When to change strings

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
Bill-stl
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When to change strings

Post by Bill-stl » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:43 am

I recently started playing again after a layoff of several years. Do strings go bad just sitting? They sound fine to me and don't show signs of wear, but I have never seen this discussed and was thinking of changing them just to see if new strings sound different.

Cincy2
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Cincy2 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:30 am

After that long a time, I would definitely change them. Being under tension for that long would affect intonation at least. Depending on the environment in which they were stored, there could be corrosion issues also.

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Laudiesdad69
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:43 pm

I just went through a set of Hannabach Exclusive MT that, although they have only been on the guitar for a little over a month, and show absolutely no wear on the basses, sound subdued and dull. This with less than 30 hours of play on them. In actuality it is more or less about 16 hours. They went dull just sitting there basically. They lost that special something that they had when I first put them on. I have had other strings which have kept their new sound, even though they sat in the case, on the guitar, for months without being played. But it ain't so with these strings.

I would definitely change your strings if they sat there for a year or two. Humidity and temperature changes won't do them any favors. I suggest that you tune it up and play a little on the old strings, just so you will be able to compare how good the new ones will sound after you put them on.

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oski79
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Re: When to change strings

Post by oski79 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:22 pm

Here's another tip. When I change strings, I mark the date on one of packages, and put it back with my supply of strings. It almost always surprises me when I my strings sound worn out, then I notice how long it's been since my last change.
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Bill-stl
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Bill-stl » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:44 pm

Thanks for the tips and information. I thought it would be a good idea to change them, but wondered if it be worth it. I'm not sure I have the ear to tell the difference, but it will be interesting to see. I will post what I find.
Thanks!

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Erik Zurcher » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:07 pm

The average life span of strings for professional players is 40 hours (playing time).
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joachim33
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Re: When to change strings

Post by joachim33 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:30 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:07 pm
The average life span of strings for professional players is 40 hours (playing time).
Where did you learn this?

Laudiesdad69
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:39 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:07 pm
The average life span of strings for professional players is 40 hours (playing time).
If only I could have got more time out of the Hannabach. I played about a half hour a day, and some days not at all, and the strings sound dull already. Oh well, I wouldn’t have known had I not tried them. But at 26 bucks for a bass set, I won’t give them a second chance. Back to the Cantiga set for me. They quality of the sound stays a lot longer.

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Erik Zurcher » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:23 pm

joachim33 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:30 pm
Erik Zurcher wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:07 pm
The average life span of strings for professional players is 40 hours (playing time).
Where did you learn this?
My friend and professional guitarist Fernando Riscado Cordas told me this. He restrings his guitar after 40 hours.
Reedition Domingo Esteso by Conde Hermanos 2004; Kenny Hill, model Barcelona 2001
"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

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souldier
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Re: When to change strings

Post by souldier » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:33 am

oski79 wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:22 pm
Here's another tip. When I change strings, I mark the date on one of packages, and put it back with my supply of strings. It almost always surprises me when I my strings sound worn out, then I notice how long it's been since my last change.
I keep extensive records on my computer as to when I changed a bass or treble set along with my impressions of their sound. I usually take notes various times throughout the life of the string set to record how I feel about them while noting the date. These records have proven to be crucial in deciding what strings to buy next or settle on since I often forget what my impressions were. It also gives me a good idea of the lifespan of different sets. It's also quite interesting how my impression of a string set can differ greatly across different guitars.
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Bill-stl
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Bill-stl » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:17 pm

Thought I would post my experience since changing strings. I decided to try La Bella 2001 mt strings. The ones I removed were EJ45 normal. The La Bella definitely had a different quality. I had trouble getting them in tune. By that, I mean that, using a electronic tuner, as I would bring it up to in tune, it would go from flat to in tune to sharp, but never settle into being on. As I plucked the string, the tuning would vary during the sustain, starting flat, changing to on a second later. If I tuned up to be on when plucked, it would go sharp. This happened with all the treble strings.
I have just changed the La Bella for EJ 45's again and they seem to hold the tuning much better. Once a string is in tune, it stays from the initial pluck through the sustain. I will say the EJ 45's sound a little duller than the LaBella, but as I play them in, they are sounding better to me.
While I should probably concentrate on my technique, I will try some Augustine Classic Red and Gold next. I wanted to order a book thru SBM and wanted to take advantage of the flat rate shipping and get strings, too.

