Guitar Strings in Action

Watch guitarist Jason Kottke pluck each individual string and strum a few chords with a video camera inside his guitar. Fascinating!


When and How to Change Your Strings

Many beginning guitarists are at a loss when it comes to changing strings, but this task is not as daunting as it seems and it is a nice opportunity to learn more about your guitar.

There is usually no need to change your strings unless one has broken, or you have an upcoming concert (in this case, new strings are always a must). If a single string does break, most of the time it is better to change all six strings rather than the one. More times than not, the other five strings lay around for six months, exposed to the elements and they become rusty.

As you change the strings take only one or two off at a time, dust near the bridge on the part of the body that lies under the strings and remove smudges on the neck that are exposed by the vacant string. with a slightly dampened non-abrasive cloth (water only please) then replace the string.

Don’t take off all six strings as the guitar was made to have tension pulling the neck and head and removing all strings removes this tension (the guitar will not implode or break if you have all six strings off, but in any case, it’s better to just do one at a time).

A picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few step by step videos on changing your guitar strings:



Tuning is often something beginning guitarists struggle with—until they learn how to manage their electronic tuner. This is where the learning stops for many, but really we should be training our ears how to listen for strings that are in or out of tune. To do this, find a quiet place and try playing two of the same note (both separately and at the same time) and listen to the vibration. Take your time and play these strings together and separately multiple times. If you listen closely enough, over time you will develop the ability to hear the pulsations of the string vibrating. These are the high and low points of the sound wave (crest and trough for you science buffs). If one string is pulsating slightly faster than the other, then it is slightly sharper (a higher sound). If it is pulsating at a slower rate, then it is flatter (a lower sound). Adjust the tuning pegs until the two strings vibrate at the same rate. If you use this method in conjunction with using your electronic tuner (to make sure your guitar is tuned to the rest of the world) soon you will see yet more proof that humans have the advantage over computers! 


The Human Guitar?!

The guitar is shaped like a human. Many of its parts are even named: head, neck, shoulders, waist, hips and back. Guitarists tend to name their instruments and each guitar has a personality of its own. Different types of guitars suit different types of music even if they are similar to the untrained eye!

Google guitar names and see what your favorite guitarist named their guitar.