26 October 2022

How To Take Care Of Your Guitar Strings

By Rosa Pampillo

Back in the 17th century, the guitar made its official appearance in the musical world. Since then, it has stood out for its portability and its strong and durable body: an instrument which can be played in a concert hall, as well as in a bar or around a campfire. Even so, it does need some maintenance! As a player, you should at least know how to take care of guitar strings.

Too many guitarists just replace them when they break or become utterly rusty or damaged. However, by maintaining your strings properly, you would not only improve their durability, but also enhance the qualities of your instrument, such as original sound, response and tone stability. As a consequence, your playing will definitely be improved. Looking after a guitar is the best insurance for your performance.

1. First things first: replace the strings regularly

In normal conditions, it may take ages for a 6th E string to break. Still, over time and use, it would lose its crispy sound and response. External factors such as environmental humidity and sweat (especially if yours has a low PH level) can accelerate the deterioration of the strings. In addition, if you frequently travel or play outdoors, or if you live near the sea, bear in mind that rain, weather changes or saltpetre will speed up the rusting of your strings.

If you want to make the most of your guitar, we recommend you change the strings every 4-6 weeks, as long as you can afford it.

2. Boiling water to make pasta? Boil another pot for your strings!

If you are wondering how to take care of guitar strings in an ecological way, this is for you!

Remove them from your guitar and plunge them (rolled up as when you take them out of the original packaging) in boiling water for approximately 15 minutes (PLAIN water, not salted: you’re not cooking noodles!). Then drain and dry the strings well and put them back on your guitar.

With this little trick, you can restore a clear tone to your strings when it begins to falter. Some players even claim that they get  better tuning by boiling the new strings before installing them on the guitar for the first time.

3. Wipe down the fretboard every time you change the strings

In order to prevent dust, moisture and sweat from turning into grime on your fretboard, always clean it thoroughly before installing a new set of strings (it is also much easier): use a soft-bristle toothbrush to remove dirt, then wipe the fretboard with a microfiber cleaning cloth.

And here comes the big question: which product should we use? We actually have several options for cleaning and lubricating the fretboard: from natural oils (camellia, olive, propolis, etc.) to industrial products such as GHS Fast Fret.

IMPORTANT! As always, take into account the age and the materials your guitar is made of. This will determine the type of products you can use. If in doubt, test the product on a small area of the instrument or contact your local dealer for counsel.

4. Overcome laziness! Clean the fretboard and the strings after every use!

You have just finished your practice session or concert and all you feel like doing now is unwinding. Taking a cloth out of the case and cleaning your guitar is the last thing you fancy. BIG MISTAKE! Removing dirt, dust and sweat right after finishing playing would prolong the service life of your strings and prevent grime from accumulating between frets.

TIPS: Always keep a polishing cloth in your case (remember to wash it from time to time!). Choose a microfiber cloth, as they do not leave residues or lint. As soon as you finish playing, gently wipe the fingerboard and the strings.

5. Store your guitar properly

When it comes to guitar storage, we have a wide range of solutions. Tripod stands and wall hangers may be an option for those who do not want to deal with taking the guitar out of the case every time they want to play. However, none of these systems protects your instrument against dust, humidity or accidental hits.

If we focus on how to care for a guitar, the safest answer will always be a case. Nowadays, there are hundreds of models (gig bag, hard cases, etc.) in a wide variety of materials (wood, fibreglass, etc.). How to choose one?

In general, we recommend that you base your decision on typical use. Ergonomics and weight may be important factors in taking care of your back if you carry your guitar around, but other features such as insulation and a proper shock-absorbing system are essential when it comes to protecting your instrument.

CAREFUL: even in a case, musical instruments should never be left in direct sunlight or stored in places with high levels of humidity.

6. Opt for coated strings

This kind of strings have undergone a treatment with a thin layer of polymer, which can be applied on the wrap wire, core wire or the entire string. This treatment makes them more resistant to corrosion: in general, coated strings last longer and help save on regular replacement. In addition, sweaty-handed players, as well as those who live in environments with high levels of relative humidity, might benefit greatly from these strings.

On the other hand, their higher density affects the sound (usually not as bright as the uncoated) and the feel. However, we think it is worth trying them out, before drawing your own conclusions!

7. Insure your guitar

At times, accidents happen and even the best cases are not enough of a guarantee. If you have a valuable instrument, we recommend insuring it with Lark Music guitar insurance.

It covers a wide variety of risks and damages, such as fire, flood, loss, theft and accidental damage. Additional extras may include climate conditions, earthquake or theft from unattended vehicle.

Travelling musician? No problem: with our insurance, you have no time restrictions on travel. Also, we can cover your rented instruments and reimburse you for the loss of value if your guitar gets damaged.

Not sure of what you need? We offer three levels of cover: global, national and home. Get a quote today and find out more: https://www.larkmusic.com/get-a-quote/

Guitar insurance

If you’re looking for guitar insurance, our team is happy to help. Don’t forget about Public Liability for musicians if you’re performing! You can easily add it to your guitar insurance policy*.

*Please note you cannot buy a stand-alone public liability insurance policy with Lark Music.