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When to Change Guitar Strings

How do you know if you need new guitar strings?

If you have an Electric or an Acoustic Guitar
Here are a couple of questions to answer:

1) Have you had the same strings on for over 2 months?
2) Are your strings rusty?
3) Are your strings rough?
4) Do your strings sound dull?
5) Had a string break recently?

If you answered yes to any of the above, its probably time to replace your electric guitar strings or acoustic guitar strings.
Strings on Electric and Acoustic Guitars

 

Because of moisture on your fingers and in the atmosphere, strings corrode and rust over time and their ability to vibrate diminishes. This not only causes the sound to dull but even worse, the feel of the strings becomes rough and will hurt or even damage your fingers.

Strings can also become brittle from too much vibration, just think of how a paper clip snaps if you twist it too much, the same happens to strings.

If you play a lot, say for 2 hours a day every day, then you should look at changing your guitar strings every month.
If you play less, but still strum most days, the max you should leave them on the guitar would be 2 months.

Strings are quite cheap, about £5 for a set of 6.

There is an alternative to changing your strings this often. You can buy coated strings. These last longer due to a coating on the strings that prevent dirt build up and corrosion. Coated guitar strings tend to last 3 to 5 times longer than normal strings, so you can leave them on for longer. These still need to be changed though. At least every 6 months these should be changed as they are also prone to breaking because of the vibrations of the string as explained earlier using the paper clip analogy.
Coated strings do cost more, about £12 for a set of 6, but last longer, so can work out more cost effective.



If you have a Bass Guitar
Here are a couple of questions to answer:

1) Have you had the same strings on for over 6 months?
2) Are your strings rusty?
3) Do your strings sound dull?
4) Had a string break recently?

If you answered yes to any of the above, its probably time to replace your bass guitar strings.
Strings on Bass Guitars
The strings on a bass guitar are much more substantial and tend to hold their tone and last longer than on an electric or acoustic guitar. Though the gaps between the windings of the string gets full up with sweat,dead skin, oil and dirt from your fingers and makes the strings dirty, smelly and tonally flat.

If you play hard or play often, then change bass strings about every 3 to 4 months. If you don't play that hard and don't play that regularly then change your strings about every 6 months.



If you have a Classical Guitar
For classical guitars with nylon based strings (yes 3 of the strings look like metal, but they are a thin metal wire wound around a nylon core).
Here are a couple of questions to answer:

1) Have you had the same strings on for over 4 months?
2) Are your strings dirty?
3) Do your strings sound dull?
4) Had a string break recently?
5) Are your strings hard to keep in tune?

If you answered yes to any of the above, its probably time to replace your classical guitar strings.
Strings on Classical Guitars
Because of the way classical guitar strings are made, they don't rust. Classical guitar strings age though. When they age they tend to stretch and become hard to keep in tune. They may also become brittle and prone to breaking. If you don't want to wait till this starts happening, you should look at changing them regularly.

If you play often, say for 2 hours a day every day, then you should look at changing your guitar strings every month. If you play less often then look at changing them every 2 to 3 months.

Under no circumstances put acoustic steel strings on a classical guitar!

Classical guitars are not designed to take the tension of acoustic steel strings and you could (and probably will) cause irreparable damage to the guitar.

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