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Have you ever boiled your bass strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Rodney Fritz, Nov 21, 2020.

  1. Rodney Fritz

    Rodney Fritz

    Nov 1, 2020
    Davie, FL.
    One of my pals originally from Brazil told me he use to boil his bass strings to make them last longer. Another told me the he heard the same thing from his bass teacher. Whenever he gigs, he sweats a lot. After 6-7 hours of gigging he boils his strings to remove the sweat and dirt. They don't go back to brand new, but they really do get much better. I just changed to flat wounds on my PRS and the round wounds weren't that bad, so I boiled them and put them on my Musicman. They sound almost like brand new.

    Just though I would pass along the tip and see if anyone else had had a similar experience.
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It's an old idea. I just make sure I wipe everything down as soon as I'm done playing.
    Seanto, Mili, droo46 and 5 others like this.
  3. Water causes rust. Think about it for a minute. Why would anyone with any sense put bass guitar strings into a corrosive liquid?
    Mili, DrMole, obimark and 2 others like this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Tried it in high school. That was a very long time ago.
  5. Yes. Back in the day, a set of bass strings cost about the same as they do now, but average incomes were much less, so they were fairly precious to replace. People would play them until they died and then boil them to eke some extra life out of them. It works to a limited degree, but the extra life you get doesn't really last very long.

    More current advice is to soak in denatured alcohol in order to avoid rusting. I wipe mine down occasionally with alcohol, because that keeps them from going dead so quickly in the first place. Thankfully, I can now afford to replace my strings when I need to.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
    Mili, TH63, beniciaboy and 24 others like this.
  6. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    True however, on steel strings salty sweat, beer, wiskey, blood and grime are more detremental to strings than clean boiled water...and it works!
    snworks, Geddaric, Marihino and 10 others like this.
  7. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    I did a couple times when I first started playing. I quickly realized I liked the broken in sound better! :woot:
    Mili, cracker973, Miles_ONeal and 6 others like this.
  8. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug Supporting Member


    Due to me keeping my glassware squeaky clean, I have liters of isopropyl alcohol lying about, so soaking strings is not an issue.

    Fair warning: some silks will lose color. This is merely cosmetic, and does not effect the string.

    Also, the "freshness" does not last as long as new strings, and this "fresh" period gets shorter with each additional soak.
  9. If they're only dipped for a bit and dried properly it's fine. If you dry them half-donkeyed, they'll develop some rust.
  10. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    YES! All of my strings get boiled eventually, they normaly graduate to a differrent bass down the line as new strings get loaded on, about 8 minutes light rolling boil almost good as new!
    Obviously dry them well I do a "helicopter" holding the ball ends give yourself plenty of room and (watch your eyes on the deceleration, lol) then "zip" them or pull them several times through a clean dry towel. Good as new! Well almost!
  11. If someone wants to clean their bass strings, I recommend alcohol or mineral spirits.
    bucephylus and C Stone like this.
  12. C Stone

    C Stone

    Sep 4, 2020
    Great recomendation and much safer than my method! :D
  13. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I use to when i was younger and it worked fine however it was diminishing returns for me and eventually my rounds just wouldn't come back to life.

    I now prefer using this to renew my strings. I haven't been using it long, but so far one treatment put my DR LoRiders back to new.

    The Bass String Cleaning Tube | Bass Gear | StudyBass

    I keep two sets and rotate them when one needs cleaning.

    Good Luck!
  14. Just a little dab on a paper towel or shop rag and wipe the stings down when you're through playing and wallah!

    I happen to be fortunate, or weird, I'm not sure which, but my skin isn't very acidic at all. I can play a set of guitar strings for several months before they have any corrosion on them. I have flatwounds (D'Addario Chromes) on a couple of guitars for years and they're fine.
  15. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I’ve been doing it for decades and like to think I have some degree of sense. ;) Rust has never been an issue. I boil in a mix of water and vinegar for around two minutes and then dry the strings off. I will boil each set between eight and ten times before retiring them.

    I’ve heard a lot of people say that a boiled set of strings doesn’t stay crisp sounding for very long but for me this is a non-issue. I kill strings quickly regardless (I’ll usually get two gigs in before they are pretty much dead) and I get the same results post-boil. I figure boiling has saved me quite a bit of money over the years. :)
  16. Sure, but what about bass strings?

    Of course they are, flatwounds are meant to last forever. Boiling or cleaning with alcohol is strictly for roundwounds.

    Chromes for guitar aren't nearly as popular as they are for bass:

    Mili and Miles_ONeal like this.
  17. Alcohol can ruin the finish so don’t get any on your instrument.
    Doug4321 and Miles_ONeal like this.
  18. Yes, they will not stay overly bright for long after being boiled, but nowadays there are fewer players looking for that sound. Ideally you can keep cleaning them through whatever method until they begin to lose intonation.
    RocknRay, C Stone and bass12 like this.
  19. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"...

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I like my strings most a couple of hours of playtime in. So they’re not as zingy as they were fresh out of the pack but they are still lively and quite bright. In my experience boiling will not return them to that “fresh out of the pack” state, but more like that “just slightly broken in” state which is perfect for me. The good thing about boiling is that it doesn’t cost anything (with the exception of a bit of vinegar in my case). So one can try it and if it doesn’t work for that person he or she can try something else. :)
  20. sawzalot


    Oct 18, 2007
    I used to when I was younger and couldn’t afford new strings. It worked ok, didn’t make them like new but did make them better. After a couple boil->play->boil cycles it didn’t help anymore and they really needed replacing, but it did help extend the life a little more.
    TH63, gerry grable and 4andnomore like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Nov 29, 2020

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