One of the scariest and iffiest things a guitar player can experience is when the guitar suddenly plays by itself. Your guitar has been sitting nicely on the stand, and you are chilling in the house reading a book, and then suddenly, you hear a strum on your guitar.
If that does not make your hair stand, you may wonder how that can happen. Why did your guitar suddenly play by itself?
Guitars can suddenly play by themselves for many reasons, such as new strings settling down, influence from the wind, temperature changes, and animal intervention. Rapid temperature changes and gradual loosening of the tuning peg may also cause your guitar to play by itself.
In this article, we explore deeper and discover the reasons why your guitar plays by itself. Aside from that, we also discuss what you can do to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.
Why Did My Guitar Play By Itself?
Your guitar may end up playing by itself due to reasons such as changes in temperature, humidity, and pressure. Intervention from wind, animals, and fallen picks may also cause your guitar to play. Finally, new strings settling down or loosening tuning pegs may also make the guitar produce sounds.
Before you wander into the unknown world and start thinking about its ghosts or whatnot, do know that many reasons could trigger your guitar to play by itself.
The fact is that the guitar is a rather sensitive instrument, and changes in things such as humidity, temperature, and pressure may cause it to play by itself.
Aside from that, other factors, such as your pet animal or bugs, may have accidentally interacted with the strings, causing them to vibrate and produce sounds.
It does not help that guitar strings are strung tightly, meaning they become very sensitive and may vibrate. The sound box on the guitar’s body then amplifies the sound, making it sound like it has been played.
New Strings: When you install new strings on your guitar, these new strings are usually not stretched out yet. This means the strings have not settled and reached a stable length that they stop stretching.
This means for a period of a few days after you restring your guitar, there is a likelihood that it may stretch on your guitar. As it stretches, at times, it may cause the string to vibrate. The string’s vibration may end up amplified by the guitar body, causing it to sound as if it has been played by someone.
Wind: Guitar strings are extremely sensitive, as they are designed to vibrate on even light impacts. It doesn’t help that guitar strings are stretched and kept tight on the guitar, meaning some force may cause it to vibrate and produce sounds.
These forces could include your finger, your pick, and wind. Suppose you have a habit of placing your guitar on a stand close to a window where the wind may blow in. In such a case, some of the wind could end up being strong enough to vibrate your strings.
The guitar amplifies the vibration and, again, makes sounds as if they have been played by someone.
Animals: If you have a pet, do not be surprised if your cat or dog’s tails brush against the strings or accidentally strums your guitar. By the time you go to your guitar to investigate it, chances are the animal has walked away, leaving you wondering who or what played your guitar.
There is also a likelihood that bugs accidentally hit on the strings while flying around, which may easily happen if you like slightly closer to nature. Bugs could fly in, and their wings would also brush on the strings.
Temperature Changes: This may happen if you play your guitar outdoors during a cold night. Then you bring your guitar into a heated room with a fireplace. The sudden temperature changes can also cause your guitar to play by itself.
The logical explanation would be that the temperature changes resulted in the wood of your guitar expanding or contracting, causing changes in the strings’ stress to change.
The changes may disturb the strings’ state and cause them to vibrate. The vibration is then amplified by the guitar body, causing it to sound as if it has been played by someone.
Tuning Peg Loosening Up: If your string is new, it may still settle down, and changes in the strings’ tightness can accidentally play by themselves. Another way this could happen is that your tuning peg loosens up.
At times older guitars may have a loose tuning peg, meaning they may turn by themselves and give in to the pressure or the tightness of the string. The changes in the string’s pressure may cause it to vibrate and, when amplified by the guitar’s body, may sound like someone has plucked or strummed.
Fallen Pick: This situation may happen to some players who like to keep their pick with their guitar. The common habit is to slit the pick in between strings, somewhere on the fretboard. This keeps the pick easily within reach when playing.
However, suppose that the pick gets to loosen up from the strings and falls off the guitar. In that case, it may be possible that the pick may hit on the strings on its way down. This cause the strings to vibrate. The vibration eventually ended up being amplified and sounded as if it had been played by someone.
Changes In humidity: air pressure may also result in the guitar string vibrations and playing by itself. This may happen when you play your guitar by the pool, which may be humid, and then you place it back in your living room, which may be drier.
Changes in humidity may cause the wood and strings to dry up and lose their humidity. During the process, there is a likelihood that the stillness of the strings gets disturbed. Vibrating strings can easily be amplified by the guitar sound box and turn into sounds.
How To Reduce Guitar Playing By Itself?
To reduce the iffy experience of heaving your guitar playing by itself, consider keeping your guitar in a bag or case. Also, avoid large temperature changes and keep your guitar picks separately from your guitar. These should remove most factors that may cause your guitar to play by itself.
To reduce the hair-raising experience of hearing your own guitar playing by itself, you can perform steps to remove the factors that may cause it. Things such as animals, temperature, humidity, and fallen picks are all easily manageable.
Keep Guitar In Bag: Consider keeping your guitar in a bag or case whenever you are not playing it. This protects the guitar and keeps it from exposure to humidity that may deteriorate its plugs and strings.
It also removes factors such as animals and winds from vibrating your strings. Your cat or dog will not brush against the strings and accidentally play it. Winds may not blow through the bag or case and play the strings.
If the strings accidentally vibrate because of changes in the string’s tightness, the sound may be muted around by the bag, or you may not hear it.
Avoid Large Temperature Changes: Another thing to consider is to avoid large temperature changes. As discussed before, large temperature changes may cause the woof of your guitar to expand or contract, causing the tensioned strings to vibrate.
By removing large temperature changes, you reduce the likelihood of this happening, and the guitar strings would not be too disturbed to the point that they vibrate too much. You also protect your guitar long-term as constant expansion and contraction of the wood may not be good for your guitar.
Keep Picks Separately: Finally, consider keeping your guitar pick separately and not have them slid into the guitar strings. This reduces the likelihood of fallen guitar picks accidentally striking your guitar strings and causing them to play.
As a start, consider keeping your pick in your guitar bag, where it is secure and not likely to go missing. You can also purchase a guitar pick holder to attach to your guitar body. People usually stick the pick holder near the pickguard or on the guitar’s side, near the neck.