Durability of nickel layer on nickel-plated strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Phaidrus, Mar 27, 2021.


  1. Phaidrus

    Phaidrus

    Oct 25, 2009
    Nickel-plated steel is perhaps the most popular material for the outer wrap(s) of bass strings. How long does the layer of nickel stay on nickel-plated strings at the contact points with the frets, in particular on roundwound strings?
     
  2. AEVAREX

    AEVAREX

    Jun 10, 2013
    Western Ma.
    I'd think those who have a heavy fret hand and/or do a lot of bends would tend to see faster wear of the nickel coat, as well as their frets. Other considerations might be thickness of the nickel coat, fret material type, play time, possibly even skin oil acidity. From a properties of materials standpoint I would tend to think not very long. Disclaimer - uneducated guess from a SS string player. :)
     
  3. Phaidrus

    Phaidrus

    Oct 25, 2009
    That's what I think as well. It must be a rather thin layer of nickel that won't last all that long where the strings hit the frets, depending on style of playing.
     
  4. I've used a variety of NPS rounds over the years and haven't noticed any wear on the nickel plating itself. I really don't think it's something that can flake off like coating on some strings.

    That said, I think it's quite possible to wear out the nickel plating, depending on the fret material and one's playing style. You talk about stainless steel rounds being hard on nickel frets in your other thread. So, I would imagine the opposite can happen, ie stainless steel frets being hard on nickel rounds.
     
    Root 5 and MonetBass like this.
  5. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I've had nickel flats on some of my electric basses for more than two decades - so far ;)
     
  6. As far as I know, all "nickel flats" are pure nickel (or nickel alloy) so no "nickel plating" as such that can wear off.
     
  7. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    One more thing to like about them! :)
     
  8. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    The nickel probably wears off at the fret contact points relatively fast, but that doesn't make the strings unusable. I seem to be able to easily get a year out of a set of nickle plated rounds. Granted, I have a few basses, so that helps, but I think even with one bass, I'd probably get half a year, and I'm picky about not playing dead strings.

    Strings used to go dead on me much faster - I played in bars with hot lights (we sweated a lot on stage), now I play churches, and LED lights mean stages aren't hot anynmore. What does this have to do with nickel plating life? The point is that the limiting factor in string life isn't mickel plating life, it's sweat and gunk from your hands that determines string life.
     
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  9. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    You sure about that? Most flats are stainless.
     
  10. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Here's a quote from the manufacturer of my strings:
    "Thomastik-Infeld utilizes a highly pliable steel core which is wrapped with a silk inlay. The outer winding is a true ribbon flatwound constructed of a special nickel alloy. The result is an incredible depth of tone and an enhanced fundamental which is unavailable from any other flatwound."
     
  11. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    Yep - TI makes 'em that way - most others are stainless.
     
    skycruiser likes this.
  12. Phaidrus

    Phaidrus

    Oct 25, 2009
    Yes, ss strings (or even the ss lurking in nps strings) devouring the frets of my poor Pbass is what worries at the moment. But I suppose it all depends. I now have strung it with nps strings (7250s, which I like) and will also try the pure nickel 7150s when they arrive in the post, just to be on the super safe side. If I like them, I'll keep them on. And will definitely use bends, slides and vibratos with moderation when playing them funky lines. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Phaidrus

    Phaidrus

    Oct 25, 2009
    But it may make them dangerous :beaver: for tender nickel frets!
     
  14. JuanB

    JuanB

    Feb 20, 2010
    I wonder if @Jon Moody can chime in about the typical thickness of nickel plating on outer wrap wire.
     
    Phaidrus likes this.
  15. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    Typical is 8% nickel-plating, although a couple companies use a 2% as well.

    That's minuscule when you take into consideration that a .045 G string with a .018 core can have a .014 nps wire wrapped around it. 8% of that .014 nps wire is .00112 thickness.
     
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  16. HaphAsSard

    HaphAsSard

    Dec 1, 2013
    Italia
    A clear majority for sure. More exceptions are Pyramid (chromium-nickel), Optima (pure nickel), Rotosound (Monel, which is mostly nickel and copper), and the La Bella Gold Flats (80/20 copper-zinc).
     
    Root 5 likes this.
  17. micguy

    micguy

    May 17, 2011
    .001" thick plating is fairly typical - not really "thin" as far as platings go. Gold is typically plated MUCH thinner than this.
     
  18. Phaidrus

    Phaidrus

    Oct 25, 2009
    So this super thin layer of nickel probably doesn't last very long at the points of contact with the frets, even if the frets are nickel (and not ss) themselves. Depending on one's style of playing of course.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2021
  19. Root 5

    Root 5

    Nov 25, 2001
    Canada
    I asked Thomastik Infeld about the “special nickel alloy” and was told it’s pure nickel.
     
  20. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    From what I’ve been told, “pure nickel” can also vary from 90-96% as well.
     

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