guitar break in

How To Break In Guitar Strings

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The Ultimate Artice On How To Break In Guitar Strings

How To Break In Guitar StringsBedding in brand-new guitars sets of strings will get a longer or shorter time being dependent on your guitar and how regularly you play it. If you have an important gig or studio session coming soon? This post is everything you need to know about breaking strings and entering strings before any important guitar session. So how long does this take a strings break in a fresh set of strings? Electric guitar strings take the least time. Being dependent on usage, they roughly take 1-2 hours of constant playing strings to break in and settle allowing them to stabilize and stay in tune. Depending on usage, it may take 3-7 days to lose the bright and tinny sound related to new strings.

The Reasons Why New Strings Need To Get Broken In

Nearly all strings and that are first installed on a guitar, will need some amount of guitar strings break-in time. This is primarily because the string, immediately after installation, will be nearly impossible to keep in tune. The difficulty of maintaining proper tuning pegs with the latest strings is because of the immense amount of tension that is based on a guitar string once it is strung on a guitar and tuned to the correct pitch. The material in the string, whether it’s metal or nylon or coated, needs some amount of time to “settle in” to that amount of proper string’s tension, and therefore tuning. A second reason for the need to break in new strings is as a result of the tone of new strings. Tone, of course, is a completely subjective subject, however, most players will notice that new strings on an electric or steel-string acoustic guitar will definitely sound brighter when new. Some players describe this tone as “tinny” or “metallic”, and just like any tone, some players prefer this tone, while others don’t. If your preference is a more mellow or warm sound from your strings, or you dislike the metallic sound that brand-new strings produce, you’ll need to break in the new strings on your guitar.

How Much Time Does It Require To Break In New Strings

The majority of the quality guitar strings will finish the guitar strings break-in process within a few hours of playing and use. Strings on an electric guitar tend to break in rather quickly, while steel strings on an acoustic take somewhat longer, and nylon strings on a classical guitar commonly take the longest. Expect somewhere between two to six hours of playing guitar, and re-tuning, for your strings to break in fully, depending on the kind of string and guitar you’re working with.

What About Acoustics?

Nylon Strings

How To Break In Guitar StringsNylon strings on a classical guitar, but, take the longest time to settle when it goes to tuning. The average time for nylon strings is an average of 2-4 days for new strings to equilibrate depending on the number of hours enters into playing, the amount of stretching, and the guitar’s construction. The reason is that nylon is more elasticated than steel and copper-nickel old wound string affects tuning stability. They are also under more tension than steel strings meaning they will need constant tuning to keep them in tune. Nylon strings are also more conscious of temperature and humidity which can affect stability. Now you understand rough time periods for your guitar strings to seat correctly. You will also need to know what you might do to allow them to along.

Steel Strings

When it goes to acoustic instruments, steel strings in a similar way just take a couple of hours of playing for the tuning stability to settle. After a few days of playing they will also lose their bright and crisp tone. Steel strings are known to age quicker than electric strings requiring more frequent string changes.

Ways To Break In New Guitar Strings

There are several methods you might use to speed up enough time that it deems new strings to break in. Some methods work better than others, and some are preferred by certain guitar players, while another guitar player may prefer several processes or none in all. Let’s have a look at a few of these methods now. Try them out and see what works best for you.

Break-In Method # 1. Stable Over-Tuning

One tactic for string breaking cited by some guitar players is to tune brand new strings up a half step and after that allow them to settle in at that higher tension. When the strings adapt to that higher tension, it will make the strings adhere to standard tuning that better and faster. Here’s the process specifically:

  • Step 1: Install the latest strings and tune them up one-half step (sharp) higher than the tuning you plan to use on the guitar once the strings are broken in.
  • Step 2: Play the guitar at this higher tuning for three to four minutes. Go with a more aggressive playing style if you can. Note that the strings will be very unlikely to hold the tuning.
  • Step 3: Retune the strings to the same tuning you used in step 1, and play the guitar again for three to four minutes.
  • Step 4: Retune the strings to the previous tuning, up to one-half step again, but this time around let the guitar sit without playing for at least ten minutes.
  • Step 5: Tune all strings down to the tuning you plan to use. Make sure to compose a slight amount beneath the intended tone, this way you are tuning the strings up to the preferred note and adding tension to the string in the process.
  • Step 6: Play the guitar as normal with your intended tuning, re-tuning as needed.

Break-In Method # 2. Tune, Stretch, Re-Tune

tuning guitar stringsAnother popular method for guitar string break-in is to stretch the strings. Stretching the strings resembles our first guitar strings break-in method above since over-tuning is also stretching the string, however, this will certainly be a manual method of stretching the string momentarily, which we will do by hand. Here’s a process you can follow:

Step 1: Install brand new strings and tune them to the tuning you plan to use on the guitar once the broken strings.

