Strings are one of the most important parts of your guitar. The quality and overall shape of your strings can have a huge impact on what your music sounds like as a whole. Over time, though, as we play on them, a layer of grime will build up on your strings. This grime actually affects how your guitar sounds. Because of the build up, it changes how your strings vibrate and can dampen the sound so they no longer sound as bright and crisp. Strings are, of course, replaceable; but you can actually quite easily prolong the life of your strings by cleaning them regularly. Read on to learn how to give your strings some TLC!
How to Clean Your Guitar Strings
As previously stated, your strings will build up grime as you run your fingers over them while you play. The first step to cut down on this is a really simple one (and is something we should all be doing frequently these days anyway); wash your hands before you play your guitar. Getting all the day’s grime off of your hands should help cut down on the residue left on your strings (and fretboard, as a bonus). Of course though, that isn’t quite enough. You may get sweaty as you play, or you may not be able to wash your hands every single time you play your guitar. Don’t worry, there are still ways to clean your strings!
Cleaning With Cloths
One of the easiest ways to keep your strings clean is to wipe them down with a cloth. The ideal kind of cloth to use for this is microfiber, because it won’t leave any lint behind to further clog up your strings.
There are a couple ways to do this:
♦ Use a plain microfiber cloth
♦ Use a specialized-string cleaning device (made with microfiber cloth)
If you want to do it the simple way and just use a plain microfiber cloth, it will be slightly more time consuming, but not by much; this process is quick no matter which way you do it. To clean your strings with the microfiber cloth, you can put your cloth under the string and pinch it so it is covering the string you want to clean. You will then pull the cloth up and down the string to remove all the gunk build-up. Repeat this process for each string, and you should have removed most of the gunk! You can purchase a quality microfiber cloth by clicking here.
This way is convenient, because all you need to do is carry around a small microfiber cloth. However, the next way is a bit faster.
You can purchase special cleaning devices for your guitar strings. These are often in the form of a microfiber pad that fits under the strings, or a clamshell-type device with microfiber in it that clamps around your strings, covering all sides of every string all at once.
One tool for this use that is highly popular is the Nomad Tool, which you can pick up online. The tool is small enough to fit in your guitar case, so carrying it around should not be too much of an issue. It will allow you to easily clean all your strings in one go by sliding the pad under the strings, and then on top of the strings. Alternatively, here is a link to one that clamps around your strings. With this kind of pad, cleaning is extremely simple. You clamp it around all of your strings and clean all sides of them at once by pulling it along.
Cleaning With String Cleaner
Another way to clean your strings is to use specialized guitar string cleaner. This is often sold in stick format, but also comes in a liquid form with an applicator that you simply slide over your strings. You do want to be aware of what is in these products however; avoid lemon oils and alcohol, as this can damage your fretboard. You can put a cloth under your strings to protect your fretboard from your string cleaner, but it is much simpler to just get a cleaner that does not contain ingredients that will harm your fretboard. Wiping excess off with a microfiber cloth, however, is still a good idea, even if your cleaner is fretboard safe. GHS Fast Fret is a very popular string cleaner that you could use as a starting point to find a string cleaner that works best for you.
No matter which method you use, keeping your strings clean is a great way to keep your guitar sounding better longer, and it won’t take more than a few minutes out of your day if you keep up with it. It is always worth it, so get to cleaning those strings!
The best string cleaner I’ve ever come across is regular old lighter fluid like Ronsonol. I just took an old rag and wetted a corner with Ronsonol and loosened my strings and vigorously ran it up and down. It’s amazing your strings will be like new.