If you’ve recently changed the strings on your acoustic guitar, you may have had to use a pair of pliers or wire cutters and chop off a couple of inches from every string. This question probably crossed your mind ”Why Are Guitar Strings So Long?”.

Part of the reason is to allow for different bridge arrangements and various stringing styles. There are also various lengths of headstocks and different tailpiece positions behind the bridge. Some manufacturers make guitar strings that can be used on both six-string and twelve-string guitars. The idea behind guitar strings being so long is to create a one-size-fits-all product.

You can wrap the extra string up, or cut it. Some people even leave the extra strings flopping around. It was even a fad back in the 1960s. Let’s now dive into more details regarding guitar strings and all that jazz.

Table of Contents

How long are normal guitar strings?

The length of guitar strings varies from brand to brand. When we talk about the standard length of guitar strings, what we usually have in mind is the scale length. Scale length refers to the area of string that’s playable. In more technical terms, it’s the vibrating area of playable string between the nut and the bridge, or more precisely between the nut and the middle of the twelfth fret doubled.

Roughly speaking, the scale length of short-scale guitars is between 22 and 25 inches. Long-scale guitars have a scale length of at least 25 and a half inches. Bass guitars have the longest scale length, between 30 and 34 inches. Including the scale length, standard six-string guitar strings have a total length of 35 to 40 inches.

When they come out of the package they are roughly the same length. Once they are strung, their length will vary even more. Guitar strings are not supposed to be the same length because the length, the thickness, and the tension are all factors that play a massive role in the pitch of the sound that a string generates. Read more about if guitar strings should be the same height in our blog.

How to cut off the excess guitar strings?

We advise you to always use wire cutters to cut off the excess guitar strings. Cutting the excess guitar strings is fairly simple. When you cut the strings, make sure you do that a quarter of an inch away from the tuning peg and just give it a quick snip. This will clean up the look of the guitar and prevent the excess guitar strings from rubbing together. Repeat the process until you get all of the ends clipped off.

Can you cut fingers on guitar strings?

It is theoretically possible to cut fingers on guitar strings, but you needn’t worry. Read our blog to find out if guitar strings are sharp. You are more likely to cut your fingers on the end of the strings that are poking out of the tuning pegs than while playing the guitar.

If you are a rookie guitar player, you might need a few weeks before your skin builds up callouses to protect the nerves in your fingers from the pressure of the guitar strings. What’s likely going to happen is that your fingers will get sore in the beginning. If your thumb hurts while playing the guitar, learn what you should do in our blog.

A woman playing the guitar.

How to string a guitar?

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned guitarist, you should be able to restring your guitar. Restringing a guitar is vitally important in ensuring proper sound quality. We will present you with a step-by-step guide on how to restring your acoustic guitar.

Step #1 – Find a clean and quiet place

Find a place that is not messy and has enough room, so that you don’t lose any tools. Also, try to find a quiet place, which will make tuning your guitar easier in the absence of background noises. In regards to tuning a guitar, find out if it is bad to tune your guitar up.

Step #2 – Gather all the necessary gear

This is the equipment you will need for stringing up a guitar:

  • A new set of strings – choosing the right set of strings is a matter of personal taste.
  • Plyers or wire cutters – pliers are more multi-purpose, whereas wire cutters are designed with wires in mind.
  • A string winder – you can find one on Amazon and it will save you a lot of time winding the tuning knob.
  • A tuning machine – if you are a guitar virtuoso who can tune the guitar by ear, you may not need a tuning machine.

Step #3 Secure your guitar’s neck

You can use a special piece of equipment to balance the neck of your guitar, or you can simply utilize something soft and curved for this purpose, such as polystyrene. The idea here is to stop the guitar from rocking back and forth and to reduce the risk of damage. 

Step #4 Take off the old strings

First, loosen the tension of each string with a tuning key or a string winder. Once the strings are loose, unwind them off of the tuning post and remove them. Alternatively, if you don’t want to remove strings one by one, you can loosen the first string you plan to change and then cut it with wire cutters. Make sure to always remove remnants from the tuning machine head.

Step #5 Remove the bridge pins

You should be able to remove bridge pins manually since there is no string tension. You can also utilize a string winder for this purpose too since it has a built-in string pin removal tool. One more thing you can do is push the pins out from the back. You just put your hand through the sound hole and push the pins out from the back. Be careful as they can be sharp and use a cloth to protect your hand if needed.

Step #6 Clean the fretboard

With all the strings off, this is your chance to give that fretboard a deep cleaning. You can get off all the dust that is normally hard to reach. To do this you can simply use a clean microfiber cloth. You can optionally apply fretboard conditioner from your polishing kit to put the final touch. Take a look at our blog and learn how to clean a fretboard on an electric guitar.

Step #7 Place the string and bridge pin through the bridge hole

If you remove all six strings, you should work in order from low E to high E. Gently curl the ball into the string. Slide the string into the hole, push in your bridge pin and gently pull up on the string with your other hand. This should help lock the string into place.

Step #8 Slide the string through the tuning post and pull

Take the string through the tuning post and pull it somewhat tight. Factor in some slack for each string before tightening it so that there is enough excess string to wrap it a couple of times around the tuner. Wrap the string around the backside of the tuning key post, under itself, and then back over the top of the string. That will lock the string into place.

Step #9 Wind up the strings

Using a string winder makes the job of tightening the strings much easier. You can also tighten the strings manually, but it will be more time-consuming. Place your string winder on the turning key and start turning it counterclockwise to tighten the string. Push the string back down over itself and finally use your wire cutters to cut the string off close to the post. Tighten the rest of the strings the same way, from the thickest to the thinnest.

Step #10 Tune your guitar strings

If you are a beginner guitar player you may need to tune your strings several times with a tuning machine. Tuning can be a daunting process at first, but it becomes easier the more you do it. Tune your strings from low E to high E until they are all in tune. Read our blog to find out how tight guitar tuners should be.

How long do guitar strings last?

A good rule of thumb for beginners is to change their guitar strings every three months. These factors greatly influence the longevity of your strings:

  • Built-up dirt and grime
  • Oil from your skin
  • Environmental factors such as moisture
  • The material your strings are made of
  • The frequency of playing
  • Corrosion

To prolong the life of your guitar strings, make sure to clean your guitar’s neck and strings every time after playing. You can simply wipe down your strings with a clean cloth and use one of the many guitar-string cleaning products on the market.

Final thoughts

In this article, we’ve answered many FAQs about guitar strings. We’ve also presented a step-by-step guide on how to string your acoustic guitar. With little practice, you will be able to string and tune your guitar like a pro. Take good care of it, clean it regularly and your guitar will keep rocking for many years to come.