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Thread: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

  1. #1
    Play on! Sid Simpson's Avatar
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    Default String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I need advice on protecting strings in a humid environment. I moved onto a sailboat about four months ago and sailed to Mexico. My mandolin is fine with the humidity, but not the strings. About six weeks ago, I changed the strings and found significant areas of corrosion on the coated strings when I opened the package. I did what I could to clean them up and put them on. They were OK, but the intonation went south fairly quickly. I keep spare strings in a plastic box with a tight lid. I started looking for a new set, and found most of them had significant corrosion on the unwound strings. I wound up with a set of DHS strings, which were sealed in plastic. There was some corrosion on the loop end of the wound strings. I get nervous with the corrosion, as I am afraid of weakened areas and sudden breakage. It seems more than a surface issue.
    Looking for suggestions from those of you in humid environments on how you deal with string storage and with protecting the strings on the instrument. I'm thinking sealed baggies or vacuum packaging. I also saw that Adam Steffey uses WD40 on his strings and wonder how that might affect the fingerboard. Any suggestions appreciated. Thanks.


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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    GHS strings now come in sealed plastic for each string. That may be an option for your spare strings. I use their white bronze guitar strings for my mandolin, well guitar too, and they don't loose sound as fast or corrode as easily as phosphor bronze. You will have to take the ball ends off if you consider using these tho. It's not hard, but then it's not easy either.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I live in a very humid and sweaty environment, where regular phosphor-bronze strings rust out inside a month. Elixir Nano coated strings last me at least four months, so long as I remember to clean them at the end of every day, and apply Fast Fret or another mineral oil product.

    I keep packs of new strings in a sealed food container, with a large package of silica gel inside the box. Even after a year or more, little or no rust is evident on the new strings when they come out of the packet.

    rm

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Sailboat? I suspect it's not humidity, it's salt.
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Sailboat? I suspect it's not humidity, it's salt.
    My thought as well.
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I keep my spare strings in a airtight pelican case
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    You can wipe a thin coating of lubricant on the strings, and this will resist corrosion for a long time. You can use a commercial product that comes with an applicator, like GHS FastFret (which is made for this purpose), or Zenith's Tibetan Almond Stick (which is made for furniture, but it's the SAME thing as FastFret!). Or, you can simply wipe a tiny bit of food-grade (clear) MINERAL OIL on the strings by applying a few drops to a rag, and then wipe any excess off. I would strongly advise against using a lubricant like WD40, because (1) you have to make sure it never, ever gets on the wood and (2) it stinks! A small bottle of high-quality mineral oil will last you a lifetime.

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    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    We've had the WD-40 discussion before. In short, it doesn't matter what Adam Steffey does. Don't put WD-40 on your strings. It's not meant as a lubricant or a long-term rust inhibitor. It's a water displacement spray (hence the WD moniker). And it has solvents that are not good for your mandolin in any way. If you must oil your strings to help protect against corrosion, use mineral oil as others have suggested. I personally use Fastfret, since it's in a convenient applicator and comes with a rag in the can for wiping strings. When it goes dry, I just drip some more food-grade mineral oil into the applicator and it soaks it up so it's good for another year.

    But yeah, a marine environment is not going to be friendly to bare steel, whether it's on a mandolin or anything else. There's a reason that marine hardware is almost always aluminum or stainless steel. Salt and humidity are very, very tough on carbon steel.

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    Play on! Sid Simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Thanks for all the suggestions. As always, collective wisdom and experience to the rescue. I have tried neither Elixirs nor FastFret, but I do keep mineral oil on board to lubricate the head valves. I'll give that a try. I messed up on the original post. I had GHS, not DHS strings in a sealed plastic liner, and they fared pretty well. That's what I just put on. I'm not sure about the salt. The strings have been in a closed plastic container, so I think salt intrusion would be minimal. I'll be stateside next month and will restock. I'll look for an airtight container and will investigate dehumidifier.


