The guitar can be a lot of fun to play. But the instrument requires some ongoing maintenance, such as when you break a string.
When you break a string, the only thing you can do is replace it. You can take your axe to a professional, or you can replace the string yourself, but either way it will cost you something.
In this guide, we will look at how much it costs to restring a guitar.
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How Much Does It Cost To Restring A Guitar? – Quick Answer
The Cost To Get Your Guitar Restringed At A Shop Or By A Professional
If you hire a professional to restring your guitar for you, it shouldn’t cost more than $25 to $50. Keep in mind, though, some guitar techs have an hourly rate that exceeds this amount, and in some cases, may charge the higher amount.
The Cost To Restring Your Own Guitar
The bare minimum you need to restringing your own guitar is a pack of strings, which usually cost about $7 to $17. A pair of string cutters, string winder, and tuner can come in handy though, and that can add another $24 to $53 (or more) to your total, depending on which products you purchase.
String cutters and winders are a one-time purchase, however, so strings are your only ongoing cost.
How To Restring A Guitar
This is a topic we’ve covered previously on Music Industry How To in detail. We’d suggest referring to the following guides:
That said, we’ll offer a brief overview of the process here:
- Loosen the old strings on your guitar
- Cut or remove the old strings (in some cases, it’s best to replace one string at a time – more on this later)
- Open your new pack of strings
- Feed your strings through the bridge, insert them in the bridge, or tie them to the bridge (this varies based on the type of guitar you have)
- Feed the end of the string (without the ball end) through the string post on your headstock
- Unless you’re using locking tuners, it’s a good idea to leave a little slack before tightening
- Add a bit of a kink to the string at the string post
- Tighten the string using the machine head (turn in a counterclockwise direction)
- Tune your strings (using a tuner)
- Stretch your strings and keep tuning until your strings hold tune
All strings tend to break after a certain amount of use, so restringing your guitar is a good skill for any guitarist to learn.
Tools You Need To Restring A Guitar
As noted earlier, the only tool you need to replace your strings is a new pack of strings.
That said, other tools can prove helpful. Here we’ll look at the accessories you need to restring a guitar and the approximate cost of each.
If you want to restring your guitar, you will need a new pack of strings. It can’t hurt to buy a few backup sets, as strings tend to lose their life with usage, and most will begin to lose life and break over time.
Strings are relatively inexpensive. Most packs only cost about $6 to $16. You will generally pay more for specialized strings though, like coated strings.
Strings come in different gauges, so it’s always a good idea to check what gauge of strings your guitar comes with. That makes it easier to find a pack of strings that’s suited to your guitar and it’s current setup.
Most electric guitars come with 9 gauge, and acoustics with 12 gauge. Generally, you should replace your current strings with the same gauge of strings.
If you’d like to switch to a different gauge, then it’s not a bad idea to take your guitar to a tech to have it set up. They will be able to configure your guitar the way you like it, without sacrificing action.
If you went from 9 gauge to 11 gauge on an electric guitar, for example, you would notice a considerable difference in tension, and may even find it harder to play. Heavier strings, in general, are a little harder to play.
That said, a tech can do a setup on your guitar to ease the tension on the neck and adjust the action the way you like it. A proper setup can prevent unintended damage to your guitar too.
It has been my experience that the quality of strings differs based on brand. Most guitarists end up experimenting with a variety of strings before they find their favorite. Likely, you will go on your own journey.
But here’s a little guidance:
When it comes to electric guitar, D’Addario has some great products to offer, and there was one time my tech set up my guitar with a specific set. I wish I knew what it was, because it quickly became my favorite, but I don’t.
In general, my favorite for electric guitars is Fender Super Bullets, because breakage is minimal.
For acoustic guitars, II usually go with the D’Addario phosphor bronze lights.
Strings are generally secured at the bridge and string posts on your guitar. So, you need to loosen at least one side completely to be able to remove the string.
String cutters can make your life a little simpler, as they allow you to cut the strings at the middle, which can make extraction on both ends a little easier. You can also use string cutters to cut off excess after you’ve put new strings on your guitar (there is usually some excess at the string posts).
String cutters are not expensive, and you can even find winder and cutter combos. String cutters start at about $6 and can go up to $15 or more.
String cutters aren’t essential. But it certainly can’t hurt to keep a pair around.
String winders make it easier for you to tighten your strings and get them in tune. This job can be done manually, but it generally takes more time and effort.
As noted earlier, you can find string cutter and winder combos. If that’s your preference, you can save some money and get what you need for a nominal fee.
String winders cost about $6 to $30, but you will only pay more if you want a powered peg winder. These can get the job done even faster. But you probably don’t need a powered winder unless you’re constantly replacing strings.
A tuner could be considered essential, especially if you have no other tone reference (like a piano or a pitch pipe). That said, you can find guitar tuners online, and they work quite well if you have a good ear. Tuners, in general, help you to be more exact in your tuning.
As you can imagine, there are many guitar tuner solutions out there, from smaller battery-powered units that clamp onto your headstock, to handheld tuners and even pedals.
