You've been playing with your guitar for a few hours and suddenly one of the strings popped off.
Time for you to give it a makeover! Whether you are a guitar novice or a confirmed player, changing guitar strings is mandatory.
As a beginner, you will need to acquire this knowledge by asking for help in a music store or guitar shop.
Guitar strings age and break because of their use - and this applies to electric guitar strings, acoustic guitar strings, classical guitar strings, and bass strings. And it'll happen regardless of your musical instrument, whether a Gretsch, an Ibanez or a Stratocaster.
But how much does the repair cost?
Nylon strings, steel strings, bass strings... no matter what type of guitar strings your instrument calls for, here is a little overview of what it will cost you to change your guitar strings. Also, we have an overview of the risks that the change represents if you do not do it right - problems with playability, intonation, and balanced tension.
Why Change Guitar Strings?
Many people wait for one of their guitar strings to break on its own.
Do not make this mistake!
Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, folk guitar, bass guitar, electro acoustic guitar, ukulele, mandolin, electric bass, jazz guitar, or classical guitar---whatever it may be! All of these guitars must be pampered. They say that the strings are one of the essential elements for the guitar to produce a nice sound and work smoothly.
This is absolutely true. To change strings means to play a louder instrument, one with greater harmonic resonance and richer overtones. Honestly, you're not the cleverest if you have some classic guitar - some Fender custom or something by Taylor Guitars - and you have neglected its string set or fitted it with the wrong string sizes.
You can't call yourself a guitar player - you'll never be the best guitar player you can be - if you can't restring a guitar. Or if you can't tell a nylon string from an acoustic guitar string.
Even so, far too many people neglect this aspect of the guitar! Mainly because they don't know how to do it or which strings to buy.
It's not always easy to take the time to change your strings, yet, when you do, you'll notice the difference right away.
But When Is It Necessary to Change Guitar Strings?
Many guitar novices ask themselves this question. And it all depends on your usage of the guitar. While some expect to change the strings every six months, others will replace them before each concert. It's up to you to judge the right frequency with which to change them. It's literally just about how much you play your instrument.
But for pity's sake, do not let them rust! The sweat on your hands on the fingerboard is corrosive - and so they will gradually wear down.
If a guitar string breaks off, it is simply because of the usual wear and tear. Or maybe you were experimenting with edgy tunings. Be careful though and don't have too frequent accidents. If your string breaks too often, it will be necessary to check the general condition of the guitar. (Maybe the strings are too high tension, or you use your tremolo bar too wildly.)
But you should also change your strings in other cases. For example if the strings are oxidized. Of course this only applies to metal cords - but packs of nylon guitar strings have metal strings too. Indeed, sweating fingers can rust the strings over time.
You'll notice that the first frets on your guitar's fretboard are more rusty than others. This is simply the place where your fingers are most often found. Changing your strings will improve the feel.
If the sound of your guitar changes even if it is well tuned, it may have to do with the strings.
Changing these will allow you to get a brighter, more gentle sound.
And if you are in the process of choosing a guitar, know that many sellers do not use the best strings out there. It is therefore advisable to buy a new set of strings at the same time as your guitar. This will allow you to get off to a good start in guitar class.
Anyway, changing the strings varies from one musician to another. It's up to you to find your schedule.
Different Types of Strings and Their Price Tag
Today you set yourself a new resolution. You want to take care of your guitar and change its strings more regularly so that it sounds like a new guitar.
Only, you're not sure what strings to buy. You've seen there are tons of different types of strings on sale in the stores and the internet.
There are the Dean Markley, phosphor and phosphor bronze, Ernie Ball Slinky, Elixir Strings, Elixir Nanoweb strings, Dr Strings, Dunlop strings, flat wound (or flatwound) strings, silk and steel strings, plain steel strings, Rotosound strings, hex core strings, Martin Strings, black nylon strings, pure nickel strings, high carbon steel strings, bronze alloy strings, different gauge strings, high tension strings, low tension strings, extra light and ultra thin, and those even still made of gut strings.
