Is It Bad to Put Guitar Strings in the Wrong Direction?

Imagine your guitar strings need to be replaced, you go to the music store and buy a brand-new set to install them on your instrument. 

After a while of visualizing how the restring operation should work, you go for it…

When you finish the string replacement you perceive that something is wrong. 

You feel that something is different and then realize that you had put the strings in the wrong direction!

Although putting guitar strings in the wrong direction is unlikely to damage the instrument, it could generate tuning problems and intonation issues. Always check for a reference before passing a new set of strings through the tuning pegs, as this is a pretty common mistake especially in 3+3 layouts.

As this topic could be a hassle among beginners I will try to guide you through this article to have a better understanding of it. 

You will be aware of the different problems that could come up and how to solve them.

What happens if you wound strings the wrong way

If you wound strings the wrong way it won’t probably happen anything tragic but incorrectly threading a string may upset tuning stability. 

What is more, it could also affect the ease with which you can tune.

In addition, setting strings wrongly can make them break in a rare way which will also affect tuning and intonation issues. 

Moreover, some guitars have string holders or trees that won’t work properly if the string is not wound precisely.

Another possible thing to occur is that it could upset the normal tuning direction. 

You normally tune turning the tuning pegs in a specific way and after a while, you will be accustomed to that direction in a way you’ll do it automatically.

Why do tuning pegs wind in a specific direction?

Revisiting what we have just said, tuning pegs have a specific turning direction. Is not a capricious idea, this is the intended design of the instrument.

String work better when reducing the friction with the nut, to do that they need to be as straight as possible and that is tuning pegs job. 

If they are tuned in the wrong way, the string may break before the nut.

What is more, hard bends would add the surface of contact with the nut, which is definitely bad for the instrument. 

In that way, you are getting more friction, thereby more chances for the string to get stuck and detune when playing.

In some models, stringing the guitar in a reverse direction would result in strings making contact with other tuning pegs. 

This may cause some unwanted vibrations that will give you a headache and ruin your sound.

Can you damage your guitar by putting strings in the wrong way?

Stringing your guitar wrongly won’t probably damage your instrument unless the strings snap and dent the paint or any other component by being in contact. 

As we mentioned before, strings could be in contact with the tuning pegs or the nut and this could be harmful to the guitar.

Besides, the strings could be damaged as well, remember that the instrument is made to set strings in a specific way. 

They may be bent in weird angles when trying to reach the tuning pole.

Should you remove your strings and put them back on correctly?

If you got confused during the setting process and you install your strings incorrectly, you can remove them and put them back in the right way. 

Nevertheless, you need to be careful because if you make hard bends, the strings would be marked.

That will harm them and would probably cause them to break in the future. 

In the best-case scenario, you will be able to put marked strings back but they would have future failure points.

Would a guitar work fine with strings put the wrong way?

Yes, probably in most cases. 

However, tuning or intonation issues could arise, and tuning pegs will work in the inverse direction.

In most cases, a guitar could work right with the strings put in the wrong way. 

However, you have to bear in mind that improper strings setting could cause poor intonation.

What is more, you could have some tuning difficulties due to how the instrument is built. 

Tuning pegs are meant to work in one direction that’s why if you set strings in the wrong way, you will require to tune in the inverse direction.

How do you know which way strings go on tuning pegs?

To do this task properly you can google a picture of your guitar or a similar model to have a better idea of how to do it. 

This is important because there are two different headstock models and both work differently.

On one side, we have 3 + 3 headstocks and in this kind, strings go from inside out. 

The thinner strings being the first, second, and third strings are tuned up clockwise whereas the thicker ones the fourth, fifth, and sixth are tuned down clockwise.

Another important aspect of these headstocks is that the third and fourth strings must be set on the furthest poles from the bridge

Contrarily, the sixth and fifth strings are the ones that go on the nearest pole from the bridge.

On the other side, we have inline headstocks (the ones in Stratocasters) that go down the peg and up, and in this sort, tuners all tune down clockwise. 

In inline headstocks, the sixth string must be installed on the nearest pole from the bridge while the first string should be on the furthest.