Did professional players in the 60's and 70's restring as often?


Lol, who came up with this rule? Pretty silly, if the string is not dead there is no need to change it, much less all of them, its all in your head. Brand new strings sound like a clanky jangly mess to me, dont even get me started on how terrible new strings sound on an acoustic. I shutter whenever people say they like the sound of new strings. Just not my cup of tea. I only change strings when I absolutely have to.


Some like myself have acidic skin, I can put a serious hurt on strings pretty quickly, especially in the summer.
I'll go 3-4 gigs max in the summer (Usually one week), wiping them down after every set, and longer in the winter.
I'm also a string breaker.
In the old days it was strings before every gig, I would turn them black by the second day in the summer. Now with Elixers I play them until one breaks, then throw a new set on. That can go up to six months. With 14 instruments I just LOVE Elixers.


who says replace every gig? that would make me crazy considering it usually takes three days of playing before the strings actually stay in tune for more than a song.

I couldn't imaging changing my locking trem guitars that much!! I'd go nuts!!

As far as tone goes, every two weeks seems a bit ridiculous as well. unless of course you are using webstrings.com sets.

may be the brand you are using.
Back in my gigging days with with lock trems, I'd try an restring every two gigs. It was risky because I know they could break. If it was a super important gig, I'd restring regardless. It was a pain. But the amount of sweat would just eat the strings like nothing. It was not about any inferior brands, all the popular brands were same. That was under big lights, crowd and putting a show on. A long time ago. So lots of sweat! End of gig you were drenched like from a shower. When I switched to a regular Fender trem and dumped the Floyd, I noticed I could get longer life from strings, even when not using trems. They didn't break nearly as often, especially at the bridge where you cut the balls on a Floyd. Sweat seeps into the windings and destroys the string fast. But not on a Fender trem.

arthur rotfeld

Silver Supporting Member
Lots of big names guys had new strings each night, but as posters have mentioned, many let them age.

Also, there's no reason strings can't stay in tune on day one. Stretch them properly and you are set. Five minutes and you should be done.

My body chemistry never got along with strings, so I changed strings weekly on my main guitar(s). Now I have elixirs and life is better.


Silver Supporting Member
When I run my finger down the underside of the higher strings and feel some serious fret indents, I'll throw a new set on.
/\ this

when I was young in the 70's I only changed when I broke, and just that string, but I was poor and couldn't get to a music store even if I wanted - didn't drive yet.

by the time I started gigging in high school, I could drive so I changed them more often. But we didn't gig that much, maybe one a month with weekly rehearsals. So I'd go two months or so - 2 gigs and 6 or so rehearsals.


Gigging has nothing to do with it for me, about the only thing I refrain from is stringing right before a show. I have strung the day of tho, if I had to.

The 60's was before my time but my stringing patterns haven't really changed since the 70's. I always buy in bulk and string when it 'feels' right. Never less than a week and rarely more than say...3 weeks.


Constant GAS
Platinum Supporting Member
Yeah I buy in bulk as well. I can afford strings compared to when I had just started out.
My pattern has changed as well, and now I find playing my strings longer and only changing when I hear issues. Also playing more than one axe keeps the strings on longer.
I used to love the freshness of new strings and changed them a lot and then moved to not changing as frequently.


Gold Supporting Member
In the early 70's I was playing at least 25 nights a month - usually four 45 minute sets each night, playing blooze in smoky bars.

I had a Norlin Les Paul that I was changing strings on a couple times a week or I would be breaking strings.

I had an old Strat that I used for open tuned slide. Maybe I changed those strings twice a year.

I really cannot remember what brands of strings I was using back then.


Silver Supporting Member
You would be amazed at the number of " old-school " players who loved
dead strings. Roy.B.,Junior Brown,Eddie Van Halen,Mike Bloomfield,etc.
I met George Marinelli,Jr. at a guitar show a few years back. He played
with Bruce Hornsby & The Range. He was telling me that he had to get
on his guitar tech for changing his strings too often.


Silver Supporting Member
I played a house band gig on Cape Cod in the 70's, and we were a half-mile from the beach. I had to change my strings three times a week, even though I wiped them down after every set.
When I was inland, I could get a few weeks out of a set.
Now that I use Elixers, I don't have to change them very often at all.


Silver Supporting Member
I have a subscription with stringsandbeyond.com (no affiliation). Eight packs are automatically sent every eight weeks, saving 10%. Even with CAD/USD exchange rate, I save $.


Wow. I'm interested by some of the replies. All over the map, they are.

