Cleaning/wiping strings

therealguyfitherealguyfi Milwaukee, WINew Barault
in FAQ Posts: 44
On my electric and acoustic steel string guitars I always wipe down the strings after playing. I use a rag and lightly pinching each string individually I run the rag up and down the sting once or twice. I started doing this over 20 years ago and found it quadrupled my string life. However, Argentine strings seem to be different and it doesn't seem like this works as well, in fact sometimes it seems to accelerate the aging process. What do you folks do?


  • I wear my GJ strings out on the frets far sooner than any accumulation. Once the Grooves in the strings get to a certain point, the intonation goes off, then it's time to change. Really starts to bug me after about 15- 20 hours at a SWAG

    My hands don't sweat usually and whatever oil or skin secretions don't seem to bug the Thomastic flat-wounds.

    In short I never wipe my strings,
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Posts: 2,905
    I don't, but I'm having another string trying kick so I kinda look forward to strings going dead.
    In general I would only wipe them on gigs, that's when my hand sweat, not so much at home. They last a while, I can stretch to use them 5-6 weeks although I don't play that much.

    There was a lengthy thread that touched on that topic too (I'm on mobile so not handy to look it up), it could be interesting for you.
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,944
    Yeah the manouche style strings seem to wear out due to the soft windings (esp the G string) before corrosion gets to them. At least that's my guess. Funny though lately my strings seem to last a lot longer maybe because I'm using a lighter touch??? Used to be the windings would wear thru and break very quickly.
  • Using a light touch almost doubles the life on my strings. When I was playing purely acoustically outside a few summers ago, A set barely lasted 10 hours cos I was sacking em so hard to be heard in the crowd.

    Now that I practice on my electric and use amplification they last close to 20.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    Posts: 109
    @therealguyfi It's interesting that you mention that wiping them seems to accelerates the aging. I normally don't wipe mine and like @jazzaferri it's the strings wearing on the frets that makes me need to change them. At home, I get about 2-3 weeks out of a set of Argentines before they start bugging me, then I decide whether to change them or just be frugal (lazy) and get a week or two more out of them. Last year at Django in June, in an attempt to get more life out of my strings, I wiped them down after every time that I played, and you know what? The plain strings corroded in what seemed like hours. I went through three sets that week. I wonder if wiping them is what did it.
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 757
    I normally lemon oil my fingerboard 3 to 4 times a year and usually gives new strings a swipe of fast fret, wiping off the excess of both pretty quickly. It doesn't seem to affect tone or volume. When I first started playing this stuff with a gypsy guitar and Argies I was going through strings really quickly but seem to have, unconciously, developed a playing technique where now the strings - even the dreaded G - don't cut through so quickly. Last year I managed 3 days solid playing at Grapelli Django camp with one set of strings. This is a mystery for Mythbusters.
    always learning
  • Always wiped strings for years but out of laziness and luck, I also stumbled on a longer lifespan without wiping! Also the Argentines lately are lastng longer and I don't break them anymore. I went through a phase! I consciuosly try to use a lighter touch, but I think it's a combination of better strings and not wiping as well.
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