So my question is, what do you expect out of a note. Seems to me it should be constant from the initial stroke thru the sustain. Or is it the variance that gives it life.

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Beowulf
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Beowulf » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:21 pm

A heavier stroke will stretch the string more at attack and result in larger tonal variation over the life of the note. This is subtle and may depend also on the instrument and the strings you are using. Also, sympathetic harmonic vibrations occur with other strings. When I tune my top e using an electronic tuner that responds to the sound (rather than the vibrations as with a headstock tuner), I often see the note appearing as "A", rather than "E". This is affected by the strength of the stroke, and by sympathetic vibrations of other strings. If I damp the other 5 strings, this effect disappears.
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Tonit
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Tonit » Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:08 am

Hi Bill,
So my question is, what do you expect out of a note. Seems to me it should be constant from the initial stroke thru the sustain. Or is it the variance that gives it life.
I don't think the variance does, but it may be part of their life when you find it musically inspiring. In a sense you can possibly breathe life into it. That's what the "music" is all about IMPO. However, by any chance do you have them restrung properly? It's worth checking. "Restring Guitar - Ben Woods Flamenco Guitar Techniques" on YouTube tells you the proper ways (as it covers some options) to restring.

As I see the original subject having been discussed quite technically or professionally, I would like to share my tip that caters more to you if you are not professionally performing.

1) Nylons
You do not even have to change plain nylon strings if:
A) No damage is found as you inspect, and;
B) You can tune them up with reasonably accurate 8ve pitch.

2) Wounds
You can extend the life of the wounds by reinstalling the strings in the way that the strip between the nut and bridge is shifted about 1cm. You'll be amazed how the lost high-end frequency is reinstalled (not fully though...). You can keep doing this as long as the strings are long enough for you to do so, AND again, if you find no damage (that you may often find after a while, especially when you use a capo for flamenco).

Better yet, you can re-install the wounds reversed: Put the saddle side end to the tuner, and tuner side end to the saddle. And then again you can start shifting 1cm every time you feel they have become dull.

I reiterate, the aforesaid practice must NOT be applied to the sets you play a concert with, but can only be applicable to the other sets you use for daily bedroom playing to prolong the life of the string while keeping sufficiently crisp wounds for learning and playing experience. Also, please note that the shifted/inverted wounds do sound significantly crispier than before, but will not be as beefy as a new set.

There is no risk in trying, so you can try and see and decide. I'd be happy if you like the results while saving some costs and getting a little greener.

Bill-stl
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Bill-stl » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:22 am

Thanks for the replies. I understand what Beowulf is saying regarding a heavier stroke, but I would have thought that the havier stroke would be sharp, then going toward neutral or flat, since the string was taugter initially in the stroke. My experience was the opposite.
I watched the Ben Woods video and I am confidant that I am doing it properly.
The tips on when to change strings are enlightening. I never would have thought to move the basses or what to look for on the trebles. Nice to have some basis to evaluate the strings other than my ear!

Tonit
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Re: When to change strings

Post by Tonit » Sat Aug 18, 2018 5:05 am

Hi again,
This is quite a common practice, even though I thought that was my own little secret when I discovered this as a teenager. The "reverse basses" tip was given by a senior guitarist who was the director of the music agency I once worked for. Apparently he has experienced some ups and downs and maybe it is hard to get by with the business every now and then...

To back up my allegation, you can see "Vicente Amigo - Roma (Videoclip)" on YT. While it is a beautiful production, I want you to take a closer look at the strings on his Graciliano Perez cedar top flamenco guitar being zoomed in close to the end. There are zebra-pattern wear on the wonds, they are usually caused by the friction with frets. However, the wears are not aligned with the frets, and in fact they are displaced quite afar.
Also, "Flamenco Guitar - Sabicas - Fantasia" on YT shows Sabicas' guitar with extensive margins on his wonds at the bridge. Obviously what is that for?

When I started learning, I was instructed to unwind the strings to give a little slack after practicing to give the strings a "rest". I am not so sure about the instruction being taught outside Japan, but anyways the practice would result in a very similar effect.

Also, some flamenco guitarists put the strings away every time they put the guitar back in the case. I am not sure about this practice wherein the guitar would be loaded and unloaded with some 50-60kg tension nearly everyday.

There are some different string practices worthy of trying. I have shared mine here hoping it helps you and some others as well as our mother earth.

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