How Long does Guitar Last (and How to Extend its Lifespan?)

If you want to invest in a new guitar, or if you are considering buying an older instrument, it is important to understand how long guitars can last. Buying an old guitar can be risky if it is near the end of its life, and buying an expensive guitar is not worthwhile if it will not last for very long. Let’s take a deep dive into the live span of guitars to answer these questions.

Well-made guitars can last for decades. Some hand-crafted classical guitars can reach centuries old. Poor-quality guitars will not last more than a few years. Most guitars will last for at least ten years before they become unplayable, and all guitars will last longer with correct maintenance.

There are several significant factors that determine how long a guitar will last, and some are more straightforward than others. Every guitar is different, but there are some universal factors that can determine the lifespan of these instruments. There is no definitive answer to how long a guitar will last, but here we will explore how long you can expect a guitar to last and how to extend its lifespan.

How Long do Guitars Last?

It is not possible to say for certain exactly how long any instrument will last, but there are some significant factors that contribute to the longevity of these instruments. Every guitar is different, and how long a guitar will last depends on many factors, but if you are investing in an expensive guitar, or if you are buying an older instrument, how long can you expect it o last you?

The truth is that guitars can last for many, many years depending on the quality of the individual instrument, how well the guitar is built, and how well the instrument is maintained.

Factors such as storage, the environment, and climate that the guitar is kept in, how often the guitar is played, and what the instrument is exposed to all factor into how long any individual guitar will last before it is no longer functional.

The main two factors that contribute to the lifespan of a guitar are the build quality and materials of the instrument and how well the guitar is cared for and maintained.

A very high-quality instrument that is built from good materials and made with a high level of care and expertise will last significantly longer than a guitar that is made from cheap materials and not built well.

Guitars that are well-maintained and cared for properly will always outlast guitars that are mistreated, not maintained, and not cared for well, regardless of the quality of the instrument.

A high-quality, well-built guitar that is well maintained can last a lifetime. There are good quality guitars that were built in the 1950s that are considered to be among the best guitars in the world that are still perfectly playable and have a fantastic tone to this day.

However, there are some poorly made guitars that are constructed cheaply and with poo materials that are lucky to last for a few years before they become unplayable or break completely.

This means that there is no definitive way to tell how long an instrument will last, but there are factors that increase or decrease the lifespan of a guitar.

In general, a good guitar should last a minimum of ten years with some maintenance without becoming unplayable, and even longer if it is maintained well. A cheap guitar can be expected to last for around five years or so with maintenance.

High-quality instruments can last upwards of sixty years, but they must be maintained well to reach this age. Without good maintenance, no guitar, regardless of quality, will last very long at all.

With all of this in mind, let’s examine some specific types of guitars to determine how long each guitar can be expected to last and what factors may affect their lifespan.

How Long do Electric Guitars Last?

It is well known that electric guitars last longer than most other guitar types. Electric guitars are less susceptible to damage, humidity, and moisture than other guitar types, and they are generally built to be tougher than other guitars as well.

This type of guitar is very durable, but how long do they last?

The truth is that electric guitars are more durable than other guitars because they are not acoustic. Most electric guitars are constructed with a solid body and a solid neck. This means that the two largest components of the instrument are made from solid pieces of wood, which makes them much more sturdy than acoustic instruments, which are hollow.

Electric guitars have all-metal hardware that is often made from stainless steel, and they have very rigid components. Most electric guitar bodies are also heavily coated with a sealant, or paint, which makes them less susceptible to damage from humidity and moisture as well.

All of this means that electric guitars can last upwards of fifteen years, regardless of the quality of the instrument, so long as it is properly maintained. High-quality electric guitars last for several decades with good maintenance and proper storage environments.

This does not mean that electric guitars are invincible, they can be damaged, and without maintenance, they will not last longer than five to eight years, especially if they are kept in very hot or very humid environments.

The electronics within electric guitars mean that they are susceptible to water damage, and they are likely to experience electrical faults over their lifetime as well. The electronics of an electric guitar will not last as long as the instrument itself and will need to be replaced from time to time.

How Long do Acoustic Guitars Last?

Acoustic guitars are less durable than electric guitars simply because they are acoustic instruments. Acoustic instruments are not as durable as electric instruments because they are hollow, and they must be made from thinner wood to create an acoustic resonant chamber.

This means that woods used in acoustic guitars are thin, and the internal structure of the instrument is usually not treated or sealed, which makes these guitars highly susceptible to moisture, humidity, and damage.

Acoustic guitars can only be expected to last for around ten years or so before they begin to develop problems, even if they are maintained well.

