When do you change your guitar string

Guitar Strings - Everything You Need to Know

Everything about strings for guitar, bass, ukulele and other instruments

Tips and tricks for buying, winding, and tuning strings

(Image: © Shutterstock / by optimarc)

Which strings for my guitar? Which strings last the longest? What is the difference between strings for electric guitar and strings for western guitar?

Anyone who chooses the guitar asks questions like these, because the strings are responsible for generating the sound and form the beginning of the sound chain. And it doesn't matter whether it is a purely acoustic or an electrically amplified guitar. And because the strings have such a great influence on the timbre, playability and many other properties of our instrument, you will find answers to all of these and many other questions in our workshops and features. And of course there are lots of tips and suggestions on how to wind strings correctly, how to tune them perfectly, how to care for them and much more.

Guitar Strings - Quick Facts

Who invented the strings?
The origin of the strings cannot be determined from a specific date or person. Strings have been used to generate sound for thousands of years and as early as the 9th century, silk strings from China were adopted in Spain for stringing the lute; older instruments were already stringed with gut strings, but horsehair and metal were also used.

What are strings made of?
Modern strings for electric and acoustic guitars consist of a core wire made of steel, the so-called core, which is wrapped with additional layers of metal. This winding wire is mostly made of copper / zinc / tin alloys in western guitars, and very often nickel or steel in electric guitars. More recently, other metals and coatings have also been conquering the market. Most concert guitar strings have a core made of nylon thread and are wound with silver / copper wire. The treble strings are mostly made entirely of nylon.

How do strings work?
Guitar strings are made to vibrate with the fingers or a pick, which in acoustic instruments stimulate the body to vibrate and thus increase the volume. With electric guitars, the vibrations are converted into electrical signals by pickups, which are then processed by a connected amplifier.

What does the information on the string packaging mean?
In addition to the information on the type of instrument and string, the circumference of a string plays an important role. It is specified as thickness and usually in inches (e.g. .010). Information derived from this, such as light, medium or heavy, may vary depending on the provider. With the strings for certain guitar sizes, the scale plays a role, with which the freely swinging length of the string is meant from the bridge to the saddle, but not its total length. Modern strings have a metal ball or ball end at one end that holds the strings on the tailpiece or bridge. Older or special guitars may require strings with a loop or, as with the classical guitar or special tremolo systems, with open ends. The term tension indicates the tension of the tuned string in lb or kg.

Which strings for my guitar?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right strings and of course the type of instrument comes first. Electric guitars need different strings than acoustic guitars, and concert guitars use different strings than western guitars. It is also important what kind of music I play on my guitar, because a jazz guitarist usually plays different strings than a country picker, for example. The choice of strings is often a compromise between playability and tone. Thicker strings usually deliver more bass and sound louder and fuller overall, but are naturally also a bit harder to play. But also thinner strings can generate a fat tone, but above all they suit many playing techniques, because they are more comfortable to play and the tone is easier to shape with them. And because the market now has strings in every design and strength, our guides and tests are the ideal companions when looking for the right guitar strings.

Do different guitar strings sound different?

The sound of a string is always related to the type of guitar. Do the strings make the instrument sound or should they primarily feed a pickup with their vibrations? The wood and construction of a massive electric guitar also have an influence on the tone of the strings, but of course not to the same extent as the body of a filigree concert guitar, for example. While the strings for electric guitars are supposed to stimulate the magnetic field of the pickups, acoustic guitars are mainly about stimulating the body to resonate and generating a loud and characteristic natural tone. For this reason, the strings for the different guitar types are made of different materials, depending on the purpose they are to serve.

How often do you have to change guitar strings?

The lifespan of strings depends not only on the material they are made of, but also on how they are played, on external influences and, of course, on their age. Strings are the wearing parts of the guitar, and whoever maltreats them with metal picks, extreme bendings and massive tremolo use, logically has to change more often than a jazz guitarist who caresses his thick flatwound strings with a soft pick. Excessive sweating contributes to the fact that the spaces between the windings of the strings become clogged and brilliance and overtones are lost. And instruments that are stored unplayed and unprotected for a long time also collect patina and in the windings and lose their shine - both visually and sonically. Coated strings try to avoid this circumstance and promise a fresh tone over a longer distance, other strings only sound after they have been used for a long time. Basically, the strings should be changed when the sound becomes dull and can no longer assert itself, when the material is tired and the guitar can no longer be fretted, and of course when a string breaks.

Our comparison and long-term tests show how long strings last and how their sound can change.

How do I put new strings on?

At some point there comes the point where the strings have done their job and need to be replaced with a new set. And even if one or the other thinks they have two left hands: Nobody has to carry their guitar to the luthier just to change the strings, unless further adjustment work is also necessary. With our workshops and tips, everyone can help their electric and acoustic guitar get a fresh sound and a clean feel. Bonedo even provides detailed step-by-step instructions for vintage tremolos and Floyd Rose systems.

How do I tune my guitar?

Well-tuned strings are essential for a good tone. The best and easiest way to do this is with a tuner, but with a little practice only with your hearing. While the six-string standard guitar is usually traditionally tuned in E-A-D-g-h-e, seven or eight-string guitars, baritone and other versions expand the range considerably. In addition, there are the currently extremely popular open tunings or open moods, which help to realize certain styles of music, playing techniques or sound ideals and in which the strings are sometimes tuned a good bit away from the standard.

In our large theme world "Tuning the guitar by ear & with a tuner" you will find a whole range of workshops, features, tests and videos on the way to a perfectly tuned guitar.


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