Step 2: Starting with the low E string, bend the string at the 12th fret in a steady, slow motion, either far from the fretboard or toward the middle of the fretboard. Bend the string substantially, but not beyond the string’s capability to bend.

Step 3: Using the same process, develop and down the same string from the nut to the bridge, bending the string substantially there in the string.

Step 4: Repeat the process for each and every string on the guitar.

Step 5: Re-tune the guitar to your preferred tuning, and play the guitar for a few minutes.

Step 6: Repeat the process once again, starting back at step 2.

Once you stretch out your strings in this manner, you should spend a long time playing the guitar to end up the strings break-in process. You’ll notice that the strings will learn to hold their tune and be playable rather quickly, nevertheless, the tinny sound of new strings, which you may or may not like, will take much longer to disappear.

Break-In Method # 3. Play the Guitar

Approved, this really isn’t a guitar strings break-in method, but it is one that sort of like and would prefer to use on any guitar that isn’t going directly into a performance. We like the idea of tuning the guitar up and playing it as you like, then re-tuning to see which strings aren’t holding tune and which ones are. No stretching, no over-tuning, just playing. For us, we feel like this is the very best way to get to know the instrument. Here’s how this ultra-simple process works:

Step 1: Install the latest strings and tune them to the tuning you plan to use on the guitar once the strings are broken in.

Step 2: Play the guitar as you normally would, with the same style of music, through the same amp, and more. Use your ear to definitely listen to the tone, and listen for when the strings go out of tune. Step 3: Re-tune the guitar and continue the process.

This technique or non-method, if you prefer, is just a straightforward way to get the strings are broken in, which is just simply to play them in your style and listen.

Things To Do After Breaking In Guitar Strings

1. Needs To Stretch Guitar Strings

How To Break In Guitar StringsOnce you have installed a new set of strings always remember to stretch them either by bending them or gently pulling them towards you in multiple positions across the fretboard. New strings on any guitar will frequently be stretching yet they will require some manual stretching to help the process along. There are two typical ways you can stretch strings:

  • Do aggressive bends in multiple positions across the fretboard on each string.
  • Softly pull the strings upwards away from the fretboard towards yourself in multiple positions.

The reason new strings walk out of tune so frequently is that they have not been stretched in and are not used to the tension they are being subjected to.

2. Changing Strings Before A Gig

It does learn that you should not risk changing strings prematurely when you need the guitar to perform optimally for a gig or studio session. The reason is new strings take some time to stretch into place risking an “off” sounding guitar on the day caused by a couple of strings drifting into a flatter pitch which annoyingly needs constant tuning correction. Now you have an idea when strings equilibrate to your chosen guitar which we have been mentioned above. So how long is a safe period for getting new strings broken in and to hold their tuning before a big gig or studio time?

  • Electric guitar strings. 2-6 days before a gig/studio.
  • Steel guitar strings. 2-3 days before a gig/studio.
  • Nylon guitar strings. Minimum of 6 days before a gig/studio.

This is a rough guideline as this relies on how your guitar is installed, such as bridge saddle, nut, neck relief, locking tuners, etc. An electric with a tremolo device “locks” the tuning into place. Whereas guitars without a locking device will need as being set up correctly for accurate tuning and pitch.

3. New String Sound

Some guitarists actually like the sound of new strings enjoying the “bright” and “metallic” sound for cutting and pristine clean tones for instance. For a metal guitar player, however, the “metallic” sound will not suit a tone with ultra-high saturated distortion, preferring a “darker” and more “mellow” sound once the strings have been played and worn in after a few days. To get honest, we would prefer the sound of new strings on my guitar after 4-7 days of playing. This is when the “bright” sound has mellowed slightly but the strings have a good amount of “attack” and “presence” and become less rigid making string bends easier. This is all subjective but every guitarist has their own preference for the “sweet spot” sound when it comes to new strings.

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Ways To Keep Your Guitar Strings From Breaking

Varieties Of Guitar Strings

There are five main types of guitar strings, and there can also be several different subcategories relying on the alloys being used. They are:

  • Steel.
  • Nickel.
  • Brass.
  • Bronze.
  • Nylon.

Steel and Nickel are probably the most common materials used for electric guitars. For acoustic guitars the materials used usually are Brass, Bronze, and Silk, and Steel. And for the classical guitars, the materials strings are typically made of are gut, nylon, and silver or gold strings. Hence why the very first thing we need to have to concentrate on is understanding the properties of the materials strings are made from. That way we can find out what shortened the string life span of our guitar strings and avoid breaking guitar strings, the infamous slapping sound of string breakage.

