As the owner of a guitar shop I have seen first hand that many guitarists simply do not change their strings often enough.
I change strings on most of my guitars after roughly ten hours of use. I have always used Thursdays as a guitar maintenance day. Thursday gives me enough hours to play the strings in before weekend gigs. Whenever changing strings I always check intonation and neck relief. Your guitar only plays as well as you maintain it. It never ceases to amaze me how many guitarists have bad quality or old strings on a top notch guitar. The string is your note; you can only sound as good as your strings will allow. Always use a string winder and make sure your windings go low around the tuning capstan, stretch your strings a few times in the tuning process. I tell all younger players to make sure you change strings at least once every 3 months.
On electric guitars (strat style scale lengths) the best strings I have used are the D’Addario NYXL – a new type of string that tunes and sounds better than all others, to my ears at least. Personally I find the best gauge to be 9-46 – this allows for easy string bending in higher registers whilst maintaining a good tone in the bass register. On Les Paul style guitars I use 10-46 or 10 -48. The accompanying photo to this article is my beloved PRS – 305. I always service my guitars on a soft flat surface, with a neck support.
On my jazz guitars I use Thomastik George Benson flatwounds guage 12-54
On acoustic steel string guitars I use Thomastik – Plectrum 11-50
On my Gitane Gypsy Jazz guitar I use Newtone – Gypsy Jazz Django Reinhardt – silverplated wound 11- 45
On nylon string guitars I prefer Savarez – 540J high tension strings
I avoid using many new brand long life strings, I believe they are bad for your guitar’s neck and fretwire health, they might save you money on strings but a re-fret or new guitar will cost a lot more.
Quote this article if you would like 25% off strings next time you are in the store at Caroline Springs School of Music.
Brendan Hains www.carolinespringsschoolofmusic.com.au