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Thread: Do people ever change their strings?

  1. #51

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Kurt's guide to avoid ever having to change strings simply because the strings are old:

    - MAS is #1, buy new instruments before strings wear out, and accumulate many so no one set of strings gets too much time.
    - learn to love the sound of broken in strings, pick choice and playing style can all adapt to them. If you simply like a dark sound you are golden, the rest is easy.
    - things like refrets and diddling with setups (which require a string change anyway), will avoid ever having strings old enough to need changing.

    For me a string change is what you do when you get a new instrument, and often a few times until I find the strings I like on it... After that, as little as possible.
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  2. #52
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    Kurt's guide to avoid ever having to change strings simply because the strings are old:

    - MAS is #1, buy new instruments before strings wear out, and accumulate many so no one set of strings gets too much time.
    - learn to love the sound of broken in strings, pick choice and playing style can all adapt to them. If you simply like a dark sound you are golden, the rest is easy.
    - things like refrets and diddling with setups (which require a string change anyway), will avoid ever having strings old enough to need changing.

    For me a string change is what you do when you get a new instrument, and often a few times until I find the strings I like on it... After that, as little as possible.
    This^^^ Especially #1 - sounds like a plan!

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  4. #53
    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    If you're guitar player who regularly changes strings, then you know the answer really. I don't think guitar players are really any different. (It''s less stressful changing guitar strings, by the way...) Anyway, if you change your mando strings every now and then it also gives you a chance to try out different makes and kinds- just like with guitar. I started on Newtone strings for a couple of times (excellent English hand-made, yet not too pricey), then changed to a more expensive no-name (to me) brand which the music shop owner happened to stock, and I really can't wait to go back to the Newtones for a nicer sound. I also have a mandolin which came strung with the aforementioned Thomastik flatwounds, and they really are nice, and don't seem to deteriorate much, but I can't make a direct comparison as the instruments are different.
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

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  6. #54

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I do not change strings, unless they break. I want to play. Of course I'm rarely concertizing (on strings any more), but just performing locally in casual environments.

  7. #55
    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    I had asked Peter Ostroushko that question years ago........his answer was typical of Peter. "When they break".
    That makes two of us.

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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Every 2 months for me. But that's not driven by the calendar; it's just the length of time it usually seems to take for my strings to start going/staying out of tune a lot and not sounding as good as they did.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by callmegina View Post
    But that's not driven by the calendar
    I try to stick to the calendar because my strings might still sound good, but the risk of a sudden breakage in mid-play rises considerably after 2 months, and I hate string changes in a session. In the air traffic business they call it preventive maintenance.
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  10. #58
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Well, I wonder when I will change my strings. I installed the stark TI strings on May 6th and they are still going great! I hope to get a very long life out of them. Minimum a year.
    My avatar is of my OldWave Oval A

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  12. #59

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    When younger, I was OCD about changing strings, often weekly. For some reason, as I've aged, I really like the sound of older strings on both guitar, mandola and octave/bouzouki (no longer have a mandolin).

    I have gotten a little more OCD about wiping them down after playing -- particularly the plain steel strings to avoid the feeling of corrosion -- and I think my body chemistry has become less corrosive to strings. I'm sure increasing laziness has something to do with it too.

    I play at least an hour a day and am not particularly good about washing my hands before playing. I seldom use coated strings.

  13. #60

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    When they...
    - won't stay in tune,
    - won't intone right,
    - sound dull and just "not right",
    - just don't feel right anymore...
    ... then it's time to change 'em.

    The amount of time before the above things occur... depends on the player.

  14. #61
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I don't get the anxious hand wringing over changing strings.
    It really isn't that hard.
    Takes about ten minutes, once you get the hang of it.
    Get a James Tailpiece, which makes changing strings a breeze, or use a capo to hold the string tight at the tailpiece while you string it up.
    Change one course at a time, so the bridge stays put.
    I start at the G strings and work my way up.

