How Often to Change Guitar Strings: Increase Your Guitar’s Life

how often to change guitar strings

“You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar.”

― Stephen King,

Music connects cultures, and string instruments have had a lot to do. People seem to understand the emotion behind a tune, even if they don’t understand the language itself.

The strings of a guitar tie more than just tones and lyrics in a song; they tie the heart and soul of people across the continents.

They lose their flair every once in a while, which is a sign of mending those strings that produce your favourite melodies.

Let’s see how to do it, why you should do it, and how often you should change the strings.

So buckle up, and let’s get cracking.

Why Change Guitar Strings?

As all things in nature, even guitar strings age. They get stiff and lose their tone.

Dirt, sweat, oil, and even dead skin get built upon the strings, which are found naturally on your fingers. This is why you should replace your guitar strings with fresh strings regularly.

When you change strings, change all the strings all at once. This will give you an excellent opportunity to clean the fretboard, polish the frets and increase the life of your guitar.

How Often to Change Guitar Strings

If you are a pro guitarist who has been playing for a while, you will have a fair idea of when to change your guitar strings. Your intuition will guide you.

However, as a beginner, do not rely on intuition.

Change them before it’s too late and you happen to be in the middle of something epic.

As a rule of thumb, you should change your guitar strings after every 100 hours of playing.

But what if you do not use your guitar often?

Then you should change your guitar strings every 3 months.

Even if you do not play often, guitar strings wear out with the elements and the moisture from fingers when you would have played it last time.

Remember the above 2 rules. And change your guitar strings before they start making a weird, funny, and quirky sound.

The Five Types of Guitarists: Change Guitar Strings According to Your Type

All the guitarists we know can be broadly classified into 5 types. Identify your type and follow this guide to change your guitar strings in time.

1. The Rare and Infrequent Guitarist

You fall into this category if you spend only about 15 minutes with your guitar in a week.

That’s rare and infrequent!

May be you just like collecting guitars or other vintage instruments.  If you are the one who rarely pulls guitar out of its case, strum for 5-15 minutes and put it back to be seen only after a few months, then we are talking about you.

How often should you change the strings: Once a year

Why?: Even if you don’t play the guitar that often, the strings naturally begin to oxidize over time – they won’t last forever. Maintain your much-loved guitar well.

2. The Learner

Have you just started playing guitar and yet to spend consistent time with it?

If you play your guitar a few times a week for about 30 minutes or 1-3 hours per week, then you are a “Learner” guitarist.

I think you are a new artist still building your strength or just enjoy playing. All the best for your great start. Show love to your instrument by changing its string regularly.

How often should you change strings: Every 6-8 months

Why?: Every tool, every instrument needs maintenance. They should be regularly looked after for upkeep and well-being.

3. The Hobbyist

Are you inseparable from your guitar?

Do you spend anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours, all days of the week?

If your answer is yes to both of these questions and you happen to strum some tunes in your free time without even realizing it, then you are a “Hobbyist”.

How often should you change your strings: Every 3-5 months

Why?: You play your guitar so often, your guitar strings will wear out faster than any of the previous two stages.

4. The Aspiring Rockstar

You fall into this category if you rock it out like Metallica.

If you are a student or play in a band and spend 2-4 days just going around town performing then you belong in the Aspiring Rock star community.

How often should you change your strings: Every 1-3 months ( more frequently if needed)

Why?: Your dazzling passion and indulgence for your guitar are bound to cause the strings to lose their flair and intonation.

5. The Pro

Does your living expense come out of playing a guitar for 30+ hours a week?

If you use a guitar every waking moment of your day, be it rehearsing with your band, giving guitar lessons, recording or you play live shows then you are a Pro.

How often should you change your strings: Once every 2 weeks.

Why?: You spend long days and nigths with your guitar to make a living out of your passion. The amount of time a pro spends with his guitar, the strings on their instrument are bound to suffer some consequences.

5 Signs That Say It’s Time to Change Your Guitar Strings

Knowing your guitar personality is all good. It will help you maintain your Guitar and increase it’s life.

You definitely do not want to spend money every now and then to buy a new Guitar.

Watch out for these signs to not miss the time to change guitar strings and breathe a new life to your old guitar.

1. Stiff Strings

Your strings should be bendable and flexible to sound their best.

Change your strings before they feel stiff. Stiff strings are prone to breaking.

Tuning them is one option, but they will not hold their tone after a few days. Replace them before they break down in the middle of your big show.

2. Dull Tone

When you have brand new strings or relatively new ones, they make a crisp and clear sound unlike any worn-out string.

Old and worn-out strings just produce a flat sound and it is not pleasing to listen to.

For beginners, maybe The Learner types, most of them confuse a warm and mellow tone with dullness in tone.

3. Won’t Tune

No matter what you do or how much you struggle, old strings do not stay in tune.

This happens because old strings get stiff after a while and you can do nothing about this.

So, even if you somehow manage to tune them, don’t hope for it to last long.

4. Dirty Strings

Every time you play the guitar, you leave your finger marks on the strings.

