Despite their simplicity, the guitar strings are some of the most fascinating components of a guitar. They don’t look that sophisticated or complicated but they contribute largely to the sound of the instrument.
This is why understanding every aspect connected to this part would be beneficial to those who want to make the most out of their instrument. And with this comes the need to learn how to stretch guitar strings.
It’s not enough to replace your guitar strings and attach the strings to your guitar properly to achieve the best sound and tone that you can get from your instrument. The string also needs to become stable so it will not change its tune.
This is where stretching, stabilizing, or seating the string becomes necessary as it helps make the tone of the guitar strings stable. If you skip this step, you can expect your guitar to get out of tune every so often.
So, to save yourself from the hassle of having to tune your guitar string over and over again, you should take note of this task.
How to Stretch Guitar Strings
Stretching new guitar strings may seem like a daunting task but don’t fret. The process is actually incredibly simple. You just need to follow these steps:
Put new strings on your guitar but don’t lock them in place yet if it has some.
The first and most important step in stretching guitar strings is to attach fresh strings that will need the stretching. Old strings may have already been stretched enough by frequent tunings, so you don’t really have to stretch them out anymore.
If your guitar has clamping locks, don’t engage them yet since you’ll still need to make several adjustments to the strings. Locking them on the first go is completely unnecessary and will waste your efforts.
Tune the string to a pitch.
Some folks might not deem this step necessary but others recommend doing so. Tuning your fresh strings before you pull on them would be a nice way to give them a safe tug and let them settle into your guitar so it might also help in stretching them out later.
Start stretching your strings one by one.
Once your strings are set in place and tuned, start stretching the strings. Hold the guitar the normal way you would when you’re playing it then slowly slide your ring, middle, and pointer finger under a string.
You can start either from the thickest to the thinnest string, depending on your preference. Then pull the string up slightly to pull it up a bit.
Lots of folks start pulling near the bridge then they work their way along the length of the string until they reach the nut.
Some limit their pulling spots to three to five areas with even spacing along the length of the string while others like to be more thorough by slightly pulling at every spot they can.
Repeat this step for each string.
Be careful when pulling, don’t do it too much or with a lot of force as doing so might damage the other parts of your guitar. Some folks might also recommend that you place the guitar flat on its back during guitar string stretching. This can be done, too but make sure to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes in case the strings snap.
Retune then stretch the guitar strings again. Repeat until your pulling doesn’t cause your guitar to go out of tune.
Once you’re done stretching the strings, retune the guitar. This will help you check if you were able to pull the strings enough to affect the stability of its tune. Once done, repeat step #3 again then re-tune and repeat the step again.
Why? While guitar strings stabilize its tune over time as the string gets used more and more, you can also speed up the process a bit by manual stretching.
Doing the key steps mentioned above multiple times give the strings additional wear so it can get seated better on your guitar.
Test the sound of your guitar.
If you don’t have to do some serious retuning after your last round of string stretching, give your guitar a good run to hear how it sounds. If it sounds right to you and the tune is all good, then you’re set. Your new guitar strings are ready to go.
A Few Things to Note
Aside from the steps mentioned above, it’s also crucial to remember a few more things to make sure this process will give you the best results:
Be extra careful near the nut and bridge areas.
Don’t pull willy-nilly when you’re approaching the nut and bridge areas as your strings and the said parts can get damaged.
Many experts recommend using a finger to press down on the said spots right where the string you’re pulling on are seated so the stretching process won’t cause any damage in them.
Press on the nut slot and the bridge pin that the string you’re working on are connected to while you pull on the string to avoid accidentally dislodging the string or pin from their respective slots.
Again, don’t pull too much.
As mentioned above, your guitar strings can pop off or snap if you apply too much pressure when pulling. However, this isn’t a very common occurrence, especially if you exercise ample caution.
Lots of veteran guitar players don’t experience a lot of incidents of this kind so you don’t have to worry too much if you’re being careful.
To be more sure of your safety, avoid pulling the strings toward yourself. Don’t put your face close to the strings as well. This way, you can minimize the severity of the damage that accidents involving guitar strings can cause.
You can use tools that are specifically made for the job, if you wish.
There are now quite a lot of new guitar tuning and string stretching products available in the market, so you might find those handy as well.
As for the certainty of their effectiveness, it’s hard to tell but they might be worth a shot if you find some steps tricky.
With how simple the stretching process is, however, there might not be any need to buy an extra tool for this purpose. It might be best to try the steps mentioned above first before you shop around for tools.
You can use these steps on all kinds of guitars.
Struggling with a classical guitar that won’t stay in tune? Partial to nylon strings instead of metal ones? The guitar string stretching techniques above are suitable for other types of guitars as well, so you can give them a try with whatever kind of instrument you have.
The same rules and precautions apply but you might want to be more careful in handling classical guitars to keep the bridge intact.
Can You Really Stretch Guitar Strings?
There’s a lot of talk about the legitimacy of the claims about stretching guitar strings. Some say that tse items can’t actually be stretched since they’re made of steel.
Others, on the other hand, argue against that and say that strings really do stretch and reach an optimal point where they can hold a tune. It’s quite confusing, really, and debates can get heated and technical on many occasions.
However, if you’ll really look at it, lots of these conversations are only really arguing about the technical term. Any experienced guitarist knows that taking an extra step to ‘stretch’ or ‘stabilize’ new guitar strings is a must if they want to keep their guitar in tune.
It’s a fact that guitars will need to be tuned more frequently if you don’t let the new strings acclimate itself into the instrument.
People can argue about the terms all they want but the fact remains that an additional step that will stretch or help the new strings settle into the guitar will always come in handy.
Think of it as a time-saver as it will keep you from having to spend time on tuning your guitar every time you pick it up.
Aside from being one of the most effective ways how to keep your guitar in tune, stretching your guitar strings will also help keep your strings intact for much longer.
By carefully manually stretching them out, the pressure will be evened out and your playing will not put a lot of strain in certain areas which can become the weakest points of the string.
With such great benefits, it can certainly be a great idea to take the additional step of learning how to stretch guitar strings if you’re serious about improving your guitar-playing skills.
The ability to ensure the stability of the tune of your instrument will definitely come in handy for you, whether you intend to perform or just play as a way to entertain yourself.
Whether you wish to do this task manually or with the help of a tool is up to you. The process is simple enough, really, even if you should exercise great caution and it might take quite a while to complete.
The benefits you’ll get will be well worth it, though, so why not give it a try?