Many guitar beginners wonder how often or when they should replace guitar strings.
To be honest there is no clear answer and everything comes down to personal tastes and habits.
But as a general rule of thumb here are a few indicators that you should consider changing strings on your instrument
Wear and Tear Signs
When you spot some “dirt” or worst rust, you should really change them. But wear signs can be subtler.
Strings can begin to sound dull or lose their shine completely, it’s usually a sign that you need to replace the strings.
A fresh set will have a more brilliant and clear sound. They also tend to slide better on the frets. They simply feel great at touch.
You Have an Upcoming Show or Recording Session
Whenever you have an upcoming gig you should consider changing strings. After all they are not that expensive when you want to offer your best performance.
Note that a very new set might sound a bit too “metallic”. It might also need to be stretched a bit. I personally prefer when they have already been played for a short practice period. If you are very serious about this, you could plan to have a short warmup session in order to “break” that “glassy” feeling and sound.
In fact, some guitar players just don’t like that new string sound and rather have old strings…
Guitar Tune Up
If you plan on setting the intonation on your guitar, it’s a no-brainer that you want to do this with a fresh set of strings. They will be easier to tune because they usually have a more stable sound. You will also make sure that a “faulty” string does not alter your adjustments.
Before setting the intonation make sure to have the right string gauge since you have to do this every time you change sizes.
Some players like to change their strings after a certain period of time.
In fact, the contact with air is enough to deteriorate strings. They tend to naturally lose their shine and clarity.
This is even more true if there is a high humidity level where you keep your instrument.
Some string brands or types will tend to last longer than others. If this is an issue for you, I recommend that you try wrapped strings. They are more expensive but last longer than some cheaper sets.
That may seem unfair but some people have a skin oil that damage and corrode strings very quickly.
In fact, a single practice session can make the them look like they have been there for months.
To counter this effect, everyone should wash their hands before playing but that is even more important if you have this issue.
Also if this is your case, you should absolutely consider using wrapped strings.
How to Protect Your Strings and Instrument
A simple way to prolong the life of your strings is to wipe them with a clean and dry clothes. This will also be good for the fretboard.
Furthermore, some products like the Fast-Fret help you clean the strings after each playing session. It also claims to help let your fingers slide better on the neck.
Replace Guitar Strings More Often
Finally, if you’re anything like me, you know this great feeling of having new strings on your instrument. Unfortunately, we often neglect to change them or wait for too long.
I think for many guitar players the answer to when they should change string is really simple: More often!
Many types are not so expensive and a string replacement is a great reason to sit down and play. 😉
Now your time! Let me know how often you change strings or what your favorite guitar strings brand is.
P.S: You might want to look at the guitar string notes and alternate tunings post.