19 April, 2010

How often should I change my guitar strings?

I was recently asked this question and I think there are a few factors which determine when you should change your guitar strings. Let me share with you three factors which you could use to decide if you should change your strings.

Are your strings rusted?
I think this is probably one of the most obvious signs that you should change your strings. I know I've felt a rusty string before, and the feeling is horrible. You can feel the rust collecting on your fingertips when you play the strings. Not only that, but the rust will even leave marks on your fingertips after you have played it. When this happens, it's time to get new strings.

Is your guitar starting to sound dull?
Have you played a guitar with brand new strings before? What is the first thing that you notice when you strum it? Well, the most obvious thing you will notice is how much the strings ring and how bright it sounds. Now, strum that same guitar a few months down the road, and you might notice that this ring and brightness is lost and now your guitar just sounds dull and boring. This is another sign that it's probably time you change your strings (unless you're fine with your guitar sounding like that).

When your strings start to burst
When this happens, I think you're left with 2 choices. 1. Should I just change the string that burst, or 2. should I change all six strings? Most people would choose to change the string which burst because it's cheaper to change one string than all six. However, I'll leave this decision to you. But as a rule of thumb, if your strings are still fairly new, then it would make sense to just replace the string that burst. However, if your strings are months old, then it might be better to just change all six strings. There is a reason why I say this. The problem with mixing new strings with used strings is that they might not blend well together. This might just make your guitar end up sounding weird.

There you go, three factors you could use to determine whether you should change your strings.

I foresee that another question one could ask is on how to extend the lifespan of your strings. I mean, changing strings cost money, and if you could spend less on strings, wouldn't you? So, a practical solution would be to get your strings to "last longer". How can this be achieved? Well, I'll share with you some ways to do so in the next post.


Melisa Sim said...

may i know you prefer to which brand of acoustic strings?

daniel said...

Hi Melisa, I like to use D'Addario EXP strings. They are extended play strings, so they last longer

Matt said...

All good points!

I feel that sometimes, depending on what type of music you play the old broken-in string sounds better than the new string.

For example, I prefer to keep older strings on my acoustic guitar. I think for finger picking songs I prefer that softer tone that strings get after they are played for a while. It's sort of like an old pair of jeans. They may not look flashy, but they feel great. Plus, I find older strings stay in tune for longer.

I wrote a similar post on my blog a few years ago. Maybe it would be helpful to your readers as well: How Often Should You Change Your Guitar Strings?