What Happens If I Tune My Guitar Too Much?

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Tuning a guitar is a common thing to do, especially before you start playing it. The goal is to ensure the guitar is in the right tune. However, is there such a thing as over-tuning your guitar? What happens if I tune my guitar too much?

Frequently re-tuning the strings back to the original tuning usually does not cause issues to the guitar, as guitars are built to handle frequent tunings. However, frequently changing strings can result in metal wear, causing your strings to wear out prematurely.

This post explores what happens if you tune your guitar too much. We also look at people’s common questions about tuning guitar strings

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What Happens If I Tune My Guitar Too Much?

Why Do Players Tune Their Guitars Frequently?

Players tune their guitars frequently to ensure the guitar makes the right sound. Guitar players may also tune their guitars frequently to be in turn with other instruments, especially in jamming sessions. Finally, players may change guitar tuning to play certain songs.

When it comes to tuning a guitar, there may be a need to tune it frequently. There are many reasons to do so, including:

Ensure The Right Sound Profile

Guitar strings are held to the right tension by the tuning peg. The tuning peg works by twisting the button in a motion similar to tightening a fly nut. 

However, the tension may also pull the tuning peg slightly over time. You also stretch the strings when you play the guitar, adding additional pressure that may move the tuning peg slightly. This means your guitar may go out of tune slightly. 

An out-of-tune guitar can ruin a musical performance, especially when the guitar sound needs to match the vocals. Frequent tuning ensures this does not happen. 

To Be In Tune With Other Instruments

A guitar may not be directly noticeable if it is slightly out of tune. This is especially if the guitar is being played as a solo performance, without any vocal or other accompanying instruments.

However, things can go really wrong with other instruments in the picture. An out-of-tune instrument can throw the harmony between the instruments out and ruin the performance. 

As a result, you may see all players frequently tune their instruments. This also includes guitarists.

Change Tuning To Play Certain Songs

Guitars are regularly tuned to EADGBE or the regular tuning. The letterings refer to the note of each of the six strings. Most songs are written or are playable with the guitar on regular tuning. 

However, some songs are written with the guitar on a different tuning. For example, the songs’ Monkey Wrench’ by Foo Fighters and ‘Heart Shaped Box’ by Nirvana use a Drop-D tuning. 

If you want to play these songs, you need to adjust the tuning of your guitar strings to these unique tunings. If not, your playing will not make sense. 

What Happens If I Tune My Guitar Too Much?

Very frequent tuning should not damage your guitar, as they are built with frequent tuning in mind. However, frequently changing the tuning of your guitar may result in premature string wear and possible breakage.

First, frequently returning your guitar strings generally does not cause issues with your guitar. This is because guitars are built with this in mind. The body and neck of a guitar are built to handle a lot of string stress and small changes in tension.

With the strings, however, it will depend on what kind of tuning you are talking about. If you frequently return the string to its regular tuning, it should be ok. 

However, if you like to change the tunings of the strings often, your strings may have issues. Note that here, we mean changing tunings from Regular to Drop B, Half-Step, or other tunings.

String Wear

Guitar strings are made of metal, usually a combination of them. There are many strings, but you may find most of them made from steel, copper, nickel, and more. 

One physical characteristic of metals is that they are malleable. This means you can pull, push and change their shape without breaking them. The opposite of malleable would be materials such as stone or wood. 

With guitar strings, malleability is a bad trait. This can cause the strings to elongate, losing tension and the right pitch. As a result, many guitar makers try to reduce this in many ways by wrapping the strings or using their unique blend of metals inside. 

If you frequently tune your strings, you introduce additional tension to them, only to let it go later. This frequent push and pull motion can result in the string wearing out early and losing its pitch.

Possible Breakage

If you frequently return your guitar strings, do understand that you may be adding additional tension to your strings. If you do not do it carefully, you may break your strings. 

This can be common, especially if you rush to perform a certain song. You may also be a heavy-handed player, twisting the tuning pegs hard to tune the strings. 

