If there’s one question we can safely say every guitarist has asked, it’s “When should I change my strings?” We’re all well aware of the benefits of fresh strings – better tone, improved tuning stability, effortless playability – but how long should we wait before slapping on a new set?

The exact time is tough to say, as it depends on how often you play, how hard you play, what strings you use, even your body chemistry… But hey, all hope is not lost! Take the guess work out of string changes with our 7 tips to know when to change your guitar strings!

1. They Sound Awful!

Dead strings sound particularly dark, lack clarity, and have a generally lifeless sound to them. It’s almost like playing with the tone knob rolled down a bit. A fresh set is going to have clarity, brightness, and a deeper, richer tone throughout the frequency spectrum. Your tone becomes far more articulate and vibrant. It’s like taking a blanket off your amp!

Of course, your amp tone might just be the problem as well. If you change your strings and it still sounds terrible, try our step-by-step guide on Dialing in a Heavy Guitar Tone!

2. String Flaking

If you use coated strings, whether clear coating or colored strings, you may notice bits of the coating starting to fall off in little flakes. This is a result of normal wear and tear, but it also is a mark of an ancient set of strings. Unfortunately, well-aged guitar strings aren’t desirable like a well-aged whiskey. 

3. Change of Color

Strings start out bright and shiny, with a distinct sheen on them, but the more time goes on, you lose that shine and start to change color. They get darker, almost black on the higher strings, and they start looking more like rusty wires than strings!

4. Poor Tuning Stability

Even with a great setup, locking tuners, the whole nine yards, old strings don’t stay in tune very well. They’re harder to intonate, they go out of tune quicker, and they’re harder to get in tune in the first place. Get new strings and break them in, and your tuning is going to be far more solid.

5. They Feel Gross

Man, do old strings feel bad or what? They feel stiff, sharp, harder to bend, they hurt when you slide… it’s not enjoyable. If it feels like a chore to play your guitar, chances are you need new strings. It’ll get you back to actually having fun when playing your instrument!

6. Studio Time

If you’re about to go into the studio to record, that is definitely the time to change your strings. You want the best sound possible, and it’s not uncommon for guitarists to change strings after every song, or every few songs, depending on how quickly the strings start to lose their sound. Do your music a favor, sound your best by changing your strings!

7. If You Can’t Remember

If you can’t pinpoint the last time you changed your strings, then your guitar is probably begging for a change. Changing strings regularly not only has all the benefits listed above, but it helps keep your guitar in its best shape. No rusty strings means less fret wear on your axe, less dirt in your fretboard, and less gunk on your own hands!

If you can never remember when to change your strings, or are worried about strings being too expensive, check out our monthly guitar string and pick subscription service called String Drop. We specifically designed these to solve most of the problems generic guitar strings present!

We hope you enjoyed this article! If you did, make sure to check out more, because we upload new reviews, technical articles, lessons, and more daily!

Also, we are a dealer for many beloved brands such as PRS, Ibanez, Mayones, Schecter, ESP, and more! Feel free to stop by our shop and we can help you find the right guitar for you at the best price possible.

This article was written by Connor Gilkinson, our editor located in Canada.

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