Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Dumb question... probably

How do you know when it’s time to change your strings?

Mine sound fine, hold tuning for at least a practice session, but just feel “stretchy”. They don’t feel like they have the tension they used to.

I’m not sure if that’s just getting stronger as a player. Maybe you notice it less. Or if this is a sign the strings are getting worn.

Thanks!

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I’ve never experienced my strings seeming to lose tension; I’d guess that’s probably just your fingers getting stronger. I usually change my strings when they get too rusty for normal playing.

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Dumb answer… probably

I would say when the coating or the winding comes off in a coated or wound string, then it is time to change it. Btw for guitar, after I changed to Elixir phosphor bronze, I didn’t really have the need to change it except for once when I broke a string while adjusting it.

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If you’re sure they’re still tuned to 440, I can’t imagine how they could be looser. They’re tuning depends on them being a specific tension. I’d also have to guess your fingers are getting stronger.

I don’t really know how to tell you how to tell when strings need to be replaced other than they just “sound dead.” Now, if they get REALLY dead, you’ll have trouble keeping them in tune, or you’ll tune some and others will seem out of tune. In the worst case I’ve seen, strings were so dead that intonation was off by nearly a whole fret at the 12th fret.

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I’m pretty much in agreement with @Mark_Rocka. When they begin to become more likely to be out of tune the next time I pick up my banjo, or when it’s getting harder to tune (or stay in tune) then I must change them. I don’t go more than 4 or 5 months. Some folks who play almost every day say change every 3 months at least. I heard Jens Kruger suggest changing every month!

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Old strings normally lack sustain, may be hard to keep in tune, might show corrosion or wear, and usually feel stiffer and less flexible than new strings. They may feel “rough” when sliding on them.

Different people wear strings out at different paces. depending on corrosives in bodily excretions, time spent playing, regularity of cleaning of both strings and hands, etc.

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LOL, that happened to me as a beginner. I tried adjusting the bridge, the tailpiece, everything, and had no idea how one string could be off that much. We literally e-mailed the manufacturer and they said, “Well, that’s only possible if the strings are very old.” I thought, “Well that doesn’t make any sense… I mean, they’ve only been on there maybe 8 months or so…” We actually drove about an hour to take it to the luthier at the warehouse, who probably thought we were crazy- all he had to do to fix the problem was change the strings! :rofl: :joy:

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I know exactly what you mean by “stretchy.” As one Beginner to another, I think it’s time to change your strings.
First, good maintenance goes a long way. Wipe your strings off with a clean soft rag after each time you play to remove oils & acids left by your fingers. This will extend the life of the strings and help prevent corrosion.
When the time to change comes, you may not see any apparent rust or corrosion, but that “stretchy” feeling is a dead give-away. I call them “rubbery strings.” You can bend them, pull them, pick & pluck them…and you think you are playing like a wild man, but there’s a little something missing. They do not seem to be as loud as they should be, especially when playing like a wild man. The notes come out, but they don’t jump out with authority. Everything about them seems just a little muted & mushy.
Then when you go to change the strings, you can’t help but think you are wasting a perfectly good set of strings, maybe two, depending on how badly you screw up re-stringing. (I am sooo guilty of that!)
But once the new strings are on & you are all tuned up, you will know right away you did the right thing. Stretchy, rubbery strings, Bad. New strings, Good!

Finally, watch a lot of different videos on “How to change banjo strings.” Everybody seems to do it slightly differently, but they all have some important things in common, like winding them in the right direction. (“Another point of error for me,” he said in embarrassment.)

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I changed out the rear shocks on my truck over the weekend. Now it feels like it did when I drove it off the lot. I had no idea how far gone the old shocks were.

Changing guitar strings is the same for me. I let them go too far and then I’m amazed how good new strings sound and feel. I play/practice daily, usually in the 30-60 minute range. I feel like I need new strings every month or so but usually change them about every 3 months.

Stephen

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@mike_thomson I was wondering the same thing. I’ve had mine on for 11 months now but I clean them every time I play. so they aren’t rusty just kind of old. anybody think I should change them

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They will get much more difficult to keep in tune. I change mine every couple weeks.

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11 months??!! I’m surprised you’re not having problems with your banjo at that point. Yeah brother, change them ASAP; you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll play.

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Hi @mike_thomson I don’t change my strings as often as I should and I play banjo every day. When I was a beginner I played with light gauge strings and was inclined to pick too hard and would regularly snap a string. I now use medium-heavy gauge and tend to change strings when the mood takes me. Maybe once every six months.

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I change mine anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 month. i never let it go over 2 month.

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I change mine when they either won’t stay in tune well anymore or just sound super duper dead or I get tetanus from playing them.

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It is always amazing to me how much better it sounds after changing the strings, as well as is easier to play. Unknown why it is easier. I am I the eternal beginner category. I change about every two months when playing most days about an hour.

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I reckon it’s time I change them out when you can’t remember when you last did it. :rofl:

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I didn’t know you could change strings, I always thought you just had to get a new instrument…

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LoL :rofl: :rofl:

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