How You Wind The Strings Is Important

How To Break In Guitar StringsBelieve it or not, how you wind your strings around the tuning peg can affect how easily your guitar strings break. While it may not be one of the most exciting things to focus on how neatly you’re winding your strings, properly re-stringing your guitar originally can help increase its lifespan. Still, this is like a soldier cleaning his rifle before getting involved in a fight. Needless to say, he can choose not to clean the rifle, but he shouldn’t be surprised when it falls on him later on. A bad winding of the strings is often the reason for guitar strings breaking, and every guitarist should do a diligent job when doing this.

Lubrication Can Prevent Strings From Breaking

Another important aspect is the lubrication of some guitar parts. A great and quality lubricant can make the strings move with lower resistance and a lot more smoothly. The lubricant may possibly be used on any part like the nut, bridge, or string trees leading to less wearing off of the strings in these areas.

Using Coated Guitar Strings

One way to help prevent your guitar strings from breaking strings is by making use of coated strings. What is meant by coating is the plastic polymer that is used to coat the strings. Coated strings have a significantly longer lifespan than a standard non-coated guitar string. The coating protects your guitar strings from oils, dirt, and sweat from your fingers. This develops them less prone to corrosion, which can significantly increase the lifespan of the strings. Once guitar strings start to corrode, it is a lot easier to break them. One thing to mention is that coated guitar strings are expensive. We actually use Elixer Guitar Strings. They cost about 3 times as high as a regular pair of guitar strings but last me for months without a change. If you’re someone who hates on a regular basis changing your strings, then these are your best choice. If you don’t mind changing your strings often and prefer the fresh feel of new strings, then you’re better off buying 3 packs of regular strings.

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Related Questions

1. How Often Should You Change Guitar Strings?

Many guitarists will give a different answer to this question as everything is connected with personal preference. It is obvious that you should change a string when one of them string breaks. Requires you to change each of the strings rather than just the broken guitar string critter. If your strings keep breaking frequently regardless of whether they are new, you must question the setup of the guitar ie, nut, bridge, strings break angle that may be causing them to break besides being old. The next reason would be to swap your strings when they sound duller, dead, and have lost brightness and presence. As strings age, they lose their tone and bright sound with time. To recognize a dead string you will notice they look thinner and feel, gritty to the touch, especially with the high E string, this is because of grime, sweat, and corrosion. Because your ear has become “accustomed” to the dull sound so you will certainly notice a difference when you add a new fresh ready to your guitar. It will almost feel and play like a new ax if you have had an old and sound dull set for an extended period of your time.

2. What If The Strings Still Will Not Hold Tune?

guitar strings dont hold tuneIf after a week, or several weeks of playing, your guitar still will not hold its tuning, the problem is possible to get the guitar itself. Common things here are the tuners on the guitar or the string’s placement at the bridge or the nut. Attempt to determine if this issue is placed on each one of the strings, or just a few strings, or one. Make sure that the strings are correctly seated at the nut and at the bridge. If you’re still having trouble with the guitar, and especially if the guitar is a quality grade of an instrument, you may want to have a knowledgeable guitar tech take a look at the guitar.

3. Should I Change My Guitar Strings Before A Recording Session?

Almost all guitarist will change their strings before a recording session, or at the very least use strings that are new and have a good tone. Guitarists should avoid recording with old strings unless they prefer the tone of those strings or need to get a musical idea recorded quickly.

4. Do Coated Strings Endure Much Longer Than Uncoated Strings?

Coated have an element called “Teflon” that seal the string from the elements like grime, sweat, temperature making them last longer. This is useful on acoustic strings that tend to dull quicker than electric guitar strings.

5. Are Locking Tuners Much Better For Tuning Stability?

Tuning pegs are one aspect of a host of other elements keeping a guitar in tune. Locking tuning peg has the benefit of “locking” or clamping the strings all together so they don’t slip with aggressive playing (string bends, heavy use of tremolo, heavy plucking attack, heavier strings).

6. Should I Change Each Of The Guitar Strings At One Time?

It is typically good practice to change each of the strings on a guitar at once to ensure a consistent sound and lifespan for the strings that go on the guitar. Since wrong strings do not last that long as is, it is unlikely that existing strings will last that much longer than new strings included in a guitar.

Final Review

Strings are the heart of our guitars. Sometimes they can seem to have a mind by themselves breaking seemingly at random times. There is always an underlying reason for that, and we need to make certain we take good care of them and use them properly so as to get the best away from them. Taking several of the steps, we have undergone here will make certain you enjoy your strings for a lot longer before will have to bother with changing them.

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