Cleaning Guitar Strings

Take a good, long, look at your guitar strings. Odds are, they most likely need a cleaning. In fact, guitar strings should be cleaned after every session! Doing so will make the time between changing guitar strings longer, and it is also necessary to maintain a good sound and tone. But what exactly needs to be done?


Guitar Cleaner

Figure 1 – We recommend FAST-FRET; It makes cleaning a one step process.

First, it should be noted that cleaning liquids are not necessarily needed. If one happens to own an expensive guitar, it would seem like a little string cleaner would be a worthy buy. Otherwise, a lint-free cloth can do a good job. The target here is usually under the guitar strings- as dirt becomes trapped nder the strings and can harden. When this hardening takes place, the dirt can act as a knife against the fret board, and carve nasty scratches into a nice wood finish. Also, the grime acts as a dampener that absorbs sound- essentially robbing guitar players of sound.

Replacing the fret board of a guitar can cost hundreds, so it is a good practice to get a thorough clean every few sessions- with a quicker clean after every session. Particularly, if damage has already been done, it may be necessary to remove the hardened grime with a scraper of some sort- preferably plastic that doesn’t do more harm than good. If the grime is left to set, sound will of course dampen- and frets will turn into unsightly, green, tarnished nightmares.

To recap, cleaning the strings, fret board, and the frets themselves are important. When the time comes to actually change the strings (yes, it will happen eventually, even with exceptional cleaning), make sure they are thrownaway. It has become habit for some thrifty people to simply throw strings in the washer- some have even boiled them like spaghetti. This is not advised, however, as it will reduce the elasticity of strings. Shelling out a little extra money is well worth not having to explain to your friends why you cooked your strings.


Anti-rust guitar strings

Figure 2 – Anti rust strings can maximize the life of guitar strings, so replacement isn’t necessary as often.

Anti-Rust strings may resist rust, buy they will still inevitably wear out. If they didn’t, then the guitar string manufacturers would be out of a job. However, they do last longer when concerning tone quality. If guitar strings are being replaced once every few days, this can extend the replacement timeto as much as two weeks- so giving the Elixir guitar strings is worth a shot.

In the end, no one can bypass the arduous task of changing guitar strings. They can, however, delay it for a good amount of time- and save a fret board or frets in the process. This is especially important among more expensive guitars, or if sound matters to a guitar player (and it should). Do your guitar a favor and take a little cleaning solution, a lint free towel, and give it a nice rub down after each jam session.

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3 thoughts on “Cleaning Guitar Strings”

  1. String cleaning products are all gimmicks. In my experience wiping any uncoated “wound” string just pushes the dirt, grease and grime further into the strings crevices killing it’s tone and shortening it’s life. Elixir strings on the other hand are different, as they are coated. More important is that unlike other coated strings Elixir’s are coated after the string has been made. This protective coating makes safe to wipe down the (G B E) strings with a standard polishing rag without fouling the strings. YMMV.

  2. Correction: I meant to say that the wound (E A D) strings are safe to wipe on Elixir coated strings.

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