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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 they rusty or rough?
4) Do they sound dull?
5) Had one 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, they feel rough and will hurt or even damage your fingers.

They 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 them.

If you play a lot, say for 2 hours a day, every day, then you should look at changing them every month.
If you play less, but still strum most days, the maximum 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 them this often. You can buy coated ones. These last longer, preventing dirt build up and corrosion, and can last 3 to 5 times longer than normal ones, 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 guitar 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 ones on for over 6 months?
2) Are they rusty, or do they sound dull?
3) Had one break recently?

If you answered yes to any of the above, its probably time to replace your bass guitar strings.
Strings on Bass Guitars
On a bass guitar, they 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 them dirty, smelly and tonally flat.

If you play hard or play often, then change them about every 3 to 4 months. If you don't play that hard and don't play that regularly then change them about every 6 months. Some gigging bassists will put a fresh set on before every gig!



If you have a Classical Guitar
For classical guitars with nylon based strings (yes 3 of them 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 ones on for over 4 months?
2) Are they dirty, or do they sound dull?
3) Had one break recently?
4) Is your guitar 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 they are made, they don't rust, they do 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 them 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 extra tension, and you could (and probably will) cause irreparable damage to the guitar.

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