In this guide, we will show you how to clean guitar strings and how to extend their lives. Cleaning guitar strings is useful when you want to maintain a clear tone without installing a new set of strings. Follow each of the sections below to get started.
Each time you play
Preparing for shows or recording
When to clean your strings
The sound of a guitar starts with its strings. That’s because of the way the strings vibrate determines what the pickups produce “sound.” Clarity and attack are the most distinguishable characteristics of new guitar strings. That’s because their high frequencies are not dampened by the present oil and debris. If the string is dampened, the pickups will reproduce the same dampened characteristic. To get that sound back, you’ll need to begin cleaning the guitar strings.
For example, you might put in a lot of hair product for a show, and the residue gets into the string windings. Without wiping it off, the product will dry and add a layer of residue to the string. The strings will now sustain for a shorter period and overall sound duller. Changing the guitar strings is an easy way to bring the tone back, but you can likely get the same result from cleaning the guitar strings.
Don’t use household cleaners when cleaning guitar strings!
Under no circumstances should household cleaners like bleach or soap be used to clean guitar strings. The ingredients are more than likely not intended for your instrument and could damage the finish or discolor hardware. Incorrect application can especially dry out unfinished fretboards. Use name brand guitar string cleaner and microfiber towels to get the most reliable results.
Boiling bass strings
Yes, it’s true: you can clean bass guitar strings by boiling them. However, they’ll usually sound just shy of new. and this can only be done so many times per set. Nothing’s worse than breaking strings mid-show because you boiled them too many times. Take caution when handling the boiling water, but 10-15 minutes in a bath will cause oil and debris to detach from the strings. Be careful when removing the strings (use tongs!) and allow them to cool and dry before putting them back on your bass. This is always a good reason to have guitar string cleaner handy.
Cleaning guitar strings each time you play
As simple as it sounds, cleaning guitar strings can be done every time you play. Wipe down your guitar before and after playing it to ensure no debris or moisture remains on the strings or pickups. Microfiber cloths are ideal to clean guitar strings since they do not leave a residue or lint material. In addition to wiping the instrument down, wash your hands regularly to remove excess oil and residue (or grease, sauce, etc.). Keep a small towel around to dry sweaty hands mid-show.
Before playing: use a microfiber cloth to remove any moisture from the strings, pickups, and neck.
After playing: wipe down the instrument: strings, fretboard, pickups, tuning machines, body, etc.
Cleaning guitar strings for shows or recording
Many guitarists put on a fresh set of strings for each show or recording session. This is so the instrument sounds the best it can. If the strings are still good and hold their tuning, you might be better off cleaning your guitar strings instead. Guitar string cleaner products are great at prolonging string life and maintaining a clear tone for longer before installing a new set. Insert a towel underneath the strings when applying to prevent overexposing the fretboard. This is not as big of a deal for finished fretboards.
Use a name brand guitar string cleaner to clean and restore strings.
Guitar string cleaner combo packs if you’re at a gig. This will make cleaning your strings much quicker.
DO NOT use household cleaners, they may damage your guitar.
Cover the pickups with a cleaning cloth or disposable towel.
Insert a thin towel underneath the strings to absorb the excess cleaner.
How do guitar strings get dirty?
When your fingers and palms contact guitar strings, they transfer sweat, oil, and even dead skin. This combination will cover and also corrode the strings, causing them to deaden and feel less responsive. If not wiped off consistently, the residue will collect in the windings, which dulls the sound quality (less high frequencies) and reduces the amount of sustain. Hand formulas are available to help prevent tarnish buildup. To get your tone back, you’ll either need to begin cleaning the strings or install a new set. Flatwound strings don’t have the same winding crevices that roundwound do, and are less likely to collect oils and finger gunk. Since flatwound strings are naturally less bright, they will usually sound “newer” for longer and require less frequent restringing.
Cleaning the fretboard
Fretboard cleaners are available to help maintain the right amount of moisture in non-finished woods. They can also help the fretboard feel “faster.” Finished fretboards can be cleaned with standard guitar cleaner. Learn more about fretboard conditioners.
When do I need new strings?
They have broken: Replace one or more broken strings.
The tone is gone: Replace an aged set with a loss of tone or won’t stay in tune.
Adjust playability: Change the tension with a different string gauge.
New sound: Change the gauge or composition.
Thanks for reading,
source : https://www.sweetwater.com/