How often should you change your guitar strings?. That is something that some beginners may tend to overlook. They’re just long pieces of wire, and there shouldn’t be all that much to worry about as far as they go…right?

Wrong – actually, really bad.

The strings on your guitar are crucial to how well your guitar plays and sounds. When you’re first starting out, one question that will inevitably come up is ‘how often should the strings on my guitar be changed?’

How often should you change your guitar strings?

Let’s take a look at some of the things that can tell you it may be time for a fresh set.

Things don’t sound the same.

New guitar strings have a crisp sound that almost makes it seem like you’re playing a new guitar. The problem here (and with pretty much everything we’re going to touch on) is that the quality of your strings can be affected over time. After some time passes, you may notice that they don’t sound as good as they used to.

Is that a sign that you have to change them out? Not necessarily. This one can be a bit subjective – some players like the sound of a set of strings that are a bit duller. But if you like keeping your tone more on the bright side, then changing them when they start to lose that sparkle should correct it.

My only expenses are probably guitar strings and records – Chris Isaak

Keeping your stings fresh will keep your sound on track as well. Sometimes the tonal change from old to new can be much more drastic than you think. Changing your guitar strings more often may keep their tone more consistent.

Things don’t feel the same.

There are several reasons that guitar strings deteriorate after playing them for a while. One of the more avoidable reasons is simply this – your fingers can carry a fantastic amount of dirt and gunk. That gunk can stick to the strings; it’ll build up to the point where the strings won’t feel as nice and clean anymore. This one is especially true if you tend to sweat a lot. It’s a good habit to wash your hands before playing if practical. 

Wipe your guitar strings

Wipe your guitar strings regularly.

Another excellent way to keep the crud down is to wipe your strings off every time you play. Keep a soft cloth for your guitar case or gig bag. It only takes a few seconds to clean them off. You may be surprised how much this simple little trick can extend the life of the guitar strings. Wiping the strings will also help keep the fretboard clean; they can tend to get pretty dirty over time.

On the extreme end of this is just plain neglect. Some players may leave their guitars out in the open, and they’ll start to corrode and rust over time. Trust us – if you don’t want to feel like you’re playing on pieces of razor wire, then don’t let things get to this point.

Things don’t tune the same.

Changing the strings periodically is not just about the guitar’s tonal quality. Another good reason is that tuning won’t be very consistent as the strings age. This tends to be quite noticeable with the unwound strings in particular.

DAddario Acoustic -Guitar Strings Phosphor Bronze

A packet of Guitar Strings- Phosphor Bronze

So over time, It may become hard to keep chords sounding as they should, and you’ll probably find yourself tuning up much more than you should have to. This tends to happen more with players who don’t change their strings often. You will find it’ll gradually get to the point where you won’t have a lot of choice but to throw on a fresh set.

Having a complete breakup

This one should be pretty obvious. Let’s face it, it’s kind of hard to play your guitar if you’re chuggin’ or shreddin’ along, and all of a sudden, you break a string. You may be able to fake it until you make it to the end of the set (if you’re playing live), and in that scenario, changing just the affected string that had broken is the fastest way to get back to playing.

Broken guitar string

Broken guitar string

Once you have the time, one recommendation is to change all of the strings that need changing when it gets to that point. Particularly if you’re the type of player that leaves strings on for a while, one breaking may mean that the others may be prime to snap also; you might as well change them all out to avoid the hassle of one breaking on you when you least expect it.

Of course, all of this makes perfect sense if your strings are a little older. However, they can also break for other reasons. The combination of string gauge and how hard you play can be lethal! Thinner strings may feel more comfortable playing, but they probably won’t last very long if you tend to thump them.

Thicker strings take more tension to get them to pitch (therefore requiring more finger strength), but they can be more durable. Going up a gage or two if you tend to break them a lot may be the ticket for what ails you.

Conclusion

So what is the answer? How often should you change your guitar strings? The moral of the story is this – there is no complicated answer.

Aside from your strings just flat out breaking on you. There are other deciding factors for how often you should change them out. Some players like to be proactive and do a change after every gig. Others may change them on a specific time interval (for example, once a month).

String changes aren’t all that hard to do, nor are they typically costly. Regardless of your preferences, making a string change a part of your maintenance plan can help keep your guitar performing up to your standards.

There is nothing like a new set of high-quality guitar strings to make your guitar to make it sound great again.