grubby strings, no rubbing alc will vodka work?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by kitcar765, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. my bass string are realy grubby, its a cheapo 5 string bass with 3 types of bass strings on, the B sting nas been on since i got it (about 2 or 3 years ago) so as you can gess its as grubby as hell. im not going to buy new strings becouse they cost to much and im saving for a Rickenbacker. my problem is this, my stings are so bad they have gone greyish and are lifeless and dull. is there anyway i can clean them up and/or make them sound better? without having to go to the shops or without buying anything. i had a look for some rubbing alcohol and i cant find any. any other ideas? i read somewhere about boiling them? will vodka work?
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Well...neither rubbing alcohol or vodka are ideal...they both have a fairly high water content...but they're probably both workable in a pinch. I'd give the vodka thing a try, what do you have to lose? If it doesn't improve the situation you'll have to buy new strings the same as if you didn't do anything.
  3. so what do i need to do with the vodka? do i put it on cotten wool and rub the strings with it or do i take them of my bass and soak the stings in it? do i boil the strings in it? i havent a clue.
  4. ganga


    Jul 14, 2005
    You need denatured alcohol, soak them in it for 12 hours or so. Dry them and they'll be like new. There's too much water in vodka and rubbing alcohol, that'll just ruin them even more.
  5. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Denatured Alcohol is cheap, much less expensive than vodka... Just go to any store and get some

    Vodka won't be very effective

    VVVVVVV - I'll second the boiling option with older strings. I've done it a few times with flatwounds and had good results
  6. I wouldn't use Vodka either, I can only imagine it would make the strings real sticky. Besides, there are better uses for Vodka. Medicinal of course. ;)

    The cheapest way would be to boil them. I know a lot of people hear say it is a no-no, but I have done it (only once) and it worked for me. Just don't boil them to long and then dry them with a hair dryer to get all the moisture out. one thing I did so they would not come into contact of the direct heat of the pot was to curl them up like they came out of the package, and then support them with a copper pipe across the top of the pot so only the strings were submerged under the water and not laying on the bottom of the pot.

    You should be able to find denatured or isopropyl alcohol in a drug store if you want to go with that option.
  7. It could make them sound better. Make sure you have enough for at least two shots for everybody in the audience. :D
  8. DemoEtc


    Aug 18, 2004
    Has anyone ever tried steaming strings instead of boiling?
  9. All_¥our_Bass


    Dec 26, 2004

    and for the vodka, just keep drinking till it all sounds just fine :p :D

    I AM LORD VODKA!! :bassist:
  10. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    The point is not cooking the strings or heating them. the point is cleaning them between wraps where the yucky stuff gets and kills the tone.

    Boiling works somewhat.. but you stress the metal, and get water inside the wraps. It works for a day or 2.. then the strings begin to sound dull again.

    Steaming wont work, again, we are not making food.

    Rubing alcohol works very good, but the water in that alcohol gets into the metal, so the effect isnt as good.

    Denatured alcohol in the other hand, is a solvent, a cleaner, etc... and it will evaporate almost completely, leaving nothing on the strings but a dry feeling just like new strings.

    When Strings dont sound completely new after soaking them in denatured alcohol, its because of the metal fatigue/stretching that the string has already suffered. Other than that, when it comes to dull tone due to sweat and yucky stuff, Denatured alcohol is the way to go.

    In my opinion... stop drinking vodka, and get a new set of strings.
  11. (Russian manly man) "You use rubbing alcohol? HAHA! I only use Vodka! HAHAHA!!"
  12. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    I usually let my strings set a few days in 95% rubbing alcohol; should I not do this? I heard with this high % of alcohol, it works fine...
  13. The Vodka! :eek:

  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    I think you're fine with that percentage. Most rubbing alcohol is a much lesser percentage.
  15. Well, having worked in a lab environment for years, when wiping a lab bench it is best to use 75% alcohol (ethanol) because if you use 95% it is difficult to dissolve spills as they have a tendency to dry out rather than dissolve. So maybe 75% will work better for strings also, but yeah, you get more water and you soak the strings for longer time anyway...
  16. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    For me, it usually takes 3 or 4 days to completely eliminate the grime on the strings. I have been doing this every say 8 months for the last 2 year on the same set of strings and just broke my G string for the first time the other day, right after giving all the strings a good wash. Does anyone know if I need to replace the alcohol every once in a while? I just have been using the same bottle (which is always sealed) for the last 2 years, and since I just broke a string, I was suspecting that possibly the alcohol had been diluted over time. But then again, 2 years is a pretty good life for a string...
  17. crijan

    crijan Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    Dallas, Texas
    Endorsing: JH Audio IEMs
    75% may be better for wiping, but since we are soaking the strings in a bath of denatured alcohol there isn't the problem with the alcohol evaporating before solvating the grime.
  18. Good point.
  19. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Boiling them in vodka??? What???

    No, seriously, I have done the rubbing alcohol thing, it sucked; then I tried boiling them. The boiling thing worked OK, but the broth tasted horrid. I ended up using acetone on them. Wore gloves, safety glasses, put them in a pie tin all coiled up, then worked the worst nasties over with an old wire brush. Seemed to work OK. Denatured alcohol worked best, soaked overnite.

    I've also heard of other methods of treating strings. Some involved using vinegar and distilled water to boil them, but again, the broth sucks. Then I heard about some guy who fried his flats in lard, supposedly to get the "old-skool thump without the ringing sustain". What a freak. Everyone knows that you don't use lard, you use hypoid gear oil...synthetic works better than dino... ;) :D
  20. >_> Just make sure you don't light your house on fire in the process and everything should be just fine. I'm all for conserving money and everything.. but in my experience strings don't truly cost that much. If you just take care of your strings in the process (Such as washing your hands etc.) you can most likely get alot more life out of your strings as well.

    I've tried boiling my strings in regular water and was only somewhat impressed, it's a temporary solution but it is practically free so it shouldn't hurt to try it, but i've never tried alcohol.

    Save the Vodka, it's for inspiration.