When To Change Guitar Strings, A Guide On How Often To Switch Them Out

Changing strings! It feels boring and tiresome, but it's something we all have to do to keep our guitars in good shape. If you’ve ever wondered, ”How often should I change my guitar strings?”, you’re in the right place.

There are many factors that can determine the right time to change your guitar strings. With such mixed information on the Internet, it can be really difficult to know what's right for you and your guitar.

That’s why we’ve made this definitive guide that’ll allow you to find YOUR schedule for changing guitar strings.

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How Do You Know If It's Time To Change Your Guitar Strings?

How Do You Know If It's Time To Change Your Guitar Strings

An obvious sign that your guitar needs restringing is when the strings break. But before your strings give you the ultimate notice, there are lots of ways to tell that you should probably take care of the problem.

If you see any of these signs, you should quit delaying and get your guitar some new strings.

  • Signs of corrosion – If your strings are losing their luster or feel rusty and rough to the touch, you should change them out. If you sweat a lot, then your strings are probably going to corrode faster. If sweating-related corrosion is a problem for you, then you can check out coated strings (like Elixir or D’Addario XT) and string cleaners (GHS Fast Fret is a good option) to wipe out your strings after every practice. This prevents grime build-up and will help you play smoother too.
  • Dull sound – If your strings don't sound clear anymore or sound dull and lifeless, then it is likely a good idea to switch them out. Some guitarists, especially heavy metal players, like the dull sound of old strings, but it's important to keep in mind that old strings lose their flexibility over time, making it harder to keep your guitar in tune. They also lose resonance and picking attack, which isn’t ideal for live performances.
  • Grime build-up and kinks – When you play your guitar, dirt, grease, oil, and dead skin cells from your fingers get transferred to the strings. The more frequently you play your guitar, of course, the faster this buildup happens. It is a good idea to change your strings when lots of grime accumulates on your fretboard. Strings also commonly develop kinks near the fret and should be changed before it gets too late. These kinks can quickly break, causing the strings to snap in your face (a nightmare for most guitarists!).

When To Change Your Guitar Strings: Ask Yourself These Questions

As easy as it is to just provide you with a magical number and be done with it, the reality is a bit more complex than that.

A rule of thumb that is often cited is that you should change your strings every 3 months or after every 100 hours of practice, but this rule is not set in stone.

How’s The Weather Where You Live?

A lot of it depends not only on how often you play your guitar but also where you live, which affects things like the local weather or humidity or dust or sand, which in turn affects your string's longevity.

Humidity is wood’s worst enemy, and consequently guitars too. If your environment is very humid, then you can consider getting a dehumidifier. Storing your guitar properly when not being used is essential.

Do You Sweat A Lot?

Not only does the outside environment play a role, but your body's own chemistry can also determine how long your strings last. If you are a heavy sweater, for example, you are going to wear out your strings through corrosion relatively faster.

As mentioned earlier, coated strings are a boon to sweaty-handed guitarists.

How Often Do You Practice?

If you are just starting out and mainly just play at home without any regular practice schedule then changing them once every three to five months is absolutely fine.

If you are a more regular player with some professional commitments, then you should probably be changing your strings every four to eight weeks, depending on how often you play professionally and the quality of your existing strings.

More advanced players with a fixed practicing schedule and those who perform or record more or less daily or weekly need to change their strings every couple of weeks or every two to four weeks.

Do You Perform On Stage?

The pro guitarist knows just by intuition when it's time to swap those old strings out, but someone who is constantly playing the instrument, whether with their band or on a live show, should change their strings at least once a week.

Some players also change their strings before any performance as it means fewer headaches on stage. You won’t have to worry about a string breaking off in the middle of a gig.

What’s Your Playing Style?

As we have seen, the regularity with which you need to change strings depends on a lot of varying factors, including your playing style (aggressive or soft), how long or how often you play, and also the situations or venues that you play in.

Strings should be changed based on the needs and preferences of the individual player and not on a general rule of thumb.

Your strings are subjected to a lot of tension when they are tuned up, and on top of that, the daily playing and the various techniques (bending, vibrato, tapping) applied to it while practicing take their toll.

Even if you take your guitar out just once a year and rarely play, your guitar strings are not immune to the effects of corrosion. Humidity still acts on them, and they begin to naturally oxidize. You probably should still change your guitar strings at least once a year.

Taking Proper Care Of Your Strings

Taking Proper Care Of Your Strings

While you can't put off the inevitable and do away with changing strings altogether by just taking good care of them, you can make your strings last a bit longer with some simple habits.

  • Washing your hands before every session. You can prevent transferring all the dust and grime that your hands have collected throughout the day to your guitar by washing your hands before you start practicing.
  • Wipe down your strings after each session. This not only removes any oil or sweat that may have been accumulated during your playing but also removes any moisture. This prevents any rust or tarnish and prevents the grime from deadening the sound of the strings. Cleaning the strings with a standard towel or a clean, soft cloth (like microfiber) will help remove oil and skin debris and any other stuff that accumulates in the windings. Using a string cleaner is optional, but can help add smoothness.
  • Storing your guitar in its case. Though taking your guitar out of its box before every practice session may be a bit of a hassle, storing your guitar in its case protects it from the elements and prevents the humidity from corroding your strings. It might be a good idea to store your guitar in its case if you don't play as often as it will keep your strings fresh for a longer time.

When To Change Guitar Strings, Final Thoughts

If you're in the guitar-playing business, you should know when to change your strings. Not only will this prevent your guitar from losing tone or intonation, but it will also give you some peace of mind.

As you play your guitar and get more experienced, you'll be able to tell when it's time to change your strings just by the sound and feel of your guitar.

Until then, these simple guidelines will sail you through. Don't stress out, enjoy the process, and remember to keep a spare set of strings handy!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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