There are no set rules, since the answer depends on how often you play, how long you play, how hard you play, and perhaps most important, how your strings react to your body chemistry. Some players change their strings on a regular schedule whether they need to or not, just to be sure their strings never go bad. Other people don’t really think about their strings, and keep them on their instrument far past their useful life. Some players can trash a set of strings in one gig. Others can go for weeks and still have fresh-sounding strings. Here are four easy warning signs that will let you know when you should change your strings:
• Your strings won’t stay in tune. If you find yourself constantly checking and adjusting your tuning, or your strings won’t hold proper tuning or intonation, it’s a sign that your strings need replacing.
• Your strings sound dead. If your strings have lost their brightness, twang, elasticity, and sustain, it’s another sign that they’ve seen better days.
• Your strings look (or feel) grubby. If you see dirt and discoloration on your strings, time to get a new set.
• Your wound strings are starting to unravel. Especially around the bridge saddles, if your wound strings are beginning to unravel, they’re a definitely at risk of breaking. Time for a change.
You can extend the life of your strings by using a light spray with guitar string cleaner (eg Finger Ease) and wiping them down after each use before putting your guitar in it’s case, away from the dust and grime of everyday living.