    Guitar and mandolin string changes are a ten minute thing for me, and so worth it.
    If you want a challenging string change, come to my house when I am restringing a 19 string sitar with wooden friction pegs.
    Now THAT could be considered challenging.
    But 6 or 8 strings with modern tuning machines... not a big deal.
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  16. #62
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I get about a month out of a set of EJ74 strings, but that fourth week is a bit iffy on my satisfaction with tone. Longer on Monel, EXP74, or flatwound strings. I enjoy changing the strings and love that fresh string sound.
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  18. #63

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I'm a beginner and I don't play as much as I would like, but it's probably time to change. The main reason I don't is, this thing intimidates me. I change my viola strings with confidence, but there's something about the mandolin that... it's like some kind of contraption out of a steampunk film. It seems so much more complicated than a viola.

    In fact, I have a lot of trouble tuning. There's a lag between when I adjust the peg and when the string responds. I'm sure the physics is the same as a viola, i.e. too much friction. If it were my viola, I'd zip-zip-zip unwind the heck out of a string, rub a graphite pencil in the nut groove to lubricate the slot, wind it back up. I've realized I should do this for at least 6 months. I can't shake the feeling that if I unwind the string enough to get under it, the whole thing will fall apart and I'll show up for my lesson holding a bunch of parts like this Click image for larger version. 

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  19. #64
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heady View Post
    I'm a beginner and I don't play as much as I would like, but it's probably time to change. The main reason I don't is, this thing intimidates me. I change my viola strings with confidence, but there's something about the mandolin that... it's like some kind of contraption out of a steampunk film. It seems so much more complicated than a viola.

    In fact, I have a lot of trouble tuning. There's a lag between when I adjust the peg and when the string responds. I'm sure the physics is the same as a viola, i.e. too much friction. If it were my viola, I'd zip-zip-zip unwind the heck out of a string, rub a graphite pencil in the nut groove to lubricate the slot, wind it back up. I've realized I should do this for at least 6 months. I can't shake the feeling that if I unwind the string enough to get under it, the whole thing will fall apart and I'll show up for my lesson holding a bunch of parts like this Click image for larger version. 

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    Interesting - in 9 years of violin lessons all those decades ago my violin strings were never changed. Indeed, they were seldom tuned, because I intensely disliked the friction tuners with their imprecision and unreliability (either they would move in creaking leaps or slip on their own).
    That all changed (pun intended) with the solid mechanics (steampunk, if you like) of the mandolin, and I can assure you that nothing will fall apart as long as you change one string at a time.
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  21. #65
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    That's an interesting point, regarding changing one string at a time.

    Nowadays I sometimes take off all of the strings, of course the bridge then comes off too, I give the fretboard and body a good clean and restring gradually. If it's done from one end and working through the strings from 1st to 4th (or the other way around), the string tension tends to push the bridge off-centre. Therefore I add strings gradually each side of the centre.

    But - doing it that way means being confident about repositioning the bridge correctly for correct intonation. It also allows the entire body of the mandolin to flex first under release of tension, and then under restored tension.

    Sometimes to keep things simpler, and certainly for a beginner I'd recommend changing one string at a time, the bridge stays in place and the body doesn't get the same extremes of tension/no-tension so the instrument stays pretty much in tune throughout - though new strings will stretch as they bed in, so it will still require retuning afterwards.

  22. #66
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I think I've posted this before, but here goes. Old strings are fine, but if you run your fingernail under your wound strings and you can feel the dent in the string where the frets are, it's time to change. They will be harder to tune and have the potential to break. If the strings aren't dented leave them on longer if you like.
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  24. #67
    Ted Heinonen
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    I remember a Norman Blake concert with the Rising Fawn Ensemble 30 years ago and the band I was in opened for them. During their part of the show, Norman had snapped a string and as he changed it he complained "Lord I just can't get these strings to last more than a year" I'm sure there are those familiar with legendary stories of certain musicians removing their strings and boiling them to clean the guck out and then replacing them.
    Kinda extreme penny-pinching in a way.. when I was actively out on the road it was once a week,
    now.... more like once a year whether I need to or not. I think it's a degree of comfort and sonics that judge when to change strings or economics for some.

