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Boiling strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by yawnsie, Nov 30, 2000.

  1. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    A while back in a local music shop, the bloke who sits around all day playing slap bass (who are these people who do this? why do they do it? where do they come from?) told me about boiling strings. Apparently, throwing them in a pan with some white vinegar cleans all the gunk off them, and makes them sound as good as new. Can anybody tell me whether this is true, or if the slap man is a bass solo short of a Level 42 song?
  2. Yes it is true, but search the archives.. there has been lots of threads on this subject. Good luck!
  3. mwbonsall

    mwbonsall Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2000
    Casa Grande, Arizona
    Boiling the strings will clean them and improve the sound. However, strings wear where they contact the frets and stretch from being tuned to pitch. This normal wear will not improve from boiling and can cause intonation problems.

    Bass strings last quite a while if you wipe them off after playing. IMHO, if I take the effort to remove the strings I might as well install a new set.
  4. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Thanks for replying, especially about how it affects the intonation. I was just about to throw the strings in a pan but I might just stop being a tightarse now!
  5. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Aach. I've been a tightarse for YEARS with no other noticeable ill effects.

    Boil 'em.

  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've only broken a string once in my life, and guess what, it was after I boiled them. I don't boil them anymore.
  7. ThumpNPluck


    Jun 22, 2000
    New York City
    Many years ago I used to go to the trouble to remove strings once a week or so and boil them, and it does bring back a bit of that "new" sound. However, you gotta figure it increases the wear-and-tear on the string to be frequently be removing it from the instrument. Another trick I found to help was to wipe the strings down with some rubbing alchohol right after a gig. Not quite as effective as boiling, but I think it prolongs the brightness of the string. Nowadays, I find I prefer the sound of strings after they've "broken in", so I don't do anything except wipe down both the neck and stings with a dry polishing cloth.
  8. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    My exact experience also, Joe. Me neither. :)
  9. I've tried it... It doesn't bring the "New String Zing" back.
  10. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    I boil 'em at least once before tossin' them and I wipe them after EVERY use. I use different basses for different gigs so much care has gone into keeping down the "string cost". I also use Fastfret prior to each use.
  11. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    I have found that stainless strings do not take boiling well -- in fact, I've had a set or two come out worse than when they went in. Gibson Thunder Plus comes to mind. Nice strings new (if you like that massive metallic thing) but boiling absolutely KILLED 'em.

    Nickel strings seem to take this the best. You can boil D'Addario XL's 5 or 6 time and they keep coming back. Less every time and it doesn't last as long every time, but it still works. And the Carvin LaBellas seemed to take it OK.

  12. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I've tried all methods possible to clean strings and make them last longer. Boiling seems to have limited effect, and the string wrappings fall apart after having been wet.
    Someone told me about denatured alcohol, widely availble in hardware stores in the paint/thinner section. I got a length of PVC pipe, just longer than the string, capped one end, and filled it with the alcohol to the level that only the areas of the string that had been on the fretboard are submerged. Good as new in an hour or so, and they last MUCH longer than the boiling method (you don't have to coil the strings up, so more surface contact with the alcohol is possible). You can then just pour the used alcohol back into the can for next time. True, this does nothing for wear, but it makes strings useable for a lot longer.
  13. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    M, Welcome to Talkbass..thanks for sharing.........SD
  14. BaroqueBass


    Jul 8, 2000
    Salem, OR
    Well I boiled my strings today, AND...

    I liked the sound better before I boiled them, when the strings were all icky and had crap all over them.

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