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How Long Do Guitar Strings Last?

Depending on if you ask a perfectionist or a lazy guitarist, you’re likely to get a different answer to “how long do guitar strings last?” 

The real answer is pretty simple: The brand of your strings and the material they are made of impacts their lifespan, which can last from 2 to 6 months. You will notice when it’s time to say goodbye to that set of strings when you start seeing rust and hearing dullness in the sound of your strings. 

On average, guitar strings will last around 90 days. Depending on your area's climate conditions, the strings will have a longer or shorter lifespan. Even avid players would change their strings every three months, and some of them would change them earlier than the average. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced guitar player or if you just came from your local guitar store with your first guitar. The day you have to change your string set will come sooner or later. 

Read on to find out how often you should change your strings.

Metal Strings

Whether you want to be a rockstar, impress your friends with the sickest guitar riff, or pull out your guitar at parties to play Wonderwall, you might be interested in knowing when is the right time to change the strings on your electric or acoustic guitar. You wouldn’t want to break a string in the middle of a jam session.

How Often to Change Electric Guitar Strings

There are different types of materials your strings could be made of. Electric guitars could have strings made out of stainless steel, pure nickel, or they could be nickel-plated. These three materials have different upsides and downsides, and every guitar player needs to know them. Don’t forget your string choice also impacts the sound. Some strings may be better for metal music as an example.

Stainless steel strings are the ones that last longer in terms of oxidation corrosion, but this doesn’t prevent them from wearing away their sound quality. Another aspect of these strings is that they damage your frets faster than any other material. 

On the other hand, we have pure nickel strings. These strings are the second most common, and they last a reasonable amount of time since nickel has good corrosion resistance. Pure nickel strings could last longer than two months for an average player and six months for a casual one. 

Finally, we have the nickel-plated strings for electric guitars. These are the most common among guitar players because they’re very affordable. The nickel on the outside will help the inner steel core from corroding, but it won’t protect them as much as the pure nickel strings. 

An average player would change these strings every two months to prevent them from breaking, or even worse, producing a dull and flat sound during a guitar showdown with your friends. 

How Often to Change Acoustic Guitar Strings

If you like acoustic sessions or are the type of player that needs an instrument that won’t need plugging in to produce quality sound, this part is for you. 

It’s crucial to maintain the warm sound on your acoustic guitar, and the state of your strings plays a considerable role. Like electric guitars, acoustic guitars could have strings made of different materials such as bronze and phosphor bronze. 

Bronze strings are the most common since they are affordable. What most people don’t know about these strings is that they have uncanny corrosion resistance. 

These strings could even resist the salty air and humidity of the beach, perfect for road trips! An average player would need to change their strings after two months of playing, but if you are that kind of person who plays all the time, you might want to go to your local guitar store within a month of playing.

On the other hand, Phosphor bronze strings have an even better resistance against corrosion and oxidation. You’d have to sacrifice the brightness that the pure bronze offers, but in exchange, you get more playtime, perfect for those who practice daily. What makes these strings resist the sweat, and the weather better than the pure bronze strings is the phosphor. The average player would have to change the strings after four months

How to Change Strings on a Guitar

Electric Guitars

Acoustic Guitars

How Do I Know My Metal Strings Need to Be Changed?

There are a few ways that we can tell that the strings on our electric/acoustic guitar need to be changed, and these are by listening to how they sound, how they feel on our fingers, and finally by how they look.

At first, the strings will sound very bright, no matter what the material is. As time goes by, they will lose this brightness, and when they sound incredibly dull and lifeless we can interpret it as a message from our guitar that it needs a new set of strings.

New strings will feel smooth, making it easy and fun to play. After a few months of playing, you’d start feeling the rust or gunk build up on the string. If this doesn’t bother you, you’re good to go, but if it makes you avoid your instrument, then you should know that it’s not you. The problem is the strings that need to be changed.

Finally, you can tell if your strings need to be changed if you see a coat of rust over your strings. 

