Your Sweat Is Killing Your Strings WiredGuitarist June 19, 2018 Articles, Tutorials, Uncategorized Who has the longest lasting strings? Coated or uncoated? Why is it so hard to find a clear answer? Here’s the deal: string life isn’t a perfect science. There are many variables involved in how long a pack of strings will last until they sound “dead” or they break, and while we can measure some of these factors, others are unique to the individual. The first element of guitar string life is the construction of the actual string. Most companies use common metals like nickel for their electric strings, and while it works great it certainly isn’t invincible. Why Your Sweat Sucks Some players go through strings every week or two, but is that the manufacturer’s problem? In a word… no. Not necessarily. One important and often overlooked factor of guitar string life is the player’s own body, their biology, their body chemistry if you will. If you’re a deodorant user, you likely already know that our bodies produce sweat and oils naturally. The tricky thing is that not all sweat is created equal. Depending on the person’s body chemistry you may have sweat that’s far more acidic than the average person. Acidic sweat results in the breakdown of metals much quicker than that of another player, leading to strings that die quickly, bridges that rust and tarnish in a flash, and friends who won’t let you anywhere near their favorite guitar. Sometimes this is due to one’s health and their diet, other times it’s simply genetic and permanent. But What About… Those of you with a bit more knowledge of guitar strings are probably unanimously shouting a solution at your screens right now… “Coated strings!” Coated strings are designed to protect the string from the harmful oils and sweat your hands produce. Think of coated strings as guitar strings with an umbrella. Many users have found success going this route, resulting in longer lasting strings and a great overall experience… … but not everyone. How come some users say their coated strings only lasted 3 days? The same reason, sadly. No guitar strings company can prepare for every possible individual’s body chemistry cocktail, of which there are too many to count. The long and short of it is that even coated guitar strings aren’t a universal fix. In short, there’s no string design, no construction method, nothing the manufacturers can do to cure us of this all-too-common issue. How To Extend String Life I know I said there’s no universal fix that the manufacturer can do… but there is one that you can do yourself that works on any set of guitar strings from any manufacturer. In order to minimize the erosion of your strings from your body’s natural oils, invest a little bit of money into a string cleaning kit. Using a touch of string cleaner and a cleaning cloth, you can remove the residue left behind after a playing session, keeping the “wear and tear” to a minimum. If you’re not playing, your strings shouldn’t be suffering, and that’s exactly what a string cleaning can do for you. By removing these oils we don’t allow them to continue damaging and deadening your strings while the guitar sits in its case. Make cleaning a part of your routine. Once you finish a practice session, recording session, or a show, take a few minutes to wipe down your strings and clean your fretboard to remove those damaging oils. The financial investment is minimal, and is greatly offset by not having to buy new strings every 2 weeks! Final Thoughts Now you have some idea of why EVERY guitar string company will have 1-star reviews talking about how they don’t last, even when you’ve had great success with that same brand. If you’re one of those people who can’t seem to find the perfect strings for you, spend a little bit of time and even less money on a guitar cleaning kit. Take care of your strings and they’ll keep taking care of you, show after show.