I've have Epiphone Dove pro acoustic guitar, the most expensive I've ever bought. Around over 500 dollars. And recently I've been told that 12 gauge strings can cause the guitar's neck to bend over time and I'm not sure if this is true. I think part of learning music is learning your equipment and instruments better, hence I've come to you guys for better information.

Do 12 gauge strings really cause neck bend over time, if yes then over what period of time? (I really want this guitar of mine to last me around 8 years, and I won't be able to afford repair)

Is using 11 gauge or lighter a better option for guitar longevity? For those who might ask what sort of music I play, I play mainly play fingerstyle guitar.


4 Answers 4


Any change in string gauge will cause a neck to move over time, unless you adjust the truss rod to compensate.
Movement would be expected to have stopped & settled to its newly-balanced position within two weeks, with no other influencing factors. Primary shift would be within 24 hours.

I think the advice you were given was rather limited; which makes it "true yet totally inaccurate".

12 top on an acoustic is considered 'light' btw, an 11 is getting a bit skinny for a good tone.
Dawson's have a good beginner's guide to gauges - Acoustic Guitar Strings Guide

btw, guitars last considerably longer than 8 years unless you drop them, allow your dog to chew them or leave them out in the rain ;-)
My newest guitar was built in 1985.

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    You left out " set them on fire, or smash them in a mosh pit" :-) Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:36

I've been told that 12 gauge strings can cause the guitar's neck to bend over time

Nor really - a change in string gauge will cause the forces on the neck to be different, and if not compensated for, the neck would to change to a new position quite quickly (rather than over time).

However, part of the procedure for changing strings is to adjust the truss rod in the guitar's neck to compensate for these forces. Through doing this, you can keep the action you want with the different string gauge.

A properly-constructed guitar should not suffer any ill effects from having 12-gauge strings. But do learn how to set up your guitar before considering changing strings to a different gauge. You might have to make adjustments to the truss rod and at the bridge.

I really want this guitar of mine to last me around 8 years

If you look after your guitar, it should live longer than you :)


On an acoustic guitar I would be more worried about the top warping, and the neck-to-body joint changing, over time. Even the most expensive acoustic instruments can require a 'neck reset' during their lifetime. This need arises when the action becomes too high to be remedied by simply shaving down the saddle further and further. What happens is that, imperceptibly slowly, the bridge and headstock get closer together over time due to string tension. This results in higher action.

Think, visually, of an archery bow under tension. The brunt of this tension bears down on the neck joint area. A 'reset' job usually requires the neck heel to be steamed off the body, the geometry corrected to allow low action, and the neck re-glued to the body. Following this a partial or full refret, with corresponding fretboard levelling, is sometimes required.

This can also be a risk for fretted, solid-body instruments. Old Fender basses can develop a characteristic 'ski jump' rise in the area around the top few frets. This area is out with the influence of the truss rod, and the rise develops over decades (and sometimes a lot quicker) of string tension, with the strings trying to pull the tuning pegs closer to the bridge than the wood/truss rod will allow.


I lost my guitar to this effect, with the slow bending over time eventually putting enough stress on the neck/body joint to have that separate. (It got lots of takers when I posted it for free on a local neighborhood site; people wanted parts.) This did not happen right away within the first few days after the new strings were attached and in use, but after a few months the guitar wound up sitting for a while (at first, with intermittent use requiring tightening as expected) and when returning to it after a long sit the effect had occurred. The guitar shop said I should not have used those strings.

If the guitar came with 12 gauge, it should be designed with enough strength to hold it perfectly fine, but if not, I'd at least recognize that upgrading to a higher-tension wire at least can have undesired effects.

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