Many guitarists wonder how to prevent guitar string rust so that they can make their guitar strings last longer. 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.
With cleaner strings, chords ring out cleaner, you get more sustain and volume, and well, it’s just overall a more enjoyable playing experience. Given all these advantages, it makes sense that you’d want to make your guitar strings last longer.
That’s why I wanted to write this article on how to prevent guitar string rust. 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 by preventing guitar string rust and corrosion.
1. Clean Your Guitar Fretboard Regularly
Whether you want to prevent string rust, or just ensure 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 stop your guitar strings from rusting, because the fretboard is 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
Keeping your guitar in its case seems like it’s so simple that it wouldn’t even do anything. 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. By preventing the outside elements from dirtying your strings, you’ll be able to stop your guitar strings from rusting so quickly.
3. Wash Your Hands Before Playing Guitar
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, and cause them to rust.
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. Removing any moisture that’s left on your strings after each practice session will prevent that moisture from turning into rust.
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. Many players find that this coating material prevents their guitar strings from rusting. If you’re curious, I’m particularly partial to the elixir nanoweb series 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 preventing guitar string rust:
- Clean Your Guitar Fretboard Regularly
- Keep Your Guitar In Its Case
- Wash Your Hands Before Playing Guitar
- Wipe Down Your Strings After Playing Guitar
- 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. Say goodbye to rusty guitar strings and hello to more practice and jamming time! 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 my favorite resources below:
Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar Strings
- Unique polymer coating allows strings to last for months or years at a time, making for an exceptional value.
- Provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for.
- Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever.
- An excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is what I play myself.
Chords, Tabs & Lessons for 100 Songs
- This free guide from Acoustic World gives you chords, tabs, and video lesson for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar.
- I spent hours putting this together all by myself to help you get better at guitar, faster!
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.