Extending the life of your guitar strings is not an arbitrary mystery. There are real reasons behind why it is necessary. Unless you have money constantly pouring out of your fingertips, you want to make sure that when you purchase your guitar strings that they will last you a decent amount of time. Of course, there is regular wear and tear but some things can be avoided.
Your guitar strings are an extremely sensitive part to your guitar. They are most vulnerable to corrosion. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can preserve the life of your guitar. The bottom line is, you need to play your guitar with care. From cleaning your strings regularly to sticking to one particular method of tuning up your guitar. There are several ways you can extend the life of your guitar strings.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is not just good for your health. It is also good for your expensive guitar. Think about it. There are so many natural oils that gather on your hands, not to mention the dirt you accumulate from doing regular things. Those oils from your skin are the number one culprits when it comes to corroding your guitar strings. The worst part about it is that you hardly even notice it at first. You may notice that your strings will become discolored, but instead of brushing it off, consider cleaning the strings and washing your hands before you play the guitar.
All you have to do is wash your hands for 20 seconds, which is about the length of the “Happy Birthday” song. You should also stay away from heavily scented lotions or perfumes. Applying that stuff to your hands and body right before you play is not a good idea at all. That is an easy way to ruin your guitar strings over time. When you wash your hands, you are ridding your hands of those natural oils and dirt that can easily corrode the strings of your guitar.
Take Care of Your Calluses
Most guitar players wear their calluses proudly. This is all fine and dandy until you find yourself constantly having to replace new guitar strings shortly after buying some. That is why it is important to not only develop those calluses but to also care for them once you have them. If you do not, the calluses can dry, crack and peel all over your guitar strings. Ew.
It may be a great idea to file down your calluses as doing so can thwart the rough edges of your fingertips from attaching to the strings. This can cause so many more problems than just having dirty guitar strings. It is also important to note that when you are filing your calluses, it is best to only file off the annoying pieces of skin that stick out or cause other problems.
Keep in mind that your goal is not to take off as much skin as possible when you are filing your calluses. You should also stay away from aggressively filing or using an super rough emory board. If you do that, you could end up with bleeding fingertips. Your fingers will be so raw, you will not even want to play your guitar.
There may also be some instances in which your calluses will crack. This is no good. Thankfully, there is a fix to that too. Simply use superglue. Yes, it sounds crazy and not safe at all but it is a tried and true method that guitar legends have been using for decades. You can use superglue for a number of things, including sealing small wounds. If you are a beginner guitar player, you can also apply superglue to your fingers to help ease some of that beginner pain.
Trim Down Your Nails
Along with keeping your hands clean, you should also trim your nails. Some length in your nails is good, but you do not want it to get out of control. Nails that are too long are going to damage the life of your guitar strings. Long nails can also make fretting extremely difficult, which is no good.
It is recommended to use a nail clipper when you are trimming your nails as opposed to ripping or biting them off. When you do one of those two things, or both, you run the risk of developing an in-grown nail. They are very painful. You could also develop a nasty infection, which could ultimately make playing the guitar a horrible experience.
When you are trimming your nails, the goal is to only take off what is necessary. It is good to leave a little bit of the white of your nails. You want to avoid trimming off too much. That can make your fingers vulnerable to more pain. Remember the skin under nails is super sensitive. If you leave that exposed, strumming your thick guitar strings can be really painful and overall not fun.
Warm Up Your Fingers Before You Play
Playing with cold hands is not the move. Make sure that you warm them up before playing. You can do this by doing a few hand exercises. When you really give your hands a good stretch, you can decrease your chances of getting an injury as well. Make sure that you are warming up your hands, thumbs, fingers, wrists and everything else associated with your hands. The more warmed up your hands are, the better they will perform.
It is also important to take your time when you are stretching and warming up your fingers for a long jam session. Pay attention to how the muscles in your hands move.
Make a fist and slowly unfurl your fingers from the fist. Do this until all your fingers, including your thumbs, are fully extended. When it comes to stretching out your wrists, all you have to do is move your wrists back and forth. Keep doing this until you feel your wrists and fingers all stretched out.