Help change my acoustic guitar strings!
November 23, 2006 6:12 PM   Subscribe

GuitarStrings filter: I'm a noob. Forgive me. Why can't I change these acoustic strings? (picture inside)

Like musical daddy long legs!

I've been playing guitar for quite some time now, but I've always had other people do my strings for me. Time to graduate.

I've been wanting to change my acoustic's for a while, but I can't seem to get the damn pegs out. I unwidn the string, and then...well, you can see the picture.

Do I need to friggin' pry 'em out? What's up with this? I don't wanna break my geetar. All the things I've read are vague and unhelpful.

Thanks in advance!
posted by Lockeownzj00 to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yep you need to pry them out. You can buy special tools for this. But I ususly use a pair of scissors to grip either side of the pin and then use the bridge piece to pivot on. They should just pop out. Dont worry about breaking or scratching the pins. They are really cheap to replace should you need to.
posted by gergtreble at 6:18 PM on November 23, 2006

needlenose pliers always are my string changing tool.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:22 PM on November 23, 2006

i've never had a guitar with that odd little peg arrangement

however i have one piece of advice ... you should not be removing and replacing them all at once, but one at a time ... this saves wear and tear on your guitar from differing string tension ... do one, get it strung up, then move on to the next ...
posted by pyramid termite at 6:23 PM on November 23, 2006


you might be able to reach inside the sound hole and physicaly push the pegs out. Depends how thick your arm is!
posted by gergtreble at 6:24 PM on November 23, 2006

Thats good advice pyramid termite. The neck is supposed to be tensioned at all times.
posted by gergtreble at 6:25 PM on November 23, 2006

If you have a winder, most of them have a notch in them, useful for this very purpose.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:26 PM on November 23, 2006

I find that if you grab onto the string, near the peg, and push it down past the peg and into the body of the guitar, you can pull the string sharply back out and that action will loosen the peg enough so that you can remove it.

This might be one of those actions that is harder to explain than it is to do. The goal here is to get enough of the string back into the body beneath the peg that pulling it back out will cause enough friction on the peg to loosen it.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:35 PM on November 23, 2006

I don't know if this is THE best way, but I do it with a thin screwdriver - if you follow pyramid termite's advice and do it one string at a time, you can use the peg next to the one you're working on as fulcrum. Easier done than said! :)
posted by Ira.metafilter at 7:12 PM on November 23, 2006

1) take a pair of plyers, grip the top of the peg (carefully..not to hard) and gently twist and pull peg out of hole. then put ball end of new string into hole and replace the peg (give peg a firm push to lodge it in).

2) at the other end of the instrument, take the loose end of the string and give it 3 of 4 wraps around the tuning barrel ~then~ insert string through hole in barrel. commence tightening the string up to pitch.

(as pointed out by p.termite, always do 1 string at a time.)

There are several other small details which may be best learned by closely observing someone who's done it a lot. (hard to put into writing..)

also, if you happen to break a peg, (done it) it's no big thing..guitar store will have replacements...and you just reach into the soundhole and
push the broken piece out.
posted by The_Auditor at 7:20 PM on November 23, 2006

The Leatherman Wave is a guitarist's best friend, especially when changing strings :)
posted by chrissyboy at 7:26 PM on November 23, 2006

I'd recommend getting a string winder. When I can't find mine, I usually use a spoon, which is satisfyingly primitive for some reason.
posted by danb at 8:11 PM on November 23, 2006

This image gives you a great view of the notch I talked about.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:35 PM on November 23, 2006

Funny, I had this same experience in 1991, but there were no tubes to go ask. It's weird to think then I had no idea there would ever be something like askme.

Enjoy your new guitar!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:58 PM on November 23, 2006

I've been playing classical guitar forever. But not that well, I should add. Anyway, my two pence worth:

Pry the pegs out with pins or scissors (as has been said), and then what I do is tie the end of the string in a knot, so it's less likely to squeeze out of the peg hole. Then stick the other end of the string in the notch in your winder, make sure the string rests in the appropriate groove on the neck, then wind, wind, wind until the tension is tight enough.

There's probably a more professional way of doing it, though!
posted by unmusic at 12:26 AM on November 24, 2006

first, see if you can push them out from behind. Second use the string winder.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:05 AM on November 24, 2006

Frank Ford (of Gryphon Stringed Instruments) has a wonderful resource of online "owner's manuals" for guitars, mandos and banjos at Basically it includes a vast collection of his online how-to guides, information on aspects of the instrument, and articles on care and maintenance with instructions and pictures.

Here's his owner's manual for acoustic guitar. Specifically, it sounds like these guides will be of help (both have step-by-step instructions with photos):
  • Extracting Tight Bridge Pins - Shows how to use a pair of wire cutters to pull out the pins -- further down the page one of the images shows part of a green "plastic pry device" which is a string winder that the others mentioned. Since this is your first time doing this, I echo the others and recommend the string winder and then the cutters as a last resort. As everyone said, the string winder is handy for pulling out the pins, doubles as a string winder! It will make your wrists happier. (If you can, spring for one with a head that snugly fits the tuners on your guitar.)
  • Restringing Clinic: Steel String Guitar - The guide shows that he's removed all of the old strings before putting in the new ones -- I'll third pyramid termite and generally recommend changing them one at a time. But sometimes they'll all have to be removed to make way for cleaning the fingerboard and frets.
(From your flickr photo, I'd guess that your guitar doesn't have a slotted headstock, but just in case it does, or you have to work on one in the future, here's the restringing clinic for slotted headstocks.)

There's nothing like the sound of new strings on your guitar, but there's nothing like the sound of new strings on your guitar after you've put them on yourself. Good luck and enjoy the results!
posted by macguffin at 1:12 AM on November 24, 2006

I use a standard pliers, but with a piece of soft cloth over the head of the pin to keep from scratching or crushing the pins, which are bone (on a good instrument) or plastic. A good tug is all it takes. Slow and steady as you pull.
posted by spitbull at 6:00 AM on November 24, 2006

Make sure you know the rest of the drill too, dude. Don't wind the strong over itself at the headstock on the last couple of turns. You only need a few inches of winding, so if you need to trim the string, a wire cutter does the trick. Wind all the strings in the same direction off the tuner pegs, with the strings coming down the inside of the headstock.
posted by spitbull at 6:02 AM on November 24, 2006

I managed to get a little plastic tool from a guy I know who worked in a music shop. He had a couple around from some make of guitar string, and they really are the perfect thing to get the pegs out with. Before that it was pliers or a teaspoon. The little plasticy doohicky though levers them out with no effort and no worry about scratching up the body.
posted by opsin at 6:57 AM on November 24, 2006

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