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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I keep my spare sets in Ziplock freezer bags, and either squeeze or suck the air out of then when closing. Works pretty well. For your situation, Elixirs or coated D'Addairios may be what you need.
    Chuck

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    Registered User George R. Lane's Avatar
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I lived by the ocean for 28 years, I was a surfer back then, and salt air will eat thru metal at an alarming rate. Sealed food containers are not air tight, I found that out back then with Tupperware. Perhaps one the food preservation machines that remove all the air before sealing would be a better choice.
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Do not most strings - at least GHS and Gibson sets, but also some singles - come in sealed plastic vacuum bags?

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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Isn't fast fret mineral oil? I like the applicator with that

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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    Do not most strings - at least GHS and Gibson sets, but also some singles - come in sealed plastic vacuum bags?
    Most of them these days will claim that their packaging is sealed. I noticed that the last set of D'Addario strings I bought (banjo strings, sorry...) were in plastic sealed envelopes. But I'm not completely sold on the effectiveness of such packaging.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Wilson View Post
    Isn't fast fret mineral oil? I like the applicator with that
    Yes, Fastfret is mineral oil. I like the applicator too, because I can sort of 'scrub' the strings with it.

    When I notice rust starting to appear on my plain strings, I use Nevr-Dull to polish them back up. It extends string life for a short while. I wouldn't use it on coated strings, though, since it would probably accumulate between the windings.

  17. #15

    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I live 6 months a year on a sailboat-- in saltwater. The thing to remember is that plastic is not water vapor proof. It just isn't. It's pretty good, but not perfect. The trick is to take the new strings STILL IN THEIR PLASTIC SEALED WRAP, and put them in a mason jar. Glass is water vapor proof. You can store them until needed.

    Once on, be SURE to wipe each string down carefully after playing. The natural oils in the hand (at least mine), seem to leave the wiped string sufficiently lubed. My salt water strings last as long as the ones do when I live on land (which is only about 4 to 6 weeks).

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    Registered User George R. Lane's Avatar
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    I have several sets of GHS strings in the plastic envelopes, these are not vacuum sealed just the ends are heat sealed. I once worked for company that produced products the outside air would cause the compound to degrade. To counter act this the product was placed on foil lined envelope and a shot nitrogen would drive out the air and protect the product. I was told that nitrogen has larger molecules than oxygen and that is why they used it to keep out the air.
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Wow. Guess I'm not the first with this issue. Thanks again. EXP coated strings corroded. GHS stings in their plastic sealed bags corroded a bit. Maybe I'll try double bagging or a waterproof case, and investigate silica gel packs. I started wiping them down carefully, something I had to do with my guitar strings in years past. I'll try Elixirs and mineral oil products. I lived in Northern California for years, where it's not exactly dry, but this is another level entirely. Life afloat seems to bring unanticipated challenges. Lots of pluses, too, but this is something I need to sort out.


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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid Simpson View Post
    ... Life afloat seems to bring unanticipated challenges. ...
    We had corrosion problems with regular ol' standard consumer-grade chrome-plated dish-drainers in a maritime environment, rust would start coming through the cheap chrome plating in only a month or so (light use, no scratches or other damage). Switched to a plastic-coated version instead, not shiny & pretty, but somehow more rust-resistant. Hard to find high-quality chrome plating anymore, even on custom jobs.

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: String corrosion problems - suggestions?

    You'd think that with Bronze being a Copper / Tin alloy,that Bronze wound strings would be maybe more corrosion resistant than they actually are. I've found that on my mandolins,it's really only where i rest the heel of my hand just behind the bridge that corrodes = goes a tad black. The actual string length on which i play stays pretty corrosion free.They do go 'dull',but that's normal.

    Tobin - I've used WD40 in the past to wipe over my strings with no ill effect at all,long before i ever read of Adam Steffey using it. I used it to wipe my banjo strings over decades ago.
    Read all about WD40 https://wd40.com/cool-stuff/myths-legends-fun-facts (Read the FAQS) . I'm NOT advocating it's use,simply saying that there's nothing harmful in it,i've personally not experienced anything harmful to my instruments in it. These days,if required,i use a similar product - 'Servisol' electronic switch cleaner. It's an anti-oxidant spray that also contains a lubricant. Spray it onto a clean cotton cloth,wipe the string over & wipe it off - job done - result,clean strings that feel good under the fingers,
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