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boiling bass strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by brainhii, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. brainhii


    Mar 25, 2007
    underage bass player here looking to save a buck on strings. would boiling my strings and putting them back on help me get back that crisp metallic tone of new strings, or maybe make it a little clearer. i heard something to that effect. would my strings even survive that? i would think so...
  2. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Was standard procedure back in the day. I'd cook them in a motel kitchenette when we had a pot big enough. Just make sure they are dry before you put them back on. A couple hours of sunlight usually did the trick.
  3. some tell me it makes the strings brittle and break easier when you boil them. Have you found that to be true?
  4. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    ick - don't waste your time. Yes, this was what we did when strings were crazy expensive but not so much anymore...
  5. I do it. Works for me.

    as for them being more brittle... they are old strings in the first place. I doubt that anyone could possibly make the point that they break easy after you boil them considering they were already too old to be on the bass.
  6. I used to do it all the time years ago. Brings the brightness back some, and does extend the use of the string. Never had a problem with them after boiling, just wiped them off really good and put them back on.
  7. atauntaun


    Sep 14, 2008
    Alameda, CA
    Endorser Jule Amps Monique
    I used to boil my strings all the time. It works fairly well. They don't stay bright as long as a new set, but it brings some life back.
  8. You're going to get split answers here on that one: some boil - some use alcohol. I coil my strings back up to a little bigger than the size they came, and put them in a pot with a little dish soap (ooh they smell so good when they're done too!) - boil on MED for about 30 min - rinse - let dry. Works great, and I've never seen rust.
  9. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    I've been a bass player for 44 years - never have boiled strings - never will. This has been discussed on threads (consider doing a search for lots of opinions) and most, I think, say that it's pretty much pointless. My advice - keep a good clean hand or dish towell nearby and wipe down your strings after each use. Slip the towell between the neck and strings and do the bottom and sides as well. Heck, I keep my towell nearby on gigs and will wipe the strings, at least the tops, during the gig, particularly outdoors in the summer. I also use protectant such as Finger Ease as directed. My strings last a long long time and usually get spotty before dull. :cool:
  10. I have boiled strings (many years ago) and the dye from the red windings stained the inside of the pot - be careful of that!
  11. basste


    Oct 8, 2003
    i boil strings from time to time, merely for backup bass. 30 minutes in a pot with mid water / mid vinegar.
    It's efficient and brings life to string, even if it's less longer than new strings. Never broke a boiled string.
  12. I'll be doing it a lot more now... strings in the UK are crazy expensive again...

    I just paid £27 for a set of bronze rotosound strings...

    I'm definitely getting my string cleaning tube back out and buying some industrial alcohol to fill it with.

    Here's how to make and use a string cleaning tube:
  13. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    No way. You will not make metal strings "brittle" by taking them to 212 degrees F (boiling point of water). That's as hot as they will get.
  14. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I used to back in the day (late 70s through mid 80s) and with Rotosounds it worked like a champ. My PH is pretty well balanced so the strings wouldn't rust or die quickly; the only thing causing a problem was the gunk buildup in the winds so boiling was effective. Nowadays I just replace them.
  15. bobunit

    bobunit I'm here. Now what? Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    In your situation, where you looking to save a buck, boiling your strings can help. The whole point of cleaning them is to remove the dirt, oils and grime from the windings to bring back some of the brightness that is lost. Will they be like new? No, but this method will get you by until you can afford to purchase new.
    As far as the water making the strings brittle? No. Depending on how many times you take your strings on and off your bass can contribute to breakage. The witness point on your bridge, windings around the tuner posts, etc. can fatigue the metal. Of course, your playing style can be a factor as well.
    Wiping down your strings after playing will help extend the life. Ultimately, when you can afford it, buy new strings. In fact try different types. You may find that the strings you are using aren't the ones for you. :)
  16. Buy some new strings. If anything is gained by boiling, it will probably be lost in removing the tension on the string. You can get a set of stings for the price of couple of fast food meals.
  17. lunker


    May 27, 2008
    Underage bass player? I don't think you're allowed on Talkbass.. tsk tsk.. I'm going to have to report you to a Moderator... shame :rollno:

    But, really, IMO don't waste your time. Boiling will bring a little life back, but it will be gone much quicker than before. Strings aren't that expensive, unless you're buying obscenely expensive strings, in which case you should probably look at your priorities. Are you washing your hands before playing? Are you wiping down your strings after playing? Those will help you some
  18. dukaruk


    Mar 12, 2008
    Saint Louis, MO
    I've never boiled but I have developed a habit of never touching my guitars unless i wash my hands. My strings are lasting much longer.
  19. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    soaking them overnight in denatured alcohol works very well.

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