How To Clean Your Guitar Strings Easily in 5 minutes

If you are want to learn how to clean your guitar strings, then read this article to learn how to do it. When you have a brand new acoustic guitar or put on a brand new set of guitar strings, the sound will be crisp and bright due to the strings being completely fresh. Over the time, the guitar strings become dirty and grime. This build-up changes how the strings vibrate and affect the tone.

There is a saying, "the sound of music heals your mind, body and soul." Along with its sounds, this music is the work of hours upon weeks of hard work put in by talented artists from various fields. Just as different individuals have different strengths and preferences, various musicians also have their specializations and choices. Some like the keyboard, some like drums or violin, and some are inclined towards guitars.

The guitar is believed to have originated in Spain while the word itself comes from the ancient Greek word κιθάρα (kithara). The influx of different cultures to the origin and popularity of this musical instrument is exciting to note. Performers like Robert Johnson and Elmore James made the guitar famous in its early days.

How To Clean Your Guitar Strings

However, with all its beauty and charisma comes a great deal of care that needs to be observed while using as well as playing the instrument. This article focuses on one of the key points that need to be taken care of by anyone who owns or uses a guitar- how to clean your guitar strings.

How do guitar strings get dirty?

Cleaning your guitar strings comes in handy when you want a clear tone without the hassle of having to install a new set of strings altogether. Guitar strings often get dirty owing to the simple fact that your fingers and palms are in continuous contact with them while playing.

HOW DO GUITAR STRINGS GET DIRTY?

In this process sweat, oil and even dead skin are transferred onto the strings which can lead to a layer of residue on the strings and may even, in extreme cases, corrode the strings themselves.

You would realize that your guitar strings are dirty when you start to feel this when they are less responsive. The guitar would have a dull sound quality mostly without many high frequencies as the dirt collects in the windings.

Get your sound quality back by consistently cleaning your strings

The easiest way to get a good sound quality back would be to change the old guitar strings and replace them with a set of new ones. But, how often can one do this? Not very. It is therefore advisable to clean your guitar strings each time you play and also while preparing for shows or recordings.

The following are some tips and tricks to help you through this process:

  • The ingredients like bleach, rather than helping you clean the strings, are likely to lead to damaging the finish or discoloring the hardware itself. This damage gets intensified in the case of unfinished fretboards. It is therefore advisable to use a tried and tested guitar cleaner, applied on a microfiber cloth or towel, in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Another popularly suggested method is to boil your bass strings. Yes, it’s true! You can actually boil your bass strings to get rid of the dirt and oil present on them. However, this can be done only so many times for each set of strings. After a point, it is likely to weaken your guitar strings.

    Usually, 10 to 15 minutes in a boiling water bath can cause the oil and dirt to detach from your guitar strings, but be careful while removing them from the water and allow them to fully dry before putting them back on your bass.

Cleaning your strings each time you play

Your guitar strings can be cleaned and kept that way in the most easily possible way – cleaning them every single time you play. All you have to do is wipe down your guitar strings before and after playing in order to ensure that no dirt, debris or moisture sticks to them or to the pickups. Microfiber cloths are usually ideal for this purpose as they do not leave a residue or lint on the instrument.

In addition to this, another simple step would be to wash your hands regularly, especially before playing your guitar, to get rid of any excess oil or residue on your fingers. You could also keep a small microfiber cloth or towel around you when you play, to dry sweaty hands and ensure that the sweat does not build upon the strings.

After playing, you should wipe down your guitar right from the tuning machines and the strings to the fretboard, pick-ups and the body of the instrument itself.

How To Clean Your Guitar Strings

For shows or recordings

Usually, guitarists prefer to put on a fresh set of guitar strings for every show or recording in order to ensure that the instrument sounds the best it can. However, that might be unnecessary in certain situations. For instance, if your strings are still good and hold the tuning, you might want to consider cleaning them rather than buying a fresh set of strings for each of your shows or recordings.

For this purpose, you should opt for professional string cleaning products as they are not just great at helping you maintain a clear tone but also prolong your string life. A pro tip here would be to insert a towel underneath the string set while applying the cleaning product in order to prevent overexposing the fretboard and absorbing all excess cleaning liquid. This may not be that big a concern for guitars with finished fretboards.

how to clean guitar strings

Before you start make sure that you position your guitar on a flat, stable surface with your guitar facing upwards. This could be a table or a box or even your guitar case, but you’ve to ensure that the head of the guitar does not touch anything so that your tuning pegs do not get messed with, in the cleaning process.

The type of cleaner and cloth that you use depends on the type of strings that you have. If you have nylon strings a micro wool cloth or towel or a clean rag, dampened with some water, should do the trick.

Whereas if you have steel strings, you ought to use professional guitar string cleaners along with a microfiber cloth or towel or a clean rag. However, if you cannot, for whatever reason, purchase the string cleaner solution, it is advisable to clean your steel guitar strings with 70-90% rubbing alcohol.

Just slide half of the cloth or towel that you picked, underneath the guitar strings near the top or bottommost portion of the strings. Subsequently, fold the other half of the cloth over the strings and slide the folded cloth along the length of the string set.

While doing this you have to make sure that you are applying downward pressure in order to clean the top portion properly. Also, make sure to clean the strings from the bottom side as well by applying pressure in the opposite direction. After cleaning your guitar string, now you need to tune the guitar for the desire tone. Now a day's we've tuning software to attain perfect tone, if you don't aware of this method, then check the how to tune a guitar article to tune your guitar easy as you like.  

Conclusion

During or after this process is completed, you would notice that your guitar strings have changed in color a little or the cloth has grey stains on it. This isn’t a bad thing, rather it’s a sign that your guitar strings are now cleaner than they were before.

Happy cleaning to you!

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