How To Protect Your Guitar Strings From Rusting

A Beginner’s Guide to Extend the Life of the Strings

It's frustrating when you invest your time and energy into changing your guitar strings, only for the new ones to begin rusting just a few weeks later. Whether you play a 12-string acoustic, solid-body electric or electric-acoustic hybrid, you'll need to keep an eye on the strings. Aside from the poor sound quality, guitar strings are more likely to break if they are rusted.
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Why Guitar Strings Rust

The first step to protecting your guitar strings from rusting is to understand why this phenomenon happens. Like all iron-containing metallic objects, guitar strings corrode when exposed to moisture. Even in small amounts, moisture triggers a chemical reaction, known as oxidation, which converts iron into a new, weaker metal: rust. Because of this reaction, the once-strong strings become easier to break.

Don't assume your guitar strings are rust-proof just because they are steel, bronze, copper or another metal. Iron is the world's second-most abundant mineral, and it's everywhere, even inside your blood. Iron is also inside found in many metals, including those used to make guitar strings.
Humidity Control

To discourage your guitar strings from rusting, you should monitor and control the humidity of the area in which you store your guitar. Humidity is a measurement of moisture vapor in the air. High humidity means the air is holding a significant amount of moisture. As a result, the excess moisture encourages rust to form on iron-containing metals like guitar strings.

Ideally, you should maintain a 40% to 50% relative humidity level in the room or area where you store your guitar. That ensures the air isn't overly saturated to the point where it causes your strings to rust, but also not too dry to the point where it damages your guitar's body (low humidity can cause wooden guitars to crack).

Wash Your Hands Before Playing

Try to get into the habit of washing your hands before playing the guitar. You may not realize it, but your fingers and palms contain moisture and oils that can damage your guitar strings. While sweat is mostly water, it also includes salt, sugar, and salt. This unique composition speeds up the rate at which guitar strings rust.

Washing your hands before playing will remove any lingering swear and oils, preventing them from transferring over to your guitar strings.

Clean Your Strings

Another way to protect against rusting is to clean your guitar strings after playing. Using a lint-free microfiber cloth, gently wipe down your strings. This method isn't going to remove much visible dirt or debris, but it will remove moisture -- and that's why it's an efficient way to protect your strings from rusting.

Anti-Rust-Coated Strings

Finally, consider using guitar strings coated with an anti-rust chemical or compound. Elixir, known for their rust-proof strings, feature a patented coating that protects against corrosion and extends the life of the strings. Other strings are produced with a chromium coating, which also protects against corrosion.
Here is a selection of coated guitar strings

Even if you follow all of these tips and keep your guitar strings meticulously dry, they may still rust after a certain amount of time. Assuming the rust is minor, you can usually clean it with alcohol. Once it's become severe, though, you'll need to invest in new strings.
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Nicola Mandorino. All rights reserved.
I have seen that I can give students everything they need to learn to play well, maybe play great. With one exception, that is. In fact, there is one most important quality you must have, in order to go through what it takes to learn to play the guitar. That is desire. You must really feel a need for it in your life, whether you want to play on the amateur level, or the professional.
When I end this desire in people, it strikes me as a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, desire alone is not enough. In fact, I have often met people who had that desire, but lost it due to frustration about not being able to make any progress in their efforts to learn the guitar. They assumed they didn't have the talent, and gave up. I have also met many people who have played badly for years, and they bravely keep hoping that all the problems they have with all those pieces they struggle with will someday go away. Someday playing will be enjoyable, and satisfying, and even sound good! Someday they won't fall apart when they play in front of other people.
The person who gives up, and the person who continues playing the same way year after year, assumes that the great players have some special natural ability that they unfortunately do not posses. It is a rather hopeless feeling. Even though I think the methods in this book will help anyone, I am writing this book especially for people who are in this state of frustration, so they will learn that the problem is not lack of ability. They just do not have the correct information about how to practice to get results.
Your desire to play the guitar is what makes you begin your journey, and when coupled with the correct information about the mechanics of playing and practicing, your desire will increase and carry you further. I am happy to tell you that if you understand and use the methods in this book, you will have the tools to become as good as you want to be on the guitar.

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