How To Change Your String Gauges

One of the most asked for questions is how to change the string gauge on your guitar. Typically it’s about putting a heavier gauged set on something that has light gauged strings, but it all depends on what sound you want to achieve.

Strings come in various gauges. The gauge of the string tells you how thick the string is. The Lower the gauge the thinner the string and the higher the gauge the thick the string will be. Most manufactures display the gauge size but the diameter of the high E string (the smallest string).

Electric and acoustic guitars have different strings with the most popular electric guitar gauge being .009 whilst acoustic players will use .010. More experienced guitarists may want to experiment with higher gauges because they offer a better tone however higher gauged strings can be harder to play.

The slots that hold the strings in the nut are cut to the specific sizes to accommodate the gauge of the strings being used. A slot that’s too big will allow the string to vibrate, buzzing within the slot. While a slot that’s too small will bind the string and cause tuning problems.

You will also need to re-intonate your bridge saddles, because of the different sizes used changing your string gauges will also mean you need to re-adjust the placement or intonation of your bridge saddles.

You’ll want to pick up a string winder, this will help you wind and unwind your strings faster and can be found at most music shops. Take your string winder or do it by hand and unwind the top string until it comes off the tune machine.

Insert the new string through the bridge or the bottom of the guitar tremolo system, pull the string out the other side. Insert the string into the tuning machine, make sure you line the string up in the nut and wind it back up. Wind the string up until it doesn’t rattle against the neck, then clip the access string poking out of the tuning machine

If this all sounds a bit scary or difficult any local guitar shop will do it for you.