do guitar strings go bad

Do Guitar Strings Go Bad And How Long Do They Last?

Do you have a set of guitar strings that have been sitting in a drawer for awhile?  Not sure if they are still good to use?

It’s a good question and the answer isn’t as simple as you might think.  Comparing new strings to old ones it can be hard to tell if they are still good or not. This post will go into detail about guitar strings and their lifespan and you can decide for yourself if your old string set is still usable.

Do guitar strings go bad?

No, guitar strings left in their package do not go bad.  There is no expiration date.  But, like other things made of metal, if they are not stored properly you can expect them to rust.  But this should only happen if the package is opened and they are stored in a moist environment.

How Long Do Guitar Strings Last?

  • Played – depends on the guitar player. If you play a lot, you will go through strings quickly – within a couple weeks. If not, the strings will last quite awhile. A good rule of thumb is to replace them if they start sounding “dead” when you play.
  • Not played – if the guitar is not played often, you can expect the string to last around 2-6 months.  Of course, this will also depend on how the guitar is stored as well.  A humid environment will shorten the life of the strings.

How Do I Know If My Strings Go Bad Or Get Old?

There are a number of things that indicate that your strings are in need of a replacement:

  • You start to develop a “buzzing” sound when you play. The strings have become stretched and the distance between the notes is not as much as when you first installed your strings.
  • They start to rust
  • If you play a lot, “dead” feeling in the string means that they need to be changed. If you don’t play often, the sound will become dull and muted sounding over time.
  • The strings feel “dead” and sound dull and muted when you play. This is caused by the metal deforming and by the string breaking.

Do Guitar Strings Lose Tension Over Time?

Yes. As a guitar string is played, the metal wire that’s coiled inside it is stretched and compressed, and eventually micro-cracks form along the wire. As a result, the tension of a guitar string gradually loosens over time making it easier to play-thinner strings produce lower notes and thicker strings produce higher notes. But, since you should always be tuning your guitar, you should not notice this.

What Guitar Strings Should I Get?

Guitar strings come in a variety of different types. You may have started out with a basic set, but it’s likely you have upgraded already. If not, there is a lot of information online about the different guitar string types and which ones are best for you. It’s good to do your research because there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

I play acoustic guitar and for that I am happy to just use the standard round wound strings. They are easy on my fingers and I find they last a good while. When I did play electric guitar, I did different types of research to find out which type of string was best for me.


The new strings will not be the same as the old ones.  They have a new sound and a different feel, but they can still be used. So don’t just throw out your old ones. Use them until they no longer work or it’s time to retire them. You can get a lot of enjoyment from an old set of guitar strings if you use them for awhile.