When you bought your guitar, or if you have plans to buy a guitar, you probably wondered what is the average lifetime of a guitar. Of course, the answer to this question is rather complex and it depends on so many different conditions. Furthermore, there are things that you can do to prolong the life of your guitar and make it playable for a significantly longer period.
So, what is the average lifespan of a guitar? The roughest estimation would be around 10 years for a cheap acoustic\classical guitar. On the other hand, even cheap electric guitars will be able to last a lot longer, 20-30 years. Of course, if we talk about expensive models, both acoustic and electric guitars will be able to last you for a lifetime. For example, you can find 1959 Gibson Les Pual or 1957 Fender Stratocaster that are still playable today.
There are so many different factors that may determine the lifespan of your instrument, like proper care and maintenance, the strings you use, and many others. If we take a look at each of the types of guitars (acoustic, electric, and classical) we can see the difference and the factors that can affect the life of your guitar.
What Impacts The lifespan Of An Electric Guitars?
Let’s start with electric guitars. While there are electric guitars with a hollow or semi-hollow body, we will focus here on solid body guitars, since hollow ones will follow similar rules like acoustic ones.
One of the important factors for the guitars are temperature and humidity. However, these won’t have much impact on the life of your guitar even though it’s mostly made of solid wood. Most electric guitars are built using a thicker piece of wood for the body. But humidity will impact the metal parts of your guitar.
The tension on the neck itself is a lot lower on electric guitars, so there will be less chance for the neck to warp or get damaged. Furthermore, when it comes to the body of the guitar, the manufacturers usually put some sort of finish on the instrument. This way, the wood is not directly exposed to any temperature or humidity changes in the atmosphere.
With proper care, the guitar can last you for the entire lifetime. There is a reason why there are so many products dedicated to guitar care and maintenance. If we take a look at them we can see that there are humidifiers that can regulate the humidity in the air and keep the wood “fed.” Furthermore, you can get oils to protect the fretboard, neck, and any metal part of the instrument. This way, you will be able to protect the guitar and ensure that it remains in top condition for quite a long time.
By applying one of the cleaners, you will make sure that there are no signs of corrosion on the metal parts like the bridge, tuning pegs, and so on. What is interesting also is that you won’t have to do detailed cleaning and maintenance every day or even every month. By doing annual maintenance, you will be able to ensure that your guitar will remain great for a significant time.
Of course, if we are talking about high-end guitars, the materials used to create them will be of the highest quality, so there will be no doubt that the guitar will be able to perform perfectly even after a century! There are so many Fenders from the fifties on the market and they remain rather expensive. Not only that they look great, but the quality of the sound remains perfect.
However, there is a chance that you will have to do some repairs even after a few years. For example, if you play the guitar, you will eventually need to replace frets and level the fretboard. And this is not something that is done because of the neglect of the instrument.
Finally, we should mention that you shouldn’t damage your instrument on purpose, and try to take care of it if you want it to last. The things that will usually kill the guitar are fire, extreme pressure or warping, throwing it. While it might seem ridiculous to even mention these, some so many guitarists destroyed their guitars on stage, and that is not something that you should do.
What Impacts The lifespan Of An Acoustic Guitar?
While the situation with electric guitars seems quite good, the acoustic ones are in a bit of trouble. The wood used to create the soundbox is quite thinner, so any change in the atmosphere will leave a mark on the instrument.
Similar to the electric guitars, with proper care and maintenance, you can surely prolong the life of the guitar. It is no secret that after five or ten years your acoustic guitar will sound a bit different. Furthermore, the humidity and heat can have quite a lot of impact on the instrument. If acoustic guitar is exposed to high temperatures, the glue might weaken which will cause the bridge to fall out and your guitar to get ruined.
Naturally, this sounds rather tragic and it seems like buying the guitar is not a good investment, but that’s not true. You can do so many things to ensure that your guitar lasts for quite a while without having to buy an expensive one.
The strings of the guitar can have a lot of impact on the lifetime of the instrument. Be sure to change the strings regularly because they can lose their mechanical properties after a while. Furthermore, you should at all costs avoid exposing your guitar to extreme heat. One example is a car. During the summer, cars can get quite hot, and leaving your guitar inside can have devastating results.
The finish on the body is a lot thinner compared to the electric guitars, so the wood will be more exposed. You can always get oils and other products used for the protection of the wood. Also, one of the things that beginners usually forget is storing your instrument. The guitar should always be properly stored when you are not playing it. Another thing that is string-related is that you can always use thinner strings, and you should remember loosening them if you don’t plan on playing the guitar for a while.
Finally, with proper cleaning and maintenance, you will be able to prolong the life of your instrument. There are so many guitars that are passed from generation to generation that is only proof that acoustic guitars can last a long time. Naturally, the expensive ones will last even longer since the wood used to create them will be the best on the market.
What Impacts The Lifespan Of A Classical Guitars?
Classical guitars are similar to acoustic when it comes to wood. However, classical guitars usually use nylon strings so the tension on the neck would be a lot lower. As a result, the guitar will be able to last a bit longer. Similar to the previous examples, proper care is everything. If you dedicate enough time and care to your instrument it will be able to last for a long time.
Players are saying that classical guitar can last 30 years of professional if properly maintained. Even if you’re not a professional player, the classical guitar will be able to last for a long time.
Naturally, there might be a need for some minor repairs or adjustments, but you should remember that that’s normal. Guitars age and many players believe that they become better in time. Especially if you have one guitar, you will get used to it and with all the flaws, and it will be hard for you to find something that can compete with your dear instrument.
Do Guitars Wear Out?
The short answer is yes. Guitars do wear out. Even if you take the best care of it, there are still things that you can’t change. One of the best examples is frets. Whatever guitar you use, there will be friction between the strings and the metal part of the frets, and over time they will wear out. This is especially noticeable with steel-stringed
instruments. Sooner or later, you will need to replace the frets. And the worst thing is that you can do that only a limited number of times. Both frets and fretboard wear from use, and eventually, if the guitar is played enough, re-fretting will be impossible.
The Number One, the guitar that Stevie Ray Vaughan played for most of his career has been re-fretted so many times that it was impossible to re-fret it again. If you saw photos of his guitar, you might have noticed how thin rosewood fretboard is. Because of the leveling of the frets and fretboard, eventually, there will be no more wood to ensure that the guitar is playable.
A similar thing happened to Clapton’s legendary Blackie. He played the guitar for so many years, that eventually guitar became unplayable and needed replacement. While most of the guitar can be replaced, some things can’t be changed unless you want to replace an entire neck.
If you are interested to know more on the subject check out my post Do Guitar Pickups Wear Out?
So, Can Guitar Last A Lifetime?
If we consider everything, the answer is both yes and no. If you have only one guitar and play it every day, the chances that the guitar will last you for a lifetime are slim. However, with proper care, it can last for a big part of it.
Most people that are playing guitar for several hours each day own several guitars, so if this is the case, then the answer is probably yes. This is one of the reasons why owning several guitars is great. We all love guitars, and they are such gorgeous instruments. One of the arguments you can have is that you need more guitars so they could last longer.
In the end, you should remember that proper care and maintenance will get you far and that you should never doubt if you should invest in your instrument. If those oils and kits will make your guitar playable for a longer period, then it is undoubtedly a great investment. All of us know how attached a person can be to a guitar. We spend so many hours with them each day, and they become almost like a family. So do all that you can to make sure that your guitar is loved and cared for her entire lifetime.
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