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I've got a dark blue Fender Squier stratocaster with the same set of strings since date of purchase (about 6 years ago).
I've also got a 4-year-old Cort acoustic guitar with a set of 6-month-old strings.
When I brought my acoustic in to the music store to put on 2 strings that both broke a few days prior, they asked how old the strings were. I said they were all 3 years old (except for the 3rd string, which was quickly replaced after it broke 15 minutes before I had to go on stage at a local music festival, but that's another story…).
They ended up replacing all the strings with my consent (why not?), and recommended that the strings should all be replaced every few months or so.
Surely there are several members of Looperman that have more guitar experience and knowledge than I do. That's why I've decided to ask here…
Is the string replacement recommendation I've been given a reasonable recommendation? Or are the string change intervals of the recommendation too frequent?
"Is the string replacement recommendation I've been given a reasonable recommendation?"
Depends on what you intend to do with your guitars. Are you recording with them and want them to sound good, or are you just jamming around and writing stuff with them?
If you're just jamming and playing for fun, not caring too much about tone and sustain, then I'd replace your strings at least once a year. It's $12, so just do it.
If you're always recording with your guitar, you want fresh strings all the time. If recording guitar is what you do, then I'd change strings AT LEAST every 6 weeks.
Bass strings can go a bit longer.
Also, check the intonation on your strat. That is very important. Intonation is the space between the 12th fret and the saddle in your bridge, the part that actually does the vibrating. That is what the screws at the bottom of your bridge are for. If you're in tune playing a harmonic on the 12th fret, but sharp or flat when you lightly finger and play the 12th fret, then you need to adjust the screw for that saddle in the bridge. Clockwise lowers the note, increasing space by drawing the saddle further from the fret. Counterclockwise, the opposite,... of course. Do this for each string, loosening the string before adjusting the screw, and making sure the harmonic and fingered notes are both perfectly in tune. If you ever change string gauges in the future, you'll have to redo this, but really, it takes 10 minutes.
I hope this helps.
Totally agree with all the good advice Evisma has given you, about the only strings that you never need to change (unless you break one) is flat wound bass strings (and to a much lesser degree flatwound jazz guitar strings) the whole purpose of them is to get a mellow un-bright tone and on basses they usually last for years, perspiration is the big killer for guitar strings so always wipe down your strings after playing and one excellent cheap way to give your strings added longevity it to get one of those foam shoe shiners (they last for years and only cost a couple of bucks) that is impregnated with silicone, a couple of wipes and their silky smooth and moisture repellent .
Every couple months sounds about right but what Evisma said is the truth. Depends on what youre your using your guitar for. Over time they wear out and dont sound quite as crisp and eventually wont stay in tune so well.
You've already had some good advice from everyone.
At this point, if you are becoming more serious about guitar playing, it is probably best to begin changing strings yourself. Like PJB hinted at, intonation can be different with different or new strings. So it is a good time to check and adjust that if necessary.
Unless it is a big emergency, I will not replace single strings, but do them all at once. It gives a more consistent tone and playing experience at the very least.
A lot of this comes down to how much you play your guitar, the conditions of storage (humidity and temperature), and even simple design elements such as break angle at the bridge. A high break angle can wear strings out quite a bit faster.
Wiping the strings after playing it is a great habit. When I was practicing daily, I was getting good at doing this. Now, not so much. Sometimes, I will change out the strings and use a guitar for a few days... then I'll forget to wipe the strings. Usually within several months to a year, they are corroded. The high humidity we've had around here lately makes this much worse.
Either way, taking guitars to a shop simply to get strings changed is a bit overboard, especially if they are not adjusting action and intonation at the same time. They were probably best to replace all of them. A simple tool kit, with chromatic tuner, allen wrenches, and small screwdrivers are usually all you will need.
As a guitar player of 6 years, I change my strings more than once a month. I'm working on building a habit of cleaning my guitars as that lengthens life span tremendously. Unfortunately, my strings costs 20$ a pop, but theyre worth every penny for the tone I get from my instruments!
Unfortunately, my strings costs 20$ a pop, but theyre worth every penny for the tone I get from my instruments!
