E05 - Old vs New Strings

Its a common occurrence to hear studio professionals and musicians to tell you to change your guitar or bass strings regularly, but why is this? This week’s episode shows us why this is so important.


Difference in Sound

First up, whether you like or don’t like the sound of new strings, there is no dispute that there is an audible difference in the way that they sound. New strings have more snap, more brightness, more attack and more sustain. Over the hours, days, weeks and sometimes months of playing, strings pickup your dead skin, sweat and all sorts of rubbish. This dulls their sound, corrodes the metal and reduces the tone of the string. Some people don’t like the sound of brand new strings, and thats their opinion, but if you can get more brightness, snap and sustain without having to adjust an amp’s eq, or a compressor in your DAW, then to me it makes perfect sense to do so.


The better the source tone, the better the final result.


Consistent Marginal Gains

Now if you don’t think that changing strings makes such a big difference in one part, then it could be argued that you have a point. However if you have multiple guitar parts playing at once inside of a song, then it cannot be denied that a huge difference is found when stacking these small differences in tone on top of each other. Consistently having to dial in more top end on the amp and DAW eq to help a dull string cut through, across multiple parts will only hurt your song. Fix this at the source, and put new strings on.


When to Change?

I personally find that it takes around 1-2 hours for a set of new strings to dull. In tracking you would be unlikely to take a whole song of guitar parts much quicker than this, so my preference is to pop a new set on for each song. This may seem excessive, but by consistently having new strings for each song you stand a much better chance of keeping a consistent tone between songs.


For bass I would say every two songs as they don’t dull quite as quickly.