What Happens If I Don’t Change My Guitar Strings?

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Every guitar player knows that regular maintenance of your instrument is a must. A guitar might get better sound with age, but that does not refer to the guitar strings. So, what really happens when you do not change the strings on your guitar? 

If you do not change your guitar strings, the tone and intonation of your guitar will significantly change. Over time, the strings of a guitar become affected by the dirt, dead skin, oils, and sweat that comes from your fingers when playing. This results in dull sound and weak strings that can easily break.

If you recently bought a new guitar and are a rookie player, it is time to learn how to take care of your instrument. Here, we will discuss proper guitar maintenance, and we will pay special attention to strings. Keep reading to learn when it is the right time to change your guitar strings, and what happens if you do not!

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What Happens When You Do Not Change Your Old Guitar Strings? 

Many guitar beginners believe that changing guitar strings is a demanding task, but once you learn your way around it, you will be able to do it in no time. Even if it seems demanding, this is a mandatory task because changing strings is a must. If you cannot do it, then ensure that someone does it for you, otherwise, the quality of your guitar will suffer!

More precisely, if you do not change your guitar strings, you should expect that some of the following things will happen to your instrument: 

  • It will start to sound dull. 
  • It will be difficult to play it. 
  • The strings will be susceptible to breakage.

While your guitar might not need special maintenance, your strings certainly do. When you play, the guitar strings are exposed to dirt, sweat, oil, and dead skin that comes from your fingers and nails. They are also affected by the elements from the air, so there is no way to prevent this from happening. 

Over time, the debris starts to build up and weakens the stings. They start changing colors, and they become susceptible to breakage. These kinds of strings will no longer produce a good tone and intonation, and they might fail you when you do not expect them to do so. No one wants broken strings during a performance, right? 

That is why you need to be very careful with them, i.e. you need to pay close attention to the changes that  might start to show. As previously mentioned, changing strings may be a demanding task, but when you learn the whole process, it will become a piece of cake. If you are serious about playing the guitar, you need to learn the basics of keeping your guitar in good shape! 

5 Signs It Is Time To Change Your Guitar Strings 

It is always a good idea to change your strings on time rather than deal with broken strings during a performance or a really inspired practice session. It is recommended that you change your strings every 3 months, even if you do not play your guitar regularly. Strings are prone to absorbing moisture and elements that can really affect them.

Another recommendation is to change your guitar strings after every 100 hours of playing. Counting the hours might be difficult, but it is better to keep track than to end up with a guitar that produces dull and funny sounds

It is also wise to monitor your guitar strings, and see whether there are some changes. Sometimes, you might even have to get them replaced in less than 3 months so it is always better to be prepared. The following signs will show you that your strings have reached their lifespan: 

Signs that show your strings should be replacedHow to recognize them
Dirt and debris Appearance of friction while playing 
Sound change Unclear, dull, and flat sound 
Impossible tuning Not holding the tune for long 
SplotchinessDiscoloration at particular parts of the strings 
Stiffness Corrosion of metal 
  1. Dirty Strings 

Guitar strings are exposed to elements and the dirt that comes out of the fingers. Dirt and debris start building up, resulting in the appearance of friction when playing. When you play the guitar, your fingers should slide smoothly and easily across the strings. 

  1. Sound Change 

New or undamaged strings produce clear and pleasant sounds. When guitar strings become old and ready for a replacement, they start producing flat and dull sounds, even when playing mellow tones. 

  1. Impossible Tuning  

Strings that are impossible to tune require changing. Sometimes, you may even be able to tune them, but they will not hold the tune for a long time. 

  1. Splotchiness 

Splotches is the most visible and obvious change in the guitar strings. Elements of the air and the finger oils cause discoloration to the parts of the strings where you play the most. If you make a comparison to the parts that you never touch while playing, you will see the difference, and if it is a big one, it is definitely time for a replacement. 

  1. Stiffness 

If you notice stiffness while playing the guitar, then it is a sign that the metal has started to corrode. The strings need to be flexible in order to produce pleasant sounds. 


How Long Can Strings Last When I Don’t Play My Guitar? 

Even if you do not play the guitar, the strings are still exposed to the elements of air. The average lifespan of guitar strings is between 2 and 6 months. This means that you should not expect your guitar to produce nice sounds after six months, even if it has not been played. 

Can You Hurt Your Fingers By Old Guitar Strings?

If guitar strings are old, they will become stiff and not easily played. This might produce soreness and pain in the fingertips. If you play for a short time, you might not feel serious pain, but if you continue indenting your skin over and over again, you should expect your fingers to hurt. 

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Old Guitar Strings? 

If you replace the guitar strings on your own, it will cost you between $5 and $15, which  is the cheapest option. On the other hand, if you have them replaced by a professional, then your costs might be between $5 and $30. 


Taking proper care of your guitar is of crucial importance, and the first step is keeping your strings in good shape. Remember to always look for signs that will show you it is time for a replacement, and make sure you do this regularly. Now that you have gained the necessary knowledge related to string replacing, we hope that you will not have any issues when playing your guitar.  

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