When Is It Time to Change Strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Fair Warning, Feb 5, 2013.


  1. Fair Warning

    Fair Warning Deliverin' the Goods! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    I have been playing bass a long time and have heard alot of different perspectives on when you should change strings. I know guys who change string after every gig. For me, I dont find it necessary for more than a year sometimes (or longer).

    So I would like to hear some more on this topic.
  2. backup

    backup

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Location:
    Saturn, Solar System
    i use flatwounds and im not going to change strings until they break (which will be years)
    i changed roundwounds every 3-5 months depending on the brand.
    sunbeams 5 months, other dr strings 4 months, fender rounds max 3 months. roto's 5 months then again 3 months. they already sounded bad when i first put them on so i didnt see much difference even after 8 months.
    i dont like dead rounds they lose their sparkle while not gaining any low end that is attributed to flat wounds.
  3. temmrich

    temmrich Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2012
    Location:
    Dayton, Ohio
    Flats: never
    Rounds: when they become a pain to tune, or you just can't stand that thud (if you wanted thud you'd have flats, right?)

    I never liked the sound of brand new rounds, so I do like the 1-6 month sound of them, but they eventually go dead. It's personal. Some change every gig or every week because they want that brand new sounds.
    It's like asking whether steel or nickel is better for rounds. Totally subjective.
  4. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2002
    Media:
    1
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD USA
    When it takes too much effort to get the sound you are accustomed to, it's time to change strings.
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  6. bassteban

    bassteban

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2004
    Location:
    Northern California
    Sometime before you break the E mid song in church, like I did last Sunday.
  7. Solarmist

    Solarmist Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    15 miles from Mt. Rainier
    4 times a year ... D'Add Prosteels or SIT Powerwounds, and sometimes Elixir.
  8. Joe_K

    Joe_K

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Location:
    California
    Roundwounds: When cleaning them sufficiently no longer works to liven them up .. or if rust appears. :D
  9. walldaja

    walldaja

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    How do you know how old they are? Do you document changes?
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    I change strings as needed ...

    Sometimes that will be one day or as long as one year.

    If you play for several hours and have sweaty fingers you can foul up your strings very quickly. Or if you have several basses sitting in your basement and you play them occaisionally then strings can last a long time.

    Sometimes new strings are dead right out of the package.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    My first Rick had tapewond strings on it when I bought it in 1973. Under the tape the strings were rusting.
  12. Biggbass

    Biggbass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    once every couple of years or so as needed should do it unless you're beating the snot out of them every night.
    I kept a set of rounds on my old Fender J for 7 years. They eventually started sounding like flats, which I liked. During that time I had boiled them a few times and kept reusing them. But every player is different so what works for one might not work for another. Use your best judgement as to when the strings need replacing.
  13. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Location:
    Willow Street, PA
    Disclosures:
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    Flats: NEVER (unless they break)
    Rounds: when they lose that top end sparkle. I've changed strings after one gig before and felt justified.
  14. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Location:
    The Great Midwest
    When I was younger I didn't know people ever changed their strings? I agree with Rip.
  15. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2006
    Location:
    Arlington Heights, IL
    Stainless Steel Roundwounds - When the notes are all sounding muddy and the notes are not very distinguishable. Especially with pick playing - no growl, time for new strings. Typically every three months, but this can be more based on how many shows I have lined up.
  16. matante

    matante

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I change them when the loss of sustain becomes obvious. If I didn't care about sustain, I would never change them.
  17. micgtr71

    micgtr71

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2012
    I placed a set of Ken Smith strings (the ones with the purple ends) on my 95 Fender Jazz when I bought it new because I like 40s. When I replaced the tuners last summer with Hipshot Ultralites my tech refused to put them back on. Ironically, he had a set of the same strings on hand so he put them on. Maybe in another 18 years I will change them.
  18. klejst

    klejst

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    When they either break or sound dull as all he** (unless that is the sound you are going for)

    I usually change strings about every other month or until they loose that brighter treble twangy sound.
  19. Fair Warning

    Fair Warning Deliverin' the Goods! Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    Thanks all! Good to hear all the different perspectives. I think that i get more longevity out of my strngs because I like to use my different basses, which keeps the hours off of any one unit. I have strings on a few basses now that have been on for more than a year, still sounds great. I justwanted reassurance that I wasn't missing some bass gospel.
  20. OzzyGreg

    OzzyGreg Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Location:
    Illawarra, NSW, Australia
    .
    It's totally a personal preference thing.

    Some like to retain brightness and replace strings often, some can't wait for it to disappear and leave them on for years.

    I'm part of the brightness brigade, I love the sound of brand new strings.
    I boil my old strings a few times to clean/brighten them before I replace them though. (Yes, I'm one of them!)
  21. Cadfael

    Cadfael

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2013
    Location:
    Germany, EU
    Flats after:
    - 10 years: They are best
    - 20 years: Think about changing them
    - 30 years: Finally decide that they might take another 10 years
    - 40 years: You feel they might be changed now - but you forgot how to do that
    - 50 years: New strings like yours are no longer available - so, you keep them ...

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