How often should I change my strings?
People ask me all the time how often they should change their strings.
That probably seems like a simple question, but there’s no concrete answer. In reality there is only one—albeit slightly asinine—answer: as often as you need to.
For me, that means very often. I started playing gigs when I was 15. I’m 31 now, and I’ve gone through many, many sets of strings over those 16 years. I belong to the school of thought that a guitar sounds its best with a fresh set. There are many players who say they prefer broken-in, mellowed strings. Sure, every set does have a brief break-in period, but if you string the guitar properly, this can be just a few minutes. Truth is, I hear more complexities and more overtones with fresh strings, and most guitars sound more dynamic with more headroom. With fresh strings, I hear more of the essential qualities that make a guitar unique and different from others. And that’s the real reason I’m into this stuff, anyway.
Also, I tend to pick hard because I want the guitar to respond quickly. I like when a guitar feels snappy and my right hand technique can deeply influence the tone. Plus, I use a lot of vibrato and I love to bend. This all means my playing wears strings out pretty fast. Corrosion is never the problem. After putting a guitar through the paces at a few gigs, the strings lose their shimmer, and they don’t follow my right hand as much. That can be frustrating, but fortunately a fresh set always does the trick.
So to answer your question, I don’t know how often youshould change your strings. But I can tell you I change strings often, at least every other week if I’m playing a particular guitar regularly. You’ve got to find out what you like and especially what strings fit your playing style. If you’re really digging the setup, you’ll know when it’s time.
For the record, though, if you don’t remember the last time you changed your strings, it’s time. Trust me. It’s time.