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Don't understand "aged" strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by behndy, May 30, 2011.

  1. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    i get that there's some mojo in old things. i love the way some beat up basses look, and i would choke a tapir out in front of it's mother for Tom Wait's EB3.

    but old ass "aged" strings don't make any sense to me. i always understood that strings go dead because the core gets tight and rigid as it gets old and doesn't have the movement to make all the extra tones that sound good to our ears. so every time i've thought about people being proud of their 312 year old strings on their bass a big part of me has called bull**** on it.

    am i tripping? is this just a myth?

    disclaimer - i use rounds, not flats. is this just something that applies to flats? still, the physics doesn't make any sense to me. seems like old would equal DEAD.

    also, not trying to talk poo about ANYbody's choices. i'm truly boggled by this.

  2. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Personally, I love the old school "thump" of long dead flats.

    Just remember... what you think are "all the extra tones that sound good to our ears" may not be the same for me. Personally, I despise bright, midrange sucked bass tones...but lots of people seem to like them. I won't assume that what "I" like is the same as what "everyone else" likes.

    Rock what you like, and don't worry about what others think. :)
  3. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    I think its more the fact while youre playing, youre constantly working dead skin and grease into the strings which mutes higher frequency harmonics.

    Even on flatwounds and double bass strings there seems to be a lot of gunk deep within the windings near the core. Is that from the player, or a result of years of vibration acting on the internals of the strings? Im not sure.
  4. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
    Phil Chen!
  5. domportera


    Mar 2, 2011
    Personally I'm a fan of older round-wounds (I never tried flats yet), the bright tone bothers me. I like a nice thick bassy tone. new strings to me are often bassless and bright. but its all about taste. Tons of people like the sound of new strings though, so just go by your preference and no one will say you're wrong. If every bassist liked the same tone we'd be a boring bunch of people.
  6. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    for me, the "thump" that i get out of my lower two strings (i play a Dingwall AB I sixer mostly) is HORRIBLE and uninteresting sounding to me when my B and E go dead. that's when i know it's time to change strings.

    totally, and i'm not trying to change people's minds or say what they're doing is wrong. i just don't understand how the tone you get from a dynamically less responsive string is better or more wanted than string doing what it's designed to do eq'd to or run through a tube/overdrive/whatever kit you love to get the sound you want?

    hurm. i see how a coating that changes the tone makes sense, but STILL, when i have a string that's gone dead because the core is too old and tightened up, even if i'm trying to roll off the highs or mids (and i usually like a fairly even low/hi/mid with just a slight mid bump), i'd do that through eq'ing the bass or preamp, not trying to get a string to place where it CAN'T do certain tones.

    and again, really just trying to understand. not call anybody out or be a douche. i just don't get it.

  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I don't like the brightness that comes with any kind of strings, but especially rounds. Old rounds (5 years or so) that lose that brightness are pretty good. My biggest problem with rounds is that "zing" you get when your finger slides across them. Don't like it.

    I do prefer flats on most basses, but they need to be at least 6 months old before they sound good to me.

    That's my ear, and what I prefer. New strings to me are something to be tolerated...until they settle in and sound good. "Good" to me means with the excessive brightness gone and a solid, even sound as the string is plucked.
  8. darkstorm


    Oct 13, 2009
    I'm the same way. But some like that dull old string sound.
  9. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    i'm not knocking what you dig, it's just that if i have a bass strung with rounds, i can eq it down to a low heavy thumpy sound. with a lot of presence and push. but when those strings have been played a lot (over 40 hours of hands on time on the low B), i have this wimpy, inarticulate thing that i can't get the mid and high presence i want out of, but i also have a dead, almost thin low end to work with too.

    i hear that's what y'all like about older strings, i'm just puzzled why you can't get a BETTER version of the tone you're going for with the metal inside the string working the way it's designed too.
  10. redhed


    Oct 25, 2009
    Man , I love the sound of my Stingray freshly restrung with some Boomers through my GK/SWR rig AND I love the sound of my P-bass with Roto-sound flats and a chunk O foam through just about anything!!!!!!!
    mb94952 likes this.
  11. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Good tone is subjective. Personally I like fresh out of the box Blue Steels.
    mb94952 likes this.
  12. Some people prefer the sound of dead strings... Which is a different sound than rolling your EQ down.

    I'm a fan. I hate new strings.
    nightwulf likes this.
  13. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    i'm not questioning people likin a certain sound at all. i get that people like tones i don't, and that's great. if everybody only vanilla/chocolate ice cream etc. awesome.

    just.... maybe i'm being obtuse.... it seems to me that purposefully only liking a sound a string makes when the string is no longer good (not sonically, from a structural and engineering standpoint) is akin to only liking some pickups when you jam a screwdriver in and rip out a pole. it's just WEIRD to me.

    and again, probably being obtuse and ignorant from my lack of experiance with flats/old strings, but there's no way to have equipment set up to get that sound that peeps are going for?
  14. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist ZOMG! I'm back from the dead!

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Precisely my feelings as well ;)

    For me it boils down to what sound and what bass I'm using. Do I want dead rounds on my Warwick Corvette? Not really...but dead rounds KILL on my CV 60's P-bass, and I do mean KILL...they sound freakin awesome :bassist:
  15. It's because of your definition of "good".

    A better analogy is say... liking a pair of jeans after the've been worn for a year.
  16. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    If that were true, then boiling your strings/soaking them in alcohol would have no effect on the sound they produce. They absolutely do have a positive effect suggesting that strings go dead due to accumulated gunk, not a physical change in the core wire.
  17. behndy

    behndy Banned

    Nov 1, 2008
    well, the grit and grime and filth we leave on them of course is a factor, and i'm nowhere NEAR a string expert, but i understood that nothing prevents the metal at the core from losing it's flexibility and vibrating "wrong" when they get old. so no amount of boiling should fix that right?

    i might be arguing semantics, or it might just be my nerdy side that's offended by the idea of something being VERY far from it's optimal designed state being the desired version. it still seems weird to me.

    again, not arguing the tone people are trying to achieve, just deeply puzzled by the method.

    and to me it seems more like wearing a pair of jeans that you didn't wash them or yourself long enough that the crotch wore away and your **** is hanging out.

  18. Not true. The original bass string ... on an upright bass sounds FAR better after it's been played in. ie - not optimal when new. So are speakers.
    Once again it comes down to your definition of good/bad, right/wrong..... which is subjective.
    That's exactly how I like my jeans. :cool:
  19. Im exactly the same! No zing for me!
  20. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX

    Not sure if you have a recording program on your computer, but if you do, you should try this....

    Using the same settings on the same bass (at the same pitch), record a passage using roundwounds, and then one using flats.

    Check out the waveforms.

    The roundwound will have more peaks and valleys, the flat will be more solid. In the mix, this makes it MUCH easier to get the bottom end to glue together. Makes the bass and kick work together much better, and really solidifies things.

    I learned this when I was doing a rock album on Universal. I asked the producer (who has several gold and platinum album credits, most of them with pretty heavy bands) if he needed me to change the strings on my basses to roundwounds, since they all had flats...to which he remarked "please don't", and then showed me the flat/round test I mentioned above. He had done quite a bit of testing bass tones in the past, and he had wondered why he liked flats so much in the mix...so he did the experiment. Pretty cool.

    As far as "thin, wimpy tone"... in my 33 years of playing, I've never heard old dead flats sound "thin and wimpy". Not saying that you haven't, just saying that my experience is clearly different than yours.
    Duckwater likes this.

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