Jim DeCola restrings a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar
| March 22, 2024 |

Video: How To Restring and Tune Your Acoustic Guitar

Professional tips to make acoustic guitar string changes smooth and frustration-free

In this episode of “Gibson’s Guide to Guitar Setup and Maintenance,” you’ll learn how to change your acoustic guitar strings like a professional. Gibson Master luthier, Jim DeCola, demonstrates different methods to safely secure the strings at the headstock and bridge of your acoustic guitar for reliable performance and rock-solid tuning.

Selecting the appropriate strings is crucial and depends on your playing style, tone preference, and the guitar’s characteristics. Consider the string material, gauge, and tension. Lighter strings may be easier to play, while heavier gauges offer a fuller tone. Experimenting with different gauges and string composition (the blend of materials) can help you find the perfect match for your acoustic guitar.

Whether you are a beginner learning to change your acoustic guitar strings for the first time, or a seasoned professional, Jim offers pro tips that will make the process clear, more efficient, and ultimately provide your acoustic guitar with better tuning stability and tone.

Restringing your acoustic guitar is a rewarding skill that improves your instrument’s performance and timbre. You’ll ensure your guitar sounds its best by choosing the right strings, preparing adequately, and following Jim’s steps carefully. Regular maintenance and attentive care will keep your strings sounding fresh and extend the time between restringing.

Don’t forget to wipe down your strings after each playing session to increase their longevity and maintain brightness, and be mindful of how open tunings may radically change the tension on the top of your cherished instrument—if the tension is too high, the bridge may begin to lift or your guitar might begin to suffer from abnormal belly bulge, eventually damaging the top and necessitating repair or restoration.

How often should I restring my acoustic guitar?

This depends on how often you play and the acidity of your sweat, but a general guideline would be to change your acoustic guitar strings every three to six months. However, some players and producers prefer the ‘dead’ sound of old strings and there are no hard and fast rules.

Can I mix different brands or gauges of strings on my guitar?

While it is possible to mix brands and gauges, it’s usually recommended to use a consistent set for balanced tone and tension. Gibson offers a wide range of string gauges with a high standard of quality. That being said, if you’re a budding Joni Mitchell with wild alternate tunings, you could mix gauges and even string compositions to elevate or subdue certain frequencies on certain strings. It would all depend on the effect you’re going for. Nashville tuning is also a consideration.

Why do new strings go out of tune quickly?

New strings need time to stretch and settle but if properly stretched and retuned following installation, you shouldn’t experience any serious issues. Stretch your strings in gently to avoid breakages—especially the unwound strings!

Should I change all the strings at once?

Yes, changing all of the strings at once ensures consistent sound quality and playability, but as Jim points out, doing three at a time helps keep the bridge saddle in place during the restringing process. However, there are times when a high-E string can snap from heavy strumming. It’s perfectly fine to just replace one string to manage your overall maintenance costs, especially if it was a reasonably fresh set in the first place.

For all your guitar maintenance needs, check out Gibson’s entire line of strings for electric, acoustic, and bass guitar.