How often should I change my strings?
It doesn't take long for strings to loose their shiny coating and bright tone. This may be okay for some of us that don't mind a more dull sound. For others it's already time to change to a fresh set. If you decide to continue using older strings, be aware that:
- Older strings may not stay in tune as well as a new set
- Intonation may suffer
- They're more likely to break than newer strings
If you're using a guitar just for practice you might only change the strings when they break. If you want the guitar to sound like it has some 'life' in it though, you should change them more frequently. Perhaps after a month if you play every day.
There are products available which clean strings after use. They help to prolong life keeping them sounding bright. I would recommend using a string cleaning product especially if you're planning on keeping the strings for a long period.
To get the best tone out of a guitar, new strings will make a big difference. When gigging therefore you'd normally want fresh strings installed.
Whilst travelling to a gig once I started worrying my strings might not make it through the night without breaking. They were fairly old and I tend to bend strings quite a bit. Luckily, or so I though, I had a spare set with me. I put them on the guitar, stretched them, got them in tune and thought I was sorted.
After we started playing I got to the first solo. My hands were a bit sweaty due to gig nerves. The sweat off my fingers combined with the shiny coating of the new strings stopped me bending the strings properly. The strings would jump out from under my fingertips before I hit the notes I was wanted. The solo and all the solos following were a bit of a mess.
Therefore, I would advise that new strings are installed a week or so before a gig so they can be 'played in.' It's a mistake I won't make again!
I once had a guitar with terrible intonation. By this I mean the guitar was in tune but when I played chords half way up the neck it sounded very out of tune. I thought the guitar was causing the problem so I set about adjusting the bridge. I realised after a while this was not helping so I put a new set of strings on to see if that would help. It was perfect again (apart from the changes I'd made to the bridge!).