string change

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string change

Postby spched » Fri Jan 15, 2016 8:50 am

How often do you change your strings? How do you know whwn they have to be changed?
Thanks for your help!
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Re: string change

Postby KenH » Fri Jan 15, 2016 10:13 am

How often to change? How often do you play for how long? If you're playing everyday for 2-3 hours steady, I might change every other month or sooner. If you play once a week for an hour, maybe change every six months. If you live in a caustic environment like I do (saline tidal river) you change whenever the strings start to turn black, no matter how or seldom you play.
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Re: string change

Postby spched » Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:07 pm

Thank you for the info! Regarding new strings, are some better than others? If so, how do I know I'm buying good strings?
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Re: string change

Postby Frimp » Sun Jan 24, 2016 11:17 pm

For the most part, strings are strings. Any well-known brands will work.
Just make sure to select new strings that are of the same gauge, material and end-attachment (a plain loop or a ball end).
You do not need to use a dulcimer string set, although they're more convenient. Five-string banjo strings work well, too.
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Re: string change

Postby asterhunter » Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:45 am

As Ken suggested how often you change can depend on your individual habits. I might add that if you perform or play regularly in a group or club you might want to change more frequently. But if you play for your own pleasure at home, my advice would be not to worry about it until one breaks. It would also depend on whether or not you are constantly re-tuning your dulcimer for different modes, from DAD to DAA or DAC for example. If you leave your dulcimer in one tuning and just tweak it when you play the strings will probably last longer before breaking.

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Re: string change

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:45 am

If your strings are sounding good and playing in tune, then leave them alone. If they are not playing in tune and sound bad, change them. For the plain steel strings, if you keep them clean, they will last a very long time. For the wound string, what happens is that dirt and grime get trapped in between the windings and will make the string dull sounding after a while. Also the winding itself begins to wear making the string uneven. This causes bad intonation and sometime, the winding will even get worn through and let go. A dirty wound string can be brought back to life by boiing it to get all the crap out from in between the windings. If you play hard, the string will break more often because of metal fatigue at the bridge or nut.
All that being said, strings are cheap. As far as brands go, for plain steel it doesn't matter. Stainless steel wire comes out of two different factories and is all the same. For the wound string, you have a dizzying array of winding choices, nickel, phosphor bronze, 80/20 bronze, Elixer, the list goes on and on. Choose the one that sounds best with your instrument and pleases you. Strings are a lot cheaper when you buy in bulk. There are lots of places to get whatever you need. Juststrings.com is just one place where you have lots of choices and bulk availablity as well. Hope this helps.
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Re: string change

Postby strumelia » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:04 pm

Great advice from Ken Bloom.

Guitar strings are mostly wound, so people tend to change them more frequently- wound strings do begin to sound 'dead' (less resonant) when they get old.

One caution though- if boiling your wound strings to remove crud, be sure to take them off first. :shock:
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Re: string change

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Jan 26, 2016 6:18 pm

Good point Lisa, unless you have a really large pot to boil the whole thing is. A little tough on the finish though. :D

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Re: string change

Postby route66 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 6:29 pm

Just wanted to mention that I've been buying my banjo strings from American Made Banjo Co. and really like them. I recently dusted off my old Hughes church dulcimer and strung it with new AMB strings and it sounds great. Excellent pricing also.
http://www.americanmadebanjo.com/index.php
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Re: string change

Postby GrantOlson » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:55 pm

Like Ken said, how often you change depends on how often you play. But my teacher also told me that the strings should look shiny. If you can feel rust or something like that, (which one of my dulcimers has), then you need new strings, because then the intonation will be off. You can definitely see and hear the difference between old and new strings.

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Re: string change

Postby strumelia » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:48 pm

All this is true.

But then there's always the odd exception. One of my favorite banjos I had gotten to a point where it sounded just awesome with all my little tweaks over the years to it. (you can do a lot of tinkering with banjos). It was sounding terrific- the sound I was after for a long time. Then I noticed the strings were getting a bit rusty- they were at least five yrs old. I got a fresh pack of the very same strings, same brand, etc...and put them on. And the sound I had loved so much was gone! It sounded not nearly as nice with the new strings on, and I had cut the old strings off so couldn't put them back on again. sigh.... the elusive holy grail sound was cruelly snatched from me. I never shoulda put new strings on! I should have kept playing on the rusty old ones as long as it was sounding great. :(
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Re: string change

Postby GrantOlson » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:47 am

I guess when you use strings enough they develop special character that new strings don't have. One of my dulcimers has rusty strings; maybe I should keep them on...

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