Never take your guitar strings “lightly”…

After all, that’s ultimately what’s going to create your sound.  There are many things to take into account when deciding what guitar strings to buy and how to take care of them.  Following some fairly simple guidelines will help you get the sound you want with considerably much less effort and possible damage to your guitar.  Here are a few questions you have probably asked yourself in the past in reference to your guitar strings:

Question #1: “What size string gauge should I use?”

Well, this depends on a few different things.  First, let me point out that the lighter (smaller diameter) gauge string set will produce a thinner, softer sound; however, will be much easier for things such as bending notes and other types of expression.  It is also much easier for begginners to learn on.  Lighter gauge strings won’t hurt your fingers as much.  Of course, the heavier (larger diameter) gauge string set will do the opposite – produce a deep, heavier, louder sound and will usually last a bit longer than the lighter gauge strings.

Depending upon the gauge, the third string in the set might be a “wound” string, or a “plain” string which will also make a difference in playability.  A wound string is a single string but with another wrapped around it, while a plain string is just that – one, plain string (bends much easier)…

Also, keep in mind that some guitars will not be capable of handling larger gauge string sets without changing out the nut…

So, just ask yourself: “How deep do I want my sound to be?” | “How much playing flexibility do I need?” |  “How long do I need the strings to last?”

Question #2: “Do guitar strings need maintenance?”

OF COURSE!… To help preserve your strings, it’s best to wipe them off after each use and never play your guitar with dirty hands.  Ensure you wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before playing; and after playing (for an hour or more) wipe down the top side of your string with a microfiber type cloth from top to bottom.  Then, try to repeat the process on the underside of your strings.  This helps keep all of the oils from your skin and other dirt and grime from collecting on the strings and weakening them.  There are special products located on any decent musician’s website (such as: musiciansfriend.com) that will help in string cleaning.

Question #3: “How often should I change my guitar strings?”

As often as you can afford to is the correct answer; however, most of us don’t change them nearly as often as we should, or simply wait until they break.  Truth is, the newer the string set the brighter, clearer the sound the guitar will produce… At minimum, if you play a decent amount shows, you should change them after each 2-4 hour show.  Definately re-string a brand new guitar because there’s no telling the condition of those strings, or how long they have been on the guitar…

Question #4: “OK, I’ve re-strung my guitar.  Now what?” . . .

Allow time for them to stretch out a bit.  Anyone who has put new strings on a guitar knows that they tend to get out of tune very quickly.  That’s because they need to be played so they can get broken in good.  15-30 minutes of playing, bending notes, or just plain pulling on the strings should stretch them out good enough to stay relatively in tune…