If an acoustic guitar is played a lot, if it is dropped, bumped, knocked, or damaged in any way, if it is not stored well, and if it is kept in an area of very high or very low humidity, it is likely to only last a few years before developing some form of problem that must be addressed.

The maximum lifespan of this instrument can be decades-long, but this requires high levels of maintenance and minimal playing, and they may need to be refurbished along the way.

The quality and craftsmanship of this instrument are also critical to how long they last. There are some very high-quality acoustic guitars out there that will last for decades, and there are some very cheap, very poor acoustic guitars that will last only two or three years.

How Long do Classical Guitars Last?

Classical guitars are another form of acoustic guitar, but the high-quality versions of this instrument are some of the most well-made and high-quality instruments in the world. There are almost no instruments that are made as well as high-end classical guitars.

The high-quality classical acoustic guitar models out there are likely to outlive their owners. There are classical acoustic guitars that were handmade by master luthiers and designed to last for a long time that are still playing well hundreds of years after their construction.

However, this does not mean that all classical guitars are built to last for this long. The most basic, entry-level classical guitars are some of the shortest-lived guitars of all. These guitars are exceedingly cheap and therefore not made well at all.

These very cheap classical guitars may only last a year or two before requiring a replacement. However, the best classical acoustic guitars are likely to last longer than you are, provided they are maintained and stored very well.

How To Extend a Guitar’s Lifespan

Now that we have learned how long the standard guitar types are likely to last, it is also important to understand how to increase the lifespan of these instruments.

Guitars will last longer if they are cared for well, so if you want your guitar to last as long as possible, these concepts and practices are critical.

This is how to extend the lifespan of a guitar.

Maintain the Guitar Well

The best way to make a guitar last longer is to maintain the instrument well. This is true for every type of guitar, and any guitar that is well-maintained is likely to last twice as long as it would without maintenance.

Maintaining a guitar well means keeping the instrument clean, oiled correctly, always has a proper setup to maintain the alignment of the guitar’s components, is free of rust and other corrosion, and is never allowed to go unrepaired or unplayed.

All of the wood and hardware of the instrument must be maintained and cleaned well to ensure the guitar lasts for as long as possible.

Maintaining a guitar is far better than repairing a guitar, so maintain your guitars well, and they will last significantly longer than otherwise. If you are unable to do regular maintenance yourself, then take the instrument to a trained guitar technician for proper maintenance.

Store the Guitar Well

If you have had a guitar for a long time, and if you own multiple guitars, it is likely that you will have to store the guitar. This does not mean placing the instrument in deep storage but simply soring it well within your home or studio.

Never leave any guitar out on a stand, and especially never leave a guitar out on a wall mount. Always store guitars that are not used daily inside hard cases, in a room or area that does have a relatively stable temperature, and do not let direct sunlight hit the instrument.

Storing a guitar incorrectly and expecting it to be perfectly playable when you go to use it again is impossible. Without proper storage, a guitar will not last as long as it should.

Manage Air Humidity

High humidity and excessively dry air are both detrimental to the longevity of guitars. High levels of humidity cause the wood in the instrument to warp as they soak in moisture from the air, and dry air causes guitars to become brittle and warp as moisture leaves the wood into the air.

This means that maintaining the humidity of the environment where your guitars are kept is critical to their longevity. If you want your guitars to last for a long time, be sure that they are never exposed to too much or too little humidity by using humidity regulators such as guitar humidifiers and silica gel packs.

These devices can even be placed within guitar cases to maintain a stable local environment for the instrument.

Refurbish the Guitar

The last way to prolong the lifespan of a guitar is to have the instrument refurbished. This is especially true for electric guitars or guitars that have electronics such as pickups built into them.

When guitars get old, they can become unplayable; their components can fail, the wood they are made of can warm, and the electronics can become unusable.

If your guitar is showing signs of aging, take the instrument to a professional guitar tech, luthier, or refurbisher for repairs and refreshment.

These craftsmen can repair any damage, replace electronics, reapply surface finishes, keep the instrument maintained, and rectify any issues with the instrument to return it to like-new condition.

Guitars that are refurbished in this way every decade or so are likely to last for generations, so long as the instrument is taken care of properly in between each refurbishment.

Conclusion

Guitars are not immortal, and they will eventually become too old or too worn out to be used, but the truth is that there is almost no guitar out there that cannot be repaired or refurbished, which means that most guitars can last for many, many years.

If you take good and proper care of your guitar, you can rest assured that it will last for decades, making it safe to send money on an expensive guitar, and if you are buying an old guitar, you can rest in the knowledge that any issues can be repaired. Guitars can last for many years in the right hands.