Can guitar strings rust

This blog post will answer the question, “can guitar strings rust” and cover topics like causes of guitar strings rusting, how to stop it, and frequently asked questions.

Can guitar strings rust?

Yes, guitar strings can rust. Due to high moisture levels in the atmosphere or humidity retained on the strings from sweaty palms, guitar strings corrode fast. Make sure your instrument is stored in a dry, warm environment, and that you use high-quality strings and wash your hands before playing.

What causes rust on guitar strings?

Rusting occurs when the iron is subjected to a mix of oxygen (which is present in the air all around us) and humidity over time. This leads the iron to undergo oxidation, which results in the formation of iron oxide, the brown material we refer to as ‘rust.’

Rust is only formed when iron is available. Because steel is an alloy, it includes iron. If your guitar strings are rusting, they’re probably composed of steel, which is a popular guitar string material.

Strings for electric and acoustic guitars are created in a variety of methods. They might be just a single length of wire or they can have an additional metal coiled around a central metal. The metals used vary per item and string type, although they may be bronze, steel, or nickel.

Is this rust or simply tarnish that I’m seeing?

If you’re looking at untied strings that aren’t covered, the odds of spotting corrosion are substantially greater. It’s possible that the discoloration you’re seeing on copper or nickel-coated thicker acoustic strings isn’t corrosion, but rather tarnish that has built up over time.

Tarnish is very frequent on copper; consider copper plumbing and you’ll get what I’m talking about. On these sorts of strings, try using a string cleaner first; it may just wipe off.

What factors cause guitar strings to rust fast?

In this section, I’ll go over why rust occurs in more detail, as well as some suggestions and tactics in the section below for prolonging the life of those rusty guitar strings.

Strings rusting fast might be due to a variety of factors.

  • Conditions of Storage
  • Low-cost strings
  • Using moist or filthy hands to play

Now I will elaborate on the guidance given above.

Conditions of Storage

We can’t avoid the fact that your guitar strings will come into contact with oxygen unless you discover a method to preserve it in a vacuum! As a result, contact with humidity is the most probable cause of your guitar strings deteriorating so fast.

Humidity is present in the atmosphere almost all of the time, yet it is concentrated in certain areas more than others. Humidity is the measurement of the amount of moisture in the air.

If your guitar chords are deteriorating fast, it’s possible that you’re keeping it in a humid environment. This might be due to your location, such as if you reside in a very humid section of the nation, or it could simply be due to the structure of your home or apartment.

When we breathe, for example, we exhale water vapor into the air, and if a room isn’t sufficiently aired, the dampness will grow. If you have damp issues or your windows often steam up, you may have a highly humid space.

Low-cost strings

Steel strings that are less expensive are more prone to damage, which may lead to rust forming more rapidly. They’re also less likely to be covered with compounds to prevent corrosion, as some higher-quality strings that I’ll discuss later in this piece are.

Using moist or filthy hands to play

When it’s hot outside or you’re giggling, our hands tend to become sticky or greasy while we play. As you sweat, you’ll notice that the strings get slicker as the humidity piles up.

If you do this often or if you are a very sweaty individual, the strings will corrode considerably faster as a result of the repeated contact with water.

How can I keep my guitar strings from decaying so quickly?

By following the guidance given below you can keep your guitar strings from rusting quickly.

  • Keep everything in its proper location
  • Invest in higher-quality strings
  • Before you play, wash your hands.
  • Keep the strings clean on a regular basis.

 I will now elaborate on the guidance given above.

Keep everything in its proper location:

As stated in the preceding section. The location in which you keep your guitar has an impact on how rapidly the strings corrode.

Attempt to locate a cool, dry location inside your home. Look for signs of dampness around the area and attempt to keep it aired. If you want to keep your guitars from rusting, stay away from any room that has a humidity level of 50percent or greater.

You may acquire a dehumidifier for your recording studio if your home is too damp and you can’t locate a dry place. They’re now quite cheaply priced, like this one below, and you can use them to keep the air surrounding your instruments dry.

Too much drying out of the wood, especially on an acoustic guitar, might damage the tone. Many guitarists want to keep some dampness in the wood in order to get the tone they desire. If you discover that keeping your instrument in a dry room affects its tone, you may have to realize that you will need to change the chords more often in conjunction with the other suggestions below.

Invest in higher-quality strings

If you’re not too fond of the string brand you’re using, it may be time to switch. Some strings, such as Elixir strings, are covered with a preventive nickel substance that prevents corrosion and extends the life of the string.

