Good string care and maintenance is an important part of any guitar playing career. Proper string treatment will ensure the highest performance standard and longevity of string life, while misuse will result in poor output and performance, and potential damage to your instrument.
Knowing when to change your strings comes down to a few key factors: how often you play, what style of music you are playing, what type of strings you are using, and how well you treat your instrument.
As a general rule, a standard set of strings will give you about 20-30 hours playing time. After this, you would have given your strings quite a work out and your guitar will most likely need a new set.
This number is of course a general guideline, for example certain heavier styles like blues and metal will have shorter string life than this, while lighter styles like classical or smooth jazz may offer greater string life. Types of strings (nylon or steel etc), brand names and the quality of your strings also comes into play when considering this.
You can extend string life by looking after your instrument. Always washing your hands before playing, being sensible with the use of bending, heavy fretting and strumming, and alternative tunings (all of which wear out your strings at a higher rate), also keeping your guitar in moderate temperatures and safely away in its case when not in use.
You can also keep your strings clean with guitar polish available at your local music shop.
Before changing strings be sure you are aware of every aspect of doing so. Your teacher should be able to show you how, perhaps spend a lesson or two on this important part of a guitarist’s repertoire.
Ask your teacher to show you how to re-string in your next lesson, it’s an important skill to know.