Many guitar students have a very valid question as to when is the right time to change their strings. The answer depends on a personal as well as a technical aspect – so let’s check it out.
A new set of strings provides a nice bright tone, improved intonation, less string breakage and the ability to stay in tune better.
Many players, including myself, prefer a slightly worn in sound of the string. This does not mean that the strings on my guitar are a year old, but I like the way they feel after a couple days of playing. The strings then feel less tense and the tone rounds off a bit meaning it is less bright. This is a personal preference and not true to all guitar players. Some touring guitarists prefer to change strings every night. I like to play 2 shows on a new set of strings before changing to a fresh set. On the guitars that I use for daily practice it is not uncommon that I don’t change strings for a very long time and I mean months. This is what I refer to as a personal preference.
Now, let’s take a look at a few other things.
If your guitar no longer stays in tune, the strings sound dead or break easily – these are another dead giveaways it is time to change strings. It is hard to tell how many playing hours a new set lasts for. It depends on the amount you sweat while playing and if you take care to extend the life of your strings while they were on your guitar.
Another great way to tell if it might be time to change strings is to run your right hand index finger under the string up and down the fretboard. If you can feel the fret markings (ie: very faint indentations) under the string, this should tell you that you might be ready for a new set.
If you are curious as to how to extend the life of your strings – simply wipe them down after each time your play. You can use simple guitar polish on a flannel, cotton or microfiber cloth. Remember to wipe underneath the string as well as this is where a lot of the dirt hides.