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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How often? For me, the truth is "not very". If you don't hanker for the "brand new" sound and feel, you can keep them going a long time, prolonged by wiping (and perhaps using a product like "fast fret" to lubricate them). The point of no return is when you can see shiny dents where the strings contact the frets. On an unwound string, that is a point of weakness that will probably break; on a wound string, it is likely to cause weird intonation problems.

It has to be said, though, that a string change can be one of the cheapest way to improve the sound of your instrument. You might not be able to afford (time / money) to change every week but it should certainly be on the list before you start wasting time on pining for new pickups or even a new instrument.

I used to notice those 'dents' appearing very quickly on my acoustic when it travelled in a case. As an experiment I put a piece of card between the strings and the fret board before putting it back in the case and - hey presto, no dents.

Wulf is right - hygiene and cleanliness will extend the life of your strings enormously. Wash your hands before playing, NEVER play after eating ANYTHING or drinking anything but water without washing and always wipe down afterward.

E and B Elixirs are coated, and have been for a long time - it was only at the beginning they were not.
AMEN.......wash your hands before every play. good for the guitar as well, not just the strings.
Where have you been? Does it take the mention of food to bring you around?
ive been doing other stuff lately. headed to montana for a spell, been riding out on the road (cycling), helping my sister move......and on and on............

anyway, i figured i would drop by to see what people are talking about these days.

did someone mention food?
It seems that no matter how well we keep our strings clean, they eventually get tarnished and start to sound dull. It makes sense to minimize our impact on the strings by keep our hands clean. But I suspect that it's the sweat from our hands that is the most problematic, so I've been trying to use fast fret and wipe the strings after I'm done. I'm not noticing a great difference yet.

As a side note - I read an article with interviews by the guy who made Jerry Garcia's guitars and he said that he had to install gold plated hardware because Jerry had such corrosive sweat. I also noticed that Bruce Springsteen has silicone sealant around the switch plate of his telecaster to prevent that deluge of sweat from entering into the compartment.
Keeping strings clean not only extends the life of the strings, but frets too. Dirt also works like sandpaper, giving additional grit to wear down frets faster.

Talking about economics of washing your hands or having to do a fret job earlier. =)
depends on how much you play. i used to change mine every 2 weeks when i was leading 4 times a week, and practicing all the other days. playing that much wears them out quickly.

if you wait til they get dull, or difficult to tune, it could be WAY past due for a changing. though, those are 2 definite signs that they need to be change.

the strings i use are:
D'Addario EXP phosphor bronze.....i have a rosewood/sitka spruce guitar, its a great string for that combination.
EXP 16?
right now im playing the mediums (17), but ive been thinking i want to go to the lights (16).

i wish there was an in between gauge though. keeping the bottom 3 strings the same and lightening the top 3 a teeny bit. that would be divine.
Especially for a Martin man such as yourself. Nothing like that canon sound of the lower three strings.
yea, ive noticed that sits just too much. i have a surplus of about 6 packs of the mediums, so i need to wait to see if i like the lights better. but we shall see how they turn out.


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