How long should a guitar stay in tune? Generally, guitars will only stay in tune for a day or two on average after settling in. However, new strings will probably only stay in tune for a few minutes. There are various factors that affect a guitar’s tuning stability, so there’s not really a definitive answer to this.
New guitar-owners often wonder if they’re doing something wrong to their instruments because the strings regularly go out of tune. Some say their guitars stay in tune for just a few hours. On the other hand, there are also those who say their guitars are in tune for almost a week.
Is there a trick to prolong a guitar’s tuning stability? How long should a guitar stay in tune? What factors affect the string’s tuning? In this article, we’ll teach you the most important things you need to know about your guitar’s tuning stability.
How Long Should a Guitar Stay in Tune?
On average, a guitar should stay in tune for at least a day. That is, of course, if the strings have settled in. It is important to note, however, that this is not a definite answer. Each guitar is different, and their sensitivity to tension and a lot of other factors vary as well. This means that some guitars may stay in tune for longer than a day, while others may require you to retune them after a couple of hours or so of playing.
Factors that Affect a Guitar’s Tuning Stability
To give you an idea of why guitars have such a short period of tuning stability, we need to look at the factors that influence the strings. This will help you understand your guitar better and learn how long it should stay in tune.
Type of Guitar
The first major factor that affects the strings’ tuning stability is the type of guitar you own in the first place. Electric guitars, when it comes to design and build, are by far the most stable. That’s because of their solid-body construction. The truss rod inside the neck also keeps the fretboard stable. All of these prevent the string from loosening, which in turn keeps the guitar in tune.
On the other hand, acoustic and classical guitars have hollow wood bodies. These are susceptible to changes in temperature, which cause the wood to expand or shrink. While the change in size is not very noticeable, it still somehow affects the strings’ distance from the bridge to the headstock, which then causes them to go out of tune.
Additionally, acoustic and classical guitars don’t have truss rods in the neck. This means the constant pull of the strings will affect the levelness of the fretboard in the long run. This is particularly true for poorly-built guitars. When the fretboard or neck bends a little, the strings go out of tune, not to mention the higher string action that makes them uncomfortable to play.
Type of Strings
The next factor affecting a guitar’s tuning stability is the type of strings. Generally, we have two types of strings; nylon and steel. Nylon strings are used in classical guitars and are made out of plastic. Plastic is elastic, which means they are prone to temperature changes. This causes classical guitars to go out of tune more frequently than acoustic and electric guitars.
On the other hand, steel strings are often used in acoustic and electric guitars. They are more rigid than nylon, which means they stay in tune longer. However, electric guitars have thinner string gauges, which means they are more fragile. By that merit, acoustic guitars will probably stay in tune longer when it comes to the type of strings.
There is another type of guitar we failed to mention earlier; the lute. This instrument uses 15 to 24 strings nylon strings. Because of this, they are by far the least tuning-stable guitars.
There is a joke within the guitarist community that says, “you spend half your life learning/playing the classical guitar, and the other half tuning it.”
It goes further by saying, “you spend half your life tuning the lute, and the other half playing it out of tune.”
Age of Strings
Moving forward, the strings’ age itself can also affect your guitar’s tuning stability. Strings, whether they be nylon or steel, will stretch after you purchase and install them. This can cause guitars to go out of tune mere minutes after installing the strings.
It’s completely normal. It usually takes one to two weeks before the strings settle in. This means you might have to tune your guitar more frequently during the first few days after restringing. By “frequently,” we mean every half an hour or so.
It’s also for good measure to use new strings every three months to keep your guitar in good shape.
Frequency of Playing
How frequently or seldomly you use your guitar will also affect its tuning stability. You see, when you pluck or strum a string, its tension increases. This means that the more you play your guitar, the more frequently you subject the strings to tension, which then stretches them.
This can cause the strings to go out of tune more often, but that’s not a bad thing! Don’t stop yourself from playing the guitar just because you’re afraid the strings will go out of tune. Guitars are meant to be played in the first place. After all, it will go out of tune eventually because of the other factors we’ve mentioned here, so you might as well just play the instrument regularly.
Mode of Playing
This is contrary to what we said earlier. We mentioned that electric guitars stay in tune longer, but that’s only because of their design and solid body construction. How they’re played will also affect a guitar’s tuning stability. For instance, if you play them hard and bend the strings frequently, as is often the case with electric guitars, they will go out of tune quicker.
We can’t get a definitive answer on how long a guitar should stay in tune simply because every guitar is different. Besides, it’s a guitar’s nature to go out of tune once in a while. The best thing we can do is to try different methods to prolong its tuning stability.
Nonetheless, it’s also important that you know how to tune the instrument because you are likely to do so every time you play it.