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Author Topic: Clean & protect instrument strings  (Read 373 times)

Tom

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Clean & protect instrument strings
« on: November 19, 2020, 12:49:57 PM »
A question for stringed instrument players ...

What do you do.use to protect &/or clean metal strings? I continually observe discoloration of (metal) strings on guitars, banjos and ukuleles. Specifically, the discoloration is where my fretting fingers come down. I naturally have oily/greasy skin, and it's not clear if this is a contributor, or if it's salt from sweat.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2020, 01:37:28 PM »
I always coat new strings with WD40. I wash my hands before playing and wipe down the strings with a dry cloth when I am done. I have never had a rusted string.

Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2020, 01:55:34 PM »
Almost the same thing someone told me yesterday, but he used something other than WD40.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2020, 02:22:42 PM »
Most people are scared to use WD40 on a guitar for fear of ruining the finish. I have been doing it to all my guitars for over 50 years without a problem. I like using it especially on the tuners. They work so much better.

Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2020, 04:48:12 PM »
Quote from: SeilerBird
Most people are scared to use WD40 on a guitar for fear of ruining the finish.
Me too, but for a different reason, or maybe an additional reason(s).
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Domo

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2020, 09:58:32 AM »
WD-40 is a good cleaning agent, not a lubricant. It does lease some surfactant behind, which gives the illusion of lubrication - however that surfactant will dry and become sticky if it is not wiped off, thus tending to attract dust and grime. This is why most leveler manufacturers will tell folks to use WD-40 to clean their cylinders but to wipe it off and then IF a lubricant is recommended it will be teflon or silicone spray which can be left on.


For a guitar WD-40 will remove body oils and grime very effectively. Personally, I'd follow it up with teflon or silicone - or just furniture polish.


I also use almond oil on the fretboard - natural, brings our the colors and also will protect the strings.


Having said all that - we all have preferences and will remain happy using the equipment and products we're comfortable with.


That fact that you're concerned about your instruments makes us all ACES in my book.
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Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2020, 10:07:33 AM »
Thanks Domo. A friend suggested Silicone. Another suggestion was to use Elixir coated strings, but I've never tried them.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2020, 10:53:39 AM »
I have only been using WD40 as a lubricant for 60 years. I cannot imagine why anyone would think it is not a lubricant. It is made from oil. Works well in just about any situation.

Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2020, 11:09:21 AM »
WD40 offers a range of products for different uses:

https://www.wd40.com/products/

They warn against false claims on the Internet that it relieves arthritis!
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Gizmo100

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2020, 11:18:15 AM »
Thanks Domo. A friend suggested Silicone. Another suggestion was to use Elixir coated strings, but I've never tried them.

I use and like the Elixir strings. They came standard on my Taylor(s). I had to use a different brand recently due to our local store being out of stock. I don't like them at all. So I'll be changing back probably this weekend. 
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Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2020, 11:46:12 AM »
Thanks Gizmo. I should give them a try. My Taylors apparently didn't come with Elixir strings. How would I know if I had them?
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Gizmo100

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2020, 01:51:28 PM »
Thanks Gizmo. I should give them a try. My Taylors apparently didn't come with Elixir strings. How would I know if I had them?

The earlier Taylors used D'Addario strings. They switch to Elixir in the 1999.

Here's a link from the Taylor site regarding the type of stings used.

https://www.taylorguitars.com/support/strings/best-strings-for-your-taylor-guitar
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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2020, 02:09:48 PM »
Thanks for the link. Looks like my Taylors should have Elxir strings.
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Matt_C

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2020, 05:07:45 PM »
I guess that is something I am not missing.  My autoharps all have 36 steel strings, but I touch them rarely.  When I pick them it is with German silver of hard plastic picks.  They still don't last forever.  I have kind of  lost track, but it seems like 10~15 years and they loose their "brightness" and I only notice when I change to one of the harps with newer strings. 

If you haven't also figured it out, restringing and tuning 36 at a time is a serious operation.

Matt
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Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2020, 06:08:29 PM »
Quote from: Matt_C
...restringing and tuning 36 at a time is a serious operation

I can't begin to imagine. It's a chore to restring my 12-string guitar or 8-string ukulele.
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8Muddypaws

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2020, 06:42:51 PM »
Nothing but Elixirs for my babies.  An Elixir rep gave me several sets when they first came out and I've used (mostly) nothing else since.

They are not cheap but they last a whole lot longer than uncoated strings.

Musicians Friend sometimes has good prices on multi set packs.  So does Strings N Things and just strings.com.  I buy a case every few years.

(Mostly). Classical - D'Adario.  MIDI guitar - Stay-in-Tune stainless.  Resonator - Martin (gritty sound!)

I just completed a prototype evaluation for a new type/brand of string.  The gotcha is that I don't know what the are.  They feel coated but as much as I played them I got no shredding.  No discoloration on my fingers either.  They paid me and I got to keep the strings.

I've done a few tests for Elixir but they don't pay and they want the prototypes back!  The last set I tested for them were phenomenal and improved my tone 100%.  They wouldn't tell me anything!  I think they didn't take them to market.

Buy one set.  Strings are a very subjective thing and believe it or not there are people who hate Elixirs.

The Baby Taylor needs medium or heavy strings.  GS Mini works OK with 80/20 lights but might be better with mediums.  Depends on your fingers and how the neck is set up.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2020, 06:53:54 PM by 8Muddypaws »
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Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2020, 06:55:12 PM »
Thanks Russ. I knew you tested strings for manufacturers, and hoped you'd jump into this conversation.
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Domo

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2020, 09:16:56 PM »
I have only been using WD40 as a lubricant for 60 years. I cannot imagine why anyone would think it is not a lubricant. It is made from oil. Works well in just about any situation.
Yup - I used to also and now have changed after reading too many citations of it holding dirt over time in various applications - so I just clean with it and then use a dedicated lubricant.
Personal preference always wins out.
2008 Tiffin 36QSH
2017 Jeep Cherokee TrailHawk
BlueOx tow bar and base plate
Roadmaster Brakemaster

Light travels faster than sound...
                                     that's why some people seem so bright before they open their mouths!

8Muddypaws

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2020, 11:32:42 PM »
When I want my fingers to be extra fast I use nose grease.  I make it myself and seem to have an inexhaustible supply.   ;D ;D ;D

Much better than WD-40 and won't damage the finish.

Seriously, I used to wipe my strings down after playing but since Elixir strings became my goto there isn't much reason.
Retired computer professional
Musician, songwriter,  mediocre guitar player.
2006 Bounder 34H, 2014 Edge Towed

Tom

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Re: Clean & protect instrument strings
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2020, 12:37:10 PM »
I decided to use this:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0787CN4M3

Made in the USA, so it didn't get held up in Customs.
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