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.


13 Answers 13


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!


I use Elixir Phospher Bronze Nanowebs. I live in Florida where it is very humid so my strings don't rust. Every other brand of strings I have tried eventually does rust.


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.


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 :)


Alice Guitar strings from China are my new fav. I was looking for ‘cheap’ strings; my fingers sweat and ruin strings after a couple hours. Well, it turns out these Alice strings are ‘steel, coated’ and do not corrode! I always wash my hands before playing, but nothing seemed to help until purchasing these Alice strings. 10 pack $17 !!

I just ordered a 10 pack for my electric I'm so impressed..

Stay away from copper, and nickel! Coated steel is the way to go. The only other company I'm aware of that sells coated steel strings is Elixir, which cost a pretty penny...


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.

  • 3
    "I wiped them clean before and after playing and made sure I washed my hand with soup." -- Progresso? Campbell's?
    – PSU
    Commented Jan 30, 2012 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.


I live in Thailand, and it gets hot n humid up here, believe me.. One thing for certain, Ernie Ball strings go off fast, they'll rust out of the package after three days. D'Addario seem to last much better, but are still not immune.. My hint is the same one I've used for eons, yes, I'm old.... but I run a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol up and down the strings, straight after I play to clean and dry them, and before I play to take off any rust that may have snuck on.. I have yet to try Elixirs or any other coated strings, but the rubbing alcohol does help a lot... Good Luck!


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 :)


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.


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.


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.


I find that Ernie Ball plain electric guitar strings are usually rusted brand new right out of the paper envelopes. Not the wound strings, only the plain. There are almost always several corrosion spots on the strings. I stopped buying them. Maybe the paper envelope doesn't protect them from humidity. Or maybe their steel just isn't rust resistant enough.

  • Since this is an answer space, I've removed the question part of your post. If you intended to post a question, please create a new question rather than answering an old one.
    – Aaron
    Commented Sep 11, 2022 at 17:21

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