Why do Guitars go Out of Tune

why do guitars go out of tune

Does your guitar sound out of tune more often than you wish?

It is truly one of the most annoying things a guitarist can experience.

Whether it be a performance or just your regular guitar practice, the sound of pesky strings ruins everybody’s mood.

Though it is normal for guitar strings to go out of tune, sometimes they go out of tune soon after you’ve tuned the strings back.

So what do you do about it? Here are common issues you should consider:

7 Reasons Why Guitars Go Out of Tune

Take a look at this video to get a quick understanding on the reasons why guitars go out of tune.

Now, read ahead to understand the reasons in details.

1. There is not enough stretch in the strings

One of the main reasons your guitar won’t stay in tune is that your strings have not been stretched enough. It also plays a part in the stability of the guitar.

All sets of new strings need to stretch before putting on the guitar to maintain their tension.

How to stretch your strings?

Stretching your strings is not that hard a task but be sure to keep an afternoon open for this because it takes you quite a while to stretch them out.

Here is how you stretch your guitar strings:

  1. Get away from people and breakable things: your guitar strings might pop out and fly off in some directions. Someone or something might suffer the consequences of this action.
  2. Hold your strings as if you will play them: use a piece of cloth or leather to hold your guitar. This keeps the strings from hitting you.
  3. Begin with the lower E: Grab the middle of the string and pull it near the bridge. Continue to stretch your strings a little as you reach the headstock. Once you’ve reached the nut, continue to stretch the strings but slowly make your way back to the bridge.
  4. Once you’ve stretched your strings, now is the time to re-tune them.
  5. Stretch again and re-tune again
  6. Go through steps 1 to 5 again for all the strings.

2. Low string quality

Cheap strings = obvious lousy quality.

Low-quality strings are not made to give you the best guitar playing experience. Occasionally you’ll find some strings already damaged in the package.

Cheap strings don’t stay in tune for long; this could be why your guitar won’t stay in tune.

How do you choose good strings as a beginner?

A general rule is to choose a lighter gauge for instruments with a small body and a heavier gauge for larger instruments.

Commonly, strings used by beginners are lighter gauge because they are easier on the fingers and are suitable for practice since they need less effort to press down.

Read: Best Guitar Strings For Beginners: All You Need to Know for more.

3. Your surrounding climate may be to blame

Temperature changes and humidity can have a significant impact on your tuning efforts.

To handle this issue, limit the climate changes you put your guitar through and tune the strings frequently.

There isn’t much you can do to manipulate the climate, but you can do something to keep your guitar safe from the environment.

How to protect Guitar from Climate change

  1. Keep your guitar in its bag: your guitar bag is a safe house for your guitar. The bag acts as a barrier between the outside world and the guitar.
  2. Don’t leave your guitar out if you live in a hot climate.

All said and done; if the climate is affecting your tuning, you should tune your guitar as much as possible.

4. Your guitar has old strings

A set of old strings lose their tension and don’t stay tuned for long.

If you didn’t know this already, you should change your guitar strings every 3 months because that’s how long a set of strings lasts. This estimate is based on regular uses.

If you don’t play the guitar that often, your guitar strings will last much longer than 3 months.

If you haven’t yet changed your strings and play too often, it may be time to get yourself a new set.

Read: How Often to Change Guitar Strings: Increase Your Guitar’s Life to learn more.

5. Improper use of Capo

A capo can pull on your guitar strings incorrectly and cause it to sound out of tune. If you use a capo, make sure you use it properly.

Clamp your guitar on the fret you want, but make sure the capo is clamped just behind the fret of your choice.

Once you use your capo correctly, you should hear the difference in the tone.

But if your guitar strings are still going out of tune frequently, there might be an entirely different issue we might be dealing with.

Maybe the issue is something more mechanical, like the tuning pegs.

Check out EnthuZiastic guitar classes for a personalized guitar learning experience.

6. Tuning pegs/machine heads on your guitar are loose

This problem only occurs in old guitars since the shiny new ones are unused and still have their strength.

How to check your tuning pegs?

  1. Use the nut driver to check the tightness of the washers and bushings.
  2. Tighten the bushings: they are significantly loose if they can turn freely. In this case, you should tighten them up.

Once your guitar machine heads are significantly tighter, they should solve your tuning issues.

Narrow Guitar Nut Slots

The nut is situated at the top of the fretboard; it is where all the guitar strings go through.

If your strings don’t move smoothly through that slot, you will have uneven tuning across strings in your guitar.

This is the most common issue with keeping your guitar in tune.

Take a look at your guitar’s nut grooves and how strings go through them; if the groove is too small for the strings you use, you will have to do some tinkering.

There are two leading solutions to this problem.

One would be to use a file and widen the nut slots so that the strings fit in them. And the second would be to use lubrication on the grooves so that the strings can glide smoothly through the slots.

7. Your guitar has poor intonation adjustment

Your guitar’s pitch accuracy (intonation) is closely related to whether a guitar will stay in tune.

The best fix to this problem is changing the position of the metal truss rod located inside the neck.

Most players, including you, should reach out to a professional to do this because the procedure requires quite advanced guitar knowledge.

You must look down your guitar’s neck and tighten the rod if the neck curves away from the strings.

This is difficult for beginners, but your instructor can help you with your guitar and maintain its ins and outs if you take guitar tutorials.


How often do guitar strings go out of tune?

After changing guitar strings, you find that your strings will go out of tune in about 1-2 weeks. From professional experience, people have suggested that Gibson’s guitars go out of tune slightly more easily than other classics. It depends on how much you play and how often you re-tune your strings.

How do you keep your guitar from going out of tune while playing?

To solve this, you should know what mechanical parts of the guitar keep your guitar in tune. The tension on the strings has to be just right to make sure that the strings are in tune. And the parts that maintain tension in your strings are the tuners, the nut, and the bridge. Pay close attention to these and care for them. They are what keep your guitar in tune after you tighten the pegs.

Do locking tuners on a guitar make a difference?

Locking tuners will only hold their worth if your guitar has a tremolo or use thinner strings which means you struggle to keep it in tune. But only do this if your guitar has tuning instability; else, stick to the standard.

What are some good-quality guitar strings for beginners?

Some good introductory guitar strings brands would be Martin, La Bella, Ernie Ball, D’Addario, or Elixirs. These are some excellent and budget-friendly options for a guitarist who is starting.

learn guitar online

Learn Guitar From Expert Teachers

Book a free demo class with one of our top teacher and start learning Guitar


Let’s look at a quick recap of what we have discussed in this article.

So reasons your guitar strings go out of tune are:

  1. A string are not stretched enough
  2. The strings are low in quality
  3. It may be the climate that is affecting
  4. Your guitar strings are too old
  5. Perhaps you’re not using the capo properly
  6. Tuning pegs are too loose
  7. There is a problem with the nut
  8. Your guitar may have improper intonation

Phew, that was a lot.

But there can be more than the ones we mentioned here.

For instance, the guitar strap or the saddle, the tuning machine you use or poor technique of playing.

So keep a lookout for subtle signs that your guitar might present.

So that is it for now; we’ll see you guys in the next one.

Leave a comment