Everything need to know about why your cheap guitar is going out of tune?

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As a new, intermediate or even experience guitarist, the thing you probably spend the most time doing, is tuning your guitar right when you pick it up.

So why does your guitar go out of tune, and why do cheap guitars tend to go out of tune more? The most common reason tends to be that the strings are not stretched out, or they are just older. If you have a cheaper guitar it could come down to having inexpensive guitar tuners on the head of the guitar.

While not all of these are exclusive to a cheap guitar, they will tend to be more noticeable when kept in mind with a less expensive guitar.

1. Strings are not stretched out

Stetching guitar strings
Stretching out the strings on my guitar

If you just put new strings on your guitar, you likely will find your guitar is going out of tune almost every song you play.

This can be frustrating, but is going to happen on any guitar that you play!

When you are newer to playing guitar, you probably haven’t though about what makes up a guitar string, and that they actually stretch over time. This is most evident when you first put the strings on.

My recommendation for every time you put strings on your guitar is to stretch out the string slightly, tune it to where you want it, then stretch it again.

Repeat the process until the tuning doesn’t change when you stretch the strings.

The image you saw a bit higher up in this section gives you a great example of how to stretch out the strings.

2. Your strings are old

change out old guitar strings
Guitar strings can get old, and should be replaced regularly

Many, many cheap guitars are not played regularly, and this is mainly because newer guitarists that are just wanting to see if they want to play guitar are the ones buying them. The large majority of these players will not continue playing, which is fine!

However if you are one of those that set it down for a year, and are wanting to try to play again, you likely are finding your guitar is going out of tune more regularly!

This is because, just like anything else, your guitar strings have gotten older, and are not holding their tune quite as long.

Change out your strings with something like these ones, to allow them to be not only more vibrant, but also hold their tune longer.

3. There are changes in humidity

Guitars are made of wood (for the most part), so just like hard wood floors, they will go out of tune when changes in humidity happen!

This is most evident when you are taking your guitar on the road cross-country, however it can also affect the guitar throughout the day even.

Unfortunately this really isn’t something you can make a quick string change and fix, as its just the nature of having a guitar.

Remember, your guitar is something you have to take care of, and sometimes that just means you need to tune the guitar.

4. Guitar hasn’t been in use

Along the lines of having old strings one your guitar, a guitar will go out of tune just because it has been sitting! Wood is going to settle over time, and all of the different components on a guitar will adjust ever so slightly.

I would recommend, that if you don’t plan on playing for a while, to detune your guitar when it is not in use.

You are going to have to tune it anyways, so you might as well detune it and take the stress off of the guitar.

5. You have cheap tuning heads

Guitar tuning heads can be cheap
While my tuning heads are not cheap, here is what they look like

While these aren’t as common of a culprit when it comes to a guitar going out of tune, it can still be an issue.

If you have cheap tuning heads, they may be looser than they should be, or they may have a tendancy to adjust themselves without any input.

Because of this, if you run into this, I would recommend swapping out your tuning heads for something a little higher quality to keep this from happening.

However I wouldn’t just right to replacing these, before considering the other possibilities on this list.

Something I learned a long time ago, start with the cheapest, and easiest fix first, then move on to the harder and more expensive items.

6. You have cheap strings

Just because you may have a cheap guitar, doesn’t mean that you have to have cheap strings!

Guitar strings are going to be one of the biggest things that make your guitar sound good, or on the other hand bad.

Get yourself some great value strings (you don’t have to go crazy expensive). However you also shouldn’t go too cheap, as they won’t last, and will constantly go out of tune.

7. Guitar build quality isn’t high enough

Finally, if all else on this list has failed to be the culperate of your guitar going out of tune, it leaves just the build quality of the guitar as the cause for your guitar going out of tune.

This can range from the wood being used is not up to par, the glue used to put it together, or the neck not being high quality.

Regardless of what is causing it, it really isn’t something can fix, and you will probably have to deal with the guitar going out of tune until you can save up to get a higher quality guitar.

The good thing about this? Hopefully this inexpensive guitar has helped you find out if you like playing guitar, and helped you understand what you want out of your next guitar.


Owning a cheap guitar is not really a bad thing, you bought it for a purpose and it is serving that purpose, which is to help you get into playing a guitar with as low of cost as possible.

The downsides can range, but one of the biggest is the possibility of it going out of tune regularly. I hope this list helped you find some of the possibilities to look into if you are running into this issue.

For the most part, replacing your strings should get you by until you are ready to upgrade to a newer, higher quality guitar.