Remove the Old Strings
Lay the guitar down and prop up the neck, so you have access to the tuners on the headstock. You can use a rolled-up towel if you don’t have a neck rest designed for the job. Starting with either the 6th or 1st string, loosen the string and remove it from string post.
Bridge pins can be easily damaged by incorrect removal. Sometimes they are bent upwards or pulled on, and this may damage them over time (especially plastic ones). If you have a bridge pin puller, they are designed to remove the pins by pulling straight upwards.
If you don’t have a specific tool, you can use some side cutters like those pictured below. Place the cutter on the bridge saddle with its jaws cradled gently around the head of the bridge pin (don’t tighten or grip hard). Use a little leverage off of the saddle and gently push down on the handle so that the jaws pull up on the bridge pin.
Install the New Strings
Restringing an acoustic guitar has some distinct differences to electrics, so let’s discuss the other end of the string now: the ball end. When installing the ball end, be sure that it is wedged up against the bridge plate on the inside of the guitar.
The bridge pin’s job is to push the ball end to the underside of the guitar when under tension. It is a misconception that the pin itself holds the string down. If you ever notice a pin on the guitar popping up regularly, the string may not be installed correctly. It could also be due to a damaged or worn-out bridge plate, which coincidentally happens over time when strings are not installed correctly.
TIP: Before installing the string, bend the ball end forward slightly. This will assist the string in seating properly under the bridge plate.
- Install the string, so the groove of the bridge pin is pointed towards the neck.
- Hold the pin and gently pull on the string until you feel the ball catch under the bridge.
- Feed the string into the tuning post and tune the string to pitch (as described in How to Restring an Electric Guitar).
Stretch the Strings
Once the strings are installed and properly tuned to pitch, stretch them thoroughly to properly “seat” them. This will minimize slippage and tuning issues. Grab the strings and gently pull up on it up and down the neck, retune and repeat. Once the string stops loosing pitch, stretching is complete- move on to the next.
Lubricate the Nut Slots
Add some Vaseline, guitar nut lubricant, or pencil lead to the nut slots to further improve tuning and prevent binding at the nut.