Even though they are more expensive, you may save money if you have to replace them less often. If you’re attached to your strings, you may have to face the fact that you’ll have to replace them more regularly.

Here’s a highly recommended guitar string:

Elixir strings

Before you play, wash your hands

This is a crucial point. It was one that had never occurred to me until my bass player said it once before a rehearsal! I was used to picking up my instrument and playing whenever I felt like it.

The truth is that our hands sweat constantly and get greasy during the day. If you don’t wash (and then completely dry) your hands before playing, the oil and perspiration on your hands will migrate to the strings, where they will react with the oxygen in the atmosphere and corrode.

Before you play, give your hands a quick rinse and make sure they’re as dry as possible to eliminate this potential source of corrosion.

Keep the strings clean on a regular basis

During a strenuous rehearsal or performance, I said that strings got sweaty. This is a natural occurrence that cannot be avoided. However, you can guarantee that this moisture is removed thereafter. Using a dry towel, wipe away the dampness as well as any oily remnants from the strings.

In addition, I suggest cleaning your strings on a routine basis using a string cleaner like GHS Strings FAST FRET. Oil and grime build-up is removed in this manner. Just be sure you dry them with a dry towel afterward.

Best string cleaner:


Is it possible to clean rusted guitar strings?

If strings are tarnished it is possible to clean them with string cleaner but if they are rusted it becomes difficult to clean them. If your strings are wider ‘wound’ strings covered with copper or other substance as you could find on an acoustic guitar, it’s more likely to be tarnish than corrosion. If you suspect this is the case, get some string cleaner and give them a wipe to see if you can get rid of it.

Unfortunately, if the strings are rusted, saving them will be difficult. There are certain things that can be applied to rusty steel to extend its life, but the truth is that you should probably simply remove it.

Is it harmful to have rusty guitar strings?

It depends on your definition of ‘bad.’ They’re terrible in the sense that they might cut your hands and are more likely to break at any time. They’re also awful if they don’t sound correct to you.

However, since it sounded different, I had to actively sort out the tone of an old rusted acoustic guitar for a recording. So it all relies on how you define ‘bad.’

Playing with corroded strings is typically not a good idea, since it might affect your tone and your ability to move your fingers rapidly over the chords.

Is Playing With Rusted Strings Dangerous?

Yes, playing with rusted strings is dangerous. Strings that aren’t well-maintained may slash your fingertips (and ruin your hard-earned calluses!). The sensation of rolling up and down on a rusted string is as awful as it sounds. Your fingertips will become brown, and some individuals have even complained of a foul odor!

Fortunately, you won’t require a tetanus shot if you slice yourself on a rusted string, but it will be an uncomfortable injury that will prevent you from playing guitar correctly for a few days.

Another typical cause of string cuts is not carefully clipping them after stringing or restringing their instrument. If the strings are rusted, you’ve got a twofold issue on your hands. People, take care of your strings! 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “can guitar strings rust?”

Is rust on guitar strings bad?

Yes, rust on guitar strings is bad. Even while you can play guitar with rusted strings and get some interesting tones and patterns, it is not advised. Rusty strings will sound awful, have an uneven tone, break in the midst of a tune, and maybe hurt your fingers.

How long does it take guitar strings to rust?

Even yet, humidity and water vapor can soon corrode the strings of a seldom-played guitar. The typical string set played by an average player may last up to 90 days (about three months).

How do I know if my guitar strings are rusty?

When you look at an older model of acoustic guitar chords and see some discoloration on the wrapped strings, that’s tarnishing. Most of the time, it’s not corrosion, particularly if it’s developing on the string’s exterior. It’s only a little amount of tarnish that has accumulated.

Should I replace rusty strings?

They drop some of their brilliance as they age and sound a bit sweeter. If they begin to corrode, however, it is a good idea to replace them since they will not only harm your hand more (they would become much rougher and abrasive to the touch), but they’ll also get weaker and break more easily.

Why do guitar strings tarnish?

Guitar strings tarnish due to moisture. Guitar strings degrade/tarnish with time since they’re coated in nickel/copper, and a thin coating of muck builds over the chord over time, even if it’s just a little quantity. 

Should I boil my guitar strings?

While boiling your chords will improve the sound of old, flat strings, it will not restore them to sound brand new. Furthermore, boiling fresh guitar strings before stringing them on your instrument can aid in the stretching process while also improving tone and strain.


Leave a Comment