Many guitarists wonder if it’s bad to change guitar tunings constantly, or if changing to alternate tunings can damage your guitar. That’s why I wanted to write a helpful post on everything I’ve learned over the year about how alternate tunings affect your guitar.
In this article you’ll discover:
- How changing tunings affects your guitar strings
- Whether alternate tunings hurt your guitar
- Why many guitarist have different guitars for different tunings
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: alternate tunings are unlikely to damage your guitar, for reasons we’ll get into down below. However, they do have negative effects on your guitar strings. Let’s start off by looking at how alternate tunings can affect your strings over time.
How Changing Tunings Affects Your Guitar Strings
Changing tunings frequently on your guitar can have some negative effects on your guitar strings. If you constantly change tunings, that means you’re frequently adjusting the tension of your strings, which can lead to something called metal fatigue. This simply means that the metal which your strings are made out of gets weakened through continual stress over time.
If you want your guitar strings to last as long as possible, you should avoid constantly tuning the same set of strings in and out of different alternate tunings, and subjecting your strings to different tensions too often.
But that said, strings break all the time, and are rather inexpensive. Stopping yourself from changing tunings on your guitar may only extend string life so little that you may not even notice the difference.
So changing tunings constantly can shorten the life of your strings. But if you don’t change tunings very frequently, you’re unlikely to notice any difference at all.
If you’re interested in very effective ways to get the most out of your strings, and make your guitar strings last way longer, check out my helpful article I wrote on exactly that topic.
Does Alternate Tuning Hurt Your Guitar?
While alternate tunings can shorten the life of your guitar strings, changing tunings is unlikely to damage your guitar. Most alternate tunings are actually lower in overall tension than standard tuning, so there’s no real risk of applying more tension than the guitar can handle.
Furthermore, no guitar makers or builder have expressed any concerns over the safety of alternate tunings. They do warn about temperature, humidity, and chemical concerns, however. If guitar tunings were a threat to the safety of your guitar, we would likely hear more builders, companies, luthiers, and guitarists cautioning against them.
Different Guitars for Different Tunings
While changing tunings isn’t bad for your guitar and won’t damage it, it does shorten the life of your strings. Furthermore, it can take a lot of time to change in and out of alternate tunings, especially if you’re new to them or switching guitar tunings very often.
This is why many guitarists choose to have multiple guitars, and reserve some for specific tunings. It saves the life of your strings and saves you time retuning your instrument. And… you get a great excuse to buy more guitars! Tuning can be tedious work, so having a guitar for a different tuning already tuned up and ready to go is extremely convenient.
If you want to grab a new guitar for alternate tunings, check out my top 10 favorie guitar for beginners on a budget. Whether you’re looking for a beater or a premium quality acoustic, there’s something there to meet everyone’s budget.
The Best Guitar Tuner for Alternate Tunings
You can tune your acoustic or electric guitar online for free using my free, ultimate guitar tuning database.
Use my online tuner to tune your guitar to standard tuning or the most popular alternate tunings for guitar.
Or, consider a Snark tuner. These are my favorite clip on tuners for standard and alternate tuning. You can read my full review of Snark tuners here.
Now you know everything you need to know about whether changing tunings can damage your guitar or not. While alternate tunings aren’t bad for your guitar, they can shorten your string life, and quickly become a hassle if you’re constantly changing in and out of different tunings all the time.
To solve this issue, most guitarists choose to get another guitar if they’re going to frequently be playing in alternate tunings. This way you can leave different guitars in different tunings, and they’ll be ready to play whenever you need them. It’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
I hope this article was helpful. Thanks for reading, and as always, happy picking!
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