How Often to Change Guitar Strings? Acoustic Guitars & Electric Guitars

How often to restring guitar: Whether you’re a music student, a gigging band member, or a passionate guitarist, changing strings is crucial. But, how often should you change your guitar strings? Explore signs that indicate it’s time for a change and discover tips to extend string life in our guide. Grab your guitar and let’s dive into the world of string maintenance!

How Often to Restring Guitar ?

When it comes to guitar strings, the importance of regular changes cannot be emphasized enough. It goes beyond personal preference and has a direct impact on the overall tone and feel of your instrument. Every time you play you leave your finger marks behind. No matter how hard you scrub your hands before a session, some amount of oil and sweat is bound to transfer from your fingertips to the strings. When exposed to the sweat and oils from your fingers, a chemical reaction occurs on the strings known as tarnishing. The strings lose their luster as a thin layer of oils and other general gunk forms over the surface of the string.

So, how often should you change your guitar wires? Well, experts recommend aiming for a change every three months on average. By adhering to this timeframe, you guarantee that your guitar always sports a fresh set of strings, thus optimizing its sound quality and playability. And remember, even if you have a new guitar, it’s still crucial to keep track of when you need to change those strings.

After every 100 hours of playing your guitar, you should change the strings because they are getting used and worn. Instead of seeking a magic number of weeks or months to wait between restringing, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the signs that your strings need to be changed. Whichever comes first 100 hours or 3 months is a good time to change those guitar strings and avoid them sounding “funny,” breaking, or not tuning correctly.

5 Signs It’s Time to Change Guitar Strings

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Dull Tone

One of the first signs that your guitar strings need changing is when they start to sound dull. Over time, the strings can lose their brightness and clarity, affecting the overall sound of your guitar. If your guitar sounds lifeless and lacks the vibrant tone it once had, it’s time for a fresh set of strings.

Feel Dirty

Have you noticed that your strings feel gritty or dirty when you play? This is another indication that it’s definitely time to change your guitar strings. As you play your guitar, dirt, oil, and grime from your hands can accumulate on the strings, causing them to lose their smooth texture. Changing your strings will restore that clean and slick feel.

Splotchy Strings

Take a close look at your guitar strings. Do you see any discoloration or splotches? Over time, strings can develop corrosion and rust, especially if you live in a humid climate. Corroded strings not only affect the sound quality but can also cause your strings to break more easily. If your strings have visible signs of corrosion, it’s definitely time to change them.

Won’t Tune

Are you struggling to keep your guitar in tune? If you find yourself constantly adjusting the tuning pegs but still can’t achieve proper tuning, it may be due to worn-out strings. Old strings can lose their ability to hold tension, making it difficult to keep your guitar in tune. Changing your strings will solve this problem and ensure your guitar stays in tune.

Stiff Strings

When you play your guitar, do the strings feel stiff and unresponsive? This can be a sign that your strings have reached the end of their life. As strings age, they lose their flexibility and become harder to play. If your strings feel stiff or awkward, it is time to change them.

How Do I Know When My Guitar Strings Need Changing?

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Now that you know the signs, you might be wondering how often you should change your guitar strings. The frequency of string changes can vary depending on factors such as how often you play, the type of strings you use, and your personal preference. However, a general guideline for most guitar players is to change their strings every 3 months or every two months if you play your guitar regularly.

Professional musicians, who often depend on the best sound and feel, tend to change their strings more frequently. Some professional guitarists change their strings at least once per week or even every performance to ensure optimal performance.

Tips for Changing Your Guitar Strings

If you want to change your guitar strings yourself, here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Store your guitar properly: When not in use, it’s essential to store your guitar in a case or a guitar stand to protect it from dust, humidity, and temperature changes. This will help prolong the life of your strings and keep them in better condition.
  • Wash your hands before playing: Clean hands before you play your guitar can help prevent dirt and grime from transferring to your strings. This simple habit can help your strings last longer and maintain their sound quality.
  • Use a string cleaner: Regularly clean your strings with a string cleaner to remove any dirt or oil that may have accumulated on them. This will help keep your strings fresh and extend their lifespan.
  • Change your strings whenever necessary: Don’t wait for all the signs to be present before changing your strings. If you notice your guitar sounds or feels different, or if a string breaks, it’s definitely time to change it. Trust your instincts and give your guitar the care it deserves.
  • A new set of strings will sound brighter.
  • While you may be able to live with tarnished strings for a period, once rust begins to form you will need to change your strings. Advanced guitarists with more commitments should consider changing their strings every two to four weeks. How long any given set of guitar wires will last before you need to change them isn’t an exact science.
  • As you play more, you’ll start to discover your rhythm for string changes. Take note of the way your guitar strings feel and sound at different stages of their life, and you’ll soon find your individualized answer to the question of how often you need to restring.
  • Some strings are made to last longer than others, but if you’re playing a lot, you’ll likely want to change your strings more often too.
  • Coated strings are covered in an ultra-thin layer of polymer that prevents dirt and grime from building up so quickly. As a result, they generally last longer when compared to uncoated guitar strings. If you don’t like the sound of coated strings, then why not try out a pack of stainless steel strings?
  • A good humidity level for guitars is 45-55 % relative humidity. A hygro-thermometer can help you monitor humidity levels in the room, allowing you to make adjustments to protect your guitar and its strings.


  • String Breakage Hazard: Exercise caution as old or corroded strings may break during the process. Wear protective eyewear to prevent injury.
  • Fretboard and Neck Inspection: Before changing strings, inspect the fretboard and neck. Address any issues like loose frets or a warped neck before proceeding.
  • Proper String Gauge: Use the correct string gauge to avoid affecting your guitar’s setup. Different tensions may require truss rods or bridge adjustments.
  • Coated Strings Handling: Handle coated guitar strings carefully to prevent damage to the coating during installation.
  • Tuning and Stretching: Be patient with tuning new strings; they may take time to settle. Gently stretch them for quicker settling, avoiding excessive force.
  • String Cleaner Compatibility: Ensure the string cleaner is suitable for your string type to avoid damage or performance issues.
  • Humidity Control: Manage humidity levels to preserve the lifespan and performance of your guitar strings.
  • Professional Assistance: If uncertain or facing unexpected issues seek help from a guitar technician or luthier for expert guidance.
  • Over time the strings on your guitar will begin to discolor and look splotchy.
  • It is not worth trying to save rusty guitar strings – time to change strings!
  • When one string breaks, it is an indication that the whole set is starting to break down.
  • Lastly, there’s a more obvious sign you need to restring if they break. Unless you’ve recently restrung, breaking a string during a practice session or show is the perfect cue to put on a fresh new string set.
  • A fresh set of guitar strings will have a nice shine to them, plus an even coloring. Once they lose their luster and begin to look grimy they will also have lost a ton of character and clarity in terms of tone. At this stage, you definitely should change your guitar strings.
  • It is a good idea to consider changing strings whenever you purchase a new guitar. This is because the instrument could have been on a guitar store wall, or in storage for months or longer before you receive it.


Knowing when to change your guitar strings is crucial for maintaining the best sound and playability of your instrument. Many players will change strings before recording to achieve that preferred sound, but that may not always be what you’re looking for. You might prefer the sound of week-old strings or even three-month-old strings—and that’s okay. Trust your ears.

By paying attention to the signs and following the suggested guidelines, you can ensure that your guitar strings always sound and feel their best. So don’t forget to change your guitar strings regularly, and enjoy the improved tone and playability of your instrument. Happy playing!

Kristy Bennett/ author of the article
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