You are currently viewing How Often Should You Change Your Guitar Strings? (Hint: It’s Not When They Break)

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Justin Thomas

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).


If you’re a guitar player, you probably love the sound of fresh strings on your instrument. They’re bright, clear, and responsive, and they make your guitar sing like a bird.

But you also know that this blissful state doesn’t last forever. Sooner or later, your strings will start to sound dull, feel rough, and go out of tune more often. And then, one day, the inevitable will happen – one of them will snap like a twig.

So, how often should you change guitar strings? Is there a magic formula that tells you when to swap out your old strings for new ones? Or do you just wing it and hope for the best? Well, as seasoned guitarists who have been playing for decades, we’re here to tell you that there is no definitive answer to this question.

Quick answer, How Often Should You Change Your Guitar Strings?: Change your guitar strings at least every 3 to 6 months. That’s a good rule of thumb.

But there are some factors that can help you make an informed decision based on your personal preference and situation. In this article, we’ll also explore some of the reasons why you might want to change your strings and how to tell when they need to be replaced.

Check our other string guides:

How to Change Guitar Strings – Both Acoustic & Electric

How to Choose Electric Guitar Strings

5 Best Electric Guitar Strings for Rock

5 Best Bluegrass Guitar Strings

5 Best Electric Guitar Strings for Blues

How Often Should You Change Strings to your guitar?

Change your guitar strings at least every 3 to 6 months. That’s a good rule of thumb.

displays Martin guitar strings

But, as I mentioned earlier. There is no definitive one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should change your guitar strings. However, here are some general guidelines that you can follow:

  • If you are a beginner guitarist who does not have a regular practice routine or any other commitments, then changing your strings once every three to six months should be fine. But don’t get too comfortable with this schedule – as soon as you start playing more often and seriously, you’ll need to step up your game and change your strings more frequently.
  • If you are an intermediate guitarist who has a routine and some minor commitments, then it is worth looking at changing your strings once every four to eight weeks. This will ensure that your guitar sounds good and feels good whenever you pick it up. Plus, changing your strings regularly will help you develop good habits and skills as a guitarist.
  • If you are an advanced guitarist who has more commitments and plays more frequently, then you should consider changing your strings every two to four weeks. This will keep your guitar and its sound in top shape and ready for any challenge. Whether you’re practicing, jamming, recording, or performing, you don’t want to compromise on your tone or playability.
  • If you are a professional guitarist who performs or records regularly, then you should change your strings at least once per week. Many pros will swap out their strings before every gig, which is a more intensive schedule but can prevent any issues on stage. After all, you don’t want to risk losing a string (or worse) in front of an audience or a microphone.

Of course, these are just rough estimates and you should always use your own judgment and experience to decide when to change your guitar strings. Some factors that can affect how long your guitar strings last include:

  • How often you play. The more you play, the faster you will wear out your guitar strings. Playing for several hours per day will require more frequent string changes than playing for a few minutes per week.
  • What kind of strings you use. Different types and brands of strings have different lifespans and durability. Some strings are made to last longer than others by using special coatings or materials that resist corrosion and dirt. However, these strings might also cost more or sound different than regular ones.
  • How you care for your strings. The way you store and maintain your guitar and its strings can also affect how long they last. Keeping your guitar in a case or gig bag when not in use can protect it from dust and humidity. Wiping down your strings after every session can remove any dirt or sweat that might cause them to rust or break.

Why Change Your Guitar Strings?

displays guitar strings and part of a guitar tuning machine

There are several benefits to changing your guitar strings regularly, such as:

  • Restoring the tone. Over time, your guitar strings will lose their brightness and clarity due to dirt, sweat, oil, and corrosion. This can affect the sound quality and intonation of your instrument. Changing your strings can bring back the original tone and make your guitar sound more lively and resonant. Plus, who doesn’t love the feeling of sliding their fingers over shiny new strings?
  • Improving the playability. Old and worn-out strings can also affect the feel and action of your guitar. They can become harder to press down, more prone to breaking, and more difficult to tune. Changing your strings can make your guitar easier to play and more comfortable to shred with. It can also prevent any embarrassing moments on stage or in the studio when your string decides to give up on you mid-song.
  • Changing the sound. Sometimes, you might want to change your strings to achieve a different sound or style. For example, you might want to switch from light to heavy gauge strings for a thicker and louder tone. Changing your strings can also help you experiment with new sounds and genres. You never know what musical inspiration might strike when you try something new.
  • Improve the looks. Rusted strings don’t look very good after all.

