Many things happen during the life of a guitar string, some good, some not so good, but the main thing to realize is that something is bound to happen. Rust and decay are all in the future for a guitar string, even with the best of precautions. The plus side is they’re fairly simple to change.
Today’s strings are made out of nylon and wound steel, either regular wound or flat and come in a variety of thicknesses dependant upon the playing style and individual preference of the guitar player. Initially, a guitar string was made of cat gut, with its source being as the name implies.
Nylon is often used as the treble strings on a classical guitar. Due to their even vibrations and smooth surface there is little noise from the fingers sliding along the strings. A steel guitar string, usually found on regular guitars has more of a harsh sound and the finger slides are noticeable. In either case, all are bound to be victims of the human hand itself.
Rust Forms on Strings from Being Played
A guitar string being manipulated by the fingers will pick up sweat and natural oils from the hand. This, over time, will weaken the string and cause it to loose its tuning tension and possibly eventually break. Many guitar players will carry soft rags or chamois cloths to wipe the strings off after playing. This removes a lot of the moisture from the strings and also cleans moisture off the fret board, slowing natural discoloration.
Playing hard, along with deterioration can cause the guitar string to break. Changing it, while easy, takes a few moments. With the string now in two pieces, you would first unwind the section of string from the post at the tuning knob. Then, depending how your string attaches near the bridge, either push it through the hole in the bottom of the guitar or remove the slotted pin, and then the string.
Place the barrel on the bottom of the string back into its holder and thread the upper point in to the tuner knob. Pull it through until there remains a little slack between the strings and fret board. Tighten the guitar string about two notes higher than the desired tuning pitch, which will help the natural tendency of the string to stretch, and then tune accordingly.
Depending on how often you play your guitar, the full set of strings should be changed at least four times a year or considerably more often if played regularly.