How to Restring Your Classical Guitar in 5 Easy Steps

Like any instrument, regular maintenance is essential for the guitar, and part of this is restringing it. Without this routine care, the tone and intonation will be affected by a build-up of sweat, dirt, oils and dead skin found on your fingers.

With this type of build-up, your instrument will become more difficult to play, and the sound will become dull. It’s relatively easy to do, so come with us as we take you through it step-by-step.

Restringing your Acoustic Guitar for Optimum Tuning

The correct care of your instrument is critical to how well it stays in tune and performs. Follow the simple steps below for your acoustic and classical six-string to maximise its stability.

Note: It's important to remember that this process is just for classical and acoustic models. The same process will look slightly different for an electric guitar.

1. Remove the strings

Before you begin string maintenance on your instrument, lay it down and remove each string one by one. Using a winder will make this process a lot easier.

We recommend that you leave a couple on for stability of the neck of the instrument. However, if you're going to do a thorough clean, too, there’s no harm in taking them all off at once.

2. Insert and twist

Feed the string into the bridge (the end with the hole). Create a loop around the cord once you've brought it out from the bridge. Twist over and pull the line tight to ensure it's resting at the rear of the bridge.

3. Lubricate to avoid breakage

Before taking any further steps, we recommend lubricating the nut as it will help keep your cord tuned and leading to fewer breakages. Apply the lubricant to the slots of the nut.

4. Wind - Feed - Wind

Once the bridge end is secured and lubricated, the next step is to work on the neck. Don’t trim the cords just yet. First, you need to:

  • Extend the strands past the machine head by around 8-10cm.
  • Feed through the machine head, leaving approximately 3-4cm unwound.
  • Wind the tuning peg using a locking hold, while the other hand holds the tension.

The locking hold is the most secure method of wrapping the cord around the tuning peg. Its purpose is to bring the extra strands back around and under as it winds around the peg. This is especially critical on strands with no windings, usually in the form of plain steel or classical nylon treble.

5. Loop - Tune - Trim

Now we're onto the final steps, where you need to loop the strands with the end that's sticking out and feeding it back through the hole and lock it in place.

From here, all that is left to do is beginning the process of tuning. Again it’s a must that you maintain tension to avoid contact with the nut. Once the guitar sounds the way you want it to, trim the excess cord at least 1cm from the machine head.

Tips for Optimum Results

When restringing your acoustic or classical instrument, there are several actions you can take that will ensure it's done right.

Tip 1: Locking Loops

When working on your steel cord acoustic guitar, make sure the ball end of the line is firmly seated under the bridge by pushing down on the bridge pin while pulling up on the cord.

At the bridge, it’s essential to create a locking loop to ensure against slippage. It is common to loop the plain nylon treble strands under two times and then wind at least once. This will ensure that when tension is applied and securely locks in place.

Tip 2: Stretching

When ensuring proper stretching, use your thumb and forefingers to gently stretch each line across its entire length. Tune it to pitch and repeat the stretching procedure two or three times. This will help stabilise the nylon more quickly.

Care must be taken not to stretch them too aggressively. In general, nylon strands need more stretching time before they "settle-in."

Tip 3: Lifespan

Not all your strands will have the same lifespan. It's not uncommon for classical plain nylon treble lines (1st, 2nd, & 3rd) to last longer than the wound bass options (4th, 5th & 6th).

You will find that most professional classical guitarists will go through two to three sets of wound bass cords for every set of plain nylon.

Tip 4: Selecting a Pick

Selecting the right type of guitar picks can help reduce string breakage. If your pick has started wearing down to a sharp edge, this could be causing damage with every pluck or strum.

When you next carry out care and maintenance of your guitar, follow these guidelines and tips to make it a whole lot easier for you. For any questions, get in touch with us here at the Melbourne Music Centre either in-store or online.