If you are a beginner guitarist, you have probably asked yourself, “Should I loosen my guitar strings when I’m not playing?”.
And you must have come across a lot of conflicting information. Some guitarists insist that the strings should be relaxed, while others are sure that it shouldn’t be done.
With this article, we aim to clarify the reason for this controversy and give you valuable tips on how to store your guitar properly.
Can loosening the strings damage the guitar?
The truth is, it can. Not immediately, but frequent increases and decreases in the tension of the strings can have unwanted consequences.
- If you frequently loosen and tighten the strings, they will wear out and break much faster.
- The same goes for the machine head and tuners. They will wear out quickly if you loosen the strings after each play and then retune them again.
- If you constantly increase and decrease the tension, you may also damage the nut and need to replace it.
When is it right to loosen the strings?
The only reason to loosen your strings is when you know you won’t touch the guitar for more than 6 months. Then you can loosen the strings a little before putting them back in their place. But also remember to adjust the truss rod because the neck may get a back bow.
How should you store your guitar for a long time?
Different types of guitars have different storage methods. The one rule that refers to all of them is: store your guitar in a room with a good humidity level.
How to store your electric guitar?
Electric guitars are very strong, and their strings don’t need to be loosened even if you’ll not use them for a long time.
The bridge is bolted to the guitar’s body, making it very stable under sustained tension. If you do decide to loosen the strings, do it halfway. No need to take them off completely.
How to store an acoustic guitar for an extended period?
For the acoustic guitar, loosening the strings is necessary for an extended period without playing. Loosening halfway can prevent damage to the instrument’s bridge and neck.
How to store your classical guitar?
Classical guitars have nylon strings, and they can’t resist the same tension as steel. Some models don’t even have a truss rod.
Loosening the strings on classical and flamenco guitars is recommended because otherwise, the neck may bend.
Basic rules for storing your guitar
No matter what your guitar is and how long it will be out of use, there are a few basic rules you should always follow.
- Keep your guitar in a room with a moderate temperature. Heat and cold can damage the wood.
- Again: Protect your guitar from moisture! If necessary, take a dehumidifier.
- Use hard shell cases to store your guitar. They will protect it if it accidentally falls or another object hits it.
Your guitar is built to resist string tension over a long time. So you don’t have to loosen the strings every time you put the guitar down. The important thing is to store your guitar in proper and safe conditions.
How often should I change my strings?
It depends entirely on how much you are playing the guitar – do you practice for hours every day, or do you barely touch it a few times a month? Read more on topic here: When to change guitar strings?
Should I Detune My Guitar After Playing?
We advise you to do this only when you will not be using your guitar for a long time or when you will be traveling with it. If you always tune it up before playing and then detune it, you might damage it.
Should You Loosen Guitar Strings When Flying?
When flying, changes in temperature and pressure in the room or luggage compartment can affect the neck of your guitar and damage it. It is best to loosen the strings when flying with your guitar.
How long can a guitar stay in tune?
In the best case, the guitar should stay in tune for at least a few days. Still, many things can affect this, such as the type and condition of the strings and if they become too loose, the temperature and humidity in the room, etc.
Do guitar strings get tighter over time?
Over time, strings can become stiff and begin to break more easily. They should be neither too loose nor too tight. They must withstand enough tension to produce the desired melody. If the strings get too stiff, maybe it is time to change your guitar strings.
Gary has been in love with music since he was a child. His passion is guitars and everything related to them. He is the founder of
Riff-Mag and can’t wait to share his knowledge with you.