If you are one of the guitarists that believe the right time to change the strings is when they break – then you are wrong. Changing strings is often a matter of nuances, like the leather strap for your guitar. For example, some may like the sound of a fresh new set and choose to change it more often, while others may have a thing for the sound of old strings.
Either way, the main idea is that there are no strict rules regarding the change of strings, but rather a series of factors that need to be taken into consideration – how rough is your style of playing and the tonal preferences, for example.
You shouldn’t treat your guitar as a fragile instrument either. Changing the strings is not an invasive process, on the contrary – it is beneficial for its maintenance. So, when should you start considering changing the strings?
Strings are Rusty and Discolored, or the Guitar Has Tuning Problems
When the first signs of discoloration or rustiness appear, then you can be sure that the strings are on the verge of breaking. What causes the rustiness? Virtually everything, from grime to sweat, dirt or oil can lead to rustiness. It doesn’t matter if you take good care of your guitar by putting it in its case or on the guitar stand – eventually, it will suffer damage because of exposure or humidity.
Tuning problems can occur from old strings since they become very stretched with time. Also, an aggressive style of playing leads to pitting or grooves right underneath the strings, which paired with rust or scraped strings is the success formula for tuning issues.
However, you must be careful because not all tuning problems are coming from strings. There are other factors, such as tuners, a neck with issues or a cut nut that is improper that can cause tuning problems.
Lackluster Sound and Gung under the Strings
When you hear the lackluster sound, it is a clear sign that you must make a change; and that change involves getting new strings. The tone will improve significantly, and the chord will chime and the harmonic pop. More than that, the new feel that the strings will have will make playing your guitar more enjoyable.
To establish whether there is a gung under the strings simply place your finger on the string and the fretboard, and gently touch the string with the soft part of your finger running it up and down. If it feels rough, that is a sign of rust accumulation on the string. That is the effect of oils and dead skin cells from the player. It even has its name – “Finger Fudge”.
The Fretboard’s Condition
The accumulation of oil and dead skin cells mentioned above is a substance of gray color, constantly building on the fretboard. In this case, you should always keep an extra package of string and make a reminder to clean the fretboard.
There are even solutions on the market for this type of “fudge”, but it is advised to get your strings changed when this happens.
The position of the Strings
One of the reasons why your guitar wouldn’t stay in tune might be the fact that it wasn’t strung properly. It needs to have enough wraps around the post so that it doesn’t slip. The continuous act of slipping leads to the strings becoming loose eventually.
The solution to this problem is to wrap the string two or three times on the bass side, and on the treble side – three or four times.Another option is to take it to your local shop to benefit from professional stringing.
Maybe It’s Old Age
When it seems that there is no rusting, bad positioning or another issue that might cause damage to your string, it’s time to think about their age.
You should know that uncoated strings will lose their toneafter a few months. This problem usually occurs between two or for months, but many musicians choose to change them every month. When the strings are coated, things will look a bit different – they normally last between four and six months.
Always keep in mind these potential situations and don’t be cheap on using proper cleaning products.
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