Me, I can't stand new strings. The tone changes quickly on them. After a couple of days, they reach a tone that they'll stay at for quite a while.

Also, new strings stretch. Locking vibratos or not, they go out of tune when new. And yes, I stretch the poop out of them when I first put them on. It doesn't stop them; they still stretch slightly out of tune for a short while.

In general I will change strings, play it in rehearsals, then after they're on about a week, I'll play the guitar live.

I get about a couple months out of them, before the tone starts degrading again. Then it's time to changes them. I use .009s now, since I cut the tip of my index finger pretty badly a few years back; I can't stand any larger gauge. I use stainless steel strings, as they seem to stand up to corrosion a little better.

I do switch between guitars, though, which probably helps them last. I use two shredder guitars with the rock band, and two others with the pop band. So they don't see every-night usage.


Gold Supporting Member
I love fresh strings and change mine often; I never do more than two gigs. Even if I do one gig and a rehearsal, I will change them before the next gig. I just like the snappiness of new strings. As for those talking about it taking days for strings to stretch, sometimes I'll change strings an hour before the show, stretch them a few times and then turn around and play them for the night and never have issues. All my guitars have locking tuners, not sure if that makes a difference or not.


I feel that the idea of, "restring every gig, or if not gigging, every 2 weeks"

is a sort of modern concept.... any players old to remember if this was the case back then?
What little I clearly recall from the late 60's early 70's seems to be strings were changed when they broke, or just too far gone to play in tune.

For sure their were some different alloys being used back then and guitar strings lasted longer, less likely to break and/or corrode.

At some point post-Beatles guitar in general went from "yeah whatever" among the general public to being wildly popular.
Professional requirements for durable, good sounding strings may have been balanced against rapidly expanding demand for guitar strings, and the vendors may have realized they were better off financially selling more "disposable" strings.

"Mysterious Market Forces" at work??:banana

Anyway, there used to be a whole lot more Monel alloy guitar strings on the market, which is ridiculously strong wire.
Gibson and Rotosound for sure, others as well no doubt.

Monel was/is used for marine safety wire among other things, super resistant to corrosion and a lot stronger than the usual stuff we get today.

I found an old orange box of Gibson Mona-Steel "non-tarnishing" strings in a box of strings that I lost in my barn in Pennsylvania for ten years after a move.
The Gibson strings, in little wax paper envelopes, right next to a bunch of old D'Addario's in the paper envelopes.

The modern D'Addario wire had all turned into little circles of rust, not wire at all anymore: Dust.
The Gibson Mona-Steels were fresh as the day they were made.
I put one .018 Gibson string on an arch top for a G string, and it's been on there for three or four years now.
Still the best sounding string on that guitar, and not a hint of corrosion, rust, scale, and despite having the crap beat out of it, it's cross section had barely changed.
That alloy is stronger than the fret wire.

The good news is there are a few manufacturers bringing some of those old alloys back in some form for guitar.
Rotosound bass strings have been Monel all along as far as I know, and it's still common for mandolin strings, but that's just one example of alloys that used to be commonly available that for "Mysterious Market Forces??" reasons have vanished.

Anyway, we're changing strings more often these days because the wire these days is **** compared to what was on the market 50 years ago.

There could be a bazillion reasons for that, but I can't help thinking there's just more money in "disposable" strings than there is in strings that last is near the top of the list.

Disclosure: D'Addario endorsee.


I am a fan of old strings. I buy pure nickel high quality strings and they don't rust. I gig three nights a week, 4 hour sets. I play 4 different guitars. I usually get about 5 months out of set of strings.


I was on a tour this fall from beginning of october until christmas, three to five shows per week.

I think I restrung my main guitar probably three or four times.

Could have done with even less I think as my hands dont sweat a lot but wanted to make sure the strings were in decent shape to avoid string breaks during show. So it was something like six to seven shows with one set of strings.

If I had a tech I wouldnt mind fresh strings every day but being on tour is so fatiguing the last thing I want to waste my free time on a show day is changing strings.


i like the sound and feel of dull strings... of course, its a balancing act when they get too old and you fear that they will break during a gig. i prefer older string though... i know that i am in the minority.


Gold Supporting Member
It takes three weeks of rehearsing and gigs to get new strings to sound "right" to me...


I recall an early or mid 1970s interview with Steve Howe where he said he changed strings for every performance. I believe that was considered eccentric at the time.


The premier Hack Guitarist
Silver Supporting Member
I may change strings 2-3 times a year (sometimes less). But then again, I don't get to play all that often. Strings still sound good, and stay in tune just fine.

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