Guitar strings can lose their tonal quality prematurely due to factors that include:
Stretching: Guitar strings naturally stretch during tuning and while playing the guitar. Over time strings slowly lose their elasticity and their tone quality. Guitar strings that are stretched no longer produce rich tone or harmonic overtones. As a result, the guitar becomes difficult to tune and the sound of the strings become dull and lifeless.
Wear: Guitar strings wear during the process of playing. This process comes from moving the metal strings against the metal frets on the fretboard. Of the two most common types of strings, wound and plain steel, wound strings are more susceptible to fret wear. Wound guitar strings tend to "flat-spot" more rapidly than plain steel strings. If left unchecked, the flat spots can create breaks in the windings of the strings. Flat spots and broken windings will decrease tonal quality and can also cause the strings to "buzz".
Corrosion: Metal guitar strings are subject to tarnish, rust and corrosion. Metal guitar strings are also subject to the body chemistry of the individual guitar player. Individuals with higher acid levels in their pH will get less life from their guitar strings due to an accelerated rate of string corrosion.
There are several things guitar players can do to get extended life from their guitar strings. Taking the time to follow these simple steps will ensure that you get the most from your strings and reduce the cost associated with premature string failure.
*Do not over-stretch your strings during the tuning process.
*Be careful not to crimp the strings at the tuner peg when replacing the guitar strings.
*Periodically, check the condition of the guitar bridge and bridge saddle to avoid breaking a string during the replacement process.
*Monitor the condition of your guitar frets and replace any frets that develop excessive wear or sharp edges.
*Always clean your guitar strings when you finish playing the guitar.
It is impossible to say how long a new set of guitar strings should last. The life of guitar strings depend on many factors and variables. It is possible to extend the life of guitar strings through proper care and maintenance. Be sure to take the time to care for your guitar strings and you will get the longest life from each set.
When the time comes to replace the strings, choose quality replacements and change the strings carefully.