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I bought this semi acoustic guitar 2 weeks ago. It has a pickup attached with an inbuilt tuner. I hadn't put the battery in the case and was trying to tune the high E string manually and broke it in the process. What should I do now? Should I go to a guitar store and have it repaired, or I should buy a new string and try to restring the guitar by myself? I heard it would be expensive at the guitar store so I am hesitating a bit.

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    I'm a trumpet player so my comment comes from playing with other guitar players. You should learn to do this by yourself because this will happen again ... and again over the course of your playing. Have some one teach you first (the soon to be accepted answer) gives you tips on having a guitar store show you how to do it.
    – PatS
    Jan 30 at 18:05
  • Changing strings is part of owning a guitar and being a guitar player. Have a look on YouTube, there are plenty of videos which will show how to do it. You will find it useful to have a pair of small wire-cutters so you can trim the excess length at the tuning peg.
    – blueskiwi
    Jan 31 at 17:57

7 Answers 7

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Installing a string is pretty easy and quick; I can't believe that any store would charge extra to put it on for you. (If so, can you find a different store?) But if you have any uncertainty about how to do it, there's no harm in taking it in and having them do it, but have them show you so you can do it yourself next time.

While you're at it, buy an extra set of strings so that you'll always have a new one available. Also, although strings sometimes just break for no reason, try to have someone give you some tips on tuning to make sure you aren't accidentally trying to tighten it way beyond its intended range.

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  • It's quick, yeah, but not necessarily easy. There's some skill to doing it well, like setting up the right amount of slack, winding cleanly, then cutting the tip close to the peg and making sure it's not sticking out to cut you or get stuck on things. I totally believe that a store would charge for it, though not very much.
    – wjandrea
    Jan 31 at 3:45
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    I'd also add that the skinnier strings E and B break a lot more often, so I'd recommend getting one extra of each.
    – wjandrea
    Jan 31 at 3:45
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Welcome to guitar world! Strings break sometimes - and need replacing as they're old at other times. The process is painless, and all you need to do is work out how the other strings have been fitted, leaving enough slack for two or three turns at the machine head. You'll tune it up to pitch (using the tuner!), and then have to re-tune it several times, as it settles in. Worth buying a full set anyhow, as well as another top string. Take the guitar in with you, in order to buy the same guage string as that that broke.

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  • "Painless" might be an overstatement. I've pricked my fingers many times on a sharp string tip :p But it gets better with practice.
    – wjandrea
    Jan 31 at 3:52
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    Is two or three turns really all that's needed? I thought four or five was recommended for the unwound strings like the high E. I also do a loop before winding: once through the peg then around and back through again.
    – wjandrea
    Jan 31 at 3:54
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    @wjandrea - just checked over a dozen of my guitars - 2-3 is all any of them get. Seems to work there. May be the quality of the machine heads is contributory. And my top strings are .008s. Put more if you must.
    – Tim
    Jan 31 at 9:35
  • Considering how often first / high E strings break I'd call it an essential part of learning guitar. Jan 31 at 16:07
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Generally what the other answers say is correct. A string breaking is a thing that happens occasionally. Replacing a string a very straightforward process, and I do not think the music store or luthier of your choice would charge you for demonstrating you how to do it, if you are not sure.

That being said, if you experience breaking strings very often on specific strings this might be caused by sharp corners on the tuning pegs or the bridge. So in this case it might be an option to get help in smoothening that out (but you can also do this yourself easily).

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The high E is the most breakable string, and your ear is not used to hearing that note correctly, so as a beginner, you are likely going to go through a lot. So:

