Cleaned strings for the first time and now they leave black stains on my fingers

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Michal_Toth, Sep 14, 2018.


  1. Michal_Toth

    Michal_Toth

    Dec 12, 2016
    Slovakia
    Hello TalkBass!

    So I'm a stupid and a careless man. I've owned my bass (Ibanez Sr305) for over a year now and never felt the need to clean the strings or have a string cleaner in the first place. It sometimes left stains on my left index finger from slides and stuff, but not much, so I didn't care.

    But then I got a string cleaner for my birthday from a guitarist friend and decided I would amend what I've screwed up and I cleaned the strings. I felt as if there was maybe too much of the oil and it said on the bottle that I should remove the excess oil with a cloth, so I did and to my surprise it colored the cloth completely black. So I tried to clean the strings using the cloth, but they colored still and afterwards I felt bad for using such a dirty cloth, so I used paper towels. After using a load of them, it seemed to have helped a bit, but still when I play, I have completely black fingers and I'm desperate, since I don't know how to get rid of this problem.

    What should I do to make the strings stop coloring my fingers?
     
  2. Get a new set of strings and get into the habit of wiping them with soft dry cloth after each use. No need for any special cleaning agents.
     
    FenderHotRod, Wisebass, pcake and 4 others like this.
  3. lz4005

    lz4005

    Oct 22, 2013
    Oil doesn't clean strings. Oil makes strings dirty.
    Don't put oil on strings.
    Wipe the strings down with some rubbing alcohol on a cloth. Keep doing it until you don't get black marks.
    Try not to get too much of it on the fretboard.
     
    Bassbeater likes this.
  4. Just curious: were these roundwounds, flatwounds, or tapewounds?

    I’ve never heard of stainless roundwounds discoloring.
     
  5. Well, it's hard to diagnose what fouled your strings to begin with, and the nature of the "string cleaner." Maybe your strings were just too gunky and the cleaning solvent could only loosen the gunk.

    As a last-ditch effort if you're intent on keeping these strings. you can boil them. Remove strings, coil them loosely, put them in a pot of boiling water with a dollop of dishwashing liquid. Let them boil for a good 15-20 minutes. Dump the dishwashing solution, set a pot of clean water to boil, and rinse the strings for another 10 minutes.

    If that doesn't unfunk the gunk, time for a new set. And +1 to the suggestion for playing with clean hands and doing a wipe down on your strings after each playing session. Some people have a skin chemistry or sweat that reacts with metals, and if you're one of them and this has been building up over a year, that might explain it as well.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
    Wisebass and Bassbeater like this.
  6. bolophonic

    bolophonic

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Are these strings made of gold or something? Just get a new set and maintain them from here on out.
     
  7. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    What cleaner?
     
  8. subdude67

    subdude67

    Jan 18, 2010
    Kenya
    If the string cleaner is oil based, the oil loosens up the gunk between the windings and it oozes out, hence the stains.
    But as mentioned above, change the strings. Added bonus is that you may discover amazing new sounds you didn't know your bass is capable of. :thumbsup:
     
    gebass6 likes this.
  9. Michal_Toth

    Michal_Toth

    Dec 12, 2016
    Slovakia
    Dunlop 65 string cleaner and conditioner
     
  10. It gets good reviews, I doubt this is your problem.

    You might try a second application, follow directions carefully. If that doesn't do the trick, you'll need to resort to the Plan B suggestions above.

    I can't say enough about clean hands and routine wipe downs. Making that the habit, my strings sound about the same at 9 months as they do after 1 month.
     
    Michal_Toth likes this.
  11. Michal_Toth

    Michal_Toth

    Dec 12, 2016
    Slovakia
    Today morning I wiped them again with the cleaner and afterwards wiped them clean and dry with a cloth. It still left marks, but now when I play it stains only after a slide. Tomorrow I'll apply the cleaner again just gently wipe it afterwards, we'll see. But maybe the gunk just loosened and it needed to be well rubbed off and I panicked. Learned a bunch of stuff in this thread though so it wasn't in vain.

    For those advising a new set of strings - in our local shop the strings I wanted were out of stock, should come in a week I think. Anyway, I need to practice in the meantime, no? And poopy strings are a pain in the ass even if you plan to change them.
     
    electracoyote likes this.
  12. Maybe another application or two will salvage these strings? If your strings got that defiled in a year, you are definitely a candidate for playing with clean hands and wiping strings down after each session.

    Keep playing your current. You are actually helping remove the debris (with your fingers) each time you do.
     
    Michal_Toth likes this.
  13. Michal_Toth

    Michal_Toth

    Dec 12, 2016
    Slovakia
    Maybe, I haven't actually played the bass plugged all this time, since we haven't had band practice and my home practice combo isn't at home rn, so who knows, maybe they will even sound better. Damn, now I'm excited!
     
    electracoyote likes this.
  14. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I know when poishinh stainless steel, rags get black over and over.
    Even when close to a chrome finish, black will continue to come off.
    This is with Semichrome polish.
    I didn't think the Dunlop cleaner would do that.

    Might try cleaning the same section a few times to see if it stops.
     
  15. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    please don't call yourself stupid and careless. i used to use the same strings for years without any cleaning. i kept playing them till they didn't sound as good, then changed them. a dry cloth to wipe off finger oil and they were good to go.

    there are people who play with sticky fingers or who sweat all over the strings, but if you're not one of those, you have no reason to use string cleaner.

    btw, in a video we watched, they said james jamerson never maintained his strings at all, and his tone is legend.
     
  16. All nickel strings leave black stains until the 1st month, or some like that... Probably its the polish they put at the factory
     
    kartiste likes this.
  17. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Commercial User

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    Dunlop 65 is for cleaning the instrument (like body and neck finish) not for the strings!
     
  18. Michal_Toth

    Michal_Toth

    Dec 12, 2016
    Slovakia
    The have multiple products. I have both the instrument cleaner and the string cleaner. I'm not that stupid, but thanks.
     
  19. maurilio

    maurilio Musician - Owner Mo's Shop & MBD - Tech Nordstrand Commercial User

    May 25, 2003
    Redlands, CA
    Sorry I offended you!
     
  20. Michal_Toth

    Michal_Toth

    Dec 12, 2016
    Slovakia
    You didn't offend me, don't worry :) I'm not that easily offended
     
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