Have you ever wondered, “What do I do with my old guitar strings?” It seems like a waste to throw dozens of strings in the trash every year.
The solution – recycle them.
Most guitar strings are composed of recyclable metals that primarily include nickel, brass, and stainless steel. Modern string manufacturers have come with cheap, effective ways to recycle your guitar strings, at no extra cost to you.
This quick guide will show you where to recycle your guitar strings, and save the environment while you’re at it.
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What To Do With Old Guitar Strings?
When your guitar strings get old and rusty, you know they need replacing. And what's more, you may be confused about what to do with the strings once they're gone. Well, guitar recycling can be a very efficient way to put them to good use.
Apart from recycling them, we can do other things with old guitar strings too. For example, we can use them for making jewelry, hang things on the wall, play music, donate them to the needy, newbie musicians, or to music societies and schools. These are all effective alternatives to throwing them in the garbage.
Every day, our surroundings are exposed to massive amounts of waste, further affecting the climate. It would be smart of us to consider recycling materials that we use in our daily lives. And likewise, we can recycle old guitar strings. Before we move forward to put them in the recycle bin, we have to consider a few things discussed in the sections below.
How Do You Safely Dispose of Guitar String Waste?
If we look around us, most municipal recycling systems don't accept instrument strings as recyclable material.
In 2016, Music Radar reported that there are approximately 1.5 million pounds of string metal garbage every year, giving us an idea of how much waste our society produces daily. Therefore, we need to dispose of guitar string waste safely.
For safe disposal of guitar string waste, we can look for shops nearby that are willing to take and recycle guitar strings. Apart from that, some companies have their own recycling programs.
For example, Cleartone was the first company that started off with the idea of recycling guitar strings.
Subsequently, D'Addario also took on a new initiative known as Playback. This is D'Addario's string recycling program in collaboration with the recycling organization – TerraCycle, which allows guitarists to recycle used strings of any brand at participating locations.
After that, the company can either make a charitable donation or the sender can get rewarded loyalty points. Currently, it is only available in the US, but we hope to see it expanded worldwide soon.
What's The Difference Between Nylon, Steel, And Gut Strings?
When it comes to string types, we have several options to consider:
Nylon strings are primarily found in modern classical guitars. Nylon wound with wire produces a warmer, smoother sound that’s well-suited for classical, flamenco, and folk music. Most classical guitarists prefer fingerstyle playing and strumming, so most nylon string guitars do not come with pickguards.
On the other hand, steel strings are found on acoustic and electric guitars, which are well-suited for playing country, rock, bluegrass, or just about any other type of music. Most acoustic and electric guitars come with pickguards, as most guitarists prefer to play with picks. Hence, pickguards protect the body from any damage caused by picks.
Gut strings are prepared from the natural fiber found in the walls of animals' intestines, such as sheep or goats. These strings are found in stringed instruments like violins, cellos, double basses, harps, acoustic guitars, etc. Classical string players prefer these instruments due to their dark and richer sound. They also withstand high tension within low alto, tenor, and high-bass ranges.
Are There Any Benefits To Recycling Guitar Strings?
As we have mentioned earlier, our climate is prone to exhaustion because of the generation of huge amounts of waste in our surroundings.
Accordingly, it is always beneficial for our environment if we reuse and recycle materials and generate less waste. By reducing waste in the long run, you can play your part in preventing climate change.
Apart from environmental benefits, you can receive reward points from D'Addario by contributing your old guitar strings to D'Addario's string recycling program – Playback.
What's The Best Way To Recycle Guitar Strings?
The best way to recycle guitar strings is to look for shops nearby that are willing to take and recycle guitar strings. Several shops in your locality may offer such programs.
Apart from that, there are companies that have their own recycling programs. For example, you can consider Cleartone and D’Addario’s string recycling programs – both are among the largest in the world.
Tips For Reducing String Waste
Recycling and reusing strings are some of the best options to reduce string waste. Apart from that, it is recommended to donate old guitar strings to the needy and use them to assist household items such as hanging pictures, cutting soft materials, etc.
Why May Some Guitarists Not Want To Recycle Guitar Strings?
Recycling is great for the environment, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to do it all the time either. It may be a personal choice to not recycle guitar strings, but here are a few reasons you may not want to:
- Reuse. Old guitar strings can still be used in many ways, as discussed above. You can even put them on an old instrument and play them (if they’re not too rusted).
- Spare strings. As a guitarist, we know how important it is to have spares. If you’ve ever had a string snap in the middle of a jam session, you’d likely want to keep your old strings for emergencies like these.
- Cost. Buying new strings is expensive, and if you have a dozen guitars, it can be prohibitive. Instead, you can rotate your guitar strings onto the guitars you use the most.
What Can Happen If You Don't Recycle Your Old Guitar Strings?
Not choosing to recycle guitar strings contributes to the large amount of metal garbage generated every year. This toxic garbage is harmful to the planet, and may be a contributing factor to climate change.
How Much Money Can You Save By Recycling Your Guitar Strings?
Recycling can actually help you save quite a bit of money in the long run!
D'Addario's recycling program Playback offers reward points when you recycle with them. You can collect these points over time and buy new strings with them.
How To Make Guitar Strings Last Longer?
This is a frequently asked question among new guitar players. We all know that after playing guitar for weeks or months, corrosion starts to take place. Well, that’s inevitable, but we can delay it by taking a few simple measures.
First, you can use coated strings instead of non-coated ones, as non-coated ones wear out quickly due to corrosion. Coated strings tend to last several months longer.
Secondly, you can wipe your guitar strings with a soft cotton cloth each time you play. This removes grime build-up. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands before and after playing – this keeps the strings clean, and their tone stays fresh.
You can also use a string cleaner or lubricant. They can help smoothen the feel of your old strings, and enhance their playability.
And most importantly, store your guitar properly when not in use. Keep it in a clean place inside a proper guitar bag to protect it from the environment. These small measures can make your guitar strings last longer, and save you time and money.
Are Guitar Strings Recyclable? Conclusion
Yes, now you know that guitar strings are recyclable. And doing so helps save you money as well as the environment. You can even use the reward points to buy new strings! If you ask us, that’s a win-win situation. So go to your nearest participating guitar store, and get your strings recycled!
But keep in mind the various ways to make your guitar strings last longer. They’re simple, effective, and will keep you rocking out on your guitar for longer!