How to String: Winding Direction

Some players, especially those in the early stages, aren’t sure about re-stringing the guitar. They know that the string winds around the tuner post but might not be certain which way it should wind.

You can’t really give advice like, ‘start on the right side’ or, ‘the string comes off at the bottom’ because it’s hard to apply that to tuners on different sides of the headstock.

The correct direction to wind string onto a guitar tuner post

So, if you’re in any doubt (or if you know a beginning player) have a look at the diagrams below and keep this advice in mind:

The string winding starts at the side opposite the tuner button.

6-a-side headstock - tuner post string winding direction

On the six-a-side headstock, all the strings wind onto the tuner on the same side (the side opposite the tuner button/knob/whatever you call it).

3-a-side headstock - tuner post string winding direction

On the three-a-side headstock, it seems that half the strings come off a different side but notice, it’s still the side opposite the tuner button.

Consequences of stringing the wrong way

Don’t wind the string on the wrong way. It can cause hassle.

The image above shows the wrong way to wind the string onto the tuner. Not only will you have to turn this tuner the ‘wrong’ way to tune up, the angle out of the nut is sharper and the string can get fouled or run against other tuners (neither of which is great for tuning). Don’t do it this way.

As I mentioned, stringing onto the tuner post the wrong way, means tuning direction will be reversed. When you think you’re tuning up, you’ll actually be loosening the string.

And, when you think you’re loosening the string, you’ll actually be tightening it.

So, if, for instance, you had a fast automatic string-winder, you might inadvertently increase the string’s pitch before you even realise.

And the string might break.

And, if the odds are astronmically against you, you can end up with the world's most bizarre guitar-related injury (WARNING: Some slightly gory photos at that link – give it a miss if you're squeamish)

This article written by Gerry Hayes and first published at