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Thread: Do people ever change their strings?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    When the sound produced starts to go South I change them !
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  2. #27
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Working at a music store, I've changed hundreds, if not thousands of strings over the years, what you don't see is that the underside of the string will be "dented" or kinked where the frets touch it -- doesn't mean its dead, but it ain't new and fresh, either......
    Yep, that's where the intonation starts to fail. A fretted instrument is a compromise in intonation anyway. But as good as your instrument setup is for nut height, bridge placement, and individual string pair compensation at the saddle... all of that stuff only works "as good as it gets" with a brand new string. A length of metal that's exactly the same on both sides of the 12th fret.

    Once you start hammering your fingers down on the strings below the 12th fret -- and honestly, how many of us play above the 12th fret? -- then you're denting and damaging just half of the string; the part below the 12th fret. That's what starts to throw off intonation. And it will happen before the string "goes dead."

    I think the reason more people don't notice this, is because it's so hard to get a mandolin in decent intonation setup in the first place. The short scale makes it much more tricky than guitar intonation. If your instrument is in sour intonation to begin with, you'll never hear how bad the intonation goes out, after a few weeks of hard playing after a string change.

  3. #28
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by DHopkins View Post
    It's not difficult and it does't take long but I'd rather spend a weekend in jail than change strings. Having said that, I do it every couple or three months.
    Jail...or strings?
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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  5. #29
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    mine stay on for 2 months. If I didn't clean them after playing, they'd only last 2 weeks.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  6. #30
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Depends (and YMMV)...

    1) on what the strings are made of and how they are made
    2) on the player's skin metabolism
    3) on the instrument.

    Strings:

    Unwound stainless steel strings can last years, they don't dent and really all they need is to be cleaned regularly.

    Round-wound strings tend to collect oil, grime and dirt between the windngs and eventually that deadens these strings.

    Phosphor-bronze has an enhanced affinity for oil and because of that it collects grime and dirt even faster. It also dents more easily.

    So the ideal wound string for usable life is stainless steel flat-wound. Even phosphor-bronze in flat-wound or flat-top strings have a longer usable life than phosphor-bronze round-wounds. But, flat-wound or flat-top strings may not produce a tone that a person is looking for.

    Cleaning the strings can help. Some people are successful cleaning with an oil-based cleaner after each use, which may help as long as the strings are wiped completely clean after each application. However, any of this oil-based cleaner residue that is not wiped off will collect dust and dirt and may deaden the strings faster, especially with phosphor-bronze round-wound strings. So for phosphor-bronze round-wound strings cleaning with a dry cloth is probably the safest method.

    Skin:

    Everybody is different, some people have dry skin, others have oily or sweaty skin. This affects the strings. Dry skin is ideal for usable string life. Washing hands very clean before playing the strings is a very viable alternative.

    A light touch while playing can also make a big difference on how long strings last, and this may also make a big difference in fret life.

    Instrument:

    There are some instruments that are so loud and clear that they sound good with older strings, but these tend to be rare instruments. And some people have a very light and sensitive touch that pulls volume and tone from an instrument without beating up the strings or the instrument (a heavy touch is really not needed with a great instrument). And there are also those people who just don't like the sound of new strings (I'm one of these)...

    For example, on one of my main playing banjos -- an older Gibson cannon -- I have stainless steel strings that are older than my oldest son who is 30 this year; I meticulously clean these strings with an oil-based cleaner every time after I play, and they just keep lasting and sounding great. But I have a very light touch when playing, so I don't beat my strings to death. And I use a banjo tuning which is known to be pretty low tension. Btw, having stainless steel strings on banjos is pretty common.

    Great mandolins may also be cannons, and mandolin players may also have a very light touch. But the majority of mandolin players like the tone and volume of some form of phosphor-bronze round-wound strings, so the likelihood of getting decades of use out of these mandolin strings is naturally diminished. Also, in standard tuning, mandolin strings are typically under very high tension, and that also tends to wear them out faster, if it doesn't eventually break the strings first.
    -- Don

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  7. #31

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I still have my first string change in front of me. I am still learning on the original strings. However, my hands do not sweat, at all. The intonation is still there, and they still sound great. I am dreading that first string change.
    Loar LM-370

  8. #32
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    When I started out, I'd play until the frets cut the wound strings into neat little segments, each of which would spin around and slide up and down the core. When those used to unwind and leave little spikes up and down the strings, I figured it was time for a string change.

