3 Ways to Tell When You Need to Change Strings

Simple signs your guitar strings are running out of time.

Ultimate Guitar
Because I figured it would help, here are the three easiest ways to tell if you need to replace guitar strings.

1: Inability to properly tune a string or strings

What I mean by this is that, if you use a tuner and it won't register what type of note you're playing, then there's definitely a problem. Sometimes it may be the tuners fault, but if the unregistered notes have an unintentional grinding noise to them, I would advise just changing the strings. From personal experience, the only thing you're going to achieve by continuing your attempts at tuning the "grind" string is that you're going to have a broken string.

2: Inability to perform certain guitar techniques

If you know how to do guitar techniques, such as sliding, string bending or power chords and you're now getting a flat sound from all attempts to use these techniques, you should apply more pressure to the strings, but if the problem or problems persist for more than a couple days after you've been applying pressure, then it's probably time to put some new strings on your instrument. Trust me, it will help. Finally, the fairly obvious one: If you haven't replaced your strings ever and you bought your instrument over one year ago, you probably need to change your strings. They get worn down with continued use and if you play guitar enough to be on this website, you have most likely worn out any "default" strings that were on your guitar to begin with, so, if you have the money and you're guitar's not acting the way you think it should, go to a music store and get yourself some replacement strings. IMPORTANT: When you're buying strings for the first time, be sure to have someone at the store show you how to change strings. It'll probably cost a bit more than doing it yourself, but their advice is worth it!

36 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Dr Sin
    When they snap off and impale you. That's when.
    And blood sheds from both holes that the string made to get in and out of your hand... sounds to me like a clear indicator
    "play guitar enough to be on this website", he says... I haven't touched the damn thing for a while but I still love wasting my time on here
    I've literally just started learning guitar (already play bass, so I guess that kinda counts) and I've been here for about a year!
    You can also look up a Youtube video on how to change strings.
    No, that is simply impossible. UG stated that you need to pay someone at a store to show you.
    i think UG stated that you go to a store and purchase some replacement strings ... not someone to show you .. but if they provide the service FOC .. why not ? sit back and test some guitars or amps while they're doing the job for you ..
    First time changing strings: Let someone at a store to show you. If you can handle it from then, you can use Youtube as reminder :p
    I've learned so many lil tricks over years, but the first time changing strings I was awful at it. Never watch a video or watched someone change them.
    I changed them with my dad by using a youtube video--believe me, it's not impossible.
    i first learnt tuning and changing strings froma book. if you watch a video, it should be very easy.(if the video is correct ofcourse)
    its time to get them changed, when they seem to be made out of parts of the sunken titanic itself, all covered in rust but i guess that adds up to that vintage feel of that 100§ plywood squier id recommend to get a fresh tetanus shot first anyway
    How about changing them shortly before a gig, recordings etc or once a month/every second month or if one just snaps?
    Usually you should change them a whole day at least before you plan on playing since the strings stretch out after you put them on, and you won't want to trim off the excess until you know they're not going to come off.
    When you noticed your frets were being polished by the worn out strings as well .. continue playing and you'll need to refret prematurely ..
    Or just don't change them and let the power float whiting you... muahahaha (haven't changed my strings in 2 years, still sound great)
    it really depends on how crisp you want your sound too. sometimes you dont know how bad they are untill you change them and then hear the new ones. It really makes a big difference. Then again some people prefer the sound of old strings. All the sweat,dead skin, spilt beer and coffee make a big difference to the sound! lol
    Lack of brightness, corroded/tarnished strings, lack of tuning stability, the intonation is off, dull harmonics. Some strings like Ernie Ball's Slinkies have a smaller core on the wound strings, when they get worn enough they'll eventually break internally.
    Good tip is to use GHS Fast Fret. My 8-week-old strings feel like 2 weeks old. Saves some money for a temporary fix for strings. Although I recommend changing strings every other week or so. I used to have strings on for a max duration of 4 weeks before changing them, but Fast Fret doubled the time.
    when they get rusty. Yes, my friend sweats so much when he plays (even for like 30 seconds) his strings rust within a month.
    Tell him to try Elixir strings. Coated strings sometimes work for people with sweaty hands.
    ive tried them once, and i noticed, that you have to be very careful with the coating, expecially when you hit them hard, the coating rubs off and piles up beneath the strings right between the pickups, it was a real mess. i guess they suit better for a less excessive playing style, or even fingerpicking.
    I know a guy that used to go through strings in a day. He had really acidic sweat
    Good pointers, this is something beginner guitar players usually don't know... BTW you got me thinking with the tuner thing... maybe my tuner is giving me trouble because my strings are a year and a half old?? Maybe... but i'll try changing my tuner's battery first xD
    If your guitar strings are rusty, it is obvious that you have to change them. I personally clean my strings every time after playing. They last much longer this way. Rusty strings also make your fingers hurt. I have to change my guitar strings every 2 months now. I could still use them for longer but they get worn off a little since I play a lot.
    Sound is the most important thing. If you know your ear and the sound isn't right CHANGE STRINGS!!!!
    The most obvious ones are when strings snap (though I have never snapped an Ernie Ball string) and when they start to feel bad and sound dead. Old strings just don't feel that good. And of course if you change them every month or two (or whatever depending on how much you play). It doesn't hurt if you change them a bit more often because new strings sound more fresh. I think your strings are very old if you are getting tuning issues. Lol at the last tip: "If you haven't replaced your strings ever and you bought your instrument over one year ago, you probably need to change your strings." I mean, one year is way too long time, even if it's a new instrument. And also, there are videos in Youtube to show how to change strings.