The unsung hero of guitar maintenance is the best string cleaner. For many of us, guitar care isn’t as fun as shopping for actual guitars, amps, or pedals, but it’s a good idea to get familiar with the basics to ensure the longevity of your instrument. If you’re a player who prefers not to change strings frequently, look into cleaners to extend your string life beyond its normal confines.
Do I Need to Keep My Guitar Strings Clean?
The simple answer is no, you don’t need to keep your strings clean, though there are measurable benefits in doing so. Most players will just throw on a fresh set whenever they feel their strings have gotten dull or grimy. Ultimately it’s a preference thing, going so far to say that there are the atypical guitarists who prefer dirty, old strings over bright, shiny new ones. However, the average player tends to change their strings every few months or so, varying based on how often they play.
If you do decide that cleaning your strings is a logical step in your practice and playing routine, you’ll find that doing so may increase the lifespan of your strings and keeps them fresher, longer. They can sound and feel their best for a greater duration, meaning fewer string changes in general.
How Often Should I Clean My Guitar Strings?
The frequency of cleaning your guitar strings depends on various factors, including how often you play, your playing environment, and the type of strings you use. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to clean your guitar strings after each playing session or at least once every few sessions.
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In practice, using specialized string-cleaning products after each playing session is a good habit to maintain. It only takes a few moments and can significantly extend the life of your strings.
The Best Guitar String Cleaners (7 Picks for Your Axe)
MusicNomad offers an easy, all-in-one cleaner and lubricant to keep your strings and fretboard clean. The large applicator makes wiping them down a breeze, covering all the strings in one swoop. Believe it or not, some players have noticed that cleaning and lubricating their strings actually reduces finger-squeak during recording sessions. That alone is a good reason to give it a try!
Disposable wipes like these by Ernie Ball are a quick and painless way to maintain your instrument. After every few playing sessions, simply open up a wipe and apply it to your strings. The specialized formula is a two-in-one cleaner and lubricator to help preserve guitar strings.
Dunlop guitar maintenance products are among the favorites of a lot of techs and luthiers. UltraGlide 65 is a slick cleaner and lubricant with an applicator at the top of the bottle for easy application. Keep your strings clean and reduce the amount of finger squeaks with Dunlop 6582.
Fast Fret has been around for decades, used by string instrumentalists of all types to maintain their instrument. You can even apply it to the back of the neck and fretboard for a fast, silky smooth feel that enhances playability. Wipe down your strings and neck with Fast Fret to help you guitar feel brand new every time you pick it up.
The String Cleaner is a unique microfiber solution for 360° scrub-down of your strings. Per the photo, simply slide the pad underneath your strings near the pickups, close the lid, slide it up the neck to remove dirt, sweat, and oils that degrade guitar strings over time. No cleaning solution is necessary, but you could try pairing it with a liquid cleaner for even more effect.
XLR8 is another special formula for cleaning and lubricating strings, in addition to the fretboard. The applicator makes using it a cinch, and the airtight container keeps the solution from drying out.
This is a similar cleaner to the one above by ToneGear. Its lint-free cloth pad absorbs grit and grime slightly better than microfiber. With this, you can clean all the way around your strings and fretboard for a sleek feel each and every time you play guitar.