  9. #33
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Since I am such a bad player, and do the overwhelming majority of my playing around the house, away from any other set of ears - I change strings when:

    1. A string breaks.

    2. I am starting a new album.

    3. I have a gig coming up.

    4. The strings are really dead sounding.
    I recently finished a new homemade 4-song EP of original solo acoustic songs; (sorry, no mandolin content this time). If you are interested in a FREE copy, feel free to send me your address via Private Message, and I will be glad to send you one. Trust me, it will be worth the price!


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  11. #34

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I keep strings on until they sound bad or break.

    On mando and electric guitar, the strings sound good for a long time. (On electric guitar, the strings sound fine until they break, so I do change those from time to time just to stay ahead of the game.)

    On acoustic guitar, the strings die faster. I don't find that I have to put on a set every month, but I do change the wound G more often than the other strings. They're the day lily of the bunch.

    [Disclaimer: I am NOT a pro!]

  12. #35
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    My favorite story from an old timer, who bought his brand-new Gretsch Chet Atkins in the 60's......he told me when he bought it, he went ahead and bought three sets of flatwound strings to go with it.......35 years later, he was just barely "into" the 2nd pack.........
    That, sir, is outstanding!!!
    Chuck

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  14. #36
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    When they go dead.

    Which for me is about once a month.
    Chris Cravens

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  15. #37
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I remember reading about Tom Petty wanting his guitar strings to be so old and dead that they are rusty.
    I read that Stephen Stills hated the sound of new strings so much that he would rub BBQ sauce on his strings...not sure what brand he chose.

    Probably the OP has his answer - it depends on who you ask.

    Kirk

  16. #38
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    on the piano? Never!

    on the mandolin? Maybe once a year.

    I think body chemistry matters, 'cause I don't touch piano strings and I do touch mandolin strings.

    f-d
    °papŠ gordo ainít no madre flaca!

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  17. #39
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    OP here.. thanks to all for there replies. As with anything Ďit dependsí seems to be the correct answer. On my guitars I really like strings about 4 days old after moderate playing. But on my 1930 Martin 0-17 12 fret I like old strings. I get the muted Nick Drake sound. Iím a month in on my first mandolin and they sound ok at the moment and will see how long I can resist changing them. Iím only a month in and Iím already lusting for an Octave Mandolin..... but thatís another story (thanks a lot Sierra Hull ;í)

    Bill

  18. #40
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Newbflat View Post
    Iím only a month in and Iím already lusting for an Octave Mandolin..... but thatís another story (thanks a lot Sierra Hull ;í)
    One of the unspoken benefits or detriments of the Mandolin Cafe, depending on how you look at it, is that eventually you will desire an octave mandolin. Those of us who arrive at mandolin after years of playing guitar (like me) are especially prone to this desire. After discovering how cool and natural-feeling it is to play with a 5th spacing across the strings instead of 4ths, you start to wonder how that would work, an octave down.

    It's just happening a little faster with you, that's all.

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  20. #41
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    If I were to win the lottery, I would hire someone to manage my mandolins. Keep them set up, change the strings, keep them tuned. Because that would free me up to play them.

    I don't like changing strings much, but I have turned it into a party. I invite friends over with their guitars or mandolins or whatever, I put a blanket on the table and we all change our strings together, while in the background chili is cooking and corn bread is baking. Then we have dinner and a jam.

    It has become a bit of a tradition. I recommend it. Chili and corn bread is mandatory, however. It just doesn't seem to work well with pizza.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  22. #42
    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    If I were to win the lottery, I would hire someone to manage my mandolins. Keep them set up, change the strings, keep them tuned.
    I once saw an interview with Rick Nielsen of the band Cheap Trick; and he said that he hadn't changed strings or tuned his guitars for 40 years . . . definitely one of the perks of stardom!
    I recently finished a new homemade 4-song EP of original solo acoustic songs; (sorry, no mandolin content this time). If you are interested in a FREE copy, feel free to send me your address via Private Message, and I will be glad to send you one. Trust me, it will be worth the price!


