Guitar String Maintenance

Guitar String Care and Maintenance by Strings By Mail

How Often Should I Change Guitar Strings?

The answer to the question how long can I keep my strings depends on how much they are played, and how well they are maintained. Maintaining your strings, both before you put them on and while they are on the instrument, can extend their life. It will also enhance their sound and playability, which can make you a better musician. In general if you are playing your guitar for hours each day you will probably need to change them every month. And professionals will often change them as often as every week or every performance. In the end if the sound is dull, the tuning becomes difficult, or the strings look tarnished it is time to change them, but with the right care they do last longer.

What are the areas I need to watch for to make my strings last longer?

The two biggest problems for strings are humidity and dirt. Both can negatively impact the playability of your instrument, its sound and even your guitar itself.

How does humidity affect my guitar strings?

Strings with a metal component that are exposed to humidity, especially the salty humidity near oceans, can rust quickly. Needless to say, rusty strings will not perform in an optimum manner.

How do I keep my guitar strings from rusting?

Until you put them on your instrument, strings with a metal component should always be stored in humidity-free sealed plastic. Some, such as Augustine Regal Blue classical guitar strings or D'Addario EJ16 Phosphor Bronze acoustic guitar strings, are sealed in plastic by the manufacturer in the controlled environment of the factory. Others, such as Aquila classical guitar strings or many single strings are not. At Strings By Mail we put any strings that are not already sealed into zipped plastic bags before shipment to protect them until you use them. You can easily be protected any instrument strings you have that are not already protectively sealed with a Ziploc or similar plastic bag. Add one or two silica gel packs, which will remove humidity the strings have been exposed to since they left the factory. This simple precaution will considerably extend the shelf life of any strings with a metal component, such as electric guitar strings, acoustic guitar strings, or the wound basses of classical guitar strings.

What does Strings By Mail do to keep instrument strings from rusting?

We know it is important to keep your future strings in pristine condition. That is why we maintain a humidity-controlled environment with an air lock entrance. The humidity-controlled environment of Strings By Mail precludes humidity and dampness from negatively affecting all our strings while we have them in storage.

Okay, I'll keep my instrument strings dry. But how does dirt impact strings?

Dirty strings can make a guitar sound dull and become less responsive. Worse yet, using dirty or rusty strings can harm your instrument. As your strings get dirty or corroded, they get rougher. They can scratch or put grooves in your frets. And if your instrument is played continuously with a dull unresponsive sound the wood begins to take on that character, so the instrument's sound can be altered in a negative way.

Where does the dirt on my strings come from?

Dust and dirt can become a problem when strings are exposed to an outdoor environment or one where dust and dirt are in the air. Even if you are playing in your home, a club or a concert hall, if your hands are dirty it will get transferred to your strings. So it is always a good idea to wash your hands before you play. Even if you don't play in barns or places where it's obvious dirt is a problem, strings can become dirty from particles on the neck of the instrument. To keep your guitar and strings as clean as possible, you should clean the neck of your instrument each time you change your strings.

How can I clean my guitar strings?

There are a number of string and guitar care products available for cleaning strings and instrument necks with instructions included. Just wiping strings with a clean cloth can extend the life of your strings and the use of some of these products may extend them even further.

How do I change my guitar strings?

At some point you will need to change them and these videos will help. When done correctly it takes much less time than you may think. And after doing them a few times it can be very easy. Having the right tools and right surface makes it easier and doing it with professional advice avoids some pitfalls.

I have other questions about my strings and my instrument. Can you help me?

Of course! At Strings By Mail we pride ourselves on our customer service, and as musicians ourselves we know how important it is to keep every facet of your instrument performing well. We offer many other helpful tools for use when changing guitar strings. Simply contact our customer service department to get answers to any questions you have regarding string maintenance. You can call us at 800-513-8271 or email us. We are available Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. ET and Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

What if I'd like to learn more on my own?

Check out the following resources on our website: