When should you change your guitar strings?
Changing Strings 101: When You Should, Why You Should
Changing strings is a widely encouraged, spoken rule of thumb among guitar players. As a starter, you’ve probably been already told why you need to do so. Breaking one shouldn’t be the only prompt for you since there are good reasons why good string quality maintenance is needed.
First and foremost, let’s get to the basics.
String quality has a large impact on your sound and your guitar’s playability. A string’s thickness is called a gauge. String gauges have 5 basic categories – extra super light, super light, light, medium, and heavy. New guitars are often strung with either light or super light strings, making them ideal for beginners. Depending on the type of music you play, your strings will naturally give in to different types of wear, which will make them more prone to breaking.
When you buy a new guitar, your strings are typically brand new as well and are naturally in good condition. Over the course of your use, and depending on string quality, the frequency of play, and the guitar’s gauge scale, these strings will be more prone to snapping, getting harder to tune, and affecting the feel and tone of your guitar.
“What Happens if I Don’t Change My Strings?”
Even if you don’t play enough, your strings will gradually degrade. The following are known to be the main manifestations of wear:
- Kinks – These are small dents caused by the string’s frequent contact with the metal fret wire. The more kinks the strings gain, the more likely they are to snap when used.
- Rust – Anything metal is prone to getting rust, which is caused mainly by moisture from the air. Your strings can get rusty much faster because of the moisture from your fingers. This moisture slowly corrodes the strings and kills their tone.
- Loose windings – Guitars have bass and treble strings; the former made of a wire wrapped around a thinner wire core for the right gauge, the latter made of a single wire piece. Electric guitars basically have 3 plain and 3 wound strings while acoustics have 4 wound and 2 plain. The longer your guitar sits out without string change, the more likely the steel strings to fall apart.
“When Should I Start Changing My Strings?”
The magic rule is this: change your strings every after 3 months, or once you get at least 100 hours of practice. If you’re an active musician, you might need to change a lot more frequently. Some professional musicians like to change strings before every set performance, while other amateur players suggest changing more than once a month to retain rich sound.
Remember that the magic rule is the ideal time gap between each change. If you’re willing to change more frequently, that’s okay, even better if your use dictates the necessity. Over time you will know how to distinguish when your strings are slowly losing their quality.
On the other hand, avoiding wear shouldn’t be the sole reason why you change strings. More signs you can use to start replacing strings are the following: deadened feel and sound, guitar won’t stay in tune
even after being properly set up, shredded flakes from coated strings, and severe discoloration. If you also don’t recall the last time you changed your strings, then it’s time to change them now.
“How Can I Extend the Life of My Strings?”
If you normally very busy to make sure your strings are regularly replaced, then it can be frustrating to make time. Some of the high-end quality strings you want to buy can also go way past your budget, so you might want to make the most of what you have now.
Though there are different types and qualities of strings, there are ways you can try to follow if you want to extend string life:
Keep moisture off your fingers. Wash your hands before you play to get rid of the oil. Oil tends to corrode the strings much faster.
Wipe strings down afterward. Doing so before and after playing can ideally maintain rich string sound by preventing corrosion.
In the end, knowing when to change your strings is something you will learn on your own. Don’t hesitate to invest in more expensive strings too – the pricier they are, the better quality they are, and the longer they will last for you.