Guitar: Why and How to Wrap Strings Around the Tuning Peg

Keeping guitar strings in tune and stable on the instrument is a fairly easy task. 

Mastering the art of getting strings properly wrapped around the tuning pegs is that task. 

And what a difference it can make!

Getting a proper wrap around the tuning pegs will result in strings that are secure on the instrument and improved tuning stability. There are a couple of tried and true ways of doing this, both of which are easy to do and follow best practices for maximum results.

So, let’s wrap our heads around this topic!

What do you mean by wrapping the strings around the tuning post?

What is meant by this is the excess string used as slack in the string-changing process is wrapped around the tuning posts as the string is tightened, like the string on a bobbin. 

A proper wrap around the post will also help tuning stability and string placement on the nut.

Why should you always wrap the strings around the tuners?

Having the correct number of wraps helps lock the string properly around the post. 

When done properly, a couple of wraps above and below the string coming out of the hole in the tuning post will sandwich that bit of string, literally locking it into place.

The proper number of wraps on the string, when done properly, will also help keep the strings properly seated on the nut, particularly with straight headstock designs (such as the majority of Fender guitars, though it can’t hurt with angled Gibson-style headstocks either). 

This, combined with the string trees sometimes found on the higher strings, will ensure a proper break angle over the nut, keeping the string in the nut and preventing it from popping out.

Are the exceptions to this?

The only exception is if you’re using locking tuners

This type of tuner has a screw that secures the string on the post through the hole in the post. 

Because the string is clamped into place, barely any windings are necessary. 

Many players love this tuner style since string changes are a breeze! 

However, it is recommended to leave a touch of slack anyways (maybe 1 cm or so) just to have a bit of a wind

These tuners also tend to have smaller posts, helping with the string break angle issue when the string passes over the nut.

What would happen if you don’t wrap your strings around the post?

Without the proper number of wraps, you can risk having the string pop out of the post. 

You do need that slacked string wrapped on the post to help lock the string properly in place. Without it, you mind find yourself dodging a flying string while playing

Too few wraps on a straight headstock may also allow the string to pop out of the nut while playing. 

Those wraps help pull the string down at the proper break angle over the nut so that the string is secure. 

If not, you may find a string flopping around your neck while playing; a most disagreeable situation

How to wrap guitar strings around the tuning pegs?

First, let’s talk about the amount of slack you need. 

This is the extra string length you need to ensure that you have enough to wrap around the post.

 Two good ways to measure are to either:

  1. Add two tuning posts of string length as slack (where you pass the string through the post, run the extra length to a distance of two tuning posts, run that slack back through the post, and start winding); or 
  2. Place your hand perpendicular to the neck at the 14th fret, run the string over your hand and into the post, and start winding from there (just take your hand out first). Both will ensure that you have enough slack.

There are also two main ways to wrap the string around the post: 

  1. Wind the string and pass the slack piece under the string for the first wind, then over for the rest, making sure that the wraps consistently go underneath each other. This will create that sandwich that holds the string in place; or 
  2. Take the slack piece of the string, wrap it clockwise under the post and pass it over the main part of the string (or counterclockwise if you’re on the treble side of a 3-3 headstock), then start winding, with the string going over the slack piece and the first little wrap, then underneath for the rest. This extra move will further lock the string into place since the wraps go directly over the slack piece.

How many windings are enough?

The consensus is between two and four, however, a minimum of 3 is recommended to secure that string into place. 

Also, we wouldn’t go more than 5 wraps around the post (and maybe 4 for the lower-pitched strings, since the windings on the string make them thicker.)

Are more windings better?

Yep! Too many wraps can affect tuning stability. 

The string can shift around over the windings, throwing your guitar out in the process.

So try both methods and see what works best for you!

Once you’ve mastered it, changing strings will be a breeze, and you’ll know that your guitar will play its best!