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Denatured Alcohol questions

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by FenderJazzFan, Sep 4, 2010.


  1. FenderJazzFan

    FenderJazzFan

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    Hi,

    I have a few questions about using denatured alcohol on my bass strings.

    1. Does it really make the strings sound like new? i.e. returning the nice bright slap sound.
    2. Does the whole string including the silk wrap stay in the denatured alcohol?
    3.Supposedly Denatured Alcohol and Methylated spirits are similar, how about White spirit?
    4.Can the strings be curled up and wrapped around whilst being soaked? or must they be straight?
    5.Once they have been soaked, do you just wipe them down with a cloth? or wash them? because methylated spirits are an Irritant.
    6. Can I store the strings outside in the soaking process?


    Thanks

    FJF
     
  2. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

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    I made a string tube (google that) filled with denatured alcohol to clean my strings. And yes it does make my strings sound new again. The strings are straight in the tube but they could be wrapped or anything really, doesnt matter. I usually dont wipe them down after I bring them out, I let the alcohol evaporate on its own, but you certainly could wipe it down. Sometimes the silk ends get a little frayed but its no big deal.
     
  3. FenderJazzFan

    FenderJazzFan

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    Thanks, also

    1. How many times is it possible to do this to strings before replacement is required?
    2. Can I store them outside in a lunchbox container? as I don't want to keep the highly flammable spirits in the house. (Does humidity affect strings or just bass wood?)
    3. Would white spirit work? (liquid parafin paint stripper) / or how about wd40?

    Thanks
    FJF
     
  4. Vomish

    Vomish

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    Location:
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    Hi

    I only use 99% denatured alcohol and an airtight glass container (plastic should be alright with the alcohol too). I coil the strings (much like they are individually coiled when you buy them) and then drop them into the container. Once the lid is on tight, you do not have to worry about fumes escaping and you will not lose very much (if any) of the alcohol (then it can be reused over and over). After they have soaked for a day, I wipe them down with a microfiber cloth to remove any dirt that may still be attached. You could do this as many times as you feel is necessary with your strings but eventually I find the strings become too worn from the frets and need to eventually be replaced.

    The string tube is an interesting idea but you need WAY more alcohol and the end of the string that is wrapped around the tuning post becomes a PITA to work with if your tube is a small diameter.

    Cheers,
    Vomish
     
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  6. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

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    I have been rotating in a few sets of strings for a while now so you could prolong your strings for a good long time. Its really when they dont sound fresh anymore or go dead really fast is when they will need to be replaced. IME that will be a while. Yes you could store them outside as long as the lunchbox is sealed and the weather wont get into it. And depending on where you live if in the winter it snows and freezes. Im not sure about white spirits or wd40, but I would just get some denatured alcohol at lowes for $14.
     
  7. ggunn

    ggunn

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    Any C3 or less alcohol (isopropanol, ethanol, methanol) will work fine, but methanol fumes are toxic. I wouldn't use paint thinner/stripper or WD-40.
     
  8. Medford Bassman

    Medford Bassman

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    I just use rubbing alcohol and cotton balls. They don't make the strings "brand new" but very effective to get the grime, dirt and crud off the strings.
     
  9. FenderJazzFan

    FenderJazzFan

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    Ok so I've set it up now, so 14 hours long enough?

    And also where can I leave it to evaporate? it is only about 15C where I live, and if they are left outside they will just get dirty.

    Finally you mentioned I can reuse the methylated spirits?, wouldn't that defeat the object of cleaning as the dirt residue would be in the spirits?

    Thanks

    FJF
     
  10. Jaco D

    Jaco D

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    My understanding is rubbing alcohol has some water content, which could cause the strings to rust. I think this is why denatured alcohol is recommended.
     
  11. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

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    I just set my out on a counter to evaporate. It doesnt take long, but again, you can wipe it down with a cloth to speed that up. I reuse my string tube without changing the alcohol for a while without any trouble so you should be good without changing it for a while.

    John
     
  12. FenderJazzFan

    FenderJazzFan

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    awesome, thanks for the help :)

    FJF
     
  13. ggunn

    ggunn

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    All alcohol you can buy commercially has some water content, but the water evaporates along with the alcohol. For example, a blend of 95% ethanol 5% water has a lower boiling point than either substance alone; when an alcohol water mixture evaporates, that is the composition of the vapor and that is why the alcohol you buy has water in it to begin with.

    Denatured alcohol is usually about 85% ethanol, 10% methanol, and 5% water. It does evaporate faster than isopropyl alcohol because of its higher volatility and lower molecular weight, but they both evaporate cleanly. All that "denatured" means is that the 95% ethanol - 5% water distillation product (perhaps better known as Everclear) has had something (usually 10% methanol by volume) added to it to make it undrinkable.
     
  14. FenderJazzFan

    FenderJazzFan

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    Worked brilliantly, giving my jazz some life :)
     
  15. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

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    I just boil them, but I use stainless...
     
  16. JET-1977

    JET-1977

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    I used to boil mine but a fellow TB'er convinced me that both heat and water are bad for your strings. I built a string tube as well. BTW...I have extra PVC pipe and denatured alcohol...if any TB'ers south of Chicago want the extra PVC pipe to build there own string tube you can have it.

    Regarding water in the alcohol...it's called an azeotrope. I knew that little fact would come in handy at some point in my life.
     
  17. Florox

    Florox

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    Yes, but it the product contains any water the strings will oxidize. I'd would play it safe and get the denatured alcohol. I used Mineral Spirits on mine, but since mine are Stainless Steel, they came out like new with no problems.
     
  18. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

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    I use a Mason jar. Soak them overnight. I usually can clean a set 2 or 3 times and have them come back pretty zingy. After cleaning 10 or so sets I poured the alcohol through a paper coffee filter. I was suprised at the amount of crap that comes off the strings.
     
  19. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

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    Thats a good idea! I might have to try that.
     
  20. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

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    Id like to add that I used to boil my strings for a long time before I made the tube and that worked pretty well too. Im sure the heating up and cooling down would eventually break down the string faster than soaking in alcohol, but I didnt come across that point back when I used to do it all the time.
     
  21. ggunn

    ggunn

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    Denatured alcohol has water (about 5%) in it.
     

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