Tuners start at about $7, but you can easily pay $100 for a compact pedal. The other practical solution is a handheld tuner (most of them allow you to plug your guitar directly into them to check your tuning), for about $20. These may come with other features, like a metronome.
Although not essential for restringing your guitar, a tuner is something that should be in every guitarist’s arsenal – especially if you’re performing in a professional capacity.
Is It Okay To Remove All Strings On My Guitar Simultaneously?
Most experts say “no,” but I’m going to offer a slightly different answer.
It depends on your bridge. With most guitars, you can safely cut and remove all strings at once, and the sudden release in tension shouldn’t cause any bowing or damage to your neck.
But many bridges on the electric guitar are secured by springs. And I have personally had it where a spring came loose and popped off because of the release in tension. Trust me when I say getting that spring back on can be a world of hurt.
That said, in most cases, you should be fine. Just be sure to loosen your strings before cutting them. If you don’t, you could end up hurting yourself and your guitar.
How Often Should I Replace The Strings On My Guitar?
This depends a lot on how much you play, how your guitar is stored, as well as the environment you live in.
Some people play several hours per day. Some only play for a few minutes per week. The more you play, though, the sooner you will need to replace your strings.
How your guitar is stored can make a difference since the grease and grime on your fingers can rub off on the strings, causing corrosion and damage.
And so far as the environment is concerned, the elements can be harsh on strings, just as they can be on wood (most guitars are made of wood).
There are no hard and fast rules for replacing your strings, but if you play a lot, once every two to three months is advisable (some strings won’t even last that long). If you only play here and there, then you may not need to replace your strings for six months to a year.
How Do I Know When To Replace My Strings?
There are certain signs you’ll start to notice, such as the following:
- String breakage. If a string breaks, then you already have your answer.
- Wear and tear. You may notice indents in your strings (from fret wear) or you may even see that they are beginning to unwind. Strings in this condition might not be too far off from breaking.
- Discoloration. Bronze strings may begin to turn brown after extended use. Steel or nickel coated strings will begin to look discolored and lifeless in appearance over time.
- Sound. If the strings sound bad, or if they don’t keep tune, they are starting to wear down. In some cases, the strings may even feel harder to play as they age.
- Gunk underneath the strings. If you run your fingers beneath the strings, you may see gunk and rust fall off.
You may notice other issues with the string after extended usage. Either way, it might be time to consider a restringing.
How Long Does It Take To Replace The Strings On My Guitar?
If this is your first time restringing your guitar, it would be wise to set aside 30 to 60 minutes. If you’re referencing a how-to article, then it’s only natural that the process is going to take a little longer.
Once you get good at it, it shouldn’t take you much longer than 20 to 30 minutes, and it’s possible to do in much less time too.
Some guitarists are legendary for breaking a string while performing and replacing it in seconds.
How Do I Fix A Broken String?
In most cases, you will need to replace it.
There isn’t much point in repairing a broken string, and even if you could, it’s probably just going to break again.
If you want to inject life back into an old set of strings, boiling them in water may help. But we suspect the effect would be minimal. In many ways, it would still be easier to replace old strings with a new set.
Is It Better To Replace All Strings At Once Rather Than One At A Time?
My first guitar teacher told me that once one string goes, the rest are soon to follow. This isn’t always the case, but one string can be a good indicator of the general state of the rest of your strings too.
So, in most cases it’s not a bad idea to think about replacing all your strings at once.
In my experience, this isn’t always necessary, and you can get away with replacing one string at a time. Of course, you will probably notice a difference in tone. The newer string will sound brighter and punchier, versus the older strings, which will sound lifeless by comparison. Not ideal for professional engagements.
Some guitar stores do keep single strings around, just in case, so you can always ask if you’re just looking to replace one string. This isn’t always cost effective, but in some cases, they may give you the string for free.
Is It Possible To Get My Guitar Restrung For Free?
In most cases, no.
But if you’re a newbie who recently purchased a guitar at the store, and broke a string, you might be able to convince the staff to put one new string on your guitar for free or for a nominal fee.
Many people working at music stores are musicians themselves and may have experience restringing guitars, so they may be able to help you without sending your guitar off to their in-house tech.
Can My Guitar Teacher Restring My Guitar For Me?
In my many years of experience as a guitar teacher, I have been asked to do restring my student’s guitar more than a few times.
Since it can be a valuable learning opportunity for the student, I usually oblige.
That said, be sure you’re paying attention and learn how to do it yourself. Otherwise, it’s a lesson wasted, and you don’t get your money back!
The Price When Restringing A Guitar, Final Thoughts
You can either replace a string yourself or take it to a professional to have it restrung.
A pack of strings may only cost about $12, but if you need to buy additional accessories, you could end up spending $50 or more. That said, you shouldn’t need to buy the same tools again.
In most cases, a professional can replace your strings for $25 to $50. But at times it might come at a higher premium, based on the guitar tech’s hourly rate.
You can find the exact steps to restringing an acoustic or electric guitar in the guides linked above.
You should now have everything you need to be able to decide what’s right for you. Have fun playing guitar!