Playing guitar is a thrilling experience for those who enjoy to play and for some, the best method to stay sane. It’s like medicine, you simply plug the guitar in and make toe-curling music. Therapy, if you will.
However, protecting what you love can be complicated. Part of that protection that is so commonly ignored, is attention paid to your guitar strings – the real lifeblood of any guitar rig. That said, guitar strings have their limitations.
Guitar strings are predominantly susceptible to rust, due to high moisture levels in the environment and sweat or sweat residue, left behind by playing hands. Rusty strings, as guitarists know, aren’t the end of the world but are frustrating to play with at times and mean that a restringing might be in order.
The type of metal in guitar strings varies from steel, nickel, or brass. To increase longevity, feel and agility, these strings are then commonly wrapped by a protective layer of coating. Still, strings are not impervious to the elements and still have their limitations.
Steel contains iron and is more vulnerable to rusting. Iron readily reacts with oxygen and moisture through the oxidation process, which cause guitar strings to rust. The oxidation process will cause iron oxide production, which is brown and what we commonly recognize as rust. The rusting will arise when your strings are exposed to oxygen and moisture over a prolonged period.
Did you know your guitar strings could be rusting away by not doing these things?
As mentioned, the dominant cause of rusty strings is exposure to high levels of moisture. Moisture is generally present in the air, but some areas may have higher concentrations than other areas. The high levels of moisture are referred to as humidity and are a great menace to your guitar and its strings.
If you note that your guitar strings are rusting very quickly, it could be due to storing in areas of very high humidity. Ensure the room you keep your guitar is well ventilated and does not favor damp conditions. Avoiding direct sunlight and certain environments are one way to extend the life of your guitar strings.
Additionally, playing your guitar with moist or sweaty hands exposes the strings to high levels of moisture. In the long run, the moisture will react with the strings and cause oxidation which will again, cause them to rust. A good indicator that your hands are sweaty is when you note that the strings are pretty slippery – guitarists tend to just keep going but how often to they wipe their guitars down after?
Another major predisposing factor to rusting strings is cheap strings. These strings are not immune to oxidation and will rust more quickly. Additionally, the strings may not be protected with a protective coat that prevents them from reacting with oxygen. When purchasing a guitar, it is intrinsic to ensure that you opt for high-quality strings precisely coated with a rust protective material, fitted or recommended by your guitar manufacturer.
As mentioned earlier, the strings will rust more quickly if you store your guitar in high humid areas. Ensure you keep your guitar in the regions or rooms that are cool and dry as a method of string protection. There are obvious signs that indicate that a room is damp and has high moisture levels, such as the presence of fungi or mold on the walls or ceilings. If you live in a high humid area, you can purchase a de-humidifier that ensures your room is free from moisture.
A de-humidifier is handy in protecting the structural integrity of your guitar and its strings and other electronic items in your home. The tool is quite affordable, and you will place it adjacent to your guitar to ensure the air surrounding your guitar is dry. There are some storage misconceptions about the guitar, and it is believed that storing it in moist wood will help you obtain the sound you most desire. However, remember that the moisture will cause rusting to your strings, and you should try to balance your storing tips.
Generally, your hands are prone to get sweaty and accumulate grease and dirt throughout the day. If you fail to wash your hands properly, you will most likely transfer sweat, oil, and dirt to the guitar strings. These elements will react with oxygen and cause oxidation, eventually leading to rusting strings. Storage in a guitar case will help delay the process but again, nothing can completely prevent the oxidation of your strings, yet.
When you embark on the process of playing your guitar, ensure you wash your hands with water and a mild detergent. After adequately cleansing any sweat or debris on your hands, dry your hands with a clean and dry cloth. Properly handling your guitar with clean hands will ensure you rule out any potential cause of rusting strings.
The strings of the guitar will accumulate dirt or moisture over time. The accumulation of external elements is quite unavoidable and may result in rusty strings. However, if you regularly clean your guitar to remove the dirt and moisture, it will prevent your strings from rusting.
You can use a dry cloth to remove any grease or moisture on the strings. Different string cleaners are sold on the market that helps to remove any grease build-up on the strings precisely.
Some high-end guitars have their strings covered with protective materials that increase durability and offers string protection. However, these premium guitars with superior materials will be more expensive to purchase. But they will require minimal replacing of the strings. Thus, they are worth investing in if you are looking for high-quality strings that are immune to rusting.
Generally, acoustic and electric guitars are coated with copper or nickel material. Thus these guitars have lower chances of having rusty strings; in most instances, they will tarnish first. Steel and iron strings which are not coated react with moisture and oxygen, and rust quite quickly.
In most instances, tarnish on your guitar will not lead to quite disastrous problems, while rust will create mortal problems for your guitar. Also, rusty strings are quite rough and might cause harm to your fingers. Typically, rusty strings will affect your guitar’s sound and interfere with your hands’ ability to slide on the strings.
Generally, you are in control of your guitar, ensure you take proper care of it. This increases durability and ensures your produce quality sound in your music sessions.
Remember that strings will deteriorate with time if you don’t properly care for them. It is intrinsic to note that any care is much better than no care at all. You should ensure you properly care for your guitar by practicing efficient string protection. Generally, ensure you store in dry conditions and handle your guitar with clean and dry hands.