Ahh! How can you possibly identify the strings that will be adapted to your instrument? You thought that the guitar was straightforward!
Guitar strings can be made of different materials. There are:
- nylon strings (especially for classical guitars),
- steel strings,
- or bronze.
In any case, the average price of a set of strings is 12 USD.
Some strings are treated with an antioxidant, while some are not. This adds a few dollars to your bill.
So what's the point?
Chemically treated ropes will be protected from your hands' sweating. They will oxidize less quickly and you will have to change them less often. (They're called 'corrosion resistant'.) On the other hand, these can sometimes affect the sound of your guitar depending on their quality.
Elixir is the most common brand in stores. However, you will find many other brands such as Hannabach, Savarez, or D'Addario. With experience, you will learn to recognize the sound you enjoy and choose your strings based on this sound.
Depending on your type of guitar - from a dreadnought to a parlor, from an archtop to a lap steel guitar, from a flamenco guitar to a pedal steel guitar - the best strings can change. Talk to a professional!
Where Should You Buy Strings?
Much like when it comes to choosing your guitar, strings can be found in a music store or on the internet.
Know that you will never find a single string for sale. Strings are sold in sets of six (the famous six strings), twelve, or more.
You should know that when you change a string, it is strongly recommended to change all of the strings of the instrument. This is to avoid them having different sounds - and to avoid an imbalance of string tension across the headstock, guitar neck, soundboard and bridge.
This applies to bass guitar strings as much as to acoustic strings.
On the web it is quite possible to find exactly what you're looking for. There is a wide choice of strings. However, it's easier to order from the internet when we already know what to expect!
You may even find a quality guitar for a good price on the internet!
You will of course never find used strings on the internet. It is impossible to reuse strings that have already been stretched onto another guitar.
If you did not buy your first set of strings at the same time as your guitar, it may be wiser for you to go to the guitar shop and get the opinion of an expert.
And if you are not sure how to do it yourself, you can even ask the seller to change the strings for you.
It will cost you about 12 USD in addition to the set of strings.
This may be a good way to see how it's done, and then copy it at home the next time you need to change your strings.
You can also visit a luthier, the string instrument specialist.
You could be daring and try to change the strings by yourself.
Believe me, with a good Youtube tutorial and good cutting pliers you could work wonders!
While you're shopping around, you may cast about for guitar accessories to fill your guitar toolbox with... (We include here conversations about the tuner, microphones, the string winder, the plectrum, wire cutters, and the guitar amp)
How to Maintain the Strings?
To make them last as long as possible and avoid buying strings too often, you will need to take care of your guitar.
Remember to wash your hands before each music session with your instrument. Use soap and do not forget to dry them well. If your hands remain wet, this may accelerate the oxidation process.
Sweat is not the only thing hurting your guitar strings. Throughout the day, your hands accumulate dust or grease. By picking your strings with this on your hands, you drop the dirt on your fingers onto your guitar.
At the end of your session, also think to wipe down your strings with a dry cloth. Wipe all around the string, not just the visible part of it.
Also make sure your guitar strap is still in good condition...
There are also some products to maintain strings on a regular basis. Ask your guitar teacher, music teacher, or other musical professional for advice. He or she will know which product is best suited.
Remember to regularly tune your guitar so that your strings maintain the tension that they need during guitar lessons. You can tune your guitar by ear or with a guitar tuner. The tuner captures the notes of each of the strings of your guitar and indicates to you if it is necessary to stretch or relax the string in order to obtain a more or less acute sound.
And pick your pick wisely! The pick will attack your strings and therefore affect their condition. Find the right balance between a pick that is neither too soft nor too rigid.
Finally, do not forget to pamper your instrument and its accessories the way they deserve.
Now, who's up for searching for 'guitar lessons london'?
Now read our complete guide to purchasing your first guitar...