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6 Best Guitar String Cleaners That Also Help You Play Faster

What’s the best way to extend the life of your guitar strings? The answer is simple: keep them clean. Wiping them down after each play (or every few plays) not only extends the life of your strings it makes them play better too.

There are dozens of products out there that not only clean but also lubricate them, helping you play faster. In this article, we look at the best products out there so you don’t have to.

Best Guitar String Cleaners: Product Guide

Music Nomad MN20

MusicNomad The Nomad Tool Set – The Original Nomad Tool & The Nomad Slim (MN204)
  • Works on all stringed instruments, amps, drums, keyboards, pedals, computers
  • Cleans dust & grime from hard to reach areas
  • All in one cleaning tool set with no cleaning solution needed

These pads are great for cleaning up and under your strings. Your fretboard also gets clean too. They’re washable microfiber pads, which are good for cleaning grime away.

Flip the large brush around, and you also have a soft brush to clean off the build-up of dust and dirt on hardware and electronics.

Features:

  • 2 x brushes of different sizes for getting to tricky places
  • Useful brush for removing dust on hardware and electronics
  • Washable microfiber pads

Music Nomad String Fuel

MusicNomad String Fuel Guitar String Cleaner & Lubricant Plus Microfiber Cloth (MN109)
  • CLEAN STRINGS to last longer and sound better with our hybrid blend of refined naturally occurring oils and premium-quality mineral oils for complete string maintenance for electric & acoustic guitar, bass, banjo and more. Safe and works great for all string types including wound (steel, nickel, brass, bronze), nylon and coated strings.
  • REDUCE FINGER NOISE & SQUEAKING that you and your audience hear when changing chords and playing up and down the neck. String Fuel lightly lubricates the strings to reduce finger noise.
  • PLAY FASTER after using String Fuel because cleaner strings with the light lubrication enhance your sliding speed.

Music Nomad MN109 is a top-only applicator with a full-width lubricator the size of the fretboard, so you get an even spread.

It’s ergonomically designed for easy application, rectangular in shape, and includes a space for a removable cloth. The cloth is lint-free too, so you won’t find any leftover fluff after using it.

Features:

  • Ergonomic applicator covers the width of the fretboard
  • Blend of naturally occurring mineral oils
  • Includes lint-free cloth

The String Cleaner

Save $3.00
The String Cleaner by ToneGear
  • Extends the life and preserves the tone of guitar strings
  • Revolutionary design provides unprecedented 360 Degree string cleaning action
  • Cleanable Microfiber pads for long term low maintenance use

This clever little clamp fits above and below your strings and, once locked in place, moves up and down the fretboard. It cleans under the strings really well, not just the top. In the process, your fretboard also gets clean too. 

The cloth is removable for washing but doesn’t come with a cleaning solution so you’ll need to buy some separately.

Features:

  • Top and under cleaner 
  • No chemicals or solutions
  • Also gives the fretboard a clean in the process

D’Addario / Planet Waves XLR8

Save $5.60
D’Addario Accessories XLR8 String Lubricant/Cleaner
  • Removes friction for faster playing
  • Enhances string life and tone
  • Reduces finger noise

The XLR8 from D’Addario / Planet Waves is a cleaner and lubricant. Coming in a robust little tin reminiscent of shoe polish, it’s a handy tool that will last an age. As a top-only product, it’s limited to only cleaning the upper side of the strings, but for speed of application, it’s a good option.

As a lubricator, it also removes friction for faster playing.

Features:

  • Ergonomic applicator
  • Comes in a hard-wearing metal tin
  • Budget price

GHS Fast-Fret

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GHS Strings A87 FAST FRET
10,032 Reviews
GHS Strings A87 FAST FRET
  • Premium string and neck lubricant and string cleaner for all stringed instruments
  • Silicone free cleaner is liquid in an applicator, not a spray
  • Use it on strings, fretboard, back of neck

I’d be surprised if you haven’t encountered Fast Fret already, as they’ve been around for years. It’s designed as a string lubricant that helps you play faster. The application is easy and has a cloth for wiping down any excess liquid.

Features:

  • The bespoke applicator is really handy for running up and down the fretboard
  • Canisters are hard-wearing and easily fit into a gig back
  • Keeps strings sounding fresh

Lizard Spit Fresh-N-Easy

Lizard Spit Fresh-N-Easy String Cleaner/Protector 1 1/3 oz.
  • Fresh-N-Easy String Cleaner/Protector 1 1/3 oz
  • “Safe for skin, lengthens string life
  • Increases speed

The Fresh-N-Easy is by far the smallest string cleaner you’ll find – at a tiny 1 1/3 oz, it’s the size of a nasal spray and super easy to stick in your pocket on the way to a gig and quickly apply after or before your set.

It doesn’t come with a cloth to wipe down any excess though, but it does smell fantastically good. 

Features:

  • Small ‘pocket size’
  • Great smell

String Cleaners Explained

Cleaning and regularly polishing all parts of your guitar is the key to keeping it fit and healthy. As for guitar strings, they have a relatively short life-span once they’re strung on your guitar; this is mostly dependent on how often you play, it could be every 3 to 4 months if you play only a couple of hours a week, or every couple of weeks if you play four hours a day.

Specialist cleaning products remove the natural build-up of grime from dirt, grease, and sweat. This not only preserves their life but makes them sound and play better. Remember, you should also condition your fretboard with oil every so often to keep the essential oils topped up.

You may be thinking ‘why can’t I just use a cloth and some household cleaner’? Well, you could, but if you value your instrument and care for its longevity, you won’t. For a start, your average household cloth is cotton-based and will leave bits of little fluff on your guitar, especially around the fretboard, that you’ll be cleaning off for weeks.

Worse still, this debris affects your tone. As for a household cleaner, your guitar is made of premium grade wood; wiping it down with something you’d use in your kitchen, or furniture polish, will dry out the natural oils in the wood.

But as I said in the introduction, strings aren’t meant to last forever. You can’t preserve a set for years, however, you can keep them and switch them out at regular intervals. But getting in the habit of keeping them clean while they’re on your guitar will have a big impact on the tone and even speed.


Buyer’s Guide – Key Considerations

So, what are the key considerations when buying one?

The first thing is how you apply the cleaning solution. There are broadly three types:

  • Top only – cleans the top of the strings only. This is the quickest to apply, as you just need to whip it out and run it up and down the length of the fretboard. They don’t clean 360°, though.
  • Up and under (clamp) – this style cleans under the strings (360°) and on top, cleaning both the upside and underneath. They are a bit fiddler, though, as they need mounting and locking into place. They’re the most effective cleaning method.
  • Traditional spray – the stuff you spray on and work with a cloth. By far the messiest and most time-consuming method of application.

Some of these products come with a cloth to help with excess liquid. Lint-free, microfiber cloths are preferable as they need no fluff behind. Loopy cotton also dampens the sound, so avoid that.

Finally, while all products will improve the playability of your guitar, some position themselves as lubricators as well. Lubricators are especially useful for heavy metal (shredding) and fast soloing in general, and will also help to reduce any fret noise.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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