For this article a short brief for when it is time to change to a new set of strings.
A typical issue with new guitars is: The strings have usually been on that guitar for quite some time. Why? Guitar was manifactured at some point, shipped and located in a store or warehouse for some time. Some retailers are keen to change the strings on any of their new stock, however not all retailers will do this. It is a good habit to get a new set of strings for any guitar that you have bought recently.
Old Strings: How can you tell the difference??
Worn, old strings have lost their brightness, they do sound dull and usually will feel different on your fingers.
Strings loose their brightness because they are dirty, stretched and played a lot.
“I clean my strings regularly with a cloth, will my strings still wear out?” Yes they do, especially for those of you who do keep their strings clean I would say: Make a habit of changing your strings from time to time. New strings will make your guitar sound better and they will feel better, and therefor make your playing experience more rewarding! It really is that simple.
Clean your strings:
You can use a cloth, wrap about two strings at once in the cloth and rub the cloth along the whole fretboard. Do this after you have played your guitar for about and hour. You will notice some dirt will be left on the cloth, this is normal and this is the dirt which will typically stick to your string if you do not clean them regularly. Over time this dirt will corrode your string, and this will ruin the brightness of the string.
Clean Strings but………….:
You play often, clean your strings but still, the string will wear out. A typical sign on a worn out string are fretmarks: Little black marks made on the string by the fret. If you dig in your strings you will have more fretmarks. Once fretmarks appear on your string, the string will not longer tune up properly, and intonation will become an issue. Time to change strings!!
I use Fastfret so…………….:
Fast fret is a product on the market http://www.guitar.co.uk/accessories/maintenance/271-ghs_fast_fret
which you can rub on your strings, it will make the string feel like new, but it will not resolve the issue of fretmarks and streched strings. Feel will be restored but not the brightness!
Whatever you do, there is no substitute for the effect of changing your strings: It will revitalise your guitar and improve the overal soud and feel!
Lose of Brightness, How can You Tell?:
Play on a amplified electric guitar of which you know the strings have been on for quite some time. Compare the sound of this guitar to another unamplified electric guitar for which you have changed the strings recently. When you do this test, try using guitars of similar woods and neckconstruction: Bold on necks cannot be compared to necks which are set-in. Bridges which do have a floating tremolo cannot be compared to fixed bridges. All too complex for you??? Compare a Les Paul with something similar, compare Strats with a similar kind of guitar.
You will be alble to tell the difference, and it will also teach you some basic tone lessons about neck-and bridge construction, which does contribute to your tone. If you are not sure about neck construction and their differences start your reseach right now!!
Why do these above tests on an unamplified electric guitar?:
Because an amp can makeup electronically for the loss of brigthness in your strings. Once you have new strings on your guitar the amp will enhance your tone, and will make the whole guitar sound so much better.
Create Your Own Habits:
A lot of experienced guitarplayers will change their strings on a regular basis. If you gig and play often you may want to change your strings once every week, once every two days, all depending on your playing style and own preferences (New strings are usually quite bright, some players prefer the sound of played in strings which have mellowed their tone just a bit).
Beginners are often told to change their strings once every two- to three months. This in itself a good habit, but with the guideline which I gave you above, you can check the condition of the brightness of your strings
Strings, What Brand Should I Use?:
Experiment for yourself to see which kind of brand you like best. The biggest difference is brightness and how long this will last for: Some stringsbrands do sound very bright in the beginning and then start to loose their brightness very soon while other brands may not be a bright and will keep their brightness for longer.
Experiment and enjoy.
Hope to see you soon again,