Do bad things happen if you don't change strings often enoughg

I have read the general guidance is to change strings every 3 months or 100 hours, and I’ve seen videos showing the tone improvement with new strings etc. However, as a beginner, the biggest limiting factor by far in how good my playing sounds is my own skill, not the state of the strings.

My question is - if I’m not worried about the tone difference that much, and the strings are staying in tune and don’t give me any issues when sliding fingers along the string etc, is there any downside to not changing them until they break?

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Nah. Dont have to much to say. They go «dead» after a while, but they are still fine to play. Some prefer the feel of new strings, others do like the feel of old and «dead strings» i am inbetween… dont like brand new ones. But to old is not my cup of tea either… either way. New strings has a lot sharper sound than old ones.
You might like the feel on newer strings… all up to you… there is no set rules to this… just remember to have spear set in youre drawer so you can change if they break :grin:


I often wait “too long” before changing strings and am often amazed at how much better the new strings sound. I don’t see any major harm in playing with old / dead strings unless the poorer sound is making you less motivated to play your guitar.

The guideline of 3 months would also be dependent on the strings. Coated strings (like Elixirs) last much longer than uncoated strings. When I use uncoated strings I change them sooner than every 3 months.


Strings reach a point when they don’t stay in tune for very long so if you are finding you have to tune your guitar a lot when practicing then it’s time for new strings.

Tony is also correct on the 3 months/100hr thing. It is more about what strings you’re using not how long they are on your guitar. I can kill a cheap uncoated set in less than a week. Elixir coated last me a few months on the guitars I play a lot and years on the guitars I don’t play a lot.
It also has to do with how hard you strum and how much string bending you do.


This. :smiley:
I’d wager most beginners would not notice the difference, and many of those that say they like new strings, like the knowledge that they are playing on a fresh set.
When you become a decent player of course it can make a huge difference.
(A bit like tuning I suppose… :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:)


I have changed often and seldom just to see what I noticed. Often was like 4 weeks, and seldom was a bit over 5 months.

Tone and feel of the wound strings were clear changes over time. I find that a good tone gives me joy, so I prefer to change just on that reason.

However, if you don’t change, the cleaning of the fretboard will be poor or not done at all. I feel that cleaning the crud away thoroughly is also a really good reason to change the strings.


[Do bad things happen if you don’t change strings often enough]

Well, you ask and then this written…

So Yes :see_no_evil:

After I replaced my strings…I won’t say how long I played on it…no really :roll_eyes: …but after the first time, and my playing was not good at all, it was a night and day difference … much more twangy(?)… okay it was really too long ago, but I was also happy that after 2 weeks or so that twangy was gone again :smile:…but smoother to play…
Try it and you now it…I do play electric…


That’s a good point about fretboard cleaning… Hadn’t thought about that as until now I’ve had other reasons to change them (lighter gauge, one breaking so changed whole set etc)

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Same as with not changing clothes, cleaning your glasses or replacing the tires on your car often enough, really.

The comparison I would make is to car windscreen wiper blades. They get a tiny bit worse each time you use but by such a small amount that it’s not perceivable. Over time you maybe notice them smearing on the glass a little but they get the rain so they’re good enough. Then one day you reluctantly take the plunge and buy some new ones, half-convinced there was nothing wrong with the old ones… and then you use them and the difference is night and day, and you wonder how you ever managed with the old ones. You swear you’ll let not leave it so long next time, except of course you do exactly the same again!!!

Nothing bad is likely to happen but you’re not hearing the best of your guitar. There’s many variables that affect how long a set of strings will last (the strings themselves, humidity, sweaty hands, play time and more) so there is no magic number

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I heard an angel cries if you don’t change them after 100 hours. Don’t quote me on that.


I heard it triggers a blood moon if strings get played too long, summoning the guitar gremlins to come out at night and turn all your tuners to the same orientation.

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It won’t do any harm but they’ll start to sound dead. When you put new ones on they’ll sound quite bright to start with. I’m terrible and leave mine far too long.

I heard the String Fairy changes them… Don’t quote me on that :wink:


Actually no, not for yourself if you are that new, won’t matter unless you can’t recognize what your are working on……but think of those that have to listen to you too……people or pets. For them change at least once a year!

The worst that will happen is that they won’t stay in tune or become pitted and corroded, and you’re right in that it may not make a difference for you until you reach that point.

It also depends on the person - some people will go through a set of strings in a week, while others can go a year without changing. Your body chemistry, the strings you use, and whether you wash your hands before playing and wipe down the guitar after you’re done playing all make a difference in how long your strings last.

Personally, I found that at 3 months I didn’t notice a significant difference between new strings and old strings beyond how shiny they looked. I wipe them down after every time I play, both on top and underneath the strings, and find that I can easily go a year or more before they won’t stay in tune or start to look or feel corroded.

And I have never changed the strings on my bass guitar - but then neither have some professional bassists, so I feel like I’m in good company there. :wink:

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Well, there was a period for about 10 years that I never changed the strings, and only had to restring them. On the other hand, I never played the guitar for realzies for like 10 or more years since it was gifted to me, so, that may have been a factor as well. I usually change strings either when the highest e string snaps while tuning or when I don’t like the sound of it, so… after 6 months - 1.5 years. But again, as I’ve wrote, I went 10 years without changing them and just occasionally doing whatever with the strings…

I don’t understand this. What’s the difference between changing strings and restringing?

*Retuning. Sorry. A bit tipsy for proper English terms :smiley:

You have 10 year old strings on your guitars ?!

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