Change Your Stratocaster’s Strings
A surprisingly high number of guitar players don’t know how to change electric guitar strings properly! Here’s a simple guide to getting it right every time.
NOTICE: Everyone has different ideas about the best way to change guitar strings — so, don’t take the following as "gospel". This is just one man’s opinion about the best way to handle this task.
1. When to change your strings?
Change strings regularly, even if they don’t break. How often you change your strings depends on what sound you go for, and how often you play. If you’re playing 2 hours a day you need to change them as often as every 2-3 weeks. If you play in a band you may want a new set every time you play a gig.
Some people don’t like to change their guitar strings and prefer the sound of "old" strings.
Strings are made of steel, so oil and dirt from your fingers accumulates and makes the sound dull, but humidity causes corrosion as well, even when you’re not playing.
It’s not difficult to change strings, but you may need a few tries to get it right, and you may snap a few strings at first, so you could practice on old strings before getting the new ones out! Breaking your new E string when you’ve just bought them is not funny!
2. What string gauge to choose.
Selecting the string gauge you use on your Stratocaster is completely a matter of personal taste. Thinner strings are easier to bend, but thicker strings can sound fuller. Most folks choose their string gauge by experience in how they feel and sound. Changing the gauge (thickness of string) will mean adjusting the guitar action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard), so stick to the same gauge if you can unless you have a reason to change. Most people experiment with different gauges and then settle on one set size. Then they setup their guitar — or have a guitar tech setup their guitar– to accommodate their chosen gauge.
Very occasionally, you might get a bad string in the pack that won’t tune properly, in which case you should just replace it. But as I said that is only occasionally.
3. Removing the old strings.
4. Clean the fretboard while you’re at it.
Once you have 3 of the strings off, clean the fingerboard and frets, and remove any accumulated dirt and grease. You may even need to scrape this off, if so be VERY gentle! Twice a year oil the fretboard lightly to moisturize it and prevent any cracking. Then clean the other side when the other 3 strings are removed.
5. Finally, putting on the new strings.
| Here’s a YouTube video that should echo the method discussed above:
Video Courtesy of Troy Dameron on YouTube