One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘How often should I restring my guitar?” So in addition to writing this blog, I filmed a short vlog.
Well, without trying to over-complicate a pretty straightforward question there are a few qualifying questions that will help you make up your mind;
1. How do the strings sound?
2. What do they look like?
3. How much do you play?
4. When was the last time you changed them?
5. What kind of strings are they?
However, before I start, if you have broken a string, don’t just replace the broken one. Take the opportunity to replace all of them. A broken string is basically telling you that the strings are ready to go.Also, if you’re having trouble keeping your guitar in tune, it’s more likely to be due to the tired, worn out strings than your guitar. Save the trip to your local guitar tech until you’ve restrung the guitar.
Ok, so here we go…
How do the strings sound?
Play a nice big open E major chord and have a listen to the tone and sustain of the strings. How’d they sound? If the sharpness or bite of your low E string (the big, thick one) is gone and sounds dull and kind of flabby, then it’s time for the strings to go…. This is especially evident in an acoustic guitar. If there’s no sparkle left in the E and B strings (the thinner strings), then it’s time for the strings to go…New strings will sound brighter than strings that have been on your guitar for months (years?).
What do the strings look like?
If they still look a bit metallic and shiny, they are fine. If they’re dark with things growing on them, it’s time for those bad boys to go. Run a pick along the underside of the string and a combination of rusty string and dried sweaty, grimy, yuckiness comes off then it’s time for the strings to go. Some folks reckon taking the strings off, boiling them and then reusing is the way to go. I’m not convinced this works, but at Get-Tuned they like it, click the pic for more info….
How much do you play?
Well. Play your acoustic guitar 8 hours a day for a month and you will certainly need to change your strings once a month. If you are an occasional player (1-2 hours a week), I’d say that depending on the type of strings and guitar, you’ll only need to change them once or twice a year.
When was the last time you changed them?
If you can’t remember, I’d say it’s time to change them. What is a good idea is to keep the empty string packet, write the date you put them on and keep the packet in your guitar case.
What kind of strings are they?
Today there is a massive range of guitar strings available. The newest innovation is coated guitar strings. Now, pretty much every string manufacturer puts out a range of both coated and traditional strings. What’s a coated string? Good question, it’s a guitar string that has been treated with a polymer coating, often Teflon.
The coated string stops grime, sweat and oxygen from attacking the strings and so keeps the strings sounding brighter for longer. I’ve found that an additional benefit of coated strings is reduced finger squeak. Meanwhile, the manufacturers also claim reduced fret wear and better tuning capability.
This is a great thing for acoustic strings in particular as grime, sweat and oxygen can stop acoustic strings from sounding bright in a matter of days.
So in summary, restring your guitar if… one string breaks, the strings sound dull, the strings look dirty/corroded, the strings are from the previous calendar year or you can’t get the guitar to stay in tune.
I always welcome any feedback! Always interested to hear your point of view….