How long do Guitar strings last?

Sorry If this is in the wrong place.
Been playing off and on for about 20 years. With Justin’s help I’ve been able to stick with it longer now, as well as help from the forums and now new community.
I bought strings awhile ago, not sure how long, but the last set I put on a few days ago sounded awful, and had very slight tarnish marks on the silver strings(D"addario Phospher Bronze light).
I bought some new coated strings now as well as the regular uncoated ones and just put them on this morning(BTW when did strings start costing so much?).
New ones sound great.
So how long do unopened strings last ?

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Welcome to the Community, Bruce

Unfortunately I have no idea. I hope a long time since I purchased three sets for my acoustic recently and so will have some experience in the future.

Perhaps elaborate on ‘awhile ago’.

Hopefully folks with more experience will be along to answer the question.

I’ve moved this over to the appropriate Sub-category. Where you posted was quite fine, so no apology needed.

They last for years. Especially if they are coated.

Hello @Bsmooth and welcome to the Community.

I have bought strings that showed tarnish marks, blackened spots dotted along their lengths, when opened new. It is not good but does happen. Strings and metal and age, storage, manufacture etc all come into play. I believe there are some knock-off merchants too so try to buy regularly (not boxes of 20 at a time) from a reputable trader.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

Bought them in a 3 pack about 2 years ago, they sounded very bright and tinny, not the nice mellow tone I usually get.
I wasn’t sure If strings counted as gear or not, but I guess they do thanks for putting my thread in the right place.
I’ve had a lot of issues with metal items, since I live near the ocean, even had a wall switch fail, along with ruining some great audio equipment as well, so I wasn’t sure my usual uncoated strings would be affected.

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I played in the early 1980’s a year or so, guitar untouched till married and wife got keyboard around 1998.

I have a set of strings unopened from 1982 or thereabouts and another set from 1998.
( The first Ernie Ball Heavy top, Skinny bottom, the second just Super Slinky )

I dug guitar out from under the bed after going to see a Travelling Wilburys tribute band who were raffling a guitar and took to Guitar Centre in Langley before embarking on trying to play again and both sets were in the case. They put on new strings after lowering action and replacing a pickup and a pot to get neck pickup working ( after I had resoldered a few dry looking connections and got nowhere ). They made some comment and asked if I would keep as spares…

For the bin or not ?

If they are in sealed packages, I would at least try them. They may be fine, they may not, but if you throw them away, you will never know.

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Come on guys, strings only cost about £5. Probably the cheapest part of this whole guitar learning business. If in doubt throw them out! :smiley:

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And that’s coming from a sweaty sock, with short arms and deep pockets !! Sharp stick poking aside Gordon you are so right and don’t stock pile either, even sets in sealed packets breed rust. Buy them fresh and tasty. Strings last weeks maybe months, certainly not years. Some last longer like Elixir but are a good investments IMHO but still months not years,

My strings cost a fair bit more actually. Coated ones are around $15 a set. Granted not anywhere as dear as the guitar itself. I actually like the coated ones a bit better, maybe they’ll last longer too.

Consider this: you really have no idea how long that “new” set of strings has been hanging on the rack in the guitar shop before you bought it. They don’t age faster in your house than they did at the shop.


Do they have a date of manufacture ? A freshness date so to speak ?

What is with all the speculation? Put the strings on and if they sound good, they are good. Otherwise, take them off.


I can’t see any manufacturing, packaging or “best before” date on my string packages.

But yeah, they are not like raw meat or eggs that need to be consumed quickly otherwise they make you ill. If you don’t like the sound/look of your strings, replace them.

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No speculation about how they sounded, the old ones were awful. I did put new ones(coated) and they did sound good.
My question was more about how long they are good for. Looks like not more than a few years.

I guess individual guitar stores don’t order strings by the truckload, so probably more depends on their suppliers and how big a stock they keep.

However, when I was buying strings in 2020, the shop assistants were talking about shortages (due to covid), so the pandemic may have helped clear out stocks and make room for fresh strings.

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Strings usually last me about 3 months. I keep a string journal, so I know how long strings last. My last set, Rotosound Jumbo King 11-52, I put on 5th October 2021 and changed 21st March 2022. Good value, considering they’re on the cheap side.

At the same time, I put a set of DR Rare Bronze strings on my 12-string, and they still sound good.

String life depends on factors like the corrosiveness of the oils on your fingers, as well as how much & how vigorously you play.


I’ll see your £5 guitar strings and raise you a free Justin course. :wink:

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Interesting info. I am finding that the coated strings I’m using seem a bit stiffer to play even though there the same light ones I always get.
I suppose If I want to talk about playability I should probably start a new thread ?

I bet there are as many opinions on “playability” of strings as there are players multiplied by string types….