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Breaking in strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by NCdan, May 3, 2010.

  1. NCdan


    Feb 6, 2010
    This might come across as a bit odd, but I was thinking about ways that I could get flatwounds to sound deader and thumpier faster. I remember reading an article some years ago in a drum magazine about a famous jazz drummer who would do all sorts of crazy things to new cymbals to get them borken in: jump on them, roll them down stairs, toss them in dumpsters, etc... I was wondering if anyone had tried anything like that with flatwound strings? Cymbals and strings are both metal, so it should work, right? Or maybe I'm just out in the twilight zone.

    Btw, I did read the sticky, but I don't really want to marinate my strings, haha. I am asking this question in all seriousness. The one thing I'm a bit worried about is possibly loosening up the windings too much and ruining the string. I just wanted to know if anyone had tried something like that before.

  2. Danhole


    May 1, 2010
    Theres another thread about this somewhere. I had new strings put on my bass about 4 days ago and I'm gigging tonight, I was wanting the strings to be less bright as well. For the last few day's my lass and I have been rubbing our greasy hands up and down the bass. So if I was eating a pork pie I would rub the excess grease all over and she would do likewise if she was cutting up cooked chicken.

    It seems to have worked, even if I do have bits of chicken in the frets now.
  3. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    I would: 1) play it as much as possible 2) detune and retune it a handfull of times and 3) turn down my tone knob until they break in a bit more ;)
  4. NCdan


    Feb 6, 2010
    Yeah, I know: play it a lot, spread grease on the strings, turn the tone knob down, etc... This thread is specifically about utilizing "light abuse" as a means to make flatwounds deader faster. I just thought that if it worked for cymbals it might work for bass strings.
  5. PSPookie


    Aug 13, 2006
    Ocoee, TN
    Who says it works for cymbals? Is there any evidence for this other than anecdote? People are irrational and do silly things. They also often attribute results to the wrong cause.

    e.g. I got a raise to day because I wore my lucky underwear, not because I worked dilligently for the last year.
    Iristone likes this.
  6. NCdan


    Feb 6, 2010
    Being a drummer I can vouch for this. Granted, it only really works if it achieves the sound you're after, which would be a mellower and deader sound, but that is what I want with bass strings, so it just seemed logical that it would work the same with bass strings as it does with cymbals.
  7. There's an old golf story I once read. Back in the day a touring pro was having problems with calluses on his hands, which affected his swing. So he asked Ben Hogan what to do. Hogan said, "Just keep playing. When the calluses reach the bone you'll be fine." So he did as Hogan suggested and before long the calluses reached down to the bone, the discomfort went away and he started hitting the ball good again. It kind of the same with bass strings. You've got to just keep playing them until you get that mellow sound you're looking for. You'll be fine after that.
  8. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    To each their own, but I think that the smell and feel of stale chicken grease on the strings and fretboard is a lot worse than the strings being a little on the bright side. :rollno:
  9. James Judson

    James Judson

    Jul 16, 2009
    I would pick different strings or a different bass or a different amp. I would be happy to take your new strings off your hands and send you my old dead strings.
  10. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    I can't understand why you would want crud all over your bass. Especially chasing a few decibels of treble reduction. Why don't you just dial back your tone knob until you like your sound?

    And, do you think the audience knows or cares? Honestly. About one in 10 people who talk to me about what I do actually know what the bass sounds like. It's important to YOU what you sound like but if your bass is more twangy than you like for a show or two only you are going to notice at all. Most of the details that people obsess over with their rig and sound are irrelevant to how well the band is going to sound. There should be an EQ section on your amp as well -- it may assist you in reducing the brightness of your sound.

    I hate to sound b*tchy but I hear about people smearing food and crap onto their instruments and it #1 sounds like junk science and #2 sounds like they don't have any respect for their own equipment. And people wonder why (in another thread) some of us are very opposed to letting others play our instruments.

    "Yeah, I'm done with your bass. I had to smear chicken grease all over your $40 strings because they were brighter than I wanted them to be and I had NO IDEA where your tone control was. Three knobs was way too confusing, dude."
  11. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Use mineral oil instead of grease?

    Same substance, without the smell.
  12. Danhole


    May 1, 2010
    Haha, some fantastically angry people on this forum. Don't worry, I'm not going to break into your house at night and smear chicken grease over your bass.

    Also, It worked a treat.

    Maxgrant, do you honestly play infront of a crowd who don't care that you sound good or not? I strive to get a good tone out of respect for that crowd. It's also not quite the same when you have strings that ring out too much with flattened eq's. I like rolling my EQ to about 9/10th's of its potential because it picks up other qualities to the tone, not just ringing overtones from the strings.
  13. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I dont think anyone is angry, they just dont think that loading chicken grease onto a bass is the way to go. That is just an opinion. I would agree with Maxgrant that the average person in an audience would not know if your strings needed a few more days to break in. IMO, the bass is one of the least noticed instruments anyway, regardless of the state of the strings.
  14. Agree strongly with your post. Guess people don't realize that EQ can go a long way in getting the sheen off your strings.
  15. eyecandy


    Jul 28, 2009
    well i guess that's that.. flats would tend to go dead after a month or so or if not dial in just a right amount of treble and laid back tone


    Dec 29, 2009
    Dead thread, but figured I'd chime in. On almost all sets of rounds I use, I grease 'em up if I want them dead. Brightness is my preference only in circumstances where I want a clanky tone and I only use my Schecter for that which I would never get grease on. My P bass? That fretboard has seen more grease than Colonel Sanders. Respecting my instruments? It's not like I'm dragging it across the pavement to try and give it a roadworn look. You treat your gear how you want, and I'll treat mine how I want, alright?
  17. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    why put grease or other garbage on your strings? Just dial down the tone control or if you have active bass, dial down the treble control. Untill initial new string sound has worn off.
  18. I like really old flats, but I refuse to put junk on them to hasten the process. Just play them as they are and turn the treble control down a bit the first few times you play them.

    I just install them, tune them and pull them sideways a bit now and then to stretch them and help them settle in. I figure that a good set of flats will take at least a month to assume a decent sound.

    My oldest installed flats are nearly 40 years old and still going strong.
  19. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Those strings are potentially older than the parents of some people reading this thread! :p
  20. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    We used to roll 'em in the dirt back in the day! You had to make the 'NEW-STRING" MATCH THE REST OF THE SET! God forbid you break one!!

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