5 tips for PROLONGING string life

I think we can all agree that there’s nothing quite like that fresh, crisp sound and feel of a brand-new set of strings! There are steps you can take to prolong the life of your strings. 

Unfortunately, when we play guitar our hands transfer moisture, dirt and sweat to our guitar strings. Exposed to the air, a process of oxidation and corrosion takes place changing the string’s colour (it dulls) and physical structure (it becomes less flexible), and eventually rusting it. This would happen in time even if you didn’t touch your guitar at all, purely from the humidity in the air. The result is strings that look and sound dull and lifeless, and which lack sustain.

You can’t change this, but you can delay it. If you do even one of these things you’ll be making a measurable difference, so read on:

1. Wash your hands before playing

You may think your hands are not dirty, but to a guitar string they really are! Washing and drying your hands will remove some of the dirt, oiliness, sweat and moisture that hides in our pores, and prevent you transferring them to your strings. The strings will still pick these things up from your hands as you play, but they won’t pick up as much.


prolonging string life

2. Wipe the strings down after playing

It’s a good idea to get in the habit of wiping down your guitar strings (and other parts of the guitar) before you put it away. Invest in a bottle of string cleaner and a lint-free cloth (a piece of old t-shirt works just as well). Spray the cleaner onto the cloth, not onto the strings. Make sure you get to the underside of the strings which is where all that nasty grime collects. In combination with washing your hands, this will make a clear difference to the frequency with which you change strings.

There are plenty of options for string cleaners on the market. GHS Fast Fret* is good value for money as it’s also a lubricant and it lasts for ages.

3. Keep your guitar in a case or gig bag

While it’s great to have a guitar on display or easily accessible on a stand, it really is better for a guitar to be kept in its case or gig bag. This protects the guitar and its strings from dust, moisture and humidity in the air, and from other mishaps. Keeping a guitar in its case won’t make much difference if you don’t wash your hands or wipe it down, but if you do it will help keep strings fresher for longer.

keeping strings clean

4. Use coated strings

Brands like Elixir and D’Addario offer strings coated with a liquid polymer that shields strings from all the grime described above. These strings are two to three times more expensive. However, manufacturers claim that they extend string life by between three and five times.

The bass players among you may like to try flatwound strings for similar reasons – they pick up less dirt because there are no spaces between windings for dirt to accumulate.

Coated strings are not for everyone (some say that the coating affects the feel and sound of the string) but you won’t know how you feel about them until you try a set. If you’re on a budget though this is probably one option to bypass for now.

oiling strings

5. Protect your strings with a conditioner

A cheaper alternative to coated strings is applying your own coating to your strings with a conditioner or lubricant. These products clean the strings and apply a thin layer of protective oil to the strings. That helps shield them from the air (and therefore from oxidation and corrosion). GHS Fast Fret* and Dunlop Ultraglide 65* are good choices.

These products also lubricate the strings making it easier for your fingers to slide up and down the fretboard – great for those big solos!

If you have tips for extending string life, we’d love to hear them.
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* This is an affiliate link. If you purchase through this link we make a very small commission. You don’t pay any extra for the product.


Our fretboard care package includes a fretboard clean including getting all that grime out from under the frets,
conditioning (not finished maple fretboards) and a fret polish. We’ll even re-string for free.

See our list of services to find out what else we have to offer.