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Boiling Bass Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by ahhelpme, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. ahhelpme


    Aug 26, 2004
    Does anyone here boil their strings? I havent actually done this but ive heard that some people boil their strings in vinegar or salt. Just wanted to get everyone elses opinions on it, that all, and im not too fond of boiling my strings, I just dont feel that easy about it. Anyone here do it?
  2. BottomFeeder86


    Oct 18, 2004
    When i used to use non-coated strings other than Elixir Nanowebs, i boiled them to get back that ever so short lasting "new string" sound. It seemed to give me back a little life, but i also tried soaking them in Denatured Alcohal too, and that seemed to work a little better. I always played with clean hands, but there is always that little bit of oil that makes them sound crappy to me. I also turn my strings, so the little markings ( i can see them easily if i pluck the string and watch it vibrate in the right light, off of the bass) and put the worn sections facing away from the frets. This way i get a little more life left.... :cool:
  3. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I use to all the time when I was broke years back.... not I just wipe them with a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to freshen them.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I use the 'soak in denatured alcohol' method.

    Works much better than boiling. When I tried boiling strings, they got some brightness back, but within a day or two they were deader than before I boiled them.

    Soaking them in denatured alcohol brings almost all of the brightness back, and they keep it about as long as a new set of strings.
  5. I boil my strings in chicken stock and a little cayenne pepper. That way I can rejuvenate my strings and have lunch at the same time. :D :D

    Actually, I've read alot about both methods. I'd say that you'd have to be careful when boiling in just plain water because the minerals in the water can actually attach themselves to your strings. To prevent this, a splash of white vinegar is probably in order.

    The denatured alcohol method appears to be much simpler, however...just remember....NO SMOKING! :scowl:
  6. ahhelpme


    Aug 26, 2004
    yeah ill give the denatured alcohol a try, thanks guys..
  7. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
    I boil my strings for years with very good results.
    Put them to the pot with about 4-5 cm level of water with 2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid.
    Boil for about 3 minutes. (if foaming heavily, decrease the heating). Using fork, take out strings from pot and flush under clean hot tap water (hot to avoid thermal shock). Unwind string rings and wipe them with dry clean cloth.
    Serve to your bass! At first strings will sound a bit damped due to wetness in threads, but after thorough drying up after about two hours they will sound almost like new. I do this process about two or three times, after every month or so of use, before final disposing of string set. No string cracking problems whatsoever and I haven't experienced fast deadening, that new clearer sound remains relatively stable. I didn't try the alcohol method, though.
    I use dishwashing liquid instead of vinegar because 1. I don’t like smell of vinegar and 2. modern dishwashing liquid is more efficient in degreasing and cleaning than old-times vinegar used for it by our grandmas.
    As for some of you getting unsatisfying results with boiling vs soaking, I think that’s because you probably boiled them in clean water. Adding few drops of dishwashing liquid makes the difference, IMO.
    Another thought - nickel vs steel - above method works well for me and I use pure nickel strings. Steel strings may react differently, who knows?
  8. Philthy

    Philthy Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2001
    Flanders, NJ
    Soaking in denaturated alcohol works great. I used to boil my strings back in the day until I found out about the denaturated alcohol thing on this site. I actually took someones advice on here, went to Home Depot, bought a skinny piece of PVC pipe and a cap. I cut the PVC pipe to about string length and using some PVC pipe glue, I glued the cap on the other end. I filled the pipe, not to the top though, with denaturated alcohol (which you could also get at Home Depot) and put the strings in ball end first. I prop the pipe against the garage wall to hold it up and let the strings soak over night. Next day, take them out, wipe them down to dry them and put back on the bass. You could reuse the alcohol over and over again. I just pour it back into the container.

    Give it a try.
  9. Magelus


    Sep 12, 2004
    I personally don't have any experience with this, but I just thought I'd let you know that at www.thedudepit.com there is a section about this, and there is some good information there. There is a post in there saying that peeing on your strings works just as well, and I'm waiting to see if it's a joke or not. It probably is, but you never know...
  10. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    obviously you didn't get the memo, but this is only true if you are a chupacabra
  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Or an English big cat.
  12. pistoleroace


    Sep 13, 2002
    I've been boiling my strings in water (no soap or vinagar) now for at least 21 yrs and still do to this day. It definately makes a huge difference and brings the brightness back. If I put new strings on, I will use them for a couple of weekend gigs but after that I usually boil them before every weekend or ever other weekend. One thing I have learned over the years is not to boil them too long. 2-3 minutes tops if the water is boiling before you put the strings in. Be careful not to put the protective wraps at the end of the strings in the water.

    I think the reason boiling works better is, the boiling action cleans between the windings. When boiling the strings, if they are dirty, you will see a white/yellowish film floating on the top of the water. Give it a try.
  13. RollingMonkey


    Nov 11, 2004
    One thing that's always stopped me from boiling strings is this: once you take the strings off, don't the ends (which go through the tuning machines) stay kind of coiled? How do you put them back on then?
  14. spidersbass


    Nov 29, 2004
    Downtown L.A.
    force 'em through with some manpower!

    i clean my strings with some WD-40. i keep a bottle and a rag inside my case for whenever i want to clean them. this really brightens the strings up. but goes away in about a week. i'ma try the alcohol in a pvc pipe sometime, see how that goes.
  15. RollingMonkey


    Nov 11, 2004
    OK, then. Brute force is always fun!

    Gonna try boiling my strings today... :)
  16. I boil the strings. like previously said, it takes something more than girly hands to re-string, but the difference is noticable - brightness and clarity etc.

    I love Geddy Lee, and he has the "every show new strings" thing, which I wish I could have. Where I am from, bass strings are, like, 5 times more expensive than guitar.

    Boiling gives you a little extra "life", but I have never tried the alcohol thing on my strings, only on my throat.

    Give it a try - it does work, except for the messy cotton crap on the end of your strings.
  17. RollingMonkey


    Nov 11, 2004
    Yeah, boiled 'em and it worked like a charm! Awesome!
  18. jamesonellis


    Nov 12, 2004
    how about crc industrial degreaser,leaves no residue and is so toxic that it must work.i take my strings off and spray them down(outside) loosely coiled.do not do it on the bass because it melts certain types of plastic
  19. I use denatured alcohol.

    I don't like boiling strings because water stays between windings, and sometimes they corrode because of that. And there is the temperature question. I'm not sure that heating them and then leaving them to cool off will not do any good to your strings.

    Alcohol has at least one advantage. It doesn't stay between the windings, it just evaporates. No corrosion there.
  20. spidersbass


    Nov 29, 2004
    Downtown L.A.
    thats true everywhere though