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Musician's Gig Journal | Batteries, Strings and Other Consumables Usage

This section may provoke some debate as to how long you should play with certain items before considering a change. Different perspectives exist, and it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and experiences.

For instance, my guitar tech, Stuart, always advised changing strings regularly, as used strings can damage the guitar fretboard and significantly affect tuning intonation. However, coming from a classical stringed instrument background, I was accustomed to rarely changing strings unless they broke. Moreover, I must admit that I personally dislike changing strings and find it time-consuming and would rather crunch numbers on a spreadsheet than do the dreaded string change.

So what about a compromise? In our Musician’s Operational Excellence philosophy why not instead avoid the risk of string deterioration or breakage, or battery depletion ever occurring during a performance. While the easiest solution would be to use new sets of strings or batteries for each performance, it's worth considering cost-efficiency to make the most of our earnings.

Woodwind players may encounter similar concerns with reeds, string players may choose to change their bow hairs, drummers with their sticks, as these all have a typical lifespan, and avoiding breakage or mass deterioration during playing is crucial. Manufacturers often provide modest guidance in this regard.

To address this issue, I developed a system for tracking the usage of such consumables and devices. By intentionally pushing them to their limits (such as allowing strings to break or batteries to reach a low charge), I determined the maximum (worst case scenario) comfortable usage for my guitar. Once I established this target, I started recording each time I used the instrument, counting down the remaining hours I had left if I really didn't get a chance to change them earlier.

As I approached that figure, I would decide if I had the opportunity to change the consumables. Ideally, the answer would be yes.

These figures are specific to my playing style and experiences, and I offer them purely for illustrative purposes. You may choose to prioritise caution and change consumables as frequently as possible. Ultimately, finding the balance between performance quality and cost-efficiency is a personal decision, and it's important to consider factors such as your playing style, preferences, and available resources.


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