Do wire strings tarnish? What do I do?

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    Jodi Ann Tolman on #144590

    My 4 month old lever harp has a couple wire bass strings that are discoloring. They were shiny silver, but now one string is nearly all copper-colored, and the bottom 4-5″ of another string is getting spots of copper on it too. I don’t think it’s rust. But could it be? Or is it common for wire strings to tarnish? What do I do about it? I don’t think the tone is compromised, but it doesn’t look as pretty.

    Is there any way to fix these strings? And what can I do to prevent this in the future?


    Allison Stevick on #144594

    I don’t think there’s a way to undo the discoloration, but you can prevent it in the future. I wipe down the wire strings after I play, using a guitar string cleaning cloth. It seems to help!

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #144613

    A change in color is due to use, I think, reaction to your oils, but tarnish on silver strings is black, and green on copper strings. If the sound hasn’t changed, don’t worry. And change strings once a year.

    Marco Hilgeman on #144622

    Washing your hands before you play is always a good way to prevent wire bass strings from tarnishing Jodi. Anyway, do you play a lot? Because you mention your harp is 4 months old and when this happens after only 4 months, that’s quite fast IMO. It also depends if you sweat a lot while you play. If you do, that’s where Allison’s tip on post-play string cleaning comes in handy.

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