Tag Archives: guitar cleaning

Guitar strings

Using strings that complement your playing style will help your guitar to sound its best. I recommend that you only replace a set of strings when you break one (and that is very rare for me). This stops you wasting money and time with unnecessary restringing and ensures you make a long term investment in the most appropriate strings for you.

Photo of a soundhole and bridge on a Yamaha acoustic, with siz strings stretching across
Strings across the bridge of a Yamaha acoustic guitar

Recommended products

  • Silky steel strings – Great for absolute beginners whose fingers haven’t hardened up and need softer strings to be comfortable. A great compromise between steel and nylon strings for a multipurpose acoustic guitar that can manage some classical playing.
  • Some guitarists prefer all their strings to be the same gauge. Even gauges give a good overall tone.
  • I prefer my guitars to have a thicker bottom string for a meatier sound. Ernie Ball Hybrids were excellent when I was using heavy drop tuning.
  • Ernie Ball Slinky Cobalts – For an experienced electric guitar player who demands long-lasting strings with a good frequency.
  • Bass guitar strings – I’ve only broken the strings once a friend’s bass (sorry!). Because there are only four of them and they are a lot thicker they are less likely to break than strings for other guitars.

Cleaning guitar strings

To help strings resonate nicely and be less brittle it is advisable to keep them clean. Here are my three guitar string cleaning tips:

  1. Always wash your hands before playing guitar. Do not let others people play your guitar with grubby hands.
  2. Buy a fretboard cleaner. Apply it to the full length of each string using a clean cloth. Do this every couple of months. Cleaners containing lemon oil work well. In the UK I used to buy a brand called “Fast Fret”. Some say furniture polish works well, but there are disputes over whether this shortens the life of your strings.
  3. For bass guitar strings it’s good to occasionally – maybe every few years – boil your strings. Yes, boil them! This loosens them up and cleans them, improving their life time and their tone.

Finally, once you’ve restrung your guitar, consider how you dispose of your strings.