What do you do when you need to restring a guitar but don’t have new strings? Can you restring a guitar with the same strings? Do you need to find a way to get new strings? You won’t be the first guitarist to ask that question.
The answer is Yes. You can re-use old guitar strings provided they aren’t damaged or too short. However, you must note that your guitar won’t sound the same. Old guitar strings don’t have the same tension and intonation as new strings.
Whether you play the guitar or not, one thing is sure: guitar strings are an essential part of the instrument. A guitar is nothing without its strings.
After reading this article, you’ll get answers to some common questions guitarists ask themselves.
Most guitarists wonder whether they should keep or discard old strings. The truth is, you can save them for a rainy day. In addition, old strings can serve as backup during an emergency. However, before you consider re-using an old string, ensure that it’s long enough.
Old guitar strings aren’t as strong as new ones. So, you run a risk of them cutting when you make use of old strings. Also, the intonation of old strings isn’t the same as new ones so the sound won’t be that great. You might also find it stressful to play that string.
Let’s face it; guitar strings are affordable. Therefore, there is no reason why you should consider reusing an old guitar string. However, sometimes life happens, and out of the blues, your guitar string cuts. Unfortunately, all the stores you can get a new set of strings from are either closed or too far.
It’s in times like these that old guitar strings come in handy. You should keep in mind, however, that old guitar strings should not be used for long. It isn’t in the best of shapes and can also disappoint you.
Not all guitar strings are reusable. To be reused, old guitar strings must be in the right shape and length. A string that is too short will not serve. Also, if the strings are rusty, they won’t be of any use. So there, you know when an old string is worth the second chance.
You must be careful when removing old guitar strings, especially if you intend to save them for an emergency. Here is how to remove the strings of a guitar without destroying them:
- Carefully loosen the strings and ensure you don’t cut them (so they don’t get too short to be re-used).
- After removing the strings, clean them with isopropyl alcohol.
You must restore old guitar strings to keep them in shape. There is no trick around this. If you fail to restore old strings, they won’t be helpful.
There are different ways of cleaning an old string. Here are some of the ways:
1. Boil Old Guitar Strings
- Place the strings in a pot large enough to contain them.
- Fill the pot with water.
- Cook the strings for 5 minutes.
- Remove the strings from the pot with tongs to avoid getting burnt.
- Wipe them with a microfiber cloth.
- Allow the strings to sit for a while before packing them up.
Why Do You Boil Old Guitar Strings?
2. Wipe Strings with Microfiber Towel
Microfiber towels are the ideal towels for cleaning guitar strings. They wipe the dirt off the strings without leaving residue. In addition, the sound improves when the strings are clean.
3. Removing String Corrosion with Sandpaper
Cleaning your string the sand does 2 things for them:
- Improves their appearance by making it shine, and;
- Enhances the sound by removing the accumulated dirt.
Carefully rub the sandpaper around the body of each string. Then, clean each string with a microfiber towel.
Old guitar strings can be used in emergencies when there is no way to get a new set of strings. However, they’re old and frail, so you shouldn’t expect them to last. Even if they were adequately managed and restored, old guitar strings would never last as long as new ones. Therefore, you must change them as soon as possible.
Old guitar strings don’t have the best sound, but they don’t sound that bad, especially when they’re correctly maintained.
However, even though old guitar strings can sound nice, new strings will always sound better. This is because strings lose their tension with each usage. Tension and other factors affect the sound of strings over time.
Guitar strings don’t have an expiration date because they don’t expire. Moisture deteriorates guitar strings; keep the moisture away, and your strings will last.
Color is another way of determining whether a string is worth the second chance. The color of your strings should never be dull. Just like the string’s tone, the color should never be dull. Accumulated dirt on a guitar string cause discoloration. However, if the strings are still dull after boiling them, don’t use them.
Yes, old guitar strings are reusable, but new ones are always preferable. Old guitar strings are life savers during emergencies, but when you can, get new strings. Getting a new string improves the sound greatly.
To ensure that your old strings are good enough to be used to restring your guitar, make a conscious effort to take good care of them. Remove dirt or any other thing that might make the string unusable in emergencies.
Also, old guitar strings may sound nice, but new strings sound better. This is because the old strings lose their tension and intonation with use. As a general rule of thumb, don’t cut guitar strings you intend to use again. It’s also essential that you restore these strings before installing them on your guitar.