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Boiling Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Sdude02, Jul 4, 2002.

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  1. Sdude02


    May 24, 2002
    I recently boiled my strings in water and alot of guck came off and now they sound like brand new. Im just wondering how many times can i do this to return them to good sound without having to buy new sets of strings.
  2. I boil as many times as I want to.. But I've noticed that the more times I boil them, the less the brightness will last. Not only the strings sound like new because they are clean but also because the windings are a bit loose, so shaking them a lot and keeping them unused for a while before putting them on the bass also helps bringing the brightness..
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Oh, noooo! Not again!!!!

    Don't boil your strings - kills the strings in no time, put them in a jar with alcohol (room temperature).
    Same (even better) effect without killing the strings.
  4. Sdude02


    May 24, 2002
    I havent heard that one before. Boiling doesnt kill strings. The extreme heat makes the creases expand and then gets into them cleaning the dirt. Than when back to room temp they contract and voila its fine.
  5. tummage


    Apr 23, 2002
    New Orleans, La
    the constant and quick temperature changes does affect both the brightness of the string and it's longevity. If nothing else, the string will start to become brittle with excessive boilings.

    The alcohol in a jar works great.

    I personally put a garbage bag over the fretboard then a towel and pour Hydrogen Peroxide over the strings. Works like a dream, you don't have to take the strings off- although I loosen them to fit the towel underneath.

    Try it it works. I've even done this on a gig between sets I live in Louisiana-sweat and humidity

    Also, Carry a bottle of skin bracer(ala Stanley Clarke) and gently wipe the strings down with a rag dipped in bracer between sets. Alcohol works too but the skin bracer helps keep the stale beer and cigarette smell out of your case.

  6. Jontom


    Mar 11, 2002
    New York
    Tummage...Where did you find out Stanley used Skinbracer on his strings? Thats some wild doodoo! Just curious...
  7. tummage


    Apr 23, 2002
    New Orleans, La
    an old bass player magazine article.

    I also ran into him after a concert here in New Orleans more moons than I care to remember. He and George Duke talked with me for quite some time. I asked about the skin bracer and he said it didn't have quite as much alcohol as straight isopropyll. Strange how trivial things stick with you, but I can't remember the lick to paperback writer. I haven't checked this but if it's good enough for Stanley, it's good enough for me.

    The smell thing is my own spin on it's uses.

  8. ms747


    Aug 10, 2001
    I have started to boil strings regularly after a recommendation by a friend, i have found that it works great and they sound like new again. I have heard that generally you can boil one set about 4 times until they are alsmot dead even once boiled. I believe it only works with stainless stell strings so be careful!
  9. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Do a search here, it does.
    Well, I answered this way too often, do what you have to do...
  10. Ian Hall

    Ian Hall

    May 31, 2002
    The quickest and easiest way that I've found is to use an ultrasonic cleaner if you have access to one. You may be able to find a jewelry store with one that will clean your strings for a few dollars. It's the same thing they use to clean wedding rings and stuff. The gunk gets vibrated out from in between the windings- works even better with hot water. I've sometimes thought about starting to clean strings for people since I have access to quite a large one, too little spare time, I guess. Oh well, try it out if you get a chance.
  11. LA


    Oct 17, 2001
    Boiling a set once is the usual for me, but the silk windings become compromised after that. Maybe I'll go back to Ernie Ball slinkys...
  12. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    All about rubbing alcohol!!!! I stick my strings in a Ziploc and fill it to the brim with isopropyll,, leave it for about an hour,, shake once or twice and I got new strings again!!

    I used to boil my strings,, BUT I do think it weakened them after a couple boilings,, I broke a couple strings at the bridge,, core just snapped in half. Plus they don't sound quite as good after you boil them the 2nd time.
  13. I'll do yall one better. I boil my strings for the gunk aspect but I also bake them in a 450º oven for 30 minutes after boiling. Then they are slowly cooled back to room temperature before re-installation. And no, it doesn't kill the string. Been doing this since I first heard about it about 20 years ago. I didn't have any backup on the legitimacy of the process until I got 2 sets in-a-row of D'Addario XL's that had individual dead strings. I wasn't about the change brands so I contacted D'Addario directly about the problem. They said that they use a fine lubricant on the string components during manufacture and that after the string is wound, they are baked like that to vaporize any leftover lubricant. They recommended that I do the same with the offending strings in the set. I did and they came into perfect match with the rest of the set.

    So, in my experience, if it's OK with my string manufacturer to do this and he recommended it, I'll take his advice and continue. I will only do this once per set but it saves the cost (or puts off the cost) of a new set for about 6 months.
  14. tummage


    Apr 23, 2002
    New Orleans, La
    Thanks for the heads up Hammy,

    I still like the H/PerOxide or Iso as they can be reused many more times.In fact the only thing is to make sure you turn the string after each replacing, as they make little indentions where they are fretted after awhile.

  15. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I first read about boiling strings in an article appearing in Guitar Player magazine back in the early 1970s (They didn't have Bassplayer magazine yet).

    If I were to boil strings, I wouldn't do it more than once. I think the intense heat weakens the structural integrity of the core and the windings, thus, after the second boiling you'll find that the strings will break easily if your slapping and plucking.

    I think many of the old-timers here at TB were poor musicians at sometime in their life and tried this technique in order to save money (ofcourse, some of them won't ever admit that they boiled their strings).

    Also suggest that you do a search of this forum - there are other techniques such as using alcohol and PVC pipe. Very interesting.
  16. Tums, I like that idea about the hydrogen peroxide also. I also like the alcohol idea and have used it on occasion. My preference is ethyl alcohol (sold in most decent pharmacies) or 90% isopropyl (hard to find) because they have less water in them. Not too much of a concern if you're going to bake 'em but if they are left to dry naturally, the water in the 70% isopropyl (rubbing alcohol variety) might lead to something else - oxidation, etc.

    By the way, strings in boiling water are pretty much limited to 212º tops. The bubbles that form from the burner have water vapor that is little hotter but the surrounding water can't get above 212º without itself vaporizing.
  17. Captain Awesome

    Captain Awesome

    Apr 2, 2001
    Do you think those are better than denatured alcohol for string cleaning?
  18. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    there are countless threads about string boiling. Please do a search and you'll find all you need to know about it.


    mama cass

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