I'd like do try out different gauges on an electric and an acoustic guitar, but if I don't like them I would like to put the old strings back on. Is that even possible or are they ruined after removing them?

A lot of tutorials even cut and therefore destroy the strings after tuning down in order to remove them. Why?

Thanks a lot.

  • 1
    I never throw a used string away. This is my contribution to the carbon oxide reduction in the atmosphere . Apr 27, 2020 at 19:57
  • You can use the thin E string to slice cheese ;)
    – Eric O
    Apr 28, 2020 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


The reason people in tutorials often cut the guitar strings is because they are often professionals whose goal is to change a set of strings as fast as possible. They aren't concerned with re-using the strings.

But in your case, yes, you can definitely re-use the strings. Just unwind them completely instead of cutting them.

  • 4
    I'd advise not to rely too much on re-using a string on a different guitar. After a string is mounted, it gets bent permanently, and installing it on a different instrument might bend the string in a different direction, and cause it to snap more easily. Apr 27, 2020 at 7:55
  • @ArthurAttout Is this because the second instrument might have a different scale length, so the string would bend in a different place?
    – Rosie F
    Apr 27, 2020 at 16:24
  • 1
    Even the angle at which the string is bent on the bridge, or the position of the nut on the headstock could lead to a different string position. An extreme example would be to remove the string from a washburn-like head onto a Dean-like head Apr 27, 2020 at 16:45
  • 1
    Actually, the bending of the strings can largely be undone. But that takes time and care to do properly. And the bending weakens the material, so best not rely on unbending too much. Unbending is a requirement, though, if you take a string that broke at the bridge and reattach the ball to the unbroken rest of the string to continue using it: The part of the string that was beyond the saddle and is now on top of the frets absolutely needs to be straightened out, otherwise the string will buzz like hell. Apr 27, 2020 at 17:45

"A lot of tutorials even cut and therefore destroy the strings after tuning down in order to remove them. "

Because cutting a string which is up to tension isn't gentle on the guitar.

Also, if you unwind a string, you have a coiled piece of string left, which can get caught on something or jammed in a string hole. cutting the string means that you only have to deal with a short piece of straight string to get the rest of the old string out.

Life is too short, and strings are too cheap, to worry about reuse.

  • 2
    if you ever had a string snap while playing, you probably know that cutting a tensioned string can also injure you, not only your guitar.
    – yo'
    Apr 27, 2020 at 12:33
  • Those little short bits can get into your carpet and subsequently prick you (sad experience). Make sure you get all the bits if you cut. IMHO better to unwind, no cut.
    – Eric O
    Apr 28, 2020 at 22:48
  • @Eric O: Don't think I've ever had a piece shorter than 12 inches - I'm a 'cut in the middle' person,
    – PeteCon
    Apr 28, 2020 at 23:27

It's quicker.

If you think you may need to put them back on, get a string winder & take more care, because you don't want to kink them later.
If they're going in the bin… what's the difference.

  • @exnihilo Boiling gets rid of the gunk that accumulates between round-wound windings that was dulling the sound. So they can sound brighter after boiling but that will do nothing for intonation problems. As a flat-wound player I can go a couple months between restrings without much change in tone but eventually I start to notice the intonation.
    – user66401
    Apr 26, 2020 at 15:16
  • 2
    I used to boil strings, in my youth. I eventually realised it really doesn't return them to anything like the sound the had when they were new. I gave up doing that 40 years ago. Suck it up. Buy new strings.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 26, 2020 at 15:33
  • @Tetsujin: I think the issue isn't with saving strings that are worn out, but rather with strings that are being comparison-tested to try to dial in the perfect combination of gauges.
    – supercat
    Apr 27, 2020 at 6:07
  • @supercat - pretty sure that's what I said.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 27, 2020 at 6:28

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