20 bucks? Dear Lord, for 20 bucks my strings better wipe my sweat before it hits it...lol. J/K XD. Which brand is it, and for which type of guitar (acoustic, electric)?
I've been playing for 30 years, mostly at home now. I don't play it a lot like before due to boredom and excessive work and family load. I use to change my sttrings after 3 live shows, 2 shows per week. With all the beating it took, it's longevity was only a short span. Now that I'm home practicing and recording, I'll change it every two months Make sure to wipe it clean after playing it. Also, make sure to wipe it clean when sitting out in the open because of dust :)
I think you answered your own question. The true age expiration of guitar strings is "when they break"! If you have several guitars, changing the strings based on the Guitar Shop recommendation could end up being an expensive proposition. The truth is there is no hard and fast rule on when to change your strings because of the many factors involved. The guys above have pretty much summed up the majority of these which is really is based on the type of player you are, how often you are playing, how well you take care of them and personal preference. If you are a very physical player who does a lot of bending and stretching, this will certainly shorten the life of your strings. If you play often and especially if you are performing live, of course strings will wear faster and changing conditions will have an effect. As already mentioned, you should always wipe the strings down after playing and if you perform and are consistently subjecting your guitar to the elements (temperature and humidity changes), you should be using a string cleaner/conditioner to prolong their life and keep them in top shape. Of course no one wants to break a string, especially in the middle of a live performance, so a little preventive maintenance and continual inspection is important. If you wait until your strings are rusty or discolored, sound lack luster and wont stay in tune, your pressing your luck. Overall, your experience should tell you when to change them long before a string breaks. I'm not so much a fan of brand new strings. Old strings are already stretched and have better tone, up to a point. So tuning issues stem from other deteriorating factors like corrosion, scraped strings from pick attack, and grooves or pitting of the strings from the frets, bridge and nut. However, Tuning issues could also have nothing to do with the strings themselves. It could be anything from bad tuners to a warped neck to an improperly cut nut and more. All of these or some can lead to bad tone, intonation issues, slippage, fretting out, and tuning problems. Don’t always blame the strings!
Haha, I bet you thought this was going to be an easy answer? Its not. Your strings are very important, taking ownership and learning as much about them as you can will be invaluable to you and save you money. Good luck.
One thing nobody has mentioned is the fret ware caused by aging strings. As a Jazz player I prefer the sound of older strings plus changing strings is a bore. However I keep an eye on the (especially underside) condition of my strings. As they age they start to get a bit hairy on the side closest to the frets. This is actually like iron fillings. It's layers of the winding on the strings breaking and hanging off the strings. If you play the guitar with strings in such a state it's a bit like dragging a wire brush across the frets. Not good. Not good at all. I use the coated strings which give a longer life but time wise it's more a matter of how many hours playing time than how many days/weeks/months/years since you put the strings on.
Don't laugh but I have an old, probably very late 40's/early 50's Robert Johnson style acoustic. I had not played it for 15 years and got it out the other day. Strings were perfect.
Might actually post a few loops recorded on it here as I have not posted any loops for a couple of years now. Just some basic 12 bar stuff in E or A.
Oh and btw that guitar has the thinest frets I have ever seen and very low profile making it perfect for slide. Last frets I would ever want to see wear on though.
Hey Steve, I had a chuckle when I read your post 'string changing is a bore' I can relate to that especially when I think of the 12 string I used to own, now that was tedious! Interestingly enough the last guitar I bought had locking tuners installed and since then I swear by them (though obviously they don't suit all guitar types) changing strings is a snap and takes a tenth of the time of conventional tuners...Back on topic, buying strings in bulk (like 5/10 packs or so might seem crazy but you can save heaps and it optimises your tonal output, I started buying strings from a local supplier quite a few years ago for an average of about $5 a set in a ten pack purchase, I was sceptical at first as they were made in China but truth be told their as good sonically as any other top shelf strings you can buy...mind you it's imperative to know how to properly set up your guitar and get good intonation as Evisma previously stated.
Thanks everyone for the advice.
Evisma: "Are you recording with them and want them to sound good, or are you just jamming around and writing stuff with them?"
