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I’m torn on the concept of cleaning guitar strings. For starters, I should say that it’s not something I do – my philosophy (which I didn’t really know I had until I thought about it today) is that by the time the strings are dirty they’re probably dead anyway, so just change them. I tend to change them after a weekend of gigs rather than before because I’d rather not worry about being in tune at a gig than maybe have my strings sound a little brighter, but that’s another topic. And I change them often enough that I rarely let my strings get to the point where they sound dead, so I’ve never given too much thought to their cleanliness.

Would any of this change if I cleaned my strings regularly? I have no idea. But it seems there are quite a few products out there for cleaning guitar strings, which suggests that this is something guitarists want, so I thought I’d review the new Planet Waves Renew string cleaning system.

I tried it out on two guitars – one with pretty new strings and the other with string I should probably change, but I had a gig, so right before leaving I used the Renew to clean the strings. It was certainly easy enough to use. It took about a minute to open the package and put the little pads on the cleaning tool and then dab a few drops of the fluid on the pads (the kit comes with two of the little cleaning tools, twelve of the cleaning pads – you need two for each tool – and a bottle of the fluid that seems to be a couple of ounces). Then it took about another minute to clean the strings. You can watch my little video, but keep in mind that one of my hands was holding the camera, so this was a one-handed operation for me, and it was still very quick and easy. As you can see in the video, though, that first fret is a little hard to get to on a flamenco.

I’d love to tell you that my guitar has never sounded better and that ‘clean’ strings have changed my life. The reality was that I didn’t notice a difference (but I didn’t expect to, so maybe my bias had something to do with that?).  I can see that if you cleaned your strings after you played every time you might extend their life by a few days – I imagine it’s a combination of all that gunk from our dirty fingers and just being fretted so much that accounts for string wear. So if you’re a fan of cleaning your strings, or want to try it out, I think that this is a nifty little system for doing that. It’s inexpensive and easy to use, and it gets the bottom of the strings (where presumably there no finger gunk, but…) as well as the top.

Around the web people seem to really like this system, and there certainly seems to be a following for the idea of string cleaning. I’ve met myself, though, and I’m pretty sure I’m too lazy and forgetful to become a regular string cleaner. But for the cost of a set of strings I can’t see any harm, and it’s certainly possible that I’m dead wrong about the effectiveness of string cleaning. If you’ve been doing this let me know what you’ve noticed.



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7 Responses to “Renew String Cleaning System”

  1. Lawrence Tendler says:

    I agree ,just put on a new set of strings for goodness sake.

  2. Jeff says:

    Geez, why didn’t you warn us that was going to sound like fingernails on a blackboard! I’m still cringing after watching the first ten seconds of that video!

  3. Kai says:

    Just listened to it with the volume up, and right you are. Sorry.

  4. cuchares says:

    The way to clean and/or resesitate your strings is ;1.You can take the bass strings off and turn them end to end.
    2. detune the basses a half step or so and snap the the strings hard.Then; tune up.
    3.Or you can loosen them and wash w/ dish washing liquid and water.
    4.Change the basses.

    I prefer 1 ,2 and 4 but have used 3 as well.
    #2 is certainly the quickest.

  5. Erik says:

    If you are using strings that are over $60 a set I could see why you would want to do this. On the other hand if your strings cost that much its probably because they sound better anyway so it might be better to just wipe them off after playing and wash your hands before playing.

    That said I could totally see a version with a softer pad (that would get a little more of the edge of the string) being a good idea if you own a doable bass, cello, or concert harp and don’t want to fork over 3 bills every six months.

  6. Clayton says:

    Reviews are an adept tool but are only as high profile as how you take it.
    Buying a fully integrated dishwasher can also be a very good idea.
    Dishwashers with a stainless steel tub (which is the interior of the dishwasher) provide better sound dampening.

  7. Dewy says:

    I use this on two of my main Telecasters. I used to go through a set a night. Now I use this between sets and especially at the end of the night! I can go over a month on a set. I jam with a guy who’s toured out of Nashville and he was surprised when I told him one night half way throw the night that the set I was using was on week number three! The most I’ve gotten and still had great tone was two months!
    I buy my strings in bulk at about $4/5 a set x 4 weeks = $16/20 x 2 = $32/40 savings! I only wish I could get REFILLS instead of having to buy the whole package as I still have the second pad on. These are washable!
    Our area dealer ( Madison, WI; Guitar Center ) stopped carrying them at the store so I have to go online, but at least I can still get it!
    The Dewmyster D.


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