A guitar string is a core component of the instrument. The vibrations it makes is what your pickups or the hollow body of an acoustic guitar resonates to make a sound. Without it, it’s unplayable.
But guitar strings does more than just that. They help build your tone and even influences your playing style. So one must be careful what guitar string or brand to use and know how to take care of it including how to regularly change it whenever it is necessary.
Let’s find out how often should you change guitar strings. Plus, we’re going to throw a few more tips your way to help you improve your guitar playing.
Reasons why guitar strings need changing
We must first discuss why in the first place should you replace your guitar strings before anything else.
- Guitar strings no matter the quality and either for acoustic, electric, or even for bass guitar will break due to various reasons including but not limited to tension, wear, extreme strumming, or rust. Naturally, once this happens you won’t have a choice but to replace a broken string for your guitar won’t sound well even if it lacks only one string.
- Some guitarists especially the professional ones change their strings regularly for fresh ones won’t break as easily as well as to maintain their tone. This is especially true for guitarists that go on tour or have regular gigs for they always want to be confident on-stage and not to worry about any sudden string breakage. Also, some professional guitarists’ guitar tone is maintained by always having fresh strings. So, they don’t actually wait for a string to break before replacing it. Some artists even change strings every gig.
- There are guitar players though that do the exact opposite and don’t replace their strings until they break naturally. And that’s not because they can’t but because of some likes the sound of strings that have stretched in due time. Some guitar players even prefer rust on the strings for a specific feel.
- These habits are not only true for performing artists but also for the ones stepping inside a recording studio. They would either change into a new set of strings before recording a new album to get the tone that they are after.
Knowing these reasons allows you to appreciate the value of good quality guitar strings as they aren’t just a means for your guitar to produce sound. They also affect your tone and overall guitar playing experience.
Before we start on our next 3 sections about changing guitar strings for acoustic, electric, and bass. Let’s establish the reasons why. You need to change your strings as often as we’ve indicated for you to maintain the integrity of the strings (that they won’t suddenly break), maintain the tone, and that you won’t hurt yourself with rust.
And we also would like to emphasize that strings break or wear out based on how much you use it. But also remember that sometimes, strings break because of rust when not in use for most of the time.
How often should you change guitar strings on Acoustic?
For acoustic guitars, it’s prudent to change your strings every 3 months or about 100 hours of practice. This is especially true if you use your guitar often and when you perform with it. An acoustic guitar often has more tension and have higher action compared to electric guitars. So that contributes to its lifespan too.
It’s always nice to have a fresh set of strings on your acoustic guitars for you probably incorporate a lot of plucking in your playing style and you want every note to ring out as crisp as possible. And that’s always possible with a well-maintained guitar with fresh strings now and then.
How often should you change electric guitar strings?
Electric guitars have the luxury of not having much tension compared to acoustic guitar strings. So that also results to lower action and your strings are preserved for longer service life. But it’s also recommended that you change it every 3 months or 100 hours of usage to keep a fresh tone.
Again, this is true for performers and most especially for lead guitarists where the strings bent constantly. Most people even professionals, if they don’t see significant wear or tear then they don’t bother changing them even after say 6 months.
How often should you change bass guitar strings?
Naturally, bass guitar strings last a lot longer compared to acoustics and electrics. And, they seldom break on you. Standard bass guitar strings can be replaced once a year for you to get a fresh sound or tone from your instrument.
Changing it every 6 months would already be too often for non-professionals.
PRO TIP: Loosen your strings when you are not using your guitars and make sure you put them inside their case and in proper storage conditions. If you can afford a guitar rack or stand then that should be much better. Don’t expose it to anything that may lead to rusting.
Loosening the strings should be easy on the bridge, neck, and the strings themselves. Plus, you get to practice tuning it every time you start a practice or performance session.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How to tell if my guitar strings are dead?
When you notice that your guitar strings are not staying in tune and notes are not ringing out as well as it used to do then chances are your guitar’s strings are already dead and it may be time to replace them.
Also, do a physical inspection of them. If you see their natural color has turned to dull grey or black by checking at untouched string areas around the tuning posts or in case of coated strings if coating slowly deteriorating then that should be a clear sign to replace them.
How often do professional guitarists change strings?
It would depend. As mentioned above, some prefer to change every gig with some maybe within a month. It all depends if they are on tour, recording, or if it’s downtime with no gigs.
What happens if you don’t change guitar strings?
If you don’t change your guitar strings then you’ll suffer from sudden breakage and you don’t want that especially when you are on-stage performing. You’ll also hurt yourself as the wear would damage its coating. Also, you’ll suffer from poor guitar tone when guitar strings get old.
Can I replace just one guitar string?
Of course, you may. But take note that there are factors to consider here like if you’re replacing it with the right gauge or the same brand or product. These factors may affect the overall tone of your guitar.
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If you play or practice guitar daily for several hours, you should change your guitar strings more. On the other hand, if you are an irregular player who kept his guitar in good condition, then your guitar strings possibly get more longevity.
But keep in mind that even if you don’t play regularly, rusting and corrosion can affect guitar strings. To mitigate that and extend the natural oxidation process of string material, you can wipe down strings after every session using a string conditioner.
Overall it’s a good practice to change strings every 3-months or 100 hours of usage. You can also use coated strings that will last longer than non-coated. So if you’re serious about guitar playing, then this little extra cost of changing strings will be worth the investment.