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A while back we wrote an article on string construction (see article: Guitar Strings). We wrote several comments about strings such as re-stringing an acoustic, string gauge and top tension. All good comments and worth a read.
One of our customers asked if we would post a comment about string care and how it affects frets. So here is our speech about string care..........
Aside from strings getting old after use (or non use) we know that the underside of strings deteriorate and become slightly rusted or jagged. Its the underside of a string that contacts fret wire and begins a chopping effect to the fret. What results is called fret wear, fret indent, and other names.
Lots of folks think that playing their guitar 100 hours a week is why frets wear or indent. We disagree! Simply its a rusty string underside that acts like an ice pick chopping away at a block of hard ice.
So what's the remedy? Some folks think coated strings solves the problem of rusty old strings and they pay big buck ($$$$) for those strings. Then there's sprays one can buy to coat strings, but that's only a top coat that dosen't touch the underside of a string.
We suggest to our customers to take a moment and wipe the top then the underside of a string (all strings). Taking a moment with an old soft T-shirt or one of those small micro-fiber clothes and wiping the underside up to the first frst is sufficient.
Wiping strings not only deters string deterioration and fret wear, but gives a set of strings a longer life. However, sooner or later as strings get metal fatique and flatten on the underside they evently sound dead and begin to not hold tune.
So, either wipe your string(s) top and bottom or spend $10-14 dollars for strings that buys you some time, but is not the remedy. Moreover, the savings as to the cost of fret dressing, crowning, or re-fretting is significant where fret work can cost anywhere from $100 for crowning, $180 for dressing, and $400 for new frets.