Some Things to Know When Changing Acoustic Guitar Strings

I recently bought a used acoustic bass guitar. The strings on it were fine, but I wanted a different kind (flat-wound, coated, recommended as better for an acoustic). They duly arrived, and last weekend I decided to change to them.

I had never previously changed guitar strings, but had seen it done before (Pete in The Gobshites used to go through several a night at a 3-set gig). I looked at a few instruction pages on the web and it seemed pretty straightforward. I began by loosening the E string, removing it from the tuning machine, and…

could not get the corresponding bridge peg to come out!

I wrestled with it, looked up more info, found someone who had had the problem with my bass model, tried what they were told – loosen the next string in order to put a hand into the guitar and push the peg from underneath… still not going anywhere. Finally got it out with Joann pushing it from below while I worked on levering it carefully with a wrench. Did that again for the A string next to it. While I might have had better leverage if I’d had a string winder with a peg puller, these bass pegs were a lot thicker than 6-string guitar pegs, and I’d read that it may not have fit.

I moved on to putting on the new E string, but now the peg kept popping up as I tuned it up :-(

I went back to the web (I had shut down everything while a thunderstorm came through) and found a very helpful video, in which at 1:30 the presenter describes the correct way to mount the string with the bridge peg – basically put the string’s ball end into the hole, put the peg in loosely, then pull up on the string so that the ball is not under the end of the peg, but higher up on the side of the peg. The peg then keeps the ball from being able to exit the hole both are in, but the string ball is not pulling up on the peg itself.

And then my mind reversed this information: to remove the peg, I should not be trying to pull up the string… I should try to push the string down so that the peg is not running up against the ball as I try to pull it up!

Once I had this epiphany I was able to remove the remaining two strings’ pegs by myself with little difficulty!

Perhaps there are instructions somewhere that detail this trick, but none of the ones I found gave any time to removing the old strings – though I suspect that this is not as much of an issue for regular guitars, whose strings and pegs are both much thinner than those of my acoustic bass guitar.


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