String corrosion at outdoor gigs

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by LGOberean, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've mentioned this phenomenon before in other threads. I'm wondering how many deal with this at outdoor gigs, and what conditions besides humid and salty air near bays, the Gulf or oceans affect strings severely.

    I say "severely" because that's my experience. The first time I played an outdoor gig at someone's home on Padre Island, I changed strings on my acoustic/electric guitar an hour before I left for the gig. After 3.5 hours, I took an encore request, strummed the strings, and the G string broke. I looked down and all the strings were corroded, particularly where my palm would rest back by the bridge.

    The corrosion factor has been observed countless times since. That first time is the only time I remember one of the strings actually breaking, but the corrosion from our sea/salt air is a constant. I've never gotten photographic evidence of it before and after the gig, but I did think to take pics this morning of the condition of the strings on both guitars I used at a gig yesterday.

    I did an outdoor gig yesterday in a community called Ingleside on the Bay. It is indeed "on the bay," as in the north shore of the Corpus Christi Bay is just across the street from where I was playing. The guitars I used were Aggie, my Logan Custom acoustic/electric tele...
    01-09-2018 - Logan Custom acoustic-electric - 2.jpeg

    ...and my Firecaster II...
    06-28-2019 - Logan Custom Firecaster II, pics I took - 2.jpg

    To be fair, the strings weren't brand new on either guitar. But still they suffered the ravages of the sea/salt air. Aggie was strung with D'Addario EJ26s (.011-.052 custom light gauge phosphor bronze strings); and my Firecaster II, with D;Addario EXL110s (.010-.046 regular light gauge nickel wound). Here's a couple of close ups of how the strings faired. (Spoiler alert: the phosphor bronze strings corrode much more quickly than the nickel wounds.)
    10-13-2019 - Strings on Aggie after gig at IOTB.jpg
    10-13-2019 - Strings on Firecaster II after gig at IOTB.jpg

    So, does anybody else experience this? Are there other conditions besides living in a coastal town and dealing with the sea air that adversely affect your strings?
     
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  2. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sounds like corrosion from your body to me. I used to sail with a skipper who if he drank a Coke while we were racing, the skin under his watch would turn green during the race. My sweat corrodes Bronze acoustic strings pretty quick. OTOH, I had an acoustic on my boat living in the Caribe for nearly 3 years and the strings didn't get that black as in your picture. Although they did get a bit tarnished. At any rate, it's not the air and sea when it happens that fast I don't think.
    Are those Phosphorus Bronze strings BTW? I find they discolor very fast.
     
  3. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I think it is a combination. Normally, our sweat has someplace to go. But at the ocean, the relative humidity can be awful close to 100% and we're sweating more and the cocktail has really no-place to go. We may not be ready to pass out, because the breeze keeps us going, but the chemistry is really right for metallic items we retain contact with in such an environment. It'll rust up a lot faster than a cast iron brake rotor we're not touching or messing with. Galvanic reaction, close to ideal conditions for corrosion.
     
  4. Stubee

    Stubee Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    When I visit coastal FL in the winter to early Spring I string my flattop with EXPs just because of the corrosion from the salt air.
     
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  5. GuitLoop

    GuitLoop Tele-Meister

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    I've experienced the same thing when playing at the beach (by the salty ocean). Brand new strings were ruined. Corroded and dead sounding...these were acoustic strings. Electric strings suffered some too but not as bad as the acoustic strings.
     
  6. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    In my description I didn't allow for the sweat factor; that's a valid point.

    That said, if the primary aspect of the problem was my sweat, this would be a constant in other situations besides gigs on the Island/by the Bay. I sweat at all my climate controlled indoor gigs as well. I think it's an adrenaline thing. I occasionally play on my deck in the back yard, and I live three residential blocks from Corpus Christi Bay. If I played outside on the deck like that every day, I'm sure my strings would tarnish/corrode faster. But the phenomenon I've observed of playing on the Island/Bay, that corrosion occurs much more rapidly.
     
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  7. stxrus

    stxrus Friend of Leo's

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    The farthest I can get from the sea is 4 miles. The two clubs I play at are even closer. One is about 100’ from the harbor the other is under 1000’. The bars in Christiansted are between 30’ to maybe three blocks
    I know folks that play farther away (that 3-4 miles) but all have issues with salt water in the air.

    The killer for me, and my strings, is my sweat. I have a very acidic sweat and can kill strings in short order. I’ve tried wrist bands but they don’t work for me. I have a fan running in front of me and it does seem to help but my hands and arms still sweat. I can towel wipe on a regular basis (both me and the neck) but I’ve decided it’s really an exercise in futility

    When I lived in Mississippi & N Texas the problem wasn’t as bad but it was still there
     
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  8. Stratwrangler

    Stratwrangler Tele-Meister

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    Wd 40 works well for this when I used to gig 3 times a week I would kill strings because of my sweet , spray strings and wipe off before fitting, ultra slick feel and drives away moisture. Not to everyones taste but might help for your open air gigs.
     
