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String Change-How Often

ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
Of course when you change strings the sound is more crisp and vibrant, for leads I like that but for rhythm old strings usually give a dryer sound so if you do both how often do you change?



  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    When they break.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited August 2014 Posts: 1,375
    For me when the tuning starts to go gnarly (I think it's a manifestation of non-uniform width)
    or breakage, whichever comes first ..
    In practice, a new set every couple of months, with occasionally just replacing a spare G rather than all 6.
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    Christophe Lartilleux insisted that you should never change strings until they break. Doudou insisted that he was crazy. My point? Your own ears are the only real answer.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    For me its the intonation and breakage thing.
    I break high E strings, usually by the time I break 2 its time to change strings.
    10 days to 2 weeks.
    So I'm making Saverez a few bucks.
    The guitar I've been playing lately is a maple/spruce instrument that is plenty bright, but when the Argentines are too flabby they gotta go !
    I also don't want to be moving my bridge around all the time, as the strings flatten with age I tend to want to move the bridge forward to compensate. Often I'm happier simply changing the set.
    I like the feel of a new string set. They respond more quickly.
    Also the plating wears so quickly that after 20 or 30 hours theres increased drag as the plating wears off.
    Flatness ,increased drag and increased breakage = change your strings, for me.
  • MattHenryMattHenry Washington, DC✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 128
    Stuart, you can send me your Argentines and I'll break them in for you.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I think everyone's ear hears differently. When strings are new, all I hear is the strings…that harsh, metallic raspy sound…and I really dislike it. When the strings go dead, what I hear is the guitar…woody and rich. It isn't until the new wears off the strings that I start hearing how individual guitars sound. Until then, they all sound like Argies to me, more or less. I don't notice any difference in feel like Al does, so I can understand how he and I would decide when "the moment has come" differently.

    I have been very fortunate to live with a number of excellent old guitars, and I rotate them a lot, so I can go a lot longer between string changes than a player who plays only one main guitar.

    Also, it depends on the players. I know a couple of guys, Samson Schmitt is one of them, who have sweaty fingers, and who completely ruin a set of strings in a few hours of playing. I loaned Samson a guitar one for a week at Birdland in NYC, and when it came back, the strings literally had rusty bits like stalactites all over the strings. You could have sliced a finger open just playing it! I was reminded of this when Samson played my Joseph di Mauro most of the week at Django in June. The fingerboard is covered in dark, dried sweat, and the strings are corroded. I'm scraping it off and selling it as Samson's DNA. I played the guitar as is at our gig last night, and corrosion and all, it sounded sooooooo good.

    I, on the other hand, can play a guitar nearly forever without corroding the strings. I think the player's body chemistry may have a lot to do with how often he changes strings.

    Funny, though. The first day at Django in June, Samson and Christophe came to the Hot Club of Room 101 and played everything I brought. Their two favorites were the J. di Mauro and the Beast (a Busato). Samson asked me if I would put new strings on the di Mauro (they were a year old…), and I noticed that Christophe cringed when I said "yes", which is right in line with Kevin's story. It didn't matter . After 48 hours, Samson had aged those string about a years worth.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    Yes its true.
    I rot strings.
    If I didn't wipe them down when I put the guitar away they would be gone in a short time. I have several guitars but tend to play 1 at a time.
    Folks who don't change strings often are often out of tune. Don't want to start a fight about that !
    I do agree with MB about the crazy harsh first few minutes/hours with a set of Saverez. For me that passes in about an hour or so.
    Put a set on my maple Macias last night, preparing some music for a show next week. Sounds fine to me, but I like bright.
  • Ryan RheaRyan Rhea Memphis, TN✭✭ '02 Lehmann Eclipse
    Posts: 27
    I'm like Al. I have very acidic PH and my skin oils really do a number on strings. In fact, I recently switched over to coated strings (Elixirs) for my flattops, archtop and electrics. The coatings have gotten super thin these days and really don't affect the tone much at all to my ears. The plain strings now have an electrolytic plating that prevents rust! I can play the plain strings for months until they break if I want to with zero corrosion, blackening and goop that usually appears on regular plains after a just few hours of playing with my condition.

    I tried Galli's the other day because I read they were coated. Couldn't get them off my guitar fast enough. They sounded like wet noodles. Just dead as doornails. I dug out the D'Addarios I just pulled off the guitar from the garbage can and put them back on! lol Thankfully I cancelled a big order of Galli's with Michael before he sent them out. I figured I had plenty of D'Addarios for a while. I had no idea how bad the Galli's were going to sound on my guitar until I tried a pack.

    So now I'm back to D'Addarios sub'ing the B and E strings with Elixir's. At least the plains stay nice and clean for me. I'll likely have to change the wound one's every two weeks, like Al, because they just go super dead.

    One thing you might want to try is Dunlop 65 String Cleaner and Conditioner. I've had a bottle of that stuff for years and used to use it on my strings before I switched to Elixirs. I rubbed some of it on the wound D'Addarios on my Sel/Mac guitar and it seems to be keeping them a little nicer for longer than usual. Could be in my head, but I'm going to keep doing it for a while to see if it is really helping. I wish D'Addario would make an EXP version of their gypsy strings. That would solve my problem.

  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Al, I wonder if your strings go "out of tune" faster than mine because of your body chemistry eating away at the strings. Just about the only wear I get is from the frets (and as a rhythm player, that's not as much as you'd think), and the only corrosion after loaning it out (and then only rarely). Gypsy jazz guitars don't have perfect intonation anyway, but I have to be honest, I can play a guitar for nearly ever and not notice any serious intonation problems above what exist in the guitar naturally. I have had to change strings because of poor intonation only a handful of times, and then only after a very long time on the guitar with a lot of playing time. I have left strings on some of my electrics literally for years at times, and they almost never seem to have intonation issues. Not arguing at all, because you know what enormous respect I have for you, but I'm just wondering if the intonation issues can vary from player to player depending on body chemistry and style of playing.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Al WatskyAl Watsky New JerseyVirtuoso
    Posts: 440
    MB , No doubt !
    Also how hard a person plays makes a big difference.
    I play real hard at times. Its an effect I look for, trelolo and vibrato at the same time, sort of a balkan/middle eastern vibe, so a high E string doesn't have much of a chance. They get all bent up in just a couple of hours.
    D strings take a beating too.
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