An Average Guitar player who plays guitar for around an hour a day can play their strings for 3 months before changing. But Aspiring pro guitarist that plays for 2 to 3 hours per day should changes strings every single month for better performance.
Putting the new set of strings on your guitar will not only sound more bright, clear, and clean but also helps you while practicing your music. These timeframes may change on the different factors which I discuss later in this article! Make sure you read them to get your estimated timeframe.
How Often Should You Change Guitar Strings?
If you play
When to Change:
The Infrequent Player
Less than 15 minutes per week
Once a year will be Fine!
Occasional Player or Learner
1–3 hours per week
Every 6–7 months
The Avid Hobbyist
3–12 hours per week
Every 3–5 months
The Serious Player or Aspiring Pro
12–25 hours per week
Every 1–2 months (more frequently, if needed)
The Pro Musician
30+ hours per week
Once a week, or possibly daily
Why do you need to Change your Guitar Strings?
If you’re wondering what is the need to change the guitar strings over and over again! These are some of the points that might break this opinion:
1. Old Strings Sound Awful
This is the first and very important reason to change guitar strings often. As strings start getting old, their sound and tone start changing over time.
This happened due to the oil and dirt from your fingertips. The more you play your guitar, the more dirt will set on the strings, as a result, they continue to degrade and start to sound really crazy!
If you’re a beginner, I really don’t think, you’re going to feel much difference in the sound quality and if you’re okay with that, you can continue with that set of strings for a little more time.
But, if you really want to excel at your performance and want to take as much as you can from your practice, you need to replace your strings.
2. Strings Starts to Feel Weird
Do you remember that feeling when you pick that brand new guitar and play your first strum? When you play with a new set of strings, it feels so slick. They allows you to slide your finger over them effortlessly. Even different styles like bending, hammering, everything sounds so clear.
Why? Because new strings are clean!
As time passes, oil and dirt start setting up on the strings and strings start to get corroded and eventually start their quality. If you don’t want to get into all this, take this factor as a sign and consider buying a new set of strings for your sessions.
3. Strings can Break Anytime
Older strings are more likely to break as compare to a new string. obvious, right? When you pressed your fingers on the strings, it rubbed against the fretboard. It leads to the wear and tear of the strings and eventually breaks off.
If you’re keep breaking the strings during your session, Buddy, Its time to change your guitar strings.
4. Strings Suffer from Winding Issues
Do you know how guitar strings are constructed in the first place? There are different types of string windings out there. Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. The winding of strings is one of the key factors that decide the tone and also stability of the strings.
Older strings can suffer from the winding issues, as it start to loosen against the core wire. As a result, you start getting issues with tuning and stability.
If you start seeing some gaps in the string winding or notice your strings having trouble staying in tune, It is a sign to replace them for better performance.
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These are some of the factors you can take into consideration to find out whether or not your strings are dead and need instant replacement.
1. Guitar Strings won’t stay in tune
One thing you need to know here, Both Brand new and Old strings suffer from this issue. But with Brand new strings, this will get easily sort by stretching the strings a little bit. This happens automatically after you played them for a few days.
But, If you’re strings are not Brand New and you’re seeing this issue, this might be an indicator that you need to change your guitar strings. As time passes, guitar strings lose their ability to stay in tune for a longer time during music sessions.
2. Change in Color
The oil and sweat from your fingers set on the guitar strings. which makes them more open to corrosion and eventually this leads to breakage. change in color of the strings is one of the early signs.
If you’re using nickel or steel strings, they tend to lose their luster and turn into the dull grey color wire. If you use bronze strings, the copper-colored cover of strings turned into dark brown. If you see such changes on your strings, you should consider a new set of strings.
3. Tone Becomes Dull
Do you remember the sound when you put that brand new set of strings on your guitar? Many peoples loves it! It is bright, crisp, and sharp. with some playing, sound becomes little soft and mellow, which is also liked by many players.
But, you need to understand the difference, does your strings sounding Mellow or it is sounding dull / flat. If you don’t have this skill (Like Almost all beginners!) don’t worry!
Generally, guitar strings tends to sound mellow during first week to fourth week. After that they start getting flat! But this all asumsion are completely depends on how much time you’re actually playing the strings.
