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Boiling bass strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by CBNJ, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. CBNJ

    CBNJ Sorry brother.

    Feb 13, 2009
    New Jersey
    Mine are about 1-2 months old, if I did this, would they sound any better? How do you do it?
  2. WHughes


    Nov 25, 2008
    Washington State
    I have been doing this for years. It does refresh them by taking the sweat and grime away. On round wound strings, the grime gets in between the wind and deadens the sound. I used to do it after every show, but wearing a wrist band has cut that down tremendously.
    They will sound nearly new again.
  3. Mikio


    Feb 21, 2009
    Santiago de Chile
    Yep, it works and they get brighter again. I've done it a lot, but only 2 times per set, then it gets ridiculous, and you should get new strings xD
  4. debassr


    Jan 23, 2008
    I've never done it - probably because I like the way "dead" strings sound. :)
  5. Space-Man


    Jan 27, 2009
    I still do that even with me flatwounds (Happy St. Patrick's day!).
  6. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Um... do a quick search in the strings forum (where maybe this thread should be).

    You'll find plenty of action about it there, but you should consider giving your strings a soak in denatured alcohol. It works better than boiling ever does.

  7. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles
    I get great results with my round wounds when I marinate in a little lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. Then bake them at a low heat, around 300 degrees, for half an hour. Yummy
  8. +1000
  9. DaveF


    Dec 22, 2007
    New Westminster, BC
    Boiling strings is for people who don't understand the effect of water on metal. (Corrosion)

    Use denatured alcohol. If you can't find it, go to the drugstore and buy some bottles of Isopropyl 99% alcohol.

    Works better x 100000...
  10. Yep, denatured alcohol is the way to go. Its made for cleaning metal. You can pick some up at any local hardware store.
  11. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    When my strings sound like garbage, I buy new ones.
  12. gnome01


    Oct 30, 2001
    Bronx NY, USA
    How bout just throwin em in the ol' dishwasher:D
  13. DougD

    DougD Bassman7654

    Sep 19, 2002
    North Las Vegas NV
    I wouldnt boil strings, It tends to make them brittle and corroded. Like others have said, alcohol is way better. You coluld make yourself a cleaning tube. It's cheap and real easy too:) Go to the Home Depot (or any home improvement store) and get yourself about 4 feet of pvc pipe and a couple of end caps, you should be able to get the alcohol there too. The whole setup should cost less than $20. Put the strings in the pipe and let soak for few and they are as good as new:) the only drawback is it messes up silk wrapings, but so does boiling.
  14. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    This is why I never was my stainless steel utensils in the dish washer.
  15. burgerdj


    Dec 4, 2006
    Go with the alcohol. Be sure to wear some rubber gloves or you'll end up with dry, cracked fingers. It really dehydrates.
  16. Understudy


    Jul 14, 2008

    What happens if you soak Elixir strings in alcohol?
  17. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.


    Strings are $20-ish a set and can last 3-4 months. Why bother with boiling or soaking to MAYBE double the life of said strings to save $40 or so a year?

    I might be nuts, but I LOVE putting new strings on a bass.... cleaning, polishing, etc. Like a ritual!:hyper:
  18. Cleaning the strings by boiling or with alcohol will take most of the grime out of them. But grime isn't the only thing that deadens strings over time. The internal wear where the wrappings and core meet also contributes to the loss of liveliness over time.
  19. 60bass

    60bass Supporting Member

    Apr 24, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    The boiling thing was how we did it way back when. Of course a set of RotoSound RS66 Swing Bass cost over $50.00 a set back then :crying: so it made sense. Thankfully strings are way cheaper now so boiling is pretty much a thing of the past.

    I do however still keep a bunch of those little packets of alcohol wipes in my case. I packet will usually do a 4 string set easily. I swab them down after every set or practice. Keeps the strings nice and clean. You can get that "new string" piano tone from a set of Roto's for a long time that way :)
  20. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    I used to do it. But I ultimately decided it was too big a PIA for the small return. Boiling (or acetone, etc.) will clean most of the gunk out of the windings which will allow the strings to be able to vibrate more evenly. But it does nothing for the wear on the windings, nor the loss of elasticicty that they eventually undergo. And I've found that most of the "almost new" sound happens whether you boil the strings or not. If you just take them off (totally relaxe the tension on the strings) for a while, they'll sound pretty new and boingy. But it doesn't last long, and frankly, I like the sound of broken in, but not dead, round wounds best of all.

    The realy key is to KEEP the strings clean rather than trying to do spring cleaning after long intervals. As 60Bass says, little alchohol wipes work wonders. No, beer ain't gonna cut it- too much sugar and other stuff in there... Heck, Peavey used to sell a small bottle of alchohol with a very small opening just for cleaning strings. Billy Shehann (I know I didn't spell that right) has said he used some sort of alchohol based aftershave on his strings. The alchohol gets into the windings, helps disolve the crud, and then evaporates quickly. Rub the strings down every time you finish playing, keep your hands clean, and your strings will last surprisingly long.


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