  25. #68
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    My experience with strings goes back to the mid-60s with fiddle, then slightly later with banjo and mandolin... Lots of folks tried to keep strings as long as possible, some because they didn't like the process of changing them or the inconvenience of acquiring them (no online sales back then), some because they didn't want to spend the money, but most, because they didn't like how new strings sound. I have some close old friends from way-back who still keep strings long because they don't like how new strings sound, and for the most part I'm one of them.

    These friends (and I sometimes) have been known to do the following things to make them last longer:

    1) Clean them every time they are played with a light cleaning oil mixture.
    2) Tie them when they break below the bridge or above the nut.
    3) Use alternate lower tunings to put the strings under less tension and use a capo semi-permanently at an appropriate fret.
    4) Boil them and/or freeze them.
    5) When new, treat or process them with anything conceivable to age them and make them sound old.
    6) Trade new strings for old strings or buy specifically old strings from someone else whenever possible.

    I see more of this trading/buying old strings than ever before happening today among the double bass community for certain strings. New strings for the double bass typically cost anywhere between $50 and $900 depending on their makeup, and are usually at least partially hand made (gut strings are particularly expensive). There is a very lively market for used double bass strings. Mostly this is for tone, but also, there is a large amount of experimenting with how different kinds of strings sound going on. Mixing of different brands of double bass strings on the same instrument is also very common (I do this myself).
    -- Don

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  27. #69

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Interesting, Don. I had an upright bass about 30 years ago and it had a set of gut strings on it. Being a guitar player, I didn't think it was a big deal, but bass players kept telling me, "oh, those sell for about $350 a set." (a lot of money I guess at that time......heck, a lot of money today!) Interesting to know there is a market in used gut strings!

  28. #70
    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Changed my strings yesterday and was impressed again by the improvement of the sound. As always.
    I try to change every 4 weeks but actualky do it less often.
    Only with flat wounds (on other instruments) I keep them on for a year or so.

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  30. #71
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Wife: Look at this thread on Mandolin Café.

    Me: Huh?

    Wife: It says that people do change strings on a mandolin.

    Me: What? Wait! No! That’s a humor thread…yeah…humor…like the banjo thingy…

    Wife: You said that mandolin strings are permanently affixed to the mandolin.

    Me: Uh…

    Wife: You said that when the strings start wearing out, you have no choice but to buy a new mandolin.

    Me: Umm…well….

    Wife: And you said that strings last longer on more expensive mandolins.

    Me: What I meant was…

    Wife: You said that by buying a more expensive mandolin, you’re really economizing.

    Me: Let me explain…

    Wife: Hmm, you know, I do believe the wiper blades are wearing out on my car. Of course, I’m thinking that they probably last much longer on a Mercedes GTR…

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  32. #72
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Changed them last night.
    Last edited by B381; Jun-11-2019 at 4:58pm.
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  33. #73

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    You convinced me, so I ordered a tube of Music Nomad TUNE-IT. I'm not trying string changes, just lubricating the nut and bridge. Did the Gs and Ds without incident. Will do the As and Es after dinner. Thank you for the pep talk.

    Next goal, change strings before the end of summer

  34. #74

    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    OK changing strings might move ahead of schedule. Lubed up all 8 strings one by one, got the last e tuned up to a sharp d#, and right in the home stretch, I broke it

    It's a sign probably. Time for string changes...

  35. #75
    Struggle Monkey B381's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do people ever change their strings?

    Quote Originally Posted by Heady View Post
    OK changing strings might move ahead of schedule. Lubed up all 8 strings one by one, got the last e tuned up to a sharp d#, and right in the home stretch, I broke it

    It's a sign probably. Time for string changes...
    I bring then up together, slowly and let them rest every couple of note changes.
    "It doesn't matter how much you invest in your instrument until you invest in you and your ability..."

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