Are you a new guitar player? You may have wondered about when you should change your guitar strings. From a fundamental standpoint, if your string breaks for any reason, you have to install new ones. But what if you don’t play the guitar that much? How long do guitar strings last if not played?
Guitar strings can last for 12 months if you don’t use them at all. However, you can keep them shiny and new even for more than a year under packaged conditions. It all depends on factors like the environment and humidity.
To understand these factors, you have to carry on with us into this article. Here we will discuss what makes the strings go bad and what can make it longer lasting. Let’s dive right in!
What Are Guitar Strings Made of?
First, let’s talk about the materials used to make guitar strings. Classical guitars use nylon strings. Acoustic Guitars and Electric guitars use Nickel, Bronze, Brass, or Stainless steel strings.
Acoustic Guitar strings, made from brass and bronze on the outer winding, wrap around a stainless steel core.
Electric Guitars strings made with Stainless Steel/Nickel wound have a stainless steel core too. For a vintage feel, the nickel wound string’s core can also be found to be made of nickel.
Except for nylon strings, all the other types of strings for guitar are made of metal. So, they are prone to rusting away. Nylon strings don’t have such kinds of problems. So they can last much longer if preserved without playing.
When Should You Change A Guitar String?
If the string breaks during a performance or practice, you should change it. But if they are all good for some time, you don’t have to change it ever, right? Well, you’re wrong!
Guitar strings tend to become dull in terms of sound and tone as time passes by and you keep playing. This dullness is called the “wearing-off” of strings.
Signs Of “Wearing-Off”
The strings may stay in tune and all, but much of the acoustic details are lost when you play them. Especially the high-end or the treble of those strings are gone when they wear off. If you notice these kinds of losses in detail, you should know it’s time to let go of the strings.
Sometimes, strings may become dirty, and you might think of changing them. But you can remove the dirt with some string-cleaning product for guitars. That can restore the tone.
However, if the strings are too rusty, don’t stay in tune, or lacks detail, then it’s definitely a goner.
What Causes the Strings to Wear Off?
The main enemy of guitar strings is moisture. Moisture leads to corrosion, and it dulls down the strings’ performance. The sweat from your fingertips will eventually wear down your guitar strings.
The changing of strings is unavoidable if you play at least for 30 minutes a day. Rust builds up due to the moisture in the atmosphere. When you move up and down on your guitar frets, these rust fragments start to come off from the strings, meaning the corrosion of strings.
Also, strings become weak when you are constantly changing tuning and different levels of vibration occur. This makes the strings brittle, and they may snap quicker than usual.
Preserving Guitar String Quality
Let’s say you installed a new set of strings on your guitar. You have to leave the house for a long time, and you don’t want the strings on your guitar to get damaged while you leave it for an extended period.
What Can You Do To Keep The Strings As Fresh As New?
First of all, loosen the tuning pegs and the strings of your guitar. You don’t need to keep it in tune when you are out for long. This will reduce the tension on your guitar’s neck and hold the strings a bit tighter next time you play.
The next step would be storing your guitar in a gig bag or a case. You shouldn‘t leave it out in the open. Place it where it is not much hot. Don’t leave it with the direct contact of sunlight. Also, keep it in a dry place where the humidity can’t damage the strings.
Before storing the guitar, you should wipe the string with tissue paper or a dry cloth. This will remove any extra moisture on the strings. You can also try wrapping the string with some tissue paper and store it in the gig bag.
Additionally, you can put some silica gel packs inside your gig bag. If you have an acoustic guitar, you can put a gel pack inside the guitar’s soundhole. These gels help to absorb any kind of moisture from the atmosphere.
How Long Will Guitar Strings Last?
If you store your guitar in a way similar to the above section, the strings can last almost a year. But the longevity will depend significantly upon the environment and the way you stored your guitar.
As long as the strings are not coming in too much contact with the air, it should be okay. Some brands offer a protective coating on their strings which provides a more extended period of staying rust-free.
So, if all factors favor you, your strings may last up to a year without playing. If not, you can expect at least six months of protection by following the process described above.
If the strings are in their packaging, it’s a different story. A guitar string set can be stored for many years if they come in a sealed pack. But if they come in envelopes, they will last for about six months until they get rust spots here and there. That’s because envelopes and boxes are not airtight packagings.
That’s about it when it comes to preserving guitar strings. Hopefully, you’ve got some insights about the answer to – how long do guitar strings last if not played.
Use this knowledge wisely and try to be gentle when storing guitars. It’s all for the sake of making your guitar strings last longer. Happy strumming!