Strings 101 - Guitar String & Bass String Maintenance

There are some basic things that can be done to enhance string performance. Here are the basics:


1. First and foremost is keeping the strings clean. This means getting a clean cotton cloth and wiping the string down after every playing session. The cloth will help remove sweat moisture from the string's surface. Moisture is one of the biggest enemies of a metal string as it creates oxides that build up on a string. The build-up of oxide adds low density mass to the string that deadens it's sound. Another component that is removed from the strings is dead skin. Microscopic views of strings have shown a considerable amount of skin being left on wound strings. Similar to oxide build up, skin adds low density mass to the string. Again, a cotton cloth can be very effective in removing the dead skin.


Pictured to the left, are string windings magnified to show residual moisture droplets and skin deposits. Wiping strings frequently with cotton cloth can remove these tone robbing contaminates.


2. Wipe strings once a week with a good string cleaner. There are some string cleaners on the market that are effective at removing oil build up. As an alternative, isopropyl alcohol is also very effective at breaking down oils left on the strings. Be careful not to let the alcohol make contact with the fretboard or other parts of the instrument.


3. String lubricants can be a nice way of keeping strings, and hands in good playing shape. Some lubricants are made from ultra lightweight mineral oil. Also, silicon based lubricants are not preferred as the silicon is nearly impossible to remove once it is on an instrument. Use lubricants with a direct applicator as aerosol based lubricants can destroy guitar finishes.



Strings 101
Cat Gut
Wound Strings
Nylon Strings
Metal Strings
Flat Wound
Round Wound
Semi Round
Coated Strings
Bass Strings