Of course, a little bit of rust doesn’t mean that your strings have finished their job, but if you see rust all over your strings you might want to consider buying a new set of strings. In the end, it’s all about how comfortable you are with the sound and with how they feel on your fingers. 

Nylon Strings

As time passes, the room's humidity where we store our classical guitar will start wearing off the strings, and the nylon set is no exception. Considering that sweat will also affect the durability of the string, we can only ask ourselves how long the nylon strings will last.

For the average classical guitar player, the nylon strings will last around two months (80 hours of playtime during this time).  The complexity of the pieces played on this instrument is also an important aspect of the strings’ durability since the sweat we produce will also affect the lifespan of the strings.

Professional players would even change their strings every two weeks because they need their instruments in optimal conditions at all times. Casual classical guitar players can keep calm and save some money because the nylon strings set could last up to six months, depending on how often they play.

For a beginner classical guitarist, the durability of the strings will stay, on average, two months. 

Practicing your skills will also wear the strings off, and this group of people needs to learn how different they sound is when your strings are brand-new compared to when they are a few weeks old. If you consider yourself a beginner guitarist, you might also want to check this video on how to change the strings on your classical guitar. 

How Do I Know My Nylon Strings Need to Be Changed?

We have cracked the answer to this question, and it’s not as simple to notice because these won’t rust. Before the first week of use, these strings have a silver color. As time goes by, the silver on the string will naturally start wearing off until it turns into a fully transparent string with an opaque interior.

If you have trouble noticing the color tone of your guitar string, there’s another way to detect when it’s time to change this set of strings. The sound that these strings produce is distinctively bright. The dullness of the sound of these strings will advise the player that it’s time to go to your nearest store and buy a new set of nylon strings. 

Nylon strings also go out of tune extremely quickly if the strings are too old. If you find yourself having to retune after a few minutes, it’s time for new strings.

How To Make Your Guitar Strings Last Longer

Some of us don’t want to spend much money on strings yearly, and we have found ways in which you can make your strings last a little bit longer than just two or three months. If you constantly follow these tips, you could extend the lifetime of your strings.

First of all, wash your hands before playing. Every surface has dirt on it, and by washing our hands, we will reduce the amount of grime and harmful sweat that our body constantly produces. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t touched anything dirty or if you haven't sweated all day, wash your hands before playing.

Secondly, after every class, practice, jam session, gig, or concert, clean the strings on your guitar with a piece of cloth or rag. This will wipe out most of the sweat you had on your fingers while you played. It’s vital to be sure the fabric isn’t dirty; otherwise, you’d be damaging the strings instead of cleaning them from the sweat and dirt they caught during your playtime. 

How Long Do Guitar Strings Last FAQs

Do Coated Strings Last Longer

A coated string should last longer than an equivalent uncoated string. However, some argue that uncoated strings sound better, and as they’re cheaper, they are the better buy. You will have to decide for yourself. If you hate changing the strings, getting a coated set such as Elixer strings may be best.

Is the Gauge of the Strings Going to Affect the Rate at Which They Rust?

Unless the gauge is extremely small, there won’t be much difference. If you rock 010-gauge strings, you might want to follow the tips above to make them last longer.

How Long Do Different Brands Last Compared With Each Other?

Quality is key when it comes to instruments as delicate as guitars. Brands such as Fender, Earnie Ball, and D’Addario make excellent strings that last longer than any other cheap brand. 

What’s the Worst That Could Happen if I Don’t Change My Guitar Strings?

Apart from having a dull sound and making your fingers hurt a little bit, the worst that could happen is that they could break at any moment (Especially while playing).

How Do I Pick the Correct Gauge Strings for My Guitar?

It’s all about trial and error and it all depends on your taste! Heavier strings will have a grungier sound and are great for chord work, while lighter strings have a sweeter sound and are great for picking and bending. Keep in mind, you may have to get a pro to set up your guitar again if you opt for a different gauge string.

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Hi, I'm Duncan, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com 
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