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Best way of cleaning strings....

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by modernday, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. modernday


    Oct 20, 2002
    St. Paul
    I'm sure this topic has been discussed 10 trillion times, but I would like to know once and for all the best way of cleaning my strings. When I hear them getting dull I'll give them a nice 20 minute boil and wipe them down with alcohol. I used to wipe down my strings with alcohol while they were still on my bass, but when I realized that I was doing to the wood I immediatley stopped. And I heard that boiling your strings messes up the string tension.

    I'm not really sure how I should go about cleaning my strings now, so how do all of you guys do it? I'm very curious.
  2. tappel


    May 31, 2003
    Long Island, NY
    You've basically covered all the basses. Personally, I just wipe down my strings frequently with a dry clean cloth. I've actually been using Carter's Cloth Diapers for years.
    On my strings, that is. :)

  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    on the strings, huh? is that before or after you've soiled them...;) :D
  4. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Boil in boiling water for 5 minutes, then let them hang out to dry for about 2 hours, then wipe them down with a clean lint free cloth.

    I also soak them in metho (metholayted [SP?] spirits) for about 12-15 hours, then let them hang dry for a few hours, then wipe again.

    Ive been doing the latter method latley, so i cant tell you which way is the best :D
  5. modernday


    Oct 20, 2002
    St. Paul
    Nobody else uses alcohol?
  6. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    I'm an alcohol user - for strings only, though:)

    This is a great method from the annals of TB history by MChildree

  7. modernday


    Oct 20, 2002
    St. Paul
    Alright! now we're talking! I assume I'd have to remove my strings from my bass to do this?
  8. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    They gotta come off. I also use the denatured alcohol with a little rag to wipe off the strings after playing gigs during the hot and humid months.

    IME, Denatured alcohol is better for string cleaning than rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol has water in it, and denatured doesn't. Makes for a quicker drying time.
  9. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I am an avid user of the method cited by 20db above (in fact, I have a set soaking right now as I type this) and I can swear by this method. I am finding that I am having to replace my strings less and less, which is REALLY good if you have a lot of basses!

    I have 9 basses (not a lot by TB standards) and i routinely play 8 of them (I can only hope that my P-Bass will one day forgive me). This method of cleaning saves me a boatload of bread!

    Your strings will last a long time if you clean them pretty regularly and ESPECIALLY if they are stainless steel.

    Can't thank MChildree enough for originally posting that method.

    Oh, and I ALWAYS(!) wipe down my strings after touching them, even if I only touch them for a minute. Sure, I get strange looks from g**tarists who only need plunk down 6 bones for a new set, but SCREW 'EM!!!! :p :D
  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    mchildree's method is the way to go. Boiling ruins the strings. So does rubbing alcohol, although not as quickly as boiling. Denatured alcohol does not damage the strings, and cleans them very well.

    I have a set of Dean Markley SR2000's on my Cirrus 6, and every two months I soak them overnight. They still have enough highs to shatter glass, and drive my guitarist crazy.:D
  11. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    This is a paste of a post I made in a similar thread some time ago. It's a little long but not as complicated as it first looks and it really works amazingly:

    I use D'Addario XL70 sets. I like the sound of new (clean) roundwound strings. I change my strings every couple of days to a week but I only go through about 4 or 5 sets a year. Here's how it works:

    I buy 4 or 5 sets at a time. When a set is dirty (dead) I replace them with a clean set and roll the dead set back up like they are when they are new.

    When I get the last clean set on the bass, I take the dead sets and set them around the spindle (the part that turns back and forth) of a washing machine and run it through the Hot cycle. Make sure they rest at least half way down and the water level is set to full. No soap is needed but I find adding some Simple Green gets them extra zingy.

    When they are done I take them out and lay them in the Sun so they get completely dry as to prevent corrosion (You can use a hair dryer or even an oven at 200 for about 30 minutes if there is no Sun available).

    The adgitating water gets inside the windings and flushes the gunk out and then the spin cycle pulls all that dirty water out (just like clothing).

    The only things that may make this process difficult is:
    1. Your bass bridge is not slotted (quick release).
    2. You use taper or exposed core strings (the windings on the B & E may come loose). However, this is what I used to do when I used exposed cores: When they are new put a dab of solder right where the winding ends and the core begins so as to fuse them together (Note: DO NOT do this with the strings ON the bass).

    I've been using this string washing technique for about 17 years and it has never let me down (or damaged a string or washing machine). Strings actually start to sound cleaner then when they are new. I eventually replace the strings (after a year or more/I typicaly play 4 hours a night, 5-7 nights/week) when the frets start to wear down the strings (now THERES a switch) and/or the harmonics don't ring true anymore.

    Every Bassist I have showed this to, over the years, has practically offered to name one of their children after me after trying it.
  12. modernday


    Oct 20, 2002
    St. Paul
    Interesting..... thanks a lot for the info guys.
  13. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Wow, you guys are patient... When the strings are removed from my bass, they go directly to thrash... But I only have one bass, and I change my strings every 2-3 months.
  14. PhatBasstard

    PhatBasstard Spector Dissector

    Feb 3, 2002
    Las Vegas, NV.
    Well, either you are extremely lucky that your hands don't emit the sweat and oils that most people's do....or you like that real old school tone.;)

    Mark King said in an interview that he wants to change strings after using them for only 20 minutes.:eek:
  15. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Actually, I'd change them every week or two, but I'm too lazy... :oops:
  16. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Wow, I guess I don't play as much as you guys do. I put on a new set of strings last Summer and they haven't been taken off yet.

    I only play like an hour per day on average, and I'm not gigging so I guess I'm not putting the strings through major use.

    How would I know if the strings are "dead"? They're definitely not as "zingy" as they were when I first put them on, but they still resonate and stay in tune so I figure they're still OK.
  17. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Your strings are dead when they begin to sound like flatwounds. :D
  18. :confused: How does a flatwound sounds like?!?! Don't have em in my country. Only roundwound nickel here...:bawl:
  19. F*#$NA4


    Jul 11, 2003
    I notice that after cleaning the strings well, via boiling and whatnot, that itis clutch to rotate the strings 180 degrees from how they were originally put on the first time. You guys have probably noticed, while your used strings are off your bass that you can see wear marks on the strings where the string hit the fret, almost causing the string to become flatwound-esque, leading to a lack of brightness. So I say flip the strings around so that there is fresh contact with the strings and the fretboard and the worn out part of the strings are facing out.
  20. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Flatwounds sound like, err... Dead roundwounds. *hides*
    They have less harmonics, but some people like them for their "thump", plus they are less noisy than rounds.