Why Do My Guitar Strings Rust So Quickly?

Why Do My Guitar Strings Rust So Quickly?

Playing the guitar can be a very enjoyable and rewarding hobby, but it can also come with some minor inconveniences. One of these inconvenient occurrences is rusty guitar strings. But why do some guitar strings rust so quickly, while others seem to last an eternity?

Guitar strings are often made of steel, nickel, or bronze and can become corroded when they come into contact with sweat from our fingers. This happens because the metal reacts to the salt in our skin and causes it to rust.

As you play your guitar more, these tiny particles rub off on your hands and fingers which then react with the metal string creating a chemical reaction that leads to corrosion. When this happens, guitar strings will lose their brightness and sound duller than they did before.

Technically speaking, you can still play guitar even if it has rusty strings. But will they sound great? Probably not, unless you’re looking to create a uniquely dull sound that lacks any energy whatsoever to it.

Not only do rusty guitar strings sound like crap, but they’re also much more likely to break or snap. And good luck trying to keep rusty old guitar strings in tune. You’ll have some issues with that as well.

Instead of playing with rusty strings, you’ll be much better off if you just change them to begin with. Not only will they last longer, but they will sound warm, crisp, and full of energy.

How Do I Stop My Guitar Strings From Rusting?

Luckily, there are a few ways to prolong the life of your guitar strings, and they’re not too difficult to do and cost next to nothing.

The easiest way to slow down the rusting process in guitar strings is to simply wipe them down with a towel after each practice session. I recommend sticking to microfiber towels as they don’t leave too many fibers behind, which can get into the little crevices on your strings. 

Another thing you can do is try out different strings, as the guitar strings themselves may actually be the reason they are rusting so fast. I recommend trying coated strings. These are strings that are coated with special chemicals that help prevent rust. 

You can also help control rust by washing your hands before you start playing. The reason for this is so you can clean any dirt from your hands, and it will also help bring down the oil content in your skin.

Should I Boil My Guitar Strings?

If you’ve been playing guitar for any length of time, then you may have heard about people who boil their guitar strings. You might be wondering what this would do to your strings. 

Well, some people might say that boiling your guitar strings will bring them back to life again so you can reuse them. And while it is true that doing so will revamp your strings, it actually only keeps your strings sounding new for a very limited amount of time. 

So, if you’re in a situation where your guitar strings are extremely dirty and you have don’t have any spares on hand, this just may do the trick for you until your new guitar strings arrive in the mail. 

Can You Use Hand Sanitizer To Clean Guitar Strings?

Because most hand sanitizers have alcohol in them, it is generally not recommended to use hand sanitizer to clean your guitar strings. Alcohol has the tendency to dry out whatever it touches, and it could cause your strings to corrode faster.

Furthermore, some of the hand sanitizer might splash onto your fretboard, and because it’s most likely made of wood, the alcohol will dry it out and cause your fretboard to warp.

Now, obviously, if you only clean your strings with hand sanitizer every once in a while or in a pinch when you have nothing else, then you’ll probably be okay. But I would never recommend using hand sanitizer to clean your strings or your guitar over prolonged periods of time.

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I love playing around with various types of guitar gear so I started this website to share my guitar gear knowledge with the world. Enjoy!

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