When I picked up my guitar today I noticed my 1st string was a bizarre 2 semitones flat. I would tune it but the instant I bend it, stretch it, or play for a minute the string goes back down to the exact same note and won't hold tuning any higher. Granted the strings are 6+ weeks old and I play 6-7 days a week but this only occurs on one of my guitars. I'm using GHS 9's in drop C (easy on the fingers).

Why do the higher strings lose the ability to hold certain tunings? Is there a reason it always detunes to the same note? Is there a way to prevent this so I don't have to change my strings so suddenly?(I only want to change them when I record something high quality).

4 Answers 4


Old string do this sometimes. It may be the wrap around the tuning post is slipping, it may be the winding at the ball-end is unravelling, but after all those hours playing, and possibly(?) no cleaning after play means they're ready for changing. They are the sacrificial part of guitars, anyway. Answer to 2nd part - always clean and dry after playing, with clean dry hands, and storing guitar in a static temp. and humidity - away from interested tiny hands.

  • If I were a betting man, I'd put money on the ball-end windings pulling out under tension.
    – Yorik
    Jan 11, 2017 at 16:55

Older strings just do this with use.. oxidation and the high freq. of the vibrations are just some of the major factors I feel. It could also have something to do with the guitars tuning pegs, a loose screw here can cause this also the nut... if its to tight around a string it can hold it up slightly till that magic moment (the bend) when it lets it slip or even tighten just so. Good luck My friend, I wish I could be of more help. Next time you go by a shop, I would suggest having a pro look at it for you.. wont cost that much if anything and might be worth the hassle just to eliminate a problem that obviously is wearing on you and your practice time.


Metal stretches and fatigues. Many ductile materials, once stretched, never return to their original length. Furthermore, compression and relief of the tension on the string increases the fatigue of a spring. Both playing and tuning causes wear on the string. Even just letting the guitar sit will cause oxidation on the string and aging of the metal due to contact with air.


6 weeks isn't 'old' for a guitar string. Assuming that you've tried the obvious solution of a replacement string, perhaps you should be looking for a fault in the tuning mechanism.

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