It’s often that we don’t even realize that we’re missing out on better playability and great sound, as strings can deteriorate so slowly, depending on how frequently you play of course. All guitarists will agree however that a fresh pair of strings can instantly reinvigorate your passion for your favourite guitar.
Here are some suggested tips that are often missed when restringing your guitar and maintaining the lifespan of your strings.
1. Clean Your Fretboard
Why is it important to clean your Fretboard? When sweat dries and evaporates it dehydrates the wood. This can lead to cracks developing and ultimately form everlasting marks.
A dirty Fretboard is not only damaging to the wood, but the build-up of dirt will rub off onto the strings, into the wound and ultimately decrease the lifespan of the string leaving you with a dull sound. It is therefore crucial to clean your fretboard before putting on your fresh strings.
If you intend to give your fretboard a thorough clean there are several cleaning or care kits available with detailed instructions on how to use their specific items. Below are two classic recommended options from world-leading brands.
D'Addario Instrument Care Kit
· All in one travel kit
· High quality travel case
· Headstand and travel matt to support instrument during cleaning
· Includes other best-selling accessories such as: 3-step polishing system, Hydrate fretboard cleaner, Microfiber polishing cloth, Fret polishing system, and XLR8.
Gibson Guitar Care Pack
· Gibson Low Abrasion Metal Cream
· Gibson Premier Fretboard Conditioner,
· Gibson Pump Polish Finishing Cream,
· Three Gibson Polishing Cloths
· Black Nylon Guitar Strap
2. Stretch Your Strings
After putting on your new strings you want to allow them to settle. It is therefore important to stretch them properly. This will allow the string winding around the machine heads and the bridge to seat nicely.
Holding your guitar in playing position, starting at the low E, pull the string about half way between the nut and the bridge, away from the body of the guitar. It is important to give it a slight and gentle tug and not to pull too hard. Pulling too hard might result in pulling the string out of the groove of the nut or when dealing with an acoustic guitar, popping out the bridge pin.
Tune the string back to E, then stretch and repeat the process until the tuning settles. For more accurate results fret the notes, starting at the first fret of each string all the way up to the 12 fret, before stretching the string. This will cut down the playing-in time and give you strings that stay in tune much quicker.
3. Stick to Your Gauge
To guard against experiencing any issues with your truss rod, it is advised to stick to your decided string gauge as much as possible. Finding the correct string gauge depends on many variables that includes anything from your playing style to the sound you’re looking for. Keep your eyes on the Blog for a future article on choosing the right strings.
If you do find yourself in a position where you would like to try lighter or heavier gauge, you might have to prepare to tweak the guitar’s setup accordingly. In the case that the jump in gauge is small, the odds of experiencing issues are slim.
Changing to a much heavier gauge of strings all of a sudden could exert more pull on the neck and potentially raise the action. Just so, switching to a lighter gauge, may result in the truss rod overcompensating and lowering the action so much that it will cause fret buzz.
If this is the first time you’re changing your strings since you’ve bought the guitar, identify if your change is the same gauge as the factory set. If you’re unsure you are welcome to ask one of our trusted guitar specialists at TOMS to check the truss rod tension and string gauge.
4. Keep Your Strings Clean
So your guitar is now restrung and sounding fresh! To keep it this way it’s important to understand that our fingers secrete oils and acids. This can deteriorate your strings making them sound dull and old faster than you’d think.
Washing your hands before every session will already make a big difference but be sure to still wipe down your strings with a clean cloth after every session. This will be sure to add many hours to your string life.
If you’re the type of player that doesn’t like to put away their guitar and always have it ready when inspiration strikes, it might be worth clean and wiping the strings after every session will increase the lifespan of your strings.
5. Put Your Guitar Away
As much as its not conducive to regular practice or to get that riff down in the moment, it is important to note that there will always be dust along with moisture and an array of other variables in the air that will deteriorate your strings in no time, leaving you with a dull sound.
The best way to combat this is by storing your guitar in a quality hard case. Not only will your strings be more protected from the elements and will last longer, but your guitar will be protected against changes in humidity. Especially with acoustic guitars it is important to note that low humidity can cause cracks in the body.