A few years ago, I wrote a post entitled, “Fighting with my guitars.” This was inspired by a post from a now-defunct blog called, IG Blog, where Ig talked about different guitarists “fighting” with various quirks in their guitars and overcoming them to be more expressive. In my most recent post, the discussion turned to this very subject; fighting through quirks in gear.
When I re-read my original post from a few years ago, I chuckled because the way I fight with my guitars is that I actually sort of pick a fight with them. Oh, not by banging them up, but simply by not changing my strings until one breaks. In fact, if a string breaks, I just change that string, and leave the others on.
Part of why I started doing this years and years ago was economics. I just couldn’t afford to do wholesale string changes very often. But now, I prefer well-broken-in strings over new strings because to me they sound smoother (I actually don’t like the brightness of new strings), and more importantly, they make me work harder to get a good tone.
I can do this because my hands just don’t sweat that much. I have friends whose hands sweat so much that they have to change strings after every gig because their strings will start corroding within a few days. But me, I just leave ’em on until one breaks and then I just replace that string. For instance, with my acoustic guitar that I gig with at least twice a week, I finally changed my third string a week ago. The strings on that guitar have been on for over four months! 🙂
Granted, I will do a wholesale change anyway every six months or so to clean up the fretboard and remove pick dust that I can’t get to easily. But my strings for the most part just stay on until they break.
I know, sounds a bit quirky, and it probably is, but it forces me to work hard, and in turn, I feel much more expressive because of the tension that creates.