Ideally, when you touch your guitar strings, they should glide on them smoothly without any friction.

If there is any friction on your guitar strings, it is a sign that your strings are dirty.

5. Blotchy Strings

Have you ever looked at ugly and dull strings, it’s as if they have been exposed to the sun for too long and things have been deposited on them?

You can tell the difference in the string color by comparing them to the area on your guitar’s fretboard where you rarely play.

It’s nothing to worry about, over time all strings lose color and look blotchy because of the oil and sweat that get on them from your fingers.

Consider changing them if you see any sort of discoloration.

How to Keep your Guitar Strings Healthy and Increase their Life?

Keeping your guitar back in its case after every time you use it is the most low-cost and underrated solution to protect your guitar strings and increase their life.

You generally won’t have to purchase a brand new or premium quality guitar case, any clean guitar case will do the trick.

Think of your guitar case as a clean room, a place that is safe from humidity, moisture and changes in temperature.

This may seem trivial, but humidity involves water and your guitar strings are made of steel and metal.

So with basic high school knowledge, you know Metal + Water = Corrosion.

There is also the fact that changes in temperature cause the strings and the body of the guitar to expand and contract.

A clean room keeps dust and other particles settling on the strings and compromising their performance.

Your guitar case will keep your guitar away from dust and other particles that sit on the strings and compromise the tune they produce.

Another thing you can do is, wipe down your strings with a rag, strings cleaner, and string conditioners every time you are about to put your guitar back in its case.

This makes a remarkable difference in string health and increases the life of your strings.

How to Change the String on Your Guitar?

The restringing method is almost similar in the case of all the guitars, but let us talk about the Acoustic guitar.

We are talking about these because they have 6 strings that are good to understand by beginners.

Four of these 6 strings are bass strings and the remaining 2 are treble strings.

You must bear in mind that bass strings are thicker with a core wire with an outer wire wound to it and produce lower notes.

The treble strings on the other hand, are single-strand and produce a high pith sound.

So with that out of the way, here’s a step-by-step guide to restringing your guitar.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to restringing your guitar.

Step 1: Remove the strings from the tuning pegs.

Step 2: Push the string near the pin to move the string back inside the guitar’s body.

Step 3: You can push the bridge pins up from underneath.

To do this, go through the sound hole and feel for the bottom of the pins. They are often stuck because the ball end is jammed in the hole by the pin.

So try and pull this out from the bottom by pulling the ball end and pushing the string from the top.

Step 4: Most strings winders have a slot that can be used to remove bridge pins.

Step 5: Pull the pin upward, and hopefully, it will come out fairly easily by this point.

Step 6: Grab your new pack of strings and see the strings’ order go in.

Step 7: Add a 45 degrees bend at the end of the strings. This is to make sure the ball end is in the correct position, which helps improve tuning stability.

Step 8: Push the ball end down the bridge pin. Make sure the tail of your guitar strings sits in the groove at the pin. This groove points straight down the neck.

Step 9: Repeat these last two steps for other strings. Pull on the tail of each string to make sure the ball ends up in contact with the bottom of the pin.

Step 10: Draw your guitar string over the saddle, over the top of the nut, and through the holes of the tuning pegs.

Step 11: Pull the string tight and measure to the next tuning peg. This will give you reasonable amounts of winds around the peg and help tuning stability.

Step 12: Pull the excess you have measured through the peg and begin to wind anti-clockwise; make sure to maintain tension. The string running down the neck should be on the inside of the post.

Step 13: Make sure the new wraps are on the bottom, pushing the old wraps inwards.

Step 14: Start tightening the string until there is a small amount of tension. A couple of winds will do the trick.

Step 15: Take your wire cutters and trim off the excess. Do the same for all other strings.

Step 16: Next is just tuning them to the right note.


What is the difference between acoustic and electric guitars strings?

Acoustic guitar strings have a steel core and wound strings plated in bronze or brass. They produce a mellow tone that is brighter. In contrast, Electric guitar strings have a steel or nickel core plated in nickel or steel.

Which are the best guitar string brands for beginners?

There are a lot of different choices out on the market, but different guitar types demand different types of strings.

As a beginner, you can look at brands like Ernie Ball, Elixir, or D’Addario.

They make heavier gauge strings and light gauge strings. It’s a good idea to adhere to these brands as beginners when you have little to no experience choosing acoustic or electric strings.

What are the benefits of changing guitar strings?

Strings start to sound dull, become stiff and break pretty easily. a fresh string set, on the other hand, has a brighter tone, tunes better, is flexible, and they are comfortable on the fingers.

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It’s all just buzz talk if you don’t get a guitar and start playing sweet tunes to dazzle your friends and family.

A tutor might help you out in the Learner stage if you take lessons; that said, not everyone has the option of going to physical studios and meeting your instructor 3 times a week.

And to add to the issue, you won’t know how much it may cost?

In that case, you can enjoy online guitar courses or teach yourself with the free resources available online, that might prove challenging for some people.

So, let’s wrap up with a neat little quote from Beethoven

“The guitar is a miniature orchestra in itself.”

― Ludwig van Beethoven

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