Can Guitar Strings Be Deformed Over Time? Factors & Fixes

The strings are one of the most important parts of the guitar, as they are responsible for creating the sound as you pick or strum them. Since the strings do most of the work, it’s natural to wonder how long they can handle picking and strumming until they lose their ability to produce sounds.

Guitar strings can deform over time due to physical tension, compression, humidity, temperature, and chemicals. As the strings deform, their sound becomes weaker and distorted, and their feel and playability decrease with discoloration and rust. Keep your guitar in a controlled environment and clean it regularly to extend the life of your strings.

In the rest of this article, I will explain why and how guitar strings deform and wear out as you use them. Moreover, I will show the differences between nylon and steel strings regarding wear and tear and then give you some tips regarding deformed strings. Let’s get started!

What Causes Guitar Strings To Deform?

Like any other physical object, guitar strings can deform and wear out with time because of several different factors. Whether you use your guitar often or only once in a while, the strings will still wear out with time and may soon need replacing. There are a few different factors that can cause guitar strings to deform:

Physical Wear and Tear

One of the main reasons guitar strings deform is that they need to withstand a significant amount of physical tension and compression. The more you play your guitar, the more you repeatedly strum or pick on the strings. However, even if you don’t apply any external pressure, the tension on the strings alone can contribute to deformation.


Your guitar strings are constantly in contact with different chemicals, no matter how clean and tidy you keep your space. For instance, the oil and sweat that the skin of your fingers produces can contribute to corrosion and deformation in the long run. Even products you may use to clean your guitar may harm the strings.


Temperature is another significant factor that can directly cause the deformation of your guitar strings. Like every other material, guitar strings, whether steel or nylon, react to changes in temperature. If the environment around the guitar is too hot, the strings will expand; if the temperatures are extremely low, the strings will contract. These changes will considerably impact the strength and overall physical state of your guitar strings.


Just like temperature, humidity can also be a major problem for your guitar strings. Whether in the form of liquids directly in contact with the strings or air moisture, humidity can cause significant damage. It can cause the strings to shrink or swell, which leads to deformation. Moreover, humidity can cause rust and, thus, corrosion, which makes the strings unusable.

Nylon vs. Steel Strings

As I mentioned above, guitars can have nylon or steel strings. Both these materials can deform and wear out if exposed to the agents I mentioned above, so you can be sure that your strings will need to be replaced eventually, no matter what material they are made of.

However, many wonder if nylon strings are stronger or weaker than steel in terms of deformation or wear and tear. There is no straightforward answer to this question because the level of deformation depends on several factors, like the quality of your specific strings, how you play the guitar, and how often you play it.

Generally speaking, steel strings are considered more durable than nylon strings because they are harder to break and stretch. Nylon, however, is relatively soft and can swell, shrink, and stretch more easily under pressure. Nylon strings are great for beginners because they are easier on the fingers but more likely to wear out quickly.

What Happens When Your Guitar Strings Deform or Wear Out?

Guitar strings can deform or wear out pretty quickly. If you play your guitar very often, you may need to replace your strings every couple of weeks because you cannot play with deformed guitar strings.

When physical wear, chemicals, or environmental factors cause your guitar strings to deform, you will notice it. As the strings deform, they may become more stretchy and pliable, losing tension. As a result, your guitar will start to sound distorted and go out of tune faster.

Moreover, wear and tear can change your guitar’s sound, resulting in a harsher tone and loss of bold and bright sounds. Eventually, the strings can become unusable or break entirely if you continue playing despite these changes.

Ideally, you should replace the strings as soon as you notice the first signs of wear and tear. When you start to feel that the brightness of the sound is gone and high notes in particular, feel dull, you should restring your guitar. The more you wait to change the strings, the worse the sound will become and the more damage you cause to your strings.

How To Extend the Life of Your Guitar Strings

While it is true that all guitar strings will eventually wear out and deform, there are ways of making sure that that time comes later rather than sooner. Considering the factors that contribute to deformation and damage, keep in mind these tips to extend the life of your guitar strings:

  • Store your guitar in a controlled environment. Generally, it should be a dark and cool place where the temperature stays stable all the time.
  • Keep your guitar away from any type of moisture. A controlled storage environment is the first step, but you should also ensure not to take the guitar to the beach or place it near liquids.
  • Clean your guitar frequently with appropriate products. The grease and gunk that collects in the strings can be a problem, so you should clean them frequently, making sure not to use harsh chemicals.
  • Wash your hands well before playing the guitar. As mentioned above, the sweat and oil in your hands can corrode the strings. Understandably, you may get sweat and oil on your strings as you play, but minimizing the amount of chemicals can help significantly. 
  • Use high-quality strings. Not all the strings on the market have the same lifetime and resistance against wear. Brands like Elixir are some of the highest-quality strings, which have significantly higher lifetime.


Guitar strings can be deformed and wear out over time because of several factors, including physical wear and tear, chemicals, temperature, and humidity. Both nylon and steel strings can wear out, but steel strings are more resistant, especially regarding physical pressure.

To extend the life of your guitar strings, you should keep them in a controlled environment where they won’t deal with excess humidity or extreme temperatures. Moreover, you should clean the strings regularly to eliminate chemicals and particles that corrode them.

If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Guitar board.


I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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