String Changing--what makes you decide it needs to be done?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by Flouswa, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Flouswa

    Flouswa Synchromatic

    I'm posting this because I'm sure everyone has a different answer to this and it's really a matter of preference. But what usually is the trigger (or triggers) that make you decide it is time to change the strings on a guitar?

    For me, it usually is when I notice I'm having problems with them not staying in tune, especially if they are going out quickly as I'm playing. And certain chords start to have a "mushy" tone to them, for me, it always seems like it's an open C. (Not sure why). Plus, with certain types of strings, I notice my hands end up stinking thanks to the corrosion about that same time. There have been a few times that when I'm done, the strings are laying there on the dining room table pad and since it's white, I can see just how bad they are and think "why the heck did I wait so long?!?!"

    I've gotten into a routine that I started at the beginning--when I change a set of strings, I rip the cover off the package of that set and write which guitar they went on and the date. That way I know what I've used plus have an idea of how old. And instead of hanging out on GT, I probably need to set aside some time to change the strings on the Streamliner...
  2. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
  3. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    With the guitars I play regularly, I change strings a week or so before every gig. With the guitars I don’t play as often, I change them about every month and a 1/2 or when they start to sound “not so fresh”.
  4. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    Generally it's when they start getting divots and/or are otherwise feeling/sounding old. How long it takes varies widely w/ playtime and from guitar to guitar and w/ what strings I'm putting on (those Ernie Ball Paradigms seem like they could easily last for 6 months of fairly regular use before they start seeming tired but I usually only use them on the darker sounding guitars).
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  5. stevo

    stevo Country Gent

    May 1, 2012
    When the rust causes my fingers to bleed after an hour of shredding.


    I actually notice that the elasticity decreases over time and change when they start feeling stiff and brittle. The brittle part may just be all in my imagination.
  6. shrews824

    shrews824 Synchromatic

    Feb 22, 2016
    Hardinsburg, Kentucky
    When I was gigging, I would try to change strings about every 24 hours of playtime. That doesn't sound like much, but when I began to pay attention to it, it was incredible how much the strings deteriorate in that span. Nowadays I just let them go until they become dull, begin to have tuning issues, and I start to see a bit of grime and discoloration on the strings around the 1st, 2nd, 3rd frets. Mind you that is when using regular strings like Ernie Ball or D'Addario.
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  7. Howard hughes

    Howard hughes Synchromatic

    Mar 22, 2018
    when they break it's time to change for me. i can have the same set of strings on a guitar for months, i actually prefer slightly dead strings don't like new ones they buzz too much. was thinking of trying flat wounds for this reason. also waste comes into it for me, you see those rig rundowns and the guitar tech will change strings every night on every guitar, it's unnecessary i think. yeah the deader the better for me.
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  8. calebaaron666

    calebaaron666 Country Gent

    Aug 15, 2018
    Portland, Maine
    I waste so many srings! Haha
    I love the feeling and punch of brand new strings.
    I think the frequent changing has a lot to do with preventing string breakage on stage.
    I know for me, I haven’t broken a string on stage since I started putting on fresh strings a week or so before every gig. By the time I’m playing a show they’re stretched and stable.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  9. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    There is no rule of thump.
    Guitars that are played at home do not get as much sweat as guitars I play at gigs or rehearsals.
    So while I need a fresh set for each gig I would say after 4 rehearsals a new set is due. The guitar I play at home usually gets a new set each month.
    On tremolo-equipped guitars the strings are suffering more so they need to be replaced earlier.
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  10. MikeSchindler

    MikeSchindler Synchromatic

    Feb 3, 2014
    I concur with Stevo .to me they start to feel stiff and less elastic. They also start having issues with tuning and intonation.
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  11. swivel

    swivel Gretschie

    May 13, 2018
    Every 4-8 hours of playing.
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  12. Flouswa

    Flouswa Synchromatic

    Interesting to read the replies. And how many have similar answers. One of the reasons I posted this is in case someone really new to guitar reads it. I had a crappy experience with my first teacher. When I asked him this question, he really didn't give me a very good answer, so I had no idea. Then to make matters worse, we got to a point where he had me working on a song that required me to do a lot of sliding from one note to another. Except I couldn't and it was frustrating because I'd done some of it before. After being frustrated beyond belief, I went to ye old internets--and lo and behold, old strings will make it more difficult. Put new strings on my guitar and the problem was solved. But why didn't he tell me that when he could see I was struggling??? It wasn't too long after that I decided to end that teacher/student relationship and found someone who is not only a much better teacher, but a much better person in general.
  13. Hammerhands

    Hammerhands Country Gent

    Aug 26, 2011
    I would rather change a string than move the bridge to compensate for the change in the intonation.

    I wipe the strings with a cloth after I play, if I remember. I have a cloth in the case, and for the guitar by the couch I have one attached to the strap. When you don’t or you forget, the strings can get pretty thick and black, the sound will be lifeless.

    I have one guitar where I left a kink in the string by the third fret. That wore the fret and the buzz travelled up the fretboard for a couple of years.
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  14. gtttrrr

    gtttrrr Synchromatic

    Dec 7, 2011
    United States
    Yep to this, I have some that go bout a year,,, still sound good,,, i’m Lucky to find 8 hours in a week to play though, and then it’s dispensed among a handful of guitars.
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  15. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    My change of strings rate depends on the use and the model of guitar. It goes from several months to several years, or before a gigging season.

    My hands being rather dry, string oxidization is a very slow process with me, and I use standard strings.

    My sets being at least 10-52, they tend to resist better to the fatigue of the metal.

    But yes, material fatigue, oxidization, tuning stability, broken strings are the signal that it is the time to replace strings for me - along with cleaning the guitar and fretboard and, ultimately, a set-up checking.

    But it's me, OK ? :D

  16. pmac11

    pmac11 Synchromatic

    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    About every 6 or 7 weeks. After that they start feeling a bit stiff and dull sounding. Also, new strings always seem to have a nice, slightly slippery feel to them that fades with time.

    Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk
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  17. ZackyDog

    ZackyDog Friend of Fred

    Feb 6, 2015
    In the USA
    I'll get to a point where chords sound they are going out of tune---even when I have tuned the guitar with an electronic tuner---and don't sustain well. I usually replace the plain strings every couple of months; I get several months (six or so) usage from the wound strings.
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  18. mschafft

    mschafft Gretschie

    Jan 19, 2017
    I write the gauge, month and year on small piece of masking tape and stick it at the back of the headstock. I own 25 guitars and some have the same strings on for years... and that's fine with me.
  19. Winterwind

    Winterwind Gretschie

    Dec 17, 2018
    London, Ontario
    Yeah, there are so many variable but sound, feel and tuning stability are it.

    If I'm just playing at home, and I do keep the climate as controlled as I can for temp and humidity, my strings can stay on there for a few months. Hell, I haven't changed the strings (La Bella flats) on my bass for almost three years but my guitars tend to get changed seasonally.

    When you're gigging, between every gig.
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  20. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    Like Flouswa, it's about noticing the tuning instability, especially if I tune it to pitch and then the pitch is swinging back and forth from too high to too low because it can't stabilize. A few years back, I read that this is a sure sign your strings need to be changed. Also, if the "sparkle' is gone, leaving the "dead" sound, I'll change strings.

    Since I tend to wash my hands before playing, and I wipe down my strings afterward, coupled with my not having the "acid sweat" that some people talk about, I don't change strings as often as most. Also, I'm basically a hobbyist, since my church "playing out" is generally a song or 2 on Sundays. For that reason my string changes are maybe every 3-4 months.
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