Alcohol for strings question

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by pmcdn, Aug 7, 2021.

  1. pmcdn


    Dec 21, 2020
    I want to clean my bass strings (Rotosound) and I’ve read about using denatured alcohol. I live in a foreign country (Ukraine) now and I can’t find it anywhere. I’ve also read that denatured alcohol is basically the same as pure grain alcohol but with additives to keep people from drinking it.

    Would pure grain alcohol work well for cleaning strings?
    byacey and bholder like this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yes, pure ethanol will do just as well as denatured.
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  3. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    And here I thought you was offerin' to trade ...
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  4. Samohanka (the good stuff) is your friend. Spiritus.
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  5. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    Pure alcohol will works excellently.

    In most countries it would be the other way around.

    And yes, it does actually work, fill some kind of container, a bucket or pot for example, with enough alcohol to cover the strings (you would properly want to be able to put a lid on, to avoid the alcohol from vaporizing, which it does fairly fast, both to avoid alcohol fumes and to ensure the strings stayed covered the whole time), and let the strings soak for approximately 48 hours, wipe the strings with a cloth that does not give off fluff cloth particles, and then hang the string to dry completely (won't take long, alcohol tends to evaporate fairly quickly).

    They won't sound like spanking fresh new strings, but it will in most cases give dead strings new life, even if they usually won't last quite as long as brand new strings before they go dead again.

    But I can attest it actually does work, and to an extend where as far as I am concerned it is actually worthwhile, more effectively than boiling the strings too.


    There's is absolutely no need to either, it will work perfectly fine without, and it won't improve the result.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2021
  6. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016

    Do not drink after.

    Also ...

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    In soviet Russia, they used strings to clean their alcohol.​
  8. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
  9. okabass


    Mar 19, 2005
    If you mean vodka. Yes it works if it doesn't have much sugar. We sometimes cleaned tape echo heads with that.
    Isopropyl alcohol is good and also lighter fluid (naphtha).
  10. I wouldn't use off the shelf vodka; it has too much water content. The water residue left after the alcohol evaporates will rust the string core.
  11. Gothic


    Apr 13, 2008
    You're right, moonshine it is then. :D

    (it was a joke)
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  12. You want the strongest alcohol content you can find.
  13. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016

    And to clean the strings, too. :roflmao:
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  14. What Vvvmm said. Na'zdrovya Vam!
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  15. pmcdn


    Dec 21, 2020
    Ha! Thanks :)

    My alcohol drinking days are long behind me :)
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  16. You're Ukrainian, living in Ukraine, and you don't drink alcohol? Isn't that against the law?
  17. pmcdn


    Dec 21, 2020
    Ha! Actually I’m an American living here in Ukraine but yes, drinking is a required pastime here :)
    pie_man_25 likes this.
  18. Dunno about take heads but I've used kerosene and mineral spirits to clean up my old bike parts, as well as dissolving preservative grease from metal parts on a couple old guns that I have.

    It should work in a similar fashion however you use it - get a jar, roll the strings up into a loop and put them into the jar, slowly pour in the solvent so as to cover the strings, then put the lid on, after maybe an hour or two they should be fine.

    That said, a chemically pure or %90 solution of ethanol, or rubbing alcohols like isopropyl, would be better than a %40 vodka because of the water content - but if it'll clean a tape head it'll clean your strings, I'm just paranoid about rust. Also, I'd steer clear of any flavoured vodka unless you like sticky strings.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2021
  19. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Inactive

    Feb 23, 2011
    I think you overestimate ethanol's effectiveness as a solvent, I very much doubt 1 to 2 hours would be able to dissolve all possible gunk and grease that might have build up over time and is hiding in the cracks between the wounds on an old used string completely, especially if coiled together in a jar, I think something like 24 hours is much more like it, and some sort of larger container than a jar with a lid that would allow more of the surface of the strings to be freely exposed would be preferable too.

    When I did it I personally used a large cooking pot with a lid, made sure the ethanol covered the strings completely, and let them soak for about 48 hours, then dried them off with a cloth made of a fabric that wouldn't rub off fluff cloth particles that potentially could get caught in the wounds of the strings, and then finally hang the strings to dry for an hour or so after that, to be sure all remaining ethanol had evaporated completely before installing them.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2021
  20. It depends on the crud, in all honesty, but you could be right on the amount of time required.

    I think you're being a bit persnickety on the matter of coiling the strings up, but hey, I'm just trying to provide some ideas. If you're willing to set up an experiment on the effects that these variables could have I'm down to read it.