This paper investigates the effect of axial stress on higher order longitudinal guided modes propagating in individual wires of seven-wire strands. Specifically, an acoustoelastic theory for a rod is used to predict the effect of stress on the phase velocity of guided modes in a strand. To this end, the exact acoustoelastic theory for an axially stressed rod is adapted for small deformations. Aside from the exact theory, approximate phase velocity changes (derived from both theory and experiment) are proposed, without the need to solve for dispersion curves. To validate the use of rod theories for strands, a custom-built prestressing bed was designed to apply axial load (up to 50% of yield) to a strand while conducting guided wave measurements. Higher order modes were excited in individual wires, and their phase velocity change under stress is compared to the exact acoustoelastic theory. Furthermore, it is shown that the proposed approximate phase velocity changes derived from theory and experiment only differ by roughly 2% from their exact counterparts. Higher order modes are shown to have stable stress dependence near their peak group velocity, which is beneficial for stress measurement. Additionally, linear stress dependence is observed, which is predicted by rod theories. Due to the unavailability of third order elastic constants for the steel strand, constants for a steel with similar Carbon content (0.6% C Hecla 17) were used as representative values in the theory. Using the Hecla 17 constants, roughly 15% mismatch in the slope of the linear stress dependence was observed when compared to the measurements on a steel strand.