In this Sound Pure Gear Tip, guitar specialist Michael Buckley runs us through his process for changing strings using locking tuners.

Michael explains that the most important thing about changing strings is making sure everything is taught and running in line. You’ll experience tuning issues if your strings are getting caught or snagged.

To help with this, Michael recommends using the 5-4-3-3-2-1 method. With this method, imagine that your tuning pegs are the face of a clock and adjust the holes of the tuning pegs as indicated in the image below. The reasoning behind this method is that the fatter strings don’t need as intense of an angle as the thinner strings.

Michael also likes to change his strings with his guitar in the playing position. If you tune your guitar and change your strings with your guitar laying down, you might have tuning stability issues. It’s also important to remember that temperature and humidity can affect tuning stability as well.

He also likes to change his strings in the following order to maintain balance: A, B, low E, G, D, and then high E.

Now it’s time to actually change your strings. Here are Michael’s steps:

  1. Make sure the hole in the tuning peg is straight and keep tension on the string.
  2. Loosen the locking tuner.
  3. Slide the string out through the back of the guitar.
  4. Make sure you have the correct string and thread the new string through the back of the guitar. The ball end of the new string should be taught against the bridge.
  5. Turn the tuning peg so that the hole is at the correct angle (see above image).
  6. Thread the string through the hole in the peg. Making sure the ball end is flush, pull the string taught.
  7. Tighten the locking tuner. You don’t have to do this all the way, but just enough so that it’s holding.
  8. Make sure the string is running in the bridge groove, then bring up the pitch and stretch out the string. Keep repeating this step until the string is in tune.
  9. Once you’re in tune, clip the end of the string.
  10. Tighten the locking tuner, making sure that it is secure without being overly tight. Michael likes to use a cloth to do this so he doesn’t cut up his fingers on the grooves of the tuner. 

Constantly stretching the strings as you bring up the pitch is very important. The more you stretch the string, the longer it’s going to stay in tune.

Michael likes to put the string between his forefinger and his thumb, and push in different directions across the speaking length of the string. You could also pull down on the string with your left hand and pull up with your right hand. Michael also likes to do bends at every fret on the string, going chromatically all the way down to the nut.

He also likes to compress the tremolo bar after every adjustment he makes to the tuning pegs. Doing this helps the string to remember what position it’s supposed to stay in.

Again, it’s also important to remember that temperature, position, how forcefully you play, and the type of strings you’re using all play an important role in your instrument staying in tune.

We hope these tips help, and feel free to contact a guitar specialist with any questions you might have!