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  23. #43
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeZito View Post
    I once saw an interview with Rick Nielsen of the band Cheap Trick; and he said that he hadn't changed strings or tuned his guitars for 40 years . . . definitely one of the perks of stardom!
    If I owned this, I would definitely have someone else handle string changes!
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    Makes a mandolin look like a cakewalk.
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  24. #44
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I belong to the category 'lazy frequent string changer'. That is, I very much like the sound of fresh strings but do not always change them as often as I should.

    On the other side sometimes after some loud jamming I change the strings after two werks or so, eventhough I think that they could stay on a little longer . But I never regretted it. There was always a pleasant improvement of the tone.

  25. #45
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    35 years in and the color hasn't even started to fade!
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    ďLike winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher Ďstandard of livingí is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free.Ē -- Aldo Leopold

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  27. #46

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Another factor, when playing in a band.......

    On tour, we would be out for two months playing almost every night. I never changed strings unless I broke one, then I only changed the string I broke. We're talking electric guitars. My guitar, a telecaster, always stayed in tune, I would open the case, check the tuning, but nothing would have moved from the night before -- amazing guitar! My buddy "prided" himself in having a good ear and he changed his strings every night, yes, you read that right -- before the tour he order a gross of strings and before every show he changed strings, yes, he was a good player, and stretched his strings, etc. -- but, you know what? He was always out of tune and retuning between songs, all because he could "hear" the difference between new and "slightly" worn strings. And, I do respect someone wanting to give the audience their best. But, ultimately, he was a "fussy person" and I'm not. And, I find it annoying to make the audience wait while someone is tuning between every song. Yep, he was a better player, but I always sounded better. Funny how that works? I'm glad I don't have such a "good" ear........

    Furthermore, I've watched hundreds of hours of Allman Brothers vids on youtube, and I don't remember them having that problem.....

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  29. #47
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I personally really don't care to change strings,just not my favorite thing.I find myself always playing instead.I'd say the strings needed a change around the first of the year,and at one point it really sounded like crap,lately though it sounds not to bad,maybe I'm getting used to it.my wife is sick about hearing about how I have to change my strings,and she said she's getting a t-shirt made saying" Change your strings!", I think maybe I will change them tomorrow...

  30. #48
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I change them much less frequently since I switched to EXPs. They just keep sounding good and don't seem to break much, so ... I change every couple of months or if I have a lot of hours on a set and a big gig coming up or if intonation/tuning starts becoming an issue.
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  31. #49
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Most players probably do not change them often enough. Strings go south gradually making it difficult to distinguish a change in tonal quality.
    And, like me, I assume many people find changing strings an unfavorable experience. For me, I hate the bleeding part most.
    I generally play daily and for short spans of time like 10 to 20 minutes. However, I may play these short spans as many as 10 to 15 times a day. Every two or three months I decide to change strings. Probably not often enough as I always notice an improvement with new strings.
    Keith Edward Coleman A style, oval hole Mandola
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  32. #50
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    before every show he changed strings, yes, he was a good player, and stretched his strings, etc. -- but, you know what? He was always out of tune and retuning between songs, all because he could "hear" the difference between new and "slightly" worn strings.
    I find that I need to tune significantly more in the first few days of a strings life [up to a couple hours of play], which I am assuming is from the loop stretching out on the post, the strings stretching tightly around the tuning posts, etc.

    I never change strings the week of a gig if I can help it, as if I give it a week of daily playing my strings are stretched onto the tuner and the end pin and they shift significantly less.

    When the strings get heavily worn they also seem to have intonation problems and tuning seems more fiddly ... which is my sign to change them.

    I also use 74's and the brightness of the new strings I find harsh the first few days [and quite nicely mellowed later in their life]. I have fairly bright instruments, thus older PB strings seem to balance that out perfectly to my ear.
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