How To Tell When Your Guitar Strings Need To Be Changed?

guitar player Changing Guitar Strings

Sometimes, it might not be obvious when your guitar strings need to be changed, especially if you are used to playing with old ones. Here are some signs that indicate that it is time for a string change:

  • Your strings sound dull or dead. If your guitar sounds flat or muffled, it might be because your strings have lost their brightness and clarity due to dirt or corrosion. You can compare the sound of your old strings with a new set to hear the difference.
  • Your strings feel rough or sticky. If your guitar strings feel hard or uncomfortable to play, it might be because your strings have become rough or sticky due to sweat or oil. This can make it harder to slide or bend the strings.
  • Your strings are out of tune or intonated poorly. If your guitar does not stay in tune or sounds out of tune even when tuned properly, it might be because your strings have stretched or lost their tension due to wear and tear. This can cause intonation issues and make it harder to play in tune.
  • Your strings are discolored or corroded. If your guitar strings look dirty or rusty, it might be because your strings have been exposed to moisture or air for too long. This can weaken the metal and make it more prone to breaking or snapping.
  • You have used the same strings for over a year. If you have been rocking with the same set of strings for over a year…well, changing a new set of strings will improve the sound and feel of your instrument. A lot.

If you are wondering how to choose the right acoustic guitar strings, we have a full guide on that.


FAQ

How Often Do Professional Guitarists Change Strings?

Professional guitarists usually change their strings at least once per week, and often before every gig. This is because they play frequently and intensely, and they need their strings to sound and feel fresh and reliable. Changing strings regularly also prevents any issues on stage, such as breaking a string or going out of tune.

How Long Do Guitar Strings Last?

Guitar strings last on guitar for different periods of time depending on how often you play, what kind of strings you use, and how you care for them. On average, most guitar strings can last for years on normal not-really-heavy use. Coated strings can last longer than regular ones, as they are more resistant to dirt and corrosion.

How Long Do Guitar Strings Last in The Package?

Guitar strings can last for several years in their package if they are properly sealed and stored in a cool, dry environment. However, the exact lifespan of guitar strings in their package depends on the type and brand of strings and how they are packaged.

It is smart to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and the expiration date (if there is one) on the package.

Is it OK to reuse guitar strings?

It is possible to reuse guitar strings, but it is not recommended. Reusing guitar strings can compromise their sound quality, durability, and playability. Old guitar strings can sound dull, feel rough, and break easily. They can also cause tuning and intonation problems. Reusing guitar strings should only be done as a last resort, and they should be replaced with new ones as soon as possible.

Do Guitar Strings Go Bad if Not Played?

Yes, guitar strings can go bad, even if not played. Guitar strings can corrode, lose their tone, and become difficult to tune due to exposure to air and humidity. Rusty guitar strings are considered to have gone bad and need replacing. To prevent guitar strings from going bad, it is wise to store the guitar in a case or a stand in a cool, dry environment and wipe down the strings after playing.

Do Old Guitar Strings Break Easier?

Yes, old guitar strings break easier than new ones. This is because old guitar strings can corrode, lose their tension, and become weak due to exposure to dirt, sweat, oil, and moisture. Old guitar strings can also be damaged by rough frets, nuts, bridges, or picks.


Conclusion

As we learned, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should change your guitar strings. It all depends on your personal preference, how much you play, how you take care of your guitar, and where you play. However, by following some general guidelines and paying attention to the signs of worn-out strings, you can make good calls when it comes to string changing.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types and brands of strings and find the ones that work best for you. And remember, nothing beats the feeling of playing a guitar with fresh strings! 

Keep rocking!


You might also like:

Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments