Do Guitar Strings Ever Go Bad?

Who doesn’t love a beautiful tune played on a guitar? Guitars are one of the most widely used musical instruments across the music industry. The tunes from guitars make the songs rhythmic and rich in sound. Strings are the most important parts of any guitar which you see in the market. These help in the production and the propagation of sound. A guitar can have 6-12 strings based on its type. The tone produced by a guitar depends mainly on the maintenance of its strings. Strings can last for a long time if you take care of them properly. In this article, we will give an insight into the guitar strings and their longevity. Moreover, we will also try to answer the most common question that is “Do guitar strings ever go bad?”

Guitar Strings: What goes into making them?

First of all, you need to select the material for making the strings. There are mainly five kinds of materials you can make guitar strings with. We can divide these strings into sub-divisions based on the alloys the manufacturers use and how they are built. Below here, you will get to know about the three basic types of strings:

1) Strings made of Steel and Nickel

The majority of the guitar strings are made of steel wires with three strings being plated in nickel. However, strings made of pure nickel and pure steel have gained much popularity over the last few years. Generally, steel strings look brighter than nickel strings. Moreover, these are also livelier than the nickel strings. The steel strings have also got a high-end response which helps them to cut through a mix in a better way than the nickel strings do. However, nickel strings have got a rich tone than steel strings. This type of string is especially pleasurable to play the older genres of music, “blues” for an example. These strings help to enhance the richness of music, and that’s why these are great for rhythmic work.


2) Brass Plated and Bronze Plated Strings

Brass plated and bronze plated steel strings are two main types of strings for acoustic guitars. These two types of strings don’t have much difference in feel, but they make a huge difference when it comes to response.


Generally, the brass strings look brighter than the bronze strings. The majority of brass strings are considered as the moniker of “80/20” bronze. This indicates that this type of string comprises 80% copper and 20% zinc. This configuration provides the strings with a bright and clear sound. If you use these strings in a guitar having an extrusive high-end response, it will sound thin and small.  Phosphor bronze strings have got a warm sound with smoothness in their high-end response. This makes them perfect for the genres which come from a delicate tone. These strings go well with the small guitars. However, many guitarists who play the serene genres prefer these strings on larger devices as well. So, we can say, if you want a light tone, you should go for brass guitar strings. But if you want a rich tone, you can go with the phosphor bronze strings.


3) Nylon Strings

We generally use nylon strings on classical guitars. Guitar strings can cause an acoustic guitar’s body to resound. The lion’s share of the tone comes from the method your guitar resounds. The less reverberation you get with a musical device, the less representation of several frequencies you’re going to have. If you have thought of utilizing nylon strings on a steel-string guitar, you’re more likely to be stuck playing moderate and delicate folk music. You should not expect the same flexibility with nylon strings that the brass and bronze strings offer. Now, comes the construction part of the string. Let us now see what goes into building the strings. Construction is very important for a guitar’s tone. The factors for the construction of guitar strings are described below:

 A string’s gauge indicates the thickness of it. Usually, a string will give a warm response and produce more volume if it has a large gauge. But thick strings have also got stiffness. This makes it difficult to fret. Moreover, heavy string bending also becomes difficult in this case.


String Core

The string core determines the shape of the wire. There are two types of core: hex core and round core. Hex core strings are louder, and these create a modernized tone. Round core strings have got a more delicate tone which makes them perfect for blues and classic rock music.

Type of Winding

There are three types of windings we can see on guitar strings: round-wound, flat-wound, and half-round. The round-wounded strings have got a grained surface and a loud tone. Flat-wound strings have got a smooth surface. The jazz guitarists use these strings mostly because they have got a very heavy tone. The half-rounded ones aren’t perfect for modern music, and these were used way back in the past.


Coating of guitar strings is usually done by a plastic polymer. Coated strings are noticed to last longer than the uncoated ones. But the coating which is used can cause a high-end blockage response.


How long do guitar strings last?

  Nothing in this world lasts for the entire life. Everything has got to get worse after a certain time. So do the guitar strings. They also have a specific duration after the manufacturing process when they start to deteriorate. Here is a brief insight into the longevity of the guitar strings:

How long do guitar strings last if you use them daily?

When it comes to guitars, daily usage generally means frequent changing of strings and irregular playing indicates too much less frequent changing of strings. An irregularly played guitar will quickly get the strings rusted because of the humidity and moisture content in the air.

The standard set of strings that are played by an average player is found to last almost 90 days or three months.


How long do guitar strings last within the packaging?

The guitar strings don’t have any specific expiration date. These are made of metal. The strings will eventually rust because of the moisture content in the air.  Most of the guitar-string manufacturers propose that their strings will last several years before you open the packaging and use them. Some of the guitar-string packagings are air-sealed for protecting them until opening.


  Why Guitar Strings start to get worse over time

It will not take long for a new set of strings to start getting bad. This happens because of the presence of oils and dust in your fingertips. More dirt and oil will get stuck within the ridges of the strings if you play the guitar frequently with dirty and wet hands.

The oil in your fingers is noticed to affect the guitar strings badly. You may also notice the discoloration of the strings within the spaces you often play.

For instance, if you go to play a lot of chords with your guitar, you will discover that the discoloration of the strings initiates firstly with three frets on the strings on your guitar. If you have just started to learn the initial box location of the “A- minor Pentatonic”, you will start seeing the discoloration surrounding the fifth and seventh frets.


Why is it needed to change the guitar strings?

Below here, you will find the reasons for which you need to change the guitar strings.

 1) Wreckage

If you use and apply force on an instrument for a long time, you might notice the gadget to get deteriorated.

Every single time you press down your finger on a string, the string kneads against the fret. As time goes, this creates several dents on the strings which are noticeable. If you are using an old set of strings for a couple of months, you will be able to notice some spots where the frets have made the strings worn down.

 If you continuously find that you keep on breaking strings, it should be an issue with your guitar. For example; the bridge has got a thin-sharp edge; the strings are getting old or other reasons.

 The feel

You will see the glossiness while playing a new set of strings because of their cleanliness. They will be easy on your fingers, and you may notice that the bends will feel comfortable. But after a couple of months of usage, small debris gets stuck, and the oxidization starts to deteriorate the feel on the strings. The gripping of strings may also get a bit difficult. If you are using coated strings, you may start to find the coating begin to deteriorate after a while if you find some disintegrating features on the coating, it is better to change the strings immediately.

 Issues with winding

The old acoustic guitar strings are noticed to get worsen after using for three months. They suffer from this string winding issue because they begin to open up against the core of the string. If you notice a string to face trouble staying in tune or if you find some gaps within a string’s windings, it is an indication that you should change them. If you use a set of nylon strings in your acoustic guitar, you are more likely to find the windings initiate to loosen after three months of playing.

 How to maintain guitar strings and make them last longer?

You will always want your guitar strings to last long. Below you will find what to do to make them last long:

 Washing your hands

Your hands can be covered in dirt and filth. Hands are the most vital contact points on guitar strings. So, when you start to play, you are putting dirt on the strings, and the moisture content causes rusting on them.

 The wiping of your strings

It would help if you wiped down guitar strings after every single time of playing. This will stop any remaining moisture from deteriorating the strings.

Cleaning the fretboard

Cleaning of the fretboard is very important to enhance the longevity of your strings. The fretboard is a vital contact point with guitar strings, so it has to be kept clean.

 Use of Coated Strings

The coated strings last long whereas the uncoated strings last for only a couple of months. The coated strings are also resistant to certain types of dust and external environmental factors.  

 Final Words

Everything needs maintenance to keep them well and long-lasting. When it comes to guitar, you should always emphasize the maintenance of the strings as they are the essential parts in sound production. You should always take care of the strings so that they may last longer and notice any complications within them so that you can know when to actually change the strings..