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I constantly have to return to the music store with the same problem: My strings keep rusting within a day of playing.

I used Ernie Ball and the first four strings rusted on me, then I tried d'Addarios, having the first 3 rust. I tried Elixir too, but I should have known that the wound strings were the only ones coated (which is a stupendous amount of bs.) They were all nickel wound with plain steel, 10-46 gauge. The strange part is when I used the Fender strings it came with, they didn't rust period, and they were made out the same stuff, except for the fact that they were nickel plated, and 9-42 gauge.

This is very fustrating and I can't keep spending my money. I'd greatly apreciate help.

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Similar question: music.stackexchange.com/questions/1773/… –  luser droog Jan 3 '12 at 6:36
    
I've tried for years to answer this question. The best answer for me was: Use D'Addario strings and immediately wipe them down with Old School Aqua Velva when done playing. I learned this from an old dude in the '80s and I still have the original bottle of Aqua Velva I bought back then to test with. Note that I tried numerous things in place of the Aqua Velva... Alcohol, Windex, 409, Fast Fret, Some Ernie Ball string cleaning product... Nothing worked quite as well as the AV... My old guitar cases smell very strongly of it now... :) –  JimR Sep 16 '13 at 11:48
    
Deleted......... –  JimR Sep 16 '13 at 11:51

9 Answers 9

I use standard D'Addario strings, 11 gauge. I find the best way to make them last is to wipe them down IMMEDIATELY after a gig or practise, & to Fast-Fret them before playing. I play in two bands, both practising every week & gigging regularly & I find strings last me a couple of weeks this way :)

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I forgot to mention that i do wipe them down before and after, but they still rust on me. The thing is, they rust while i play. –  Tony Dec 31 '11 at 18:27

They must be reacting either to something in the atmosphere or something on your skin. You might try applying some liquid bandage to your fingers before playing to rule out transmission through skin. It could be that you're got some crazy abnormal pH or something (no offense: just wild speculation). Or maybe a peculiar brand of soap or lotion.

Also, rust is accellerated by electrical current; so you must discontinue the Uncle Fester impersonation. But you may also want to get the electric parts looked at. Even a low current running through the strings is bad (it'll mess with your tone, too). Tesla coils and smoke machines could be a combo capable of doing this.

Nickel-coating is probably the solution. You just need to find a set where the plain strings are coated, too. [It sounds like the Fenders might be this way.] If that doesn't do it, you might need gold (IIRC, it's the only metal less reactive than nickel).

My Compact Science Dictionary defines

Rust.   Variable mixture of ferric hydroxide and ferric oxide, formed as a reddish powder on the surface of iron exposed to oxygen (air) and water. Also, fungoid plant diseases attacking wheat, antirrhinums, and other plants.

Maybe it's a fungus!

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like i could afford gold. thanks for the info though...who's uncle fester? –  Tony Jan 1 '12 at 2:33
    
uncle fester is the character from the Addams Family who bites on a light-bulb and it lights up. –  luser droog Jan 1 '12 at 3:05
    
oh, i feel dumb. –  Tony Jan 1 '12 at 3:51
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[condescending consoling remark omitted] :) –  luser droog Jan 1 '12 at 4:51
    
+1 for the skin. The quality of your perspiration can have a great effect on rusting! –  Agos Jan 2 '12 at 20:48

I have taken to using coated strings (usually Elixirs or Ernie Ball coated ones). They are much more corrosion resistant, but I still fast fret before a gig and wipe down after a gig.

Even while at the height of gigging season they last a few months before the top strings rust enough the sound is affected.

Rusting within a day is very very odd - there must be something else at work here. Are you in a very humid environment maybe?

You could try an alternative approach - if your hands sweat a lot, use the traditional absorbent wristbands a la Iron Maiden and also try an antiperspirant on your hands before you go on stage. It might not be ideal but it will help.

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I have sweaty fingers and also find my string rusted relatively quickly. I have tried Elixer, Ernie Ball, D' Addario and finding them starting to rust within 2-3 weeks. I wiped them clean before and after playing and made sure I washed my hand with soup.

One thing I find helpful is wiped the string clean then apply with lemon oil before playing (not just after) and before playing, washed my hand with heavy soup and slightly rub my playing hand with lemon oil. May be the oil prevents my sweat from getting too much contact with the string, but I find my string last much longer than previous.

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+1 oil is perfect for repelling moisture. (and lemon probably smells good, too) –  luser droog Jan 3 '12 at 5:54
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"I wiped them clean before and after playing and made sure I washed my hand with soup." -- Progresso? Campbell's? –  PSU Jan 30 '12 at 19:58

I used Ernie Ball for years, but it never last for more than a month without loosing the tune and rusting. Then I changed to Elixir. It is more expensive but it lasts and holds the tune better than other string I used. I use 0.11 gauge.

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Use a string conditioner, get it from any guitar store! It's normal to get your strings rusty! With the conditioner, you'll make your strings' life longer! It'll get rusty eventually. Wash your hand before playing your guitar. With all these, you'll make your strings' life longer. hope i helped :)

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I have heard that some people have unusually acidic oil and sweat in their skin and fingertips, and when these people play guitar it causes strings to wear out quickly.

I do not have this problem, but regardless, I think Elixir strings last longer than any other brand I have tried.

If you find that the unwound high strings are rusting faster than the wound lower strings, you can buy extra high strings individually and replace them more often than you replace the low strings from a set of 6.

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I use a flannel shoe cloth (like you get in hotel rooms) with a few dabs of of baby oil to wipe the strings down before and after playing. And also wipe my fingertips (calluses). That all works wonders. Sliding your fingers along becomes so much easier.

Lately I've combined that with Elixir plain corrosion resistant strings, and I find that extends the life of the plain string to more closely match the extended life of the coated wound strings. I carry the shoe cloth around in a plastic sandwich bag.

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If I use Ernie Ball, D'Addario, Dunlop, etc strings they will rust within, get this, 2 days. Trust me when I say, you want to get some better strings preferably coated one, such as Elixirs. The other coated strings brands still rusted and sounded dead for me after just a few weeks. Elixirs at least last about a month. Also, use a cloth to wipe down (or just your shirt sleeve, whatever) the strings when you are done cause this helps a lot more than you think.

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