One of the most overlooked parts of the guitar, for many beginners, is the strings. These thin strands of metal can make all the difference in your sound and even influence how much fun you are having when you are playing.
Here are a few facts about strings and a few guidelines to follow to stay on top of your sound.
Why Change Them
The biggest reason you will want to change your strings on a regular basis is because new strings simply make your instrument sound better.
New strings also results in better playability. Older strings tend to tarnish and which creates this rough texture (especially on your lower strings) that tends to slow you down a bit when you are sliding to and fro.
Bottom line, new strings make your ax sound much better. And when your ax sounds good, you will tend to play with more enthusiasm.
What Kind of Strings Should You Use
If you ask me, string brand is more of a personal thing. I’ve used some expensive strings and some cheap strings and have had success and failure with each. It also has a lot to do with what style of music you play and what your personal preference is as far as sound.
The main thing for you to know is that there are two main types; coated and uncoated. The only real difference between them is is coated last a little longer, feel most slippery and cost almost double in some cases. I’ve used both and like each better in different situations. I’ve use coated strings on my electric and I think they are great but prefer the uncoated variety when I string up my acoustic. They coated strings just did not seem to sound as good on the acoustic – which again, is my own personal choice.
Gauge is also important to consider when you are buying a set of strings. The thinner the strings, the easier they are on the fingers but you start to lose the volume and the sustain you get with thicker strings. Try out a few different kinds to see what you like but it is recommended that you start out with the lighter if you are just a beginner.
When To Change Them
Unless your strings are pretty fresh – i’d say the 2-4 day window – I would recommend changing them before a performance and definitely before you do any recording.
Other than that those two situations, “when to change your strings kind of varies a bit depending on what kind you kind of strings you get – coated or uncoated – and what you are looking for for sound. Many players will tell you they sound best right out of the shoot but personally I like the way they sound after a day or two of playing. After about a week they start going downhill and get pretty dull.
If you want to be anal about preserving your strings, washing your hand before you play is a good idea. in addition to the oils that naturally reside on your skin, there may be other substances that contribute to the deterioration of your strings.
Also, make sure you have all the right guitar tools to help make changing string easier.
There you have it. Next time your ax needs a little boost in the tone department, make sure you check your strings first.
Any questions? Did I miss anything? I’m here for ya. Just Let me know in the comments below.
Pssst, To learn more about guitar strings and how to further improve your sound by learning guitar set-up, check out the Learn and Master Spotlight Series: Guitar Set-Up (affiliate link). And for more guitar what not, check out our new guitar playing tips page.