Guitar setup: how to restring an electric guitar
There are a few different designs of guitar machineheads. The most common has a hole through its shaft that you push the string through. You then wind the string around the shaft and Bob’s your you-know-what.
Thing is, excess windings can cause tuning problems, which is why locking machineheads were developed. These clamp the string in place so that there’s no need for pesky windings. They work a treat if used correctly. Follow our guide and you’ll get great tuning stability no matter what type of heads your guitar has.
Let’s kick off with the most common type of machinehead. These heads have a post or shaft with a hole drilled through (see above). Stringing a guitar fitted with this design of machinehead is easy.
Trimming the string
Secure the string at the guitar’s bridge, run it up over the top nut tothe headstock. Cut the string a couple of inches past its corresponding machinehead, then get ready for a real wind-up.
Wind 'em up
Run the string through the machinehead’s hole. Start winding the string onto the post with a string winder. Let it wind neatly down the post until you get some tension on it.
Stretch 'n' settle
You should have three to five windings on the string (as above). Cut off any excess string. Next, tune the string then keep stretching and re-tuning until it settles. Job done.
Locking ’heads have a pin running through the post to clamp the string in place. They usually have a locking wheel on the back to tighten/loosen the pin’s grip on the string.
Turn the wheel
Loosen the locking wheel on the back until you can get the string through the hole in the machinehead. Pull it tight. Maintain tension on the string, and tighten the wheel.
Begin tightening the string. If you applied enough tension on the string when locking the machinehead, you should get the string up to pitch with one winding on the post.
Stretch 'n' settle 2
Trim excess string, then tune, stretch, tune until the tuning settles. Once each string is stretched properly the guitar should stay in tune or only need little tweaks every so often.
Some vintage guitars and reissues (such as old-school Fender Strats and Teles) have machineheads that have a hole running through the centre of the post, as shown above.
Down in a hole
To restring a guitar fitted with these classic old heads, run the string up to the headstock as shown in step 2. Cut it a couple of inches past the head then run the string down the hole in the post.
In a wind
Bend the string over the top of the machinehead post (as shown). Hold the string tight with one hand and grab your string winder with the other. Wind the string down the post.
Stretch and play
Three to five neat string windings is the goal here. All you then need to do is stretch the strings. Okay, we may have mentioned that before. Now go and play the damn thing!