Why Does Fretting Hand Smells Like Garlic?

Why Does Fretting Hand Smells Like Garlic?

You can’t be a cool guitarist if your fingers smell like Garlic. It seems weird to have said that but it indeed happened. Many have been complained by their audience that their fingers have the smell of garlic after stage performance. This problem is much severer in times of warm weather. But why does this happen?

As many of us know, some people have sweaty hands. Not only their palms and the back of their hands sweat a lot, but also their fingers. In fact, according to the research done by the University of Wollongong, no two sweat gland structures are alike. Some people are born with relatively larger and more sensitive sweat glands on their fingertips.

A combination of a wooden guitar, its strings and a sweaty hand produces the smell of garlic. When used with steel strings or coated strings, the odor will be even stronger. Even classical guitars with gut strings and silk strings can be stinky as well because sweat could be left behind on the fretboard or get into the wood.

So how can I get rid of this embarrassing moment?

As suggested by Richard Robinson, an instrument repairman for 40 years at The House of Guitars, guitarists should rub the strings with a cloth and the fretboard with steel wool #0000. Needless to say, it’s also a must to clean your hands before you play.

Another technique to clean guitar strings, according to Robinson once again, would be never apply any household cleaners to the guitar strings. He added, “It’s unwise to use flax oil either because it could lead to an accumulation of viscosity. Don’t use lemon oil as well because the citrus can damage wood. Use the cleaners specially designed for guitar strings instead.”

All in all, everyday maintenance and clean your hands before you play will be the best method to get garlic smell off.