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Allergy Help

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by colbyAKAbobby, Aug 15, 2012.


  1. colbyAKAbobby

    colbyAKAbobby

    Jul 21, 2011
    My fingers, only on my left hand (specifically first and third finger), experience terrible eczema a few hours after I play my bass guitar. It gets so bad that I wake up having the worst itchy sensation I've ever experienced. I thought I had it figured all out. I assumed it was the nickel in the strings, and that I had an allergy. So, I switched to a set of DR stainless steel strings. That seemed to work. Then I bought a precision bass that I wanted to have flatwounds on, so I bought a set of Fender 9050's, stainless steel flats. That did not work.

    I need someone who has experienced this same thing to help me out. Are there strings out there that you are for sure have no effect on your allergy? I think I might've read something about D'Addario Chromes doing the trick, but I need a second opinion.

    Also, if anyone has anyone has knowledge about how humidity affects your strings, let me know. I think the fact that my band practices in a garage and I leave my bass out on it's stand all the time might have something to do with it. I've played on Fender 7350's, stainless roundwounds, and they seemed not to bother me, until now. I'm thinking the environment of my bass is suspect.

    I'm really trying to get to the bottom of this so I don't waste hundreds of dollars on strings that irritate me.

    Thanks for your help. It's a major bummer that I'm allergic to something I love so much. :bawl:
     
  2. Not too sure, but could coated strings work?
     
  3. hotbass57

    hotbass57

    Nov 27, 2011
    Fairfield,Ohio
    Coated or tape wound????
     
  4. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    According to this post and this post, it sounds like the 9050's have been known to cause issues in people with nickel allergies, despite being stainless steel (which makes me wonder if they use an inner nickel wrap or something), and that Chromes seem to work just fine.

    I'm not a flats player and I'm not allergic to nickel, so I'm sorry I can't be of more help.
     
  5. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    Not all stainless steel strings have zero nickel in them...
     
  6. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    By golly gee willickers! You're right. According to this page, stainless steel can be up to 22% nickel! I guess this shouldn't be too surprising, though, given that cobalt and iron are absent and you need SOME magnetic material to react to the pickup.

    I wonder which types are typically used for strings.
     
  7. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    Owner: BassStringsOnline.com
    There are different types of stainless steel.

    I have some customers with nickel allergies and have an idea of what works for them... but not sure the extreems of every case.
     
  8. colbyAKAbobby

    colbyAKAbobby

    Jul 21, 2011
    I'm sorry I didn't read around more carefully, I guess chromes is the answer. I'm also sorry that I have no clue what sort of metals are in strings. Should've looked it up before coming to TB...
     
  9. FunkMetalBass

    FunkMetalBass

    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    That was the only result I found regarding the 9050's and nickel allergies, so no worries about not finding it. These are the kinds of questions we DO welcome on TB. There are a lot of folks on here with nickel allergies, but not enough that play flats and write about it. There are probably fewer people who even know that stainless steel often contains nickel.

    If you ask me about which bass is best for metal, I might have to change my opinion of you, but as it stands now, great question. :)
     
  10. RedsFan75

    RedsFan75

    Apr 26, 2007
    Cincinnati
    I've got issues that sound a lot like yours. The itching, and then if I don't stop playing, I'll eventually blister, even under any calluses I've built up. Dr's said it was nickel allergy...

    I've had issues with Fender strings, and had one bass that had TI JF's on it (nickel), but I've NEVER had issues with LaBella, DR, or any of the Lakland strings. I've used flats and rounds. I've not tried any other brands since I was diagnosed, but I've used LaBella Fx Flats, DR Long Neck, Fatbeams and Legend Flats, and Lakland both rounds and Flats. I have also used the nickel K3 coated from DR, their Silver Stars, with no allergy issues.

    I'd be wary of Chromes, since D'Addario makes Fender strings now if I'm not mistaken, but Jason (SLaPiNFuNK) might be better to answer that one....
     
  11. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    All steels by definition contain iron and carbon, and stainless contains chromium to passivate the metal against corrosion via CrO2. Many steels contain nickel as an alloying element and Ni is the single biggest culprit for metal sensitivities in humans--especially where body piercings have previously introduced solubilized Ni ion into blood plasma. Do you folks with the sensitivities also have a piercing or three?
     
  12. GK Growl

    GK Growl Banned

    Dec 31, 2011
    I too have a nickel allergy (recently discovered) but the signs have been there since my teens (I'm in my 40's now). As a teen, I pierced my ears and they got very irritated - I thought it was because of my poor technique. Fast forward to a little while ago. When I would wear a belt, I would get a rash where the buckle was contacting my skin. Being mostly a stainless steel string player, when I tried nickels recently my fingers beacame irritated and actually blistered in spots. I heard that nickel allergies can suddenly develop too after a long exposure time, like years.

    My understanding of stainless steel alloys is that a lot of string makers use 430 stainless steel. Even if there is nickel in it, it is bound up very tightly and can't be released easily so usually there is no irritation. I've had good luch with a variety of stainless steel round from a variety of manufacturers but have no experience with flatwounds. Currently using DR Hi Beams with no problems.
     
  13. 254 stringer

    254 stringer

    Apr 15, 2010
    Waco Texas
    I think i am allergic to nickel too. I bought a necklace once that was "silver" but the silver flaked off and it gave me a rash on my neck. I also get the rash on my belly from certain belt buckles but strings don't seem to bother me at all. I play nickel rounds and never have any problems with my fingers.
     
  14. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Magnetic stainless steels (ferritic and martensitic) would have to be used for bass strings if magnetic pickups are used. These types of stainless have relatively low nickel contents, maybe 2% or less, versus 8-10% in non-magnetic stainless steels like you find on fridge doors. Beyond that, it would seem to me that the nickel isn't going to be particularly mobile in these alloys since the CrO2 keeps the corrosion down and that's the only way the nickel ions are going to get onto your skin.

    Take home: stainless strings should be pretty good even with well-developed nickel sensitivity.

    On a couple of side-notes, I wonder about cryogenically hardened stainless strings like my Dean Markley Blue Steels. That sort of treatment is normally used to convert austenitic (read high Ni) stainless into a martensitic form. Also: I just got my first set of Ernie Ball cobalt strings. My guess is that those are made from CoCr alloy, but there are cobalt steels used for machine tools that have about 8% cobalt in the steel.
     
  15. GK Growl

    GK Growl Banned

    Dec 31, 2011
    From what I've read, if a person has a nickel allergy, chances are are they also have a cobalt allergy.
     
  16. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Nope. Not unless the cobalt is alloyed with nickel. The sensitivity is highly specific and due to protein binding to nickel ions.
     
  17. colbyAKAbobby

    colbyAKAbobby

    Jul 21, 2011
    Is anyone able to secondly back up the fact that D'Addario's Chromes should be okay? I need reassurance.
     

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