune it. Of course you can do it your preferred way, if you need some tips HERE you can check out how to do it by ear and HERE in a few other ways.

And you are DONE!

This all may still sound a bit confusing, so here is also a video of Neli restringing her classical guitar and explaining the process every step of the way:


If you want some further reading materials on the topic, check out also these articles here and here. For more guides, tips and tricks we invite you to join Neli’s Guitar Family and subscribe to her YouTube channel! If you are ready to dive into the world of guitar (or ukulele) you can sign up for a lesson HERE – the first one is 50% off!

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Types of Guitar Strings: All you Need to Know (Part I)
Types of Guitar Strings: All you Need to Know (Part II)
Guitarist of the Month: Alex Bruce

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