Many guitarists wonder how they can make their guitar strings last longer and stop them from rusting, and for good reason. After all, there’s nothing quite like strumming or picking away on a newly-strung guitar, am I right? Chords ring out cleaner, you get more sustain and volume, and well, it’s just overall a more enjoyable playing experience.
The trouble is, those new strings you just slapped on may not last as long as you’d like. I know because when I first started playing, and practiced over an hour a day, I would run through strings like crazy. I felt like I was changing my dirty guitar strings out every week or two.
That’s why I wanted to write this article on how to make guitar strings last longer. Naturally, you’re still going to have to swap your guitar strings out at some point – it’s just part of playing the instrument. But by using these next five tips, you can milk your strings for all they’re worth, and learn exactly how to make your guitar strings last longer.
1. Clean Your Guitar Fretboard Regularly
Whether you want longer-lasting strings, or just a healthier and better sounding instrument in general, cleaning your guitar fretboard should be your number one priority. It is the most important element of good guitar hygiene/maintenance, and where a lot of guitarists slack off.
Cleaning your fretboard is essential to making your guitar strings last longer, because it’s the key point of contact for your strings. If you neglect regular fretboard cleaning, dirt will quickly build up and rub off onto your guitar strings as you play, dirtying them faster and shortening their life. I recommend performing a light fretboard cleaning every time you change your strings out.
To learn every you need to know about how to clean your guitar fretboard, check out this recent post on fretboard cleaning.
2. Keep Your Guitar In Its Case
Can such a simple tip really make your electric or acoustic guitar strings last longer? YES!
This is one of the tips that never even occurred to me. But think about it: if your guitar is resting out in the open, it’s exposed to all the elements in the air. Things like dust, moisture and humidity are in constant contact with your guitar strings.
By keeping your guitar in its case you’re protecting it against moisture and humidity. It might seem like a drag at first, but it will pay off in longer lasting guitar strings.
3. Wash Your Hands Before Playing
Aside from your fretboard and the air, your hands are the other constant point of contact with your guitar strings. This means that cleaner hands will result in cleaner strings, and cleaner guitar strings last longer.
Whenever you play guitar, any residual sweat and dirt on your hands will find its way onto your guitar strings (not to mention the back of your guitar neck and, eventually, your fretboard). By cleaning your hands before you play, you can prevent this grime build-up at the source, and extend the life of your strings.
4. Wipe Down Your Strings After Playing
This easy tip works in tandem with the last one. No matter how thoroughly you wash your hands, sweat will still transfer onto your strings eventually. But if you wipe down this sweat after your finished practicing, you can remove residual moisture that can corrode your strings over time.
To wipe down your strings, simply run a towel or wash cloth over them after you finish your practice session. This simple hack will give you a healthier fretboard and longer lasting guitar strings.
5. Consider Coated Guitar Strings
If you’ve read my posts for a while, you know that I’m a BIG advocate of acoustic coated guitar strings. Coated electric guitar strings are equally awesome. But if you haven’t used coated strings on guitar before, you’re probably wondering…What are coated guitar strings?
Coated guitar strings are strings that have been treated with a thin layer of polymer. This polymer coating helps your guitar strings last longer. Acoustic coated guitar strings are particularly good for preventing corrosion, as acoustic string material like phosphor bronze tends to corrode rather quickly. With the polymer coating used on coated strings however, you can now find some coated phosphor bronze strings that last for months.
Typically coated strings will come with a higher price tag – but in my opinion it’s well worth it for the extra string life and convenience. If you’re curious, I’m particularly partial to the Elixir Nanowebs for my own acoustic guitars.
If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of coated strings, check out my recent post Are Coated Guitar Strings Worth It?
If you’re sick and tired of changing your guitar strings every week or two, then try these five tips for making you guitar strings last longer:
- Clean Your Guitar Fretboard Regularly
- Keep Your Guitar In Its Case
- Wash Your Hands Before Playing
- Wipe Down Your Strings After Playing
- Consider Coated Guitar Strings
If you incorporate those hacks you’ll be able to go much longer between each string change, and have a much more enjoyable guitar playing experience. Thanks for reading, and here’s to longer lasting guitar strings!
Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?
Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out a few of my favorite resources below:
The Best Acoustic Guitar Strings – A unique polymer coating makes these guitar strings last for months or even years at a time, making for an exceptional value. They provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for. — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
The Best Acoustic Guitar – Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the Martin D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever… It’s an excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is also what I play myself — CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Chords, Tabs & Video Lessons for 100 Epic Songs – This free guide that I created for fellow guitarists gives you chords, tabs, and video lessons for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar… I spent many hours putting this guide together to help you get better at guitar, faster. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE
Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar – Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style. Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach. — CLICK HERE TO GET IT FREE