Double the Life of Your Strings
It would be nice to extend the life of your strings to eliminate some of the recurring expense of string changes, wouldn't it?
It turns out that there are quite a few tricks and tips for doing just this.
The first and most important ways to save your strings are obvious, but most of us have neglected to do these simple things from time to time:
Washing Your Hands Before Playing
Wiping Down Your Strings When You're Done
All that is necessary is a quick wipe both over and under the strings to remove any dirt or oil.
As with washing windows or mirrors, just any cloth will not do; it is best to use a microfiber cloth or something that will not leave any fibers, threads, or fuzz behind. A well washed soft cotton diaper works nicely.
Grab each string with the cloth and wipe up and down the length of the string, being sure to get underneath. You can wipe the fretboard clean, too, while you are at it.
Another more or less obvious tip is to keep your instrument in a case when you are not playing it, to protect against dust and grime.
Starting with clean hands, ending with a wipe down, and putting your instrument safely away are obvious ways to save your strings. Is there anything else you can do to get more life from a set of strings?
There a quite a few more ideas you can try, starting with these
- GHS Fast Fret String and Neck Lubricant - a string lubricant and cleaner that is also good for wood. This is not a spray; it has a handy applicator that makes using this beloved product super easy. For any string type.
- Fingerease - this affordable and famous string lubricant comes as a spray and promises the added benefits of less string squeak, reduced finger tenderness, and smoother callouses. For any string type.
- Dunlop 6582 Ultraglide 65 String Conditioner - a tried and true favorite of guitarists everywhere. For steel strings only.
- For steel strings, try coated strings. These last significantly longer than non coated strings. Elixir is the most recommended brand and I know some guitarists who won't play with anything else.
A Handy Hack for Steel Strings: BoilingI tried this trick myself last year out of curiosity and it worked well. There was a lot gunk left in the pan when I was done and my dead strings sounded much nicer and lasted a few more weeks after this treatment.
Here's a link to a page with step by step instructions and photos for boiling guitar strings.
Hacks For Extending the Life of Nylon Strings:
- Reversing the strings- if your instrument has a tie-on bridge, you can use this method. Simply remove your strings and put them back on upside down, with the ends previously wound at the tuners tied to the bridge and vice versa.
- Retying- if reversing sounds like too much trouble, you can simply loosen your strings at the tuning pegs and pull the slack up to the bridge and retie. This moves any worn areas away from the frets.
- Soaking in a basin of room temp or lukewarm (NOT HOT) water with a quarter cup of ammonia for about fifteen minutes. While they are soaking, use a washcloth to wipe them. Then rinse with cool water and dry with a towel. This tip comes from Tom Prisloe at ClassicalGuitarBuilder.com, who says that after this treatment, the strings won't squeak as much and won't need to stretch like new strings. He says washed strings are great for recording because they are smoother from being played in and have a lively, clear sound.
Have you tried any of these methods? Do you know any other ways to extend the life of strings (besides playing less)? If you do, please share in the comments below.
I hope you have a great day! Happy Playing!