Old Gut Strings Question ...

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by darrenmccarthy, Mar 9, 2021.

  1. darrenmccarthy


    Jun 1, 2011
    Hi , I have some really old gut strings on my D and G , i really like the sound but due to age and the climate the strings have started to feel lumpy throughout .
    Are they rescueable with fine sandpaper or should I get a new set ?

  2. Burning fine fibers with a lighter and then oiling?
  3. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Lumpy? Thicker in one spot than in others?
  4. darrenmccarthy


    Jun 1, 2011
    the fibres aren’t parting too much , I’ve been oiling them consistently recently although the bass went a year without being touched , the strings aren’t smooth at all . They might be shot but I really like the dull thud !!
  5. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I don't recommend putting a flame anywhere near them. Fine sandpaper, like glass polishing fine. Easy rounding motion evenly up and down the strings over the rough spots, then a light coat of oil. Wipe the excess off.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
    conte2music and zootsaxes like this.
  6. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    How long between applying oil and playing the strings again?
  7. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Varies.....how humid of an environment are you in?
  8. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    The burning hairs trick, for me, really reduces the life of the strings. I keep a couple small pieces of fine sandpaper in my headstock. It's even better when it gets totally worn out, because you want to essentially polish the strings, not necessarily "sand" them... A pair of fingernail clippers are worth their weight in gold for the bigger hairs, too. But you should be sanding those jokers often. Keep them smooth, sand down the lumps and they'll play better.
    conte2music and Jay Corwin like this.
  9. darrenmccarthy


    Jun 1, 2011
    usually oil and leave it overnight , play in the morning .
    Also anyone know what protocol is with bowing after having oiled the strings?
  10. Rosin won’t grab a freshly oiled string, and it fouls the hair.
  11. darrenmccarthy


    Jun 1, 2011
    Also has anyone noticed the bass being harder to play after oiling strings? As if there were more tension?
  12. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    No. If anything - once you round out the rough spots and oil them, they should play better. Remember, light oil and wiping off any excess. It's really about a maintenance routine with plain gut. The wear depends on a lot of factors, environment, body chemistry, hours of use. If you take care of them, they can last almost forever.
    conte2music likes this.
  13. The oil makes the strings heavier = more tension needed to get the same pitch. I rarely give my Efrano plain gut strings a slight rubdown with fine sandpaper, and a bit of grease. Trim the occasional hairs with a nail scissor. I sort of like the drier, crispier sound.
  14. A single mixed set of plain gut with a wrapped gut E have given me my desired result for 10+ years. I've moved them around a few times, and they're still going strong.

    I use only almond oil, fine sand paper and occasionally very sharp/accurate nail clippers for only the very large hairs. Dull clippers pull too much (as opposed to cutting cleanly) and this will unravel the string. I used the lighter trick with previous strings and they all broke within a few months.

    After sanding, I put about a nickel size amount of oil in my palm and then rub it over the plain gut strings. After about 20 minutes I use a higher quality paper towel that won't break to wipe off the excess. I don't like the way overnight oiling makes the strings sound or feel.

    "The more often you oil and sand your strings, the less you'll need to do it." - Yogi Berra (were he a gut string bassist ; - ) hehehaha)
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
  15. Dutch Williams

    Dutch Williams Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2021
    dang ... dont think i have the guts LOL for that LIGHTER THING? ***?!??
    Povl Carstensen likes this.