If you can’t judge this sound difference, you can skip this point. Let’s take a look at the next factor that will help you to tell if you’re strings are dead or not:
4. Your Strings feels kind of Stiff and Dirty
Guitar strings are naturally flexible and smooth. You can easily bend them, you can easily slide your fingers over the fretboard.
But, over time due to corrosion (which we can’t prevent totally!) strings tends to lose their flexibility and start becoming stiff. while sliding, if you’re feeling friction on your fingers, that is dirt and oil that pile up on the strings over time.
I am not saying, your strings are going to break today! But, If you notice two or more points in your case, then you should consider ordering one or two extra string sets, Just in case!
There are so many ways to extend the life of your strings. You may feel some of these ways are obvious and they are, but you need to take care of each point to get maximum performance from your guitar strings.
Here’s the first tip:
1. Use Coated Strings
As I already told you, the main enemy of the strings is corrosion. As the name suggests, coated strings come with an extra coat on them which slows down the process of corrosion.
There are many kinds of coated strings available in the market from different brands. Personally, I like This Elixir Coated Strings. It costs you only a few bucks but performs exceptionally well.
2. Boil Your Strings in Water
Depending on your use, the tone of strings starts changing around 2-3 weeks of playing. they start to sound a little flat and you will also notice the dirt on them. Don’t just rush to the store to get a new set of strings!
You can able to restore their bright, crisp, and clear tone back by dripping them into the hot boiling water for almost 10 to 12 min. after draining the water off, Bamm! They are alive again and you can put them back on your guitar.
3. Wash your Hands before Start Playing
The one thing that accelerates the process of corrosion is the dirt and oil that transferred from your fingers to the strings. You can also include this in your routine. Every time you feel like playing your guitar, wash your hands before you pick the instrument.
I don’t think, you even need to remember this, because Now, we all know why we need to wash our hands after a recent pandemic (LOL…) 🙂
4. Wipe them Down After Playing
Even after you washed your hands before playing, If you played the guitar for a significant amount of time, there will be sweat. This is not a thing that we can control.
But, we can clean this with either a rag or using a simple clean cloth. Believe me, even all these small things can increase the life of your guitar strings.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Change the Strings on a New Guitar?
Putting a new set of guitar strings is never a bad idea, unless you’re thinking before an exam or a gig! There is not way to check how old are the strings that comes with a new guitar.
I recommend you first try out the standard strings that come with the guitar. If it is feeling different to you, if strings are having trouble staying in tune, without wasting time, go for new strings to improve your performance.
How Long do Guitar Strings Last in Package?
One of the main reasons why strings go bad is Humidity. Over time, oil and dirt start setting up on the strings and corrode them. Talking about packaged strings (unopened), as long as the strings are placed at a low humidity spot, they can last for about a year or even more in some cases.
How Long do Guitar Strings Last if not Played?
As I mention above, Humidity is the reason why strings go bad and need replacement time to time. Once you take strings out of the package, humidity is going to start playing its role.
Although as strings are not coming in contact with oil and dirt, they can last longer for about 7 to 8 months without playing. And if humidity is relatively lower at your location, strings can last for one or two additional months.
How Often do Pros change Guitar Strings?
Professional players who play guitar on daily basis for hours change their guitar strings after every two weeks. Even beyond, those who play in smoky clubs or those who play more aggressively change their strings even more often to keep their tone clean and bright.
But, I never recommend taking this as a hard-n-fast rule. This all depends on your playing style and how much time you spend on guitar? Instead, try to understand the factors strings are trying to give and judge on that basis, whether you should change the strings or not?
Final Thoughts on Replacement of Strings:
If you go out and ask random guitar players when they normally changed their guitar strings, you get different answer from almost all players. this is because changing a strings is completely personal preference.
As you move ahead in your musical journey, you automatically detect a change in the sound and you can easily decide when to change the strings.
I hope you like this article and it helped you in one way or another. If you have any kind of doubt about this topic, feel free to put it down in the comment section.
Hii, My name is Vishal Dorge and I am from India. I am the Creator of this site and want to help people just like you and me who enjoy music through the heart and want to learn it, especially about the guitar. Read More About Vishal Dorge Here