The sudden, drastic addition of tension and stress can also break the strings. Be more gentle when tuning your guitar strings to avoid them from breaking prematurely.

Can Frequent Tuning Damage Guitar Tuning Pegs?

Frequent tuning usually does not damage tuning pegs. However, if you find yourself frequently having to tune your guitar, there may be issues with either your strings or the tuning peg itself.

One of the things many think about tuning is the tuning peg. With all that frequent twisting and turning, will frequent tuning damage guitar tuning pegs?

In most cases, no. Frequent tuning does not damage guitar tuning pegs. This is because most high-quality tuning pegs are designed with frequent tuning in mind. They are usually built using stainless steel or other hard-wearing materials. 

However, as with everything in life, tuning pegs to have a lifespan. Eventually, they wear out and may not be able to perform their job well. You may notice that your guitar goes slightly out of tune more often.

In this case, replace the strings and see if the problem persists. If yes, chances are you may need to have your tuning pegs replaced. In most cases, you can replace your own tuning pegs. However, if you prefer professional work done to it, there are always luthiers around.

What Is The Best Way To Play To Different Tunings Frequently?

If you frequently play in a different tuning, having separate guitars and tuning differently may be wise. You can also use a pitch key to help you change tuning faster. You also want to change your strings regularly.

Changing tuning frequently is not a good idea, but we still need to do it. This is especially if you are practicing songs that use different tunings.

However, there are some options you can consider to manage this, to allow you to play songs with different tunings frequently. 

Have Two Guitars

The best solution is to have two guitars. You keep one guitar on a regular tuning and have the other on the other tuning you prefer. For example, a Drop B or Half-Step. 

This option prevents the need to frequently change the tuning of your guitar strings, preventing premature wear down of your strings. You also save yourself the hassle and time of frequently twisting the tuning pegs to tune. 

The downside of this approach is cost. Not all of us have the money for a good guitar, let alone own two. This option may be a luxury that few of us can truly afford. 

Use A Pitch Key

The next best option is to use a pitch key. A pitch key is a small tool you attach to the guitar string on the headstock right after the nut

What it does is that it adjusts the tension on the guitar string to change its tuning. The changes can be done as quickly as a flick or twist of the button.

The pitch key will still cause your guitar strings to wear out earlier since it still adds and reduces tension on your strings, likely causing them to lose tension faster. However, at least you spare yourself the hassle of frequently twisting your tuning pegs. 

Aside from saving time, you also likely preserve your tuning pegs since you will be twisting them less.

Change Strings Frequently

Finally, if you are to frequently change the tuning of your guitar string, just accept the inevitable truth. You will wear out your strings earlier than usual and just change the strings frequently. 

Changing the strings frequently allows you to change the tuning of the strings on your guitar to your hearts’ content. Do not worry about premature wearing out since you have already factored them in and will frequently change strings. 

What Guitar Strings Stay In Tune Better?

Coated steel guitar strings generally are capable of staying in tune longer. This is because they are more corrosion-resistant. Steel strings also are more elastic, which should help with frequent tuning.

As frequently changing guitar strings is a good idea, it can also be cumbersome. It can also cost a bit since guitar strings are not cheap. 

One way to deal with this issue is to look for guitar strings with a higher level of elasticity. This means the strings can bend, stretch, and return to their original shape. Steel strings tend to do this well, as steel has more elasticity.

You can also look for coated strings. The additional coating helps to preserve the metallic surface of the strings, slowing down their deterioration. This coating also protects the strings from sweat, which may rust them and cause them to lose tension and tune earlier.

If you prefer us to recommend strings for you to try, consider checking out the Elixir Nanoweb Nickel Plated Steel strings. These strings are made of nickel-plated stainless steel, which is naturally corrosion-resistant. 

On top of that, the strings also come with Nanoweb coating, a special polymer coating formula developed by Elixir. This should allow the strings to last longer, despite heavy wear and tuning. 

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