  9. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

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    The composition of human sweat varies from person to person, some are more acidic than others etc. Consequently what happens to guitar strings when exposed to each individuals sweat is going to vary. Sounds as though the problem is a combination of sweat and salt air affecting the strings. Coating the strings with something will help reduce corrosion from which ever source. WD40 as mentioned above works as does string lubricant. Candle wax works as well, it also reduces string slide noise. The trick is to keep recoating the strings. I use either D'Addario XLR8 or Fender String Slide, both work well. You will get a build up of whatever you use, even WD40 will leave a built up of "gunk" eventually as dirt etc sticks to it. so a regular clean and recoat is needed before and after a session. As for hands, regular washing, wiping with a sanitized hand wipe or dry towel in breaks between playing all help to keep sweat levels down. The good old stand by, talcum powder, works as well.
     
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  10. kbold

    kbold Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Looks like you need coated strings.
    Not my cuppa tea, but might be needed in your case.
     
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  11. urbandefault

    urbandefault Tele-Meister

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    This.

    BTW, you got more pics of them Logans? There might still be a few people that haven't seen them yet. :lol:
     
  12. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Bruce-Springsteen-Croke-Park-27-05-16-32.jpg Nerves can make for a very corrosive perspiration, but if this was just at outdoor gigs near the waters I would attribute more to what Jimmy Buffett once wrote in a song:

    "The salty air ain't thin, it will stick right to your skin...."

    I think it is just the salty air being trapped against the strings below your palm. Maybe wear one of those carpal tunnel wraps like Springsteen wears to protect the strings.
     
  13. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yeah, again, the sweat factor is definitely a large part of the problem, but this kind of string corrosion for me only comes from two things: not changing the strings on for a l-o-n-g time, or outdoor gigs here in the Texas Coastal Bend.

    BTW, where in north Texas and Mississippi did you live? Our family farm is southwest of Ft. Worth, and my Great-grandfather moved our branch of the family to Texas from a little farming community in northeastern Mississippi, west of Corinth.
     
  14. FMA

    FMA Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup. Came here to say this. We do a lot of shows outdoors in the summer in pretty humid conditions. Before switching to coated strings, I was changing strings pretty much after every other show. Now, a set of Elixirs lasts pretty much the entire summer. I didn't think I'd like them as much as Mangans, but I got used to them and they sound good and stay in tune. And they hold up well in humid conditions.
     
  15. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    Silly anecdote:

    This is a LONG time ago, but in the early '80's ( follow this) a whole bunch of us that actually went to college in Erie, PA had our annual July 4th reunion party ( usually in PA), including our old band, at
    my wife's old roommate's Mountain home in Blacksburg, VA ( roommate was at VA TECH grad school) I'm actually from NoVa, but went to college in PA.

    Anyway we all stayed at this huge old house, ran out of water, hotter than hell, for 3 days. But we were young.

    Between my( then) Martin copy and Strat copy- I broke 11 strings in 2 days!
     
  16. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    WD-40?!? Candle wax?!? :eek: That sounds to me like the cure is worse than the disease! I do have a can of Fast Fret...
    [​IMG]

    I use it to reduce the noise of the callouses on my fingers squeaking on the strings, but I've often wondered if it does anything to extend the life of my strings.

    I've experimented with coated strings before. I'm not ruling them out, but I've gotten mixed results. IIRC, on my first experiment with coated strings, those suckers lasted like 4 months. I was impressed, so I bought another set, but they didn't last a full 2 months. Haven't tried again.

    And I have a bunch of strings on hand, so it's hard to motivate myself to switch to coated strings. Whenever the local GC has a sale--and they always have a sale going on, be it President's Day, Valentine's Day, St. Paddy's Day, St. Swithin's Day, Kwanza, Festivus, you name it--they always put strings on sale, and often the brand (D'Addario) and gauge(s) I use are the ones on sale, so I stock up. I've got 24 sets of D'Addario phosphor bronze strings for my acoustics, and 25 sets of nickel wound strings for my electrics.
     
  17. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    :lol::lol::lol:

    Is that your not so subtle way of telling me that I'm overdoing it with pics of my Logan Custom guitars? :oops: I readily admit, I'm proud of 'em, and I think it's often appropriate to post pics of 'em in discussions, especially given the "Pics or it didn't happen" dictum so prevalent on TDPRI. But I'll back off a bit.
     
  18. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    For lyrics about the salty sea air of South Texas, I more readily think of Guy Clark's "South Coast of Texas"...

    Oh, the South Coast of Texas is a thin slice of life
    It is salty and hard, it is stern as a knife

    And compared to Springsteen, I mildly perspire during my gigs!
    [​IMG]
     
  19. LGOberean

    LGOberean Doctor of Teleocity

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    :eek::eek::eek:

    Man! You must've been going through G strings fasting than a stripper on steroids!
     
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  20. Stratwrangler

    Stratwrangler Tele-Meister

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    Fast fret is basically mineral oil, if your using that a little bit of olive oil works just as well and a lot cheaper , when I say use wd40 I o mean a very small amount on a rag will keep moisture away and not gunk up.
    But it does have a small amount of silicone in it so mind your finish or if ever want to re finish can lead to fish eyes in the paint, sanme as using some brands of furniture polish on your guitar body some have silicone in.
     
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