  • Put a battery in that thing. Let it do its job and teach you what a high E sounds like.
  • New single strings are about a buck, at least where I am. I try to get two sets at a time, so I'm always holding a second set in case there's a problem, but you can just get the one, and as the high E isn't wound, it really doesn't matter much of the rest of your strings are 80/20, phosphor bronze or whatever. Getting a wound string that suits your set and your instrument is much harder.
  • The internet contains many explanations on how to change strings. I think there must be one here. You say it's a semi-acoustic, but that's not a thing. If it's an acoustic/electric (which it sounds like), then you probably have bridge pins holding the ball-end in. There is a cut-out in many string winders that allow you to pull out the pins, so as suggested, get one. There are other bridge types, with different ways of securing the strings. Once installed and tuned to pitch, it will stretch out and go flat, so you will have to retune a lot at first.
  • There are cheap tuners that clip to the headstock, apps you can get and the one you say is built in; learn to use it and teach your ear what in tune sounds like. It is a skill like any other, and it will serve you well.
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    Minor nitpick: "Semi-acoustic" is a tag often used for guitars such as the Gibson 335 or Gretsch Falcon, where it's intended to be used as an electric guitar but gets some of its tone from a construction which is similar to acoustic guitars. That's different from "electro-acoustic" (or "acoustic-electric") where it's an acoustic guitar with a pickup and is intended to sound like an acoustic when it's plugged in. I doubt the OP is going to be making those kind of distinctions though! :)
    – Graham
    Jan 30 at 10:31
  • Funny. I've been playing and reading guitar mags since the 1980s and never seen or heard that term. Jan 30 at 14:23
  • Semi-acoustic is indeed a thing. Think Gibson 335 - not solid, but with 'acoustic wings'. Been round way before 1980s!
    – Tim
    Jan 31 at 9:32
  • Yeah, but while I have read lots about 335s and Tele Thinlines and Byrdlands and Country Gentlemen and Casinos, I see semi-hollow, not semi-acoustic, to name them. Feb 1 at 1:20
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Here are a few extra tips:

Since your guitar is new, buy an individual string to replace the broken one and one or two entire sets to have on hand…or just change the entire set if you feel so inclined. Ask for a little guidance at the store. Guitar strings cost about $6-$7. Invest in a string winder ($4 and up). More expensive winders have cutters for trimming excess string from the tuning peg but a cheap one will do. A pair of wire cutters will work as well or better for trimming.

Search YouTube for how to replace strings for your type of guitar. You said “semi acoustic”, I assume you mean an acoustic with electronics. That would be the same as an acoustic. Specify the string type, steel or nylon, you didn’t mention which you have. I’ve seen some very good videos that clearly describe the entire process. Watch a bit of a few different ones and pick one you like with lots of thumbs up.

Grab a free phone app called guitar tuna. It has paid subscription services but you can decline them. It hears the note you’re playing in auto mode and tells you what string it thinks you are playing and if you are too high or too low. In manual mode you can press the virtual tuning pegs to hear how each string is supposed to sound. Not having an audio reference is a big problem for people just starting out, they don’t know if they’re too high or too low and sometimes over-tighten and snap a string. Having an audio reference is a big help. Good luck!

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    I do not think the OP requires a tuning app, as I understand the guitar has an built in tuner (which should be much more stable than going through the microphone of you phone.
    – Lazy
    Jan 29 at 2:48
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    @Lazy I agree the onboard tuners are generally better then tuning apps. However the problem I encounter with many beginners is that if their guitar is extremely out of tune they may not know whether to go up or down to get to the correct note. The tuning app plays audio of the open strings as a reference and also tells which direction to go to get to the correct note on a specific string if a note is extremely out of tune. This can be very useful to someone that is not yet used to the sound of the open strings on a guitar. Jan 29 at 5:22
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Tuning a string instrument and replacing strings is something you will learn well before you can play anything on the instrument.

Go on and get used to it, it is not hard.

Be ready to sacrifice few hours and few strings. Strings are cheap and you owe these hours anyway.

Of course, there are youtube videos for this. There always are, no matter what exotic activity you try for the first time.

The only risk that I am aware of: Take care not to allow string ends to get in your eyes.

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String it yourself. Since you obviously don't know where to begin, I suggest watching a video walkthrough like this one

I had a quick look and that one seems fine but there are many. That was the top hit of many when I searched for "how to string a guitar" and it's for acoustic guitars.

I didn't watch the whole thing. In case he doesn't spell it out, here's a diagram of how to attach a string to a winding post so it won't slip. You may need to left-right reverse this depending on which side of the head you are stringing.

how to attach a string to a winding post

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