When Should I Change My Strings?
Today we will tackle a very common question we receive here at the shop – “how often should I change my guitar strings?” Believe it or not, there isn’t really a firm answer to this question. It really depends on how often you are playing your guitar and various other factors that we will address in this post.
Generally, our techs at the shop recommend a string change if you notice the following:
1) your strings begin to lose their “brilliance”; a term used to describe when a string starts to sound flat and dull.
2) your strings begin to physically look dirty or splotchy.
3) your strings aren’t achieving their desired intonation.
4) one of your strings break and it’s not due to a sharp burr at the saddles or the nut; it’s often best to change them all at once so they remain consistent
What the Big Brands vs. Players Recommend
Different companies and players have different thoughts about when to change your strings. According to Martin, they recommend the following in their Guitar Care & Feeding Guide:
Fender also recommends the following for when to change your strings:
There is no set rule for how often you should change your strings. If you have strings which are worn, flattened, kinked, corroded, rusted or mucked up with sweat grease and grime, then it is definitely time to change your strings. Really, the only other determining factor should be that if your strings are no longer giving you the tone, brightness and response that you desire, then it’s probably time to change them.
A few months ago, we asked our customers via Facebook & Twitter how often they changed their strings and these were some of the responses:
“Cheap strings about every 4 weeks. Expensive ones (like Tomastik) about every 8 weeks. ” — Gary Z. (@garyzel)
“Once every 1.5 weeks” – Dexter H.
“When my fingers start to smell…I’m serious.” – Michael M.
What Kind of Strings Should I Use?
This also varies greatly upon playing style and preference. Jazz players often prefer flat wounds and a heavier gauge, whereas a standard rock & roll guy may just prefer round wounds. Here’s some things we usually recommend:
* For the average electric guitar player, we recommend .010-.046 round wounds.
* For the average acoustic guitar player, we recommend .012-.053 gauge phosphor bronze.
There are so many types of brands out there, it’s hard to list them all. We stock D’Addario and Dunlop here at SF Guitarworks. We find D’Addario to be consistent (machine made, consistent ball end colorings so it’s easy to identify where they go, etc.) and we also love supporting the “hand made in California” Dunlops. Some people prefer coated strings like Elixirs or even the brass coated sounds of Thomastik-Infeld Power-Brights. We recommend trying a few to get a feel of what you like.