At this stage, I'm just jamming around. I would, however, like to start recording later on.
Evisma: "Also, check the intonation on your strat. Clockwise lowers the note, increasing space by drawing the saddle further from the fret. Counterclockwise, the opposite... of course."
The directions are backwards for my strat, but I did it. It was very stressful, as my household is very rarely quiet. I'm just lucky I've got a pair of headphones.
PJB: "Perspiration is the big killer for guitar strings so always wipe down your strings after playing."
I feel like an idiot for not knowing that. Why was I never told this in music class?
phatkatz4: "Over time they wear out and dont sound quite as crisp and eventually wont stay in tune so well."
Actually, for strings that are 6 years old, they're still holding their tune very well. It takes about a week or so before they need retuning, and they never detune any further than about 50 cents (half a semitone) either way. However, several uses of the whammy bar is all it takes to throw the strings out of tune.
Spivkurl: "At this point, if you are becoming more serious about guitar playing, it is probably best to begin changing strings yourself."
I've tried. I'm hopeless at it. It's just the process of connecting the string to the tuning bolt on the head of the guitar that I have a real struggle with.
Spivkurl: "Unless it is a big emergency, I will not replace single strings, but do them all at once. It gives a more consistent tone and playing experience at the very least."
That's exactly why I had all of the strings changed on my acoustic. I had some concern with how consistent the guitar would sound with 2 new strings alongside 4 older strings.
I just checked on my fender squier strat and the directions are not backwards. If you just start turning the screw, the note will raise, yes, but this is not tuning. The note raised because you increased the string's action and breaking angle going into and through the bridge. This will tighten the sting and raise the action a bit. You must loosen the string at the headstock tuner first, make the adjustment, then retune. If the note keeps going higher when you turn clockwise, it's because the string is getting tighter due to a less direct path out of the bridge. Lower the action on your saddle. I hope this helps.
Well... to say the least, it's been a success.
Last month, the strings on my strat had lost its sustain to an extent that bothered me, so I bought myself a set of 'industry standard' 10-gauge nickel-wound guitar strings ($8.65) and began to remove and install.
Of course, while the strat had no strings on it, I cleaned it all over with some disinfectant wipes. There was also some remaining bits of protective plastic that were easier to remove, but one piece required the loosening of a screw which, in turn, caused one of the pickup's spring dampers to jump out. I had to take the entire front plate off to get it back into place.
Anyway, the strings were relatively easy to install, though it would've been easier if I had a string winder. My strat sounds a lot better now. :)
Happy to hear that you have taken the plunge!
Honestly, when a guitar has been sitting on the stand with very old strings, it tends to remain sitting there until I put some new strings on it! Without serious climate control, even several months of humidity and temperature variation can utterly destroy my strings.
I can also identify very much with PJB's talk about changing a twelve string, very tedious. My twelve string electric sat there with bad strings for so long that I decided to just take them off until I get the urge to play a 12 again... I figured they were just doing more harm than good. They were kind of like a combination of black and green instead of bronze from the humidity!
Like you've probably found out, a six string electric without a locking nut is about the easiest guitar to change strings on. I'm sure it was worth it!
depends on your setup and your style of playing do yo use a pick or your fingers are all your strings same gauge or is each string different gauge wont hurt to change them like he says you as a player will know when they ned be changed best too buy strings in quanity
also do you down tune
like a pair of shoes some foke weare their out befor others the more you stretch strings sooner you will need a change a lot of tunning bending pounding down on them with your fingers ect
because your breaking strings that would mean you do need change sooner then others
also my opinion its good too have a bunch of guitars when you gig ech one prestup for a certain song you play
Been doing the guitar thing since the 60s...if you want to pay a bit extra for Elixar strings you can actually get away with leaving them on for at least 6 months (some claim a year but I have never tried that but I could believe it)...I have been using them on all my guitars except bass & nylon string for years,,,never cared to try coated strings till I tried them & the really do stay bright for a long time (I change them every 2 months or so anyway)...I used Dean Markley Blue Steel strings for years...changed them once a month when the brightness started to fade a bit...when I was playing out regularly I changed strings at least once a month....Ed
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