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How Often Should Guitar Strings Break?

Guitar strings break. That’s just a fact… The odd broken string here and there is not an uncommon thing for a guitarist to deal with. But at what point does it become too much? How often really, should your guitar strings be breaking? 

For a properly maintained and treated six-string, you can realistically expect to deal with broken strings almost never. No, I mean it. For the average player who’s taking care of his strings and not doing anything crazy with his axe, a broken guitar string should not be a daily worry.

Guitar strings break when some aspect of maintenance or treatment is overlooked. Overly rough playing, old worn out strings and faulty hardware can all lead to repeated string breakages.

Factors That Cause Strings to Break More Frequently

While it’s not uncommon for a string to break here and there, frequent string breakages are usually a sign of something deeper going wrong. 

Age plays a big part in how often your strings are going to break. Older strings have a tendency to break more often simply because they’ve been under tension for longer and exposed to the elements.

Frequent string breaks can also be a result of an overall rough style of play. Guitarists who really wail away at their strings are putting them under significant stress, and doing this over a long period of time will definitely lead to strings snapping… 

Think Cobain hammering down on his Mustang or Stevie Ray Vaughen downright abusing his strat to get that iconic wailing sound.

Certain techniques like bending can also reduce your string lifespan and cause breaks to occur more frequently. Repeatedly bending your strings past their natural point not only weakens the strings but also causes already damaged sections to become more prone to breaks.

Why Do My Guitar Strings Keep Breaking?

If your strings are breaking more often than they should, it’s time to have a look at your hardware and check for any faults or defects. We’re mainly looking for excessive sharpness anywhere the strings touch the instrument.

The first place we want to check is the nut slot. Make sure the grooves that feed your strings to the headstock aren’t sharp or rough. Any sharpness here can cause the strings to break once tension is applied for a long period of time.

Next take a look down towards the bridge, which can also suffer from being overly sharp. The bridge saddle, where the strings come into contact with the hardware, can’t be too sharp as this will also weaken the strings faster causing them to break.

Turn your attention back to the headstock and check that your tuning pegs don’t have burred edges where the string is fed through them. While you’re up here make sure you aren’t over-tightening your strings.

Tips To Prevent Guitar Strings from Breaking

If you want to prevent your guitar strings from breaking, regular maintenance is the key. New strings are usually way less prone to breaks than older ones and with a new set of strings, you can regularly wipe them down or apply string oils to keep them healthy.

Maintaining your hardware will also help to prevent strings from breaking. Using a small file you can lightly smooth out the contact points between your instrument and the strings to make sure there isn’t any excess sharpness there.

If you continue to experience string breakages it might be time to reevaluate your setup and make changes to adapt to your playstyle. 

If you’re a rougher player, going up in string gauge is the best way to minimize string breakages. Lighter gauge strings are more likely to snap under pressure so going up in thickness will help minimize this.

Finally, if you’re the type of player who likes to use a pick, check you aren’t using an overly thick or sharp pick as this will also play a role in shortening the string’s lifespan. 

How Often Should Guitar Strings Be Replaced?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended you change your strings every three months or after 100 hours of playtime. Now this is an average and depends on things like playstyle, storage conditions, and how often you play your instrument. 

What you’ll want to get good at is noticing the signs that a string needs to be replaced. Difficulty holding tune, discoloration, a bad sound, and a buildup of dirt are all signs you should change your strings. 

The way you store your guitar also plays a big role in how often you’ll need to change your strings. Strings corrode and turn that dark, brown color when left in moisture-rich environments. Storing your guitar in a case when you’re not playing it can help extend your string life.

A little bit of care and consideration also goes a long way in maintaining string health. Wipe down your strings after you’re done playing to remove excess oils and moisture they’ve accumulated.

It’s worth remembering that a well-maintained set of strings will last longer than ones left to fend for themselves. Products like Dunlop String Cleaner and Fast Fret use oil to create a barrier layer between the strings and the environment, extending their lifespan. 

Finally, certain string brands use a protective coating to extend their string life. Elixir is a well-known and trusted brand that uses this technology to make their strings last longer. While it’s convenient and proven to extend string life, it does have an effect on tone so keep that in mind if you decide to restring. 


While a broken guitar string is a completely normal part of being a guitarist, that doesn’t mean it’s something you need to just put up with and accept. 

There are ways to minimize the chances of your string breaking and with proper maintenance and care, the only time you should be having to change strings is when you want to, not when you have to.