Recently I changed the strings on my acoustic guitar for the first time. I went from using 12mm gauge strings, to a thinner 10mm. Not only are these easier to press down on for beginners but they are also kinder on the fingers.
When I found this out it was also recommended to me that I change my strings once a month or every 300 hours of playing time. So I decided to buy 12 packs to see me through a good part of the year.
What I didn’t know at the time was that guitar strings can expire in the packet if not stored correctly. So I did some research and rounded up the 5 best ways to store unopened guitar strings to prevent this from happening..
1. Location, Location, Location
The environment in which you store your guitar strings is essential. Humidity is the greatest factor when it comes to damaging strings, the moisture reacts with the strings and oxidation occurs.
People who live in coastal locations will also notice that the salty sea air can have a detrimental action on guitar strings and they can quickly corrode.
So to avoid this happening and rust forming, keep the strings in a cool and dry location, and not in a damp basement or attic where the temperature can jump to extremes.
If you have a guitar case then I would recommend storing them there and getting a two way humidifier like the one I talk about here, not only will it be good for your guitar it will also be good for your strings.
This will then mean you always have strings on backup should any break and they will be fresh and ready to go on your guitar. Otherwise, find somewhere in your home that is away from the extremes in temperature and humidity and you should be fine
2. Transfer Unsealed Guitar Strings To A String Storage Box
Often strings will come in a paper packet or an unsealed packet, the issue is, how long have they been sitting like this? and what type of environment have they been stored in?
So try to avoid buying guitar strings like this if you can but If you do have some like this already then one of the best and cheapest ways to store them is in a ziplock bag or a tupperware box with a small silica gel packet.
Silica gel packets often come with items you buy, so may have some lying around the house, if you don’t, they are cheap, you can buy 50 of them for cheap (click here to check price at Amazon). This way it will keep the air out and absorb any moisture in the strings already and maintain their freshness.
3. Buy Strings In Sealed Packets
D’Addario guitar strings come in anti corrosive sealed packets or ‘VCI’ (Vapour Corrosion Inhibitor packets) and these will last a lot longer than strings in an unsealed packet, as long as you store them correctly.
Other string companies like Ernie Ball and Elixir also ship their strings in air-tight packaging. This vacuum removes air and so decreases the chance of the strings oxidizing.
So consider spending a few extra dollars on some quality strings, if you buy them in bulk then it works out better because they last longer in their packets.
You will still need to store these out of the extremes in temperature and humidity though so as to prolong their life.
4. Don’t Buy Too Many String Sets
Buying in bulk can make things a lot cheaper but if you don’t know how they were previously stored then you are opening yourself up to that risk.
Consider buying in sets of 6 or 12 for the year, one a month, and then storing these.
There is no reason to buy an enormous number of sets unless the manufacturer has announced your favorite set will be discontinued.
5. Vacuum Sealer
Until you put them on your instrument, strings with a metal component should always be stored in humidity-free sealed plastic.
If you don’t already have one at home then consider buying a small vacuum sealer, not only is it great for the preservation of food or clothes but they will work wonders for guitar strings.
You can buy clothes vacuum bag for under $10 in most hardware stores which are pretty inexpensive in the scheme of things. Get a big bag and lay out the packets of strings if you have different types. Then once sealed you will be able to see what you have left at a quick glance.