How often do you change your guitar strings?


I thought I would change my guitar strings at the weekend as I am leading a united church service next week.  I had forgotten how good a new set sounds! 


So I was wondering how often is an optimum time to change strings?


For the record, my last change was at the beginning of 2010, and I guess I was playing 2 hours/week until the summer holidays.


I will need to change more regularly from now on and I estimate I will be playing 3-4 hours/week.  I don't play hard, and rarely break them.  I use a Crafter guitar and my current strings are Rotosound Jumbo King Phospher Bronze Lights.  Coupled with the time to change a set (possibly an hour each time - usually cos I'm listening to the footie on the radio at the same time (that's soccer to you americans), and that it costs me around £6.00 each set, it is not something I can do every week!  (and if anyone says buy them via the Interweb, no way, as I like to support my local music shop; and there is no chance of my church contributing either).


So how often could you suggest a change? 



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When they get dull and/or difficult to tune.

There's no right answer. Some strings will become dull after a week and useless after 2 (Rotosound - looking at you!). Fender Rock'n'rolls used to develop un-tuneable G syndrome after just a couple of weeks (when I was playing probably 15+ hours a week).

These days I play less and use better quality strings. A set of DR rare bronze will normally last 6-12 months on acoustic, Tite fits 6 to 24 months on electric. I used to like Darco acoustic strings (made by Martin) but they're hard to get. They didn't last more than 3 or 4 months, but sounded good while they were OK. I've tried Elixir, but they went all flakey after just a couple of months and didn't sound great to begin with. I've also started using electric guitar strings on acoustic as they sound just as good (although different) and I prefer the extra flexibility and versatility they offer.
I don't know mate, I used to think you knew a thing or two until you mentioned using electric strings on an acoustic. Don't you run into tuning and intonation issues? I mean, fret an A chord or a D chord and they're all sharp!
You mean because of the un-wound G, or because of different behaviour?

Well apart from the fact that intonation on most acoustics sucks harder than a hoover, if anything I'd say I've found them better. And if you have an acoustic with a 1 piece bridge (as I have) then you get the choice as to which strings fight each other (BvsG or GvsD) according to whether you opt for a wound or bare G.

If you have problems with D and A chords coming out sharp then you need your nut cut deeper or moved a little closer to the bridge.
I've never been able to make it sound satisfactory - electric strings are designed to change pitch easily and don't have the stiffness needed for acoustic playing. I think you must not hear well...

The D and A chords are just examples thrown out there. Acoustics are not designed to handle the specifics of electric strings, so while I'm kidding about your ears, I'm not kidding. I don't see how you can stand it, not to mention the lack of decent sound coming from strings not designed for acoustic tones.
Love you too, Stevo.
Yep, I tried Elixir once as someone told me they were fantastic........I didn't like them one bit, and yes, they went all flakey.
Depending on the brand of guitar and the size/brand of strings, "right before an important gig" can be a bad time to change strings - a lot of times, it can take a while for a new set to settle in enough to stay in tune. Don't know if you have that problem or not, but that's my two cents.
I am the opposite, I change mine a couple a days before a gig and they stay in tune fine. I use D'Addario Custom Light.

I do like to change mine often, and I am afraid I couldn't do that if I paid the music shop prices. When the family asks me what I want for Christmas/birthdays though, it's always guitar strings : )
Hooray, you. Like I said, tho, it depends on the guitar and the size and brand of strings, and I'll add... how much one knows about how to attach the strings. It's just one more factor to consider.
Have I said something wrong Charles, I was merely giving an opinion of what works for me personally, in contrast to your opinion, and not in any way contradicting you. I have used strings in the past that take ages to settle in and have the 'new string' sound for a long while. I have found though that the strings I use now, suit my acoustic and I feel confident in changing them just before a gig.

Attaching used to take me ages as there was always one that I had to put on again, and the worst thing was getting the pegs out, but with practice I'm getting quicker. I guess I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to putting strings on and I like them to be neatly wound, pitiful I know, but I couldn't be doing with long lengths sticking out and poking you in the eyes. Mind you, I always manage to draw blood somewhere along the lines by the sharp end of the E string.
Don't wind your strings too much - it's a common myth that you need to put two or three or whatever winds on your posts. The fewer winds you can get away with the better. Each wind introduces more friction surfaces to give you tuning issues and will prolong your break-in time. I'm looking at my guitar now and I have a half wind on each post except for the plains. For those, you can thread in and out of the hole twice and still reduce the wind count to about 1. My strings stay in tune really well and break in within one or two hours. As a general rule, keep the number of winds / wraps to one or less.


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