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On the topic of sticky strings

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by superheavyfunk, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    So my main guitar is a '79 Precision, which I got a little while back in a trade. It came with these flats that are pretty high tension (which I love), so I left them on there - I'm one of those that never change his strings unless necessary.

    Anyway, the drawback that I've come to really hate is that these darn things are pretty sticky-feeling and they really slow me down. When I'm playing blues or something similar with walking basslines, it's not that big of a deal but when I've really got my funk on, it's a bit of a pain. How do you all deal with sticky strings? Do you have any tips or tricks, or do you tend to just say "screw it" and buy a different brand? Personally, I dislike waiting for new strings to become dead and thumpy - not to mention the problem of finding strings with the right tension for me, so I always prefer NOT buying new ones.

  2. jbossolo


    Sep 22, 2011
    Clean them?
  3. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Flats should not be at all sticky, but very smooth. I would just clean them really well and I'd bet the problem will be gone.
  4. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    Yeah, I did clean them with some of that weird string cleaner stuff that you can buy from guitar stores. It didn't improve the playability to any significant degree. I'm considering doing that boiling thing that I hear ppl do but I recently read someone here saying something about an alcohol treatment? What's that all about?
  5. Petethebassman


    Mar 7, 2008
    Try Fast Fret, works for me.
  6. This is one of those funny situations where, even though the string is smooth compared to a roundwound, there is actually MORE surface area contacting your finger(like twice as much), and thus the opportunity for MORE friction than a round.
    Depends on your callus condition, skin moisture(drier is better) and string surface condition. Try to keep your hands dry. You may find that polishing your strings a bit with a Scotch Brite pad(green scrubby thing on the back of a sponge)improves matters.
  7. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    I personally LIKE a little "tack" on my flats.
  8. droskobass


    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
    if they're sticky from dirt and grease etc then a bit if isopropyl alcohol (costs about .99$- 1.49$ at a pharmacy for generic stuff) on a paper towel and clean over and under the strings should do the trick. it evaporates in seconds and will also kill any germs on the bass. if the friction is caused by the surface area of the string itself then a little GHS fast fret or "Finger ease" gos a long way.

    I find that having clean dry hands it the best bet and I meticulously wash my hands before practicing and in between sets... I'm a freak but my strings last years and only die if someone else touches my basses. I use Thomastik infeld flats and either DR hibeams or D'addarion nickel an prosteels... good luck..
  9. smperry

    smperry Administrator Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Bay Area, CA
    moved to strings
  10. Do they seem new? D'addario Chromes (blue silks, colored ball ends) are notorious for having a stiff and sticky feeling right out of the pack; I know it took me several solid hours of jamming to get mine broken in.

    Just a possibility.
  11. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    Thanks for the tips so far, everyone. I appreciate it. I never liked that Fast Fret stuff when I used to play guitar but I think I'll try the rubbing alcohol and the scotch pad thing tonight and see how it goes. :)

    These strings are definitely not new, nor are they Chromes. The tension is way higher... Chromes are what I had been using on my CV50. They look and sound like they've been well used, which is why I kept them on. I think they might be Fenders, based on some googling that I did when I get the bass. Light green silk on the ball end, none up top, gold ends across the board. They also look like real steel cables - that is to say, that with Chromes (for example), you can see the wraps around the core. With these guys, you can't, except where the strings break over the bridge and where they're wrapped around the posts.
  12. Yeah sounds like Fender flats all right. Good string.
    The Scotch Brite suggestion is to actually 'break up' the surface a little, to make it less sticky. Same concept used when breaking the gloss on the back of a neck. Might help, might not, no harm either way.
  13. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    I always prepare a new set of flats with Scotch Brite (fine) and cleaning with alcohol.
  14. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    The scotch brite makes sense to me but why the alcohol treatment on new strings?
  15. BAce


    Jul 31, 2012
    Alcohol soak beats a boil every time. I use the 99% stuff from the local apothecary. The advantage to the alcohol is that it contains virtually no water to rust the core of the string. Once it evaporates, it's gone, unlike boiling in water. I constructed a tube about 40 inches long, sealed at one end and about 3/4" diameter. Hang the strings with a nail, using the ball ends. Drop the other end into the tube, rest the nail at the open end and fill the tube with alcohol. Let it soak for a few hours and no more sticky strings.
  16. Just to remove any residue from the Scotch Brite process.
  17. Luckydog

    Luckydog Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 1999
    Use pvc tube and glue on female threaded ends that will accept male threaded caps at BOTH ends. Don't leave one end open unless you love the smell of evaporating alcohol, as well as the real risk of a fire hazard if the tube falls over and spills the contents. You can put a loop of zip tie through the ball ends, then stick the tuning post ends into the tube. The zip tied ends shouldnt need anything holding them to the one end of the tube...the strings themselves should accomplish that if the tube is narrow enough (say 2 inches dia). Buy a gallon of DNA at home depot or elsewhere. Insert strings, pour in alcohol, cap the top end, shake the whole mess, and let sit for a day or so, shaking it couple times. Remove strings, hang somewhere to dry, cut zip tie, and install.
  18. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    I tried the scrub & wash thing last night and again today. It definitely shined them up and removed a bunch of gunk but the strings still feel sticky, as compared to the ones that I've gotten used to playing... I'm beginning to think it's just the way Fender strings are. I've never used them before, so I have no point of reference. I'll try the soak next and see if it makes any difference.

    I don't think I can go back to the Chromes anymore. The higher tension of these strings feels so much nicer and I feel like my plucking is faster, softer and more even because of it. I wish I knew the gauges so that I could hunting for a different brand. :(
  19. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    +1 Plus removing the greasy (gray-ish) residue from the production process.
  20. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    Problem (mostly) solved! Thanks for the help, folks. :beer:

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