How to recycle your strings

As a practicing guitar player, you should change your strings every month or so. When you do, be sure to recycle your strings. Don’t just throw them in the trash can. Put them to good use. Here are some ideas of how to recycle your old guitar strings.

1. Second Strings Project
This project, run by Darryl Purpose, is a humanitarian effort to give used strings to guitarists around the world with limited or no access to new strings. To do this, you must save the string set’s original packaging and you cannot snip the strings or shorten their length in anyway in the removal process. Detail are available here.

2. Arts and Crafts
A creative individual can make wonderful things out of guitar strings. Check out this jewelry maker who specializes in crafting bracelets, rings, necklaces and such out of used instrument strings. If you have children, I’m sure there are many opportunities to used old strings to make costumes or science and art projects.

3. Recycle them with your soda cans, newspapers and plastic bottles
Guitar strings are made of steel, bronze, and nickel. Metals can be recycled and therefore your municipality should accept old strings with the rest of your recycling. When in doubt, call your public waste officials to find out if used guitar strings can be recycled in your area.

    You can minimize how frequently you replace your strings by doing the following:

    1. Use coated guitar strings
    Coated guitar strings cost more but last longer. More specifically, coated guitar strings keep their shimmering, “new string sound” for a lot longer than standard strings. The main reason that your guitar strings start to become dull-sounding after a few hours is that your fingers’ dead skin accumulates on the strings and inhibits the strings’ vibration. This effect is minimized by the teflon-like coating applied to the strings. Your finger gunk doesn’t stick to the strings as much and they vibrate more freely.

    Bob Taylor, the founder and president of Taylor Guitars, had this to say about coated guitar strings in the Fall 2010 issue of Wood&Steel:

    “Coated strings will last longer, and they sound the way they sound. If I were to describe their sound, I’d say they lose that brand new sound of uncoated strings, but that sound only lasts a couple hours on a guitar anyway. A coated string sounds like a three-hour-old set of uncoated strings, basically. I like the sound of coated strings, and their sound lasts a long time. I like Elixir® strings because they really stay clean and sound and feel fresh for a ridiculously long time. And since I’m a guitar maker, I’m really crappy about changing my strings, so I need all the help I can get.”

    2. Clean your strings
    You can keep that “new string sound” much longer just by wiping down your strings after every use, especially the underside. I won’t claim to do this, but it does help keep your strings sounding like new for longer.

      For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give, visit

      2 responses to “How to recycle your strings

      1. Hello!
        we are a french association who recycle all guitars and bass strings. In 60 years we won’t be able to find more Nickel…so we have to change our behaviour now!
        All the money earned is dedicated to solidarity action in health, sustainable developpment…
        Please come on and visit our web site (in french for the moment)!

        You can also find us on Facebook!
        Thanks to everyone

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