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String Life

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by All Three, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. All Three

    All Three

    Jun 19, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    I'm hoping to get some info and opinions on when and why you change strings. I checked the "strings megathreads" for this, and it looks like those links don't work.

    I think everyone agrees that strings sound bright when new, darken gradually, and eventually sound "dead".

    On thing I experience (on steel strings anyway) is that strings seem to loose flexibility over time, and that is what prompts me to change. I have Eurosonics on two of my basses, and find that I change them as they get less flexible. They are steel wound with silk, and perhaps the silk (which adds flexibility) degrades over time.

    Your experience?

    Thanks, All Three
  2. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    Nope, not when it comes to Spiro upright strings as far as I'm concerned, for jazz anyway. I have a set of mediums I put on my bass about 1985. They still have all the harmonics and sound great. Before that the bass had a set from 1974 from when I bought it. These strings have done thousands of gigs.

    Classical bowing is a bit different. My Belcanto G string started to sound scratchy recently so I replaced it. It was a few years old, but the other Belcanto strings are good.

    Years ago, over 40, I asked my teacher when I should change my upright Spiro strings. Coming from an electric background I figured it was normal to change 'em up regularly. He looked at me funny and said 'never, unless they break'. He was a top classical player who played Spiros.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
    Jason Hollar and rknea like this.
  3. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    I know a guy who played his entire career with a major orchestra on the same strings.
    HateyMcAmp and bassmanbrent like this.
  4. I’ve heard of players who did an entire career on the same set of guts. In an orchestra. Recently.

    pH counts a lot. It’s about what you get away with.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  5. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Every 2 years, max. (3 Spirocores/1 Evah P.)
    But that's me...
    Jsn likes this.
  6. The Eurosonic/Presto Nylonwound are not silk wrapped but synthetic wrapped strings. The synthetic can get harder over time making the string stiffer, but this is more an exception than a rule. The only other string I heard of getting stiffer are multifiber synthetic core strings, specially Evah Pirazzi (regular), maybe all PEEK-core strings (Obligato, Zyex, Evah Pirazzi), because the fibers might glue together (for whatever reason, heat by vibration, mud coming through the windings, ...).

    Usually strings get more flexible over time. One reason might be the stretching of the core, another one that the winding wire gets deformed by vibration.

    Beyond breaking and loosing the sound character strings can get detuned harmonics due to different vibrational load to the upper and lower part of the string which is a good reason to replace the string.
  7. Remyd


    Apr 2, 2014
    St. Louis, MO
    My orch bass had the same strings on it from 1992-2009. I only change when I want a new tone.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    @KUNGfuSHERIFF is correct about skin pH being a big factor. I have dry Irish alligator skin which doesn't seem to secrete the sort of acidic residue that kills strings quicker. My current strings on my main bass are about 8 years old. Usually I only need to replace them when I break one or dent one. But I've had students whose fingers secrete a string-killing toxin every time they play. They have to change their strings a lot more often. Would love to understand the science of this better, but it has been my experience.

    That said, it's a tradeoff: my strings last forever and I don't sweat much, but their fingers don't crack and bleed painfully where the nail meets the bed EVERY. SINGLE. WINTER. Who is to say who's better off?
    Jason Hollar, salcott and Jmilitsc like this.
  9. Jmilitsc

    Jmilitsc Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2013
    Fairfield County, CT
    Like the meaning of life, solving the riddle of how ph affects string life, cracked hands in the winter, but sticky strings in the summer, would be monumental for me. Worst of both worlds, drives me nuts. Plus the liquid bandaid options at the drugstore seem narrower now, just the sprays which don’t work as well as the liquid applicator thingy. Grr.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The only time I have changed strings is because I wanted to try a different set or the strings were breaking.

    I put Helicores on my laminated Juzek after I bought it about 20 years ago. I don't recall ever changing them.

    The Innovations on my no-name bass replaced Garbos that kept breaking (at $250 a set!!) about ten years ago. They have a green discoloration in the plucking area but no warning signs of potential breakage yet.
  11. klyph

    klyph Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2009
    Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, but isn't liquid bandage just CA (cyanoacrylate) glue? Couldn't you just use a product like Zap++? If you get one of the thicker formulas you could just pour it into an old liquid bandage bottle...
  12. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Due to the expense, i've yet to try new strings simply for the sake of experimentation. So far, i have waited until a string set loses it's pleasing character before changing the set, and haven't used the same set twice yet.

    In my six years on the bass, i have used an unknown set on a rental, a Zyex Medium set, a Helicore Hybrid Light set and am now maybe 10 months into a set of Spiro Weich(4/4). I think i used the Zyex for about 2 years before deciding they were too dead to continue on. I then wanted to try a hybrid set for bowing and got the Helicores. Those lasted about 1.5 years before i thought they were dying, but were not quite as dead as the Zyex were at 2 years. I then sprung for the Spiro's and have used those since. The Spiro's are by far my favorite string and i am devoted to see how long they last and how they develop beyond the 1 year mark. I am hoping to keep these on my bass for a long time.
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I really don't see what people like about helicores. They are just terrible sounding strings IMO. Glad you moved on to bigger and better things!
    salcott likes this.
  14. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    CA is good for a lot of things, but while it will glue your skin together over a cut or even protect a blister for a short time, eventually with flexing it shatters with very sharp edges -- after which it simply irritates the wound until the shards are removed which causes further irritation. Plus, store-bought CA is not sterile, so chances of causing an infection are quite good. There is a medical form of CA used in some situations, but it's not available from the corner drug store.

    For an open wound of any kind, I'd suggest a simple small folded piece of tissue wrapped over with a single layer of duct tape for short term playing on a wounded finger or hand. If it's still too uncomfortable, try another layer of duct tape wrap. After the playing is done, remove the wrap, clean the wound if necessary, and leave it exposed to air.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  15. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I'd have to generally agree. They are very "run of the mill" and don't excel at anything in particular. I was also very disappointed in the bowability of the string as a Hybrid set. The Spiros start much more easily. Ultimately Helicores got the job done, but not much to excite. I don't see myself ever getting another set with so many other great options available.
    Chris Fitzgerald and Jmilitsc like this.
  16. bassfran


    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    I had Innovation 140b's on my K. Meyer ply for about 15 years until the 'A' string developed a break issue at the bridge and needed replacement. They sounded great and held their tension just fine as I don't have any bad ph issues. I've been playing Jargars now for less than a year on both basses, so I can't speak to their longevity as of yet.
  17. klyph

    klyph Supporting Member

    Mar 28, 2009
    I thought he was talking about a product called" liquid bandage" that was indeed sold at drug stores and did smell like CA glue. It came in a tiny bottle with a glass rod applicator in the cap. I understand what you are saying about using it for wounds, however. If I have to put some sort of dressing on my hands to play because of a cut or burn I prefer white cloth tape. I have always kept a little roll in my gig bag.☺
    dhergert likes this.
  18. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I would normally agree. The only exception i've found is that Jason Stewart in NOLA (bassist with ellis marsalis) plays hellicore hybrid mediums on his old carved bass and they sound like my bass with spiro mediums exactly. They are a perfect match.

    Im telling myself not to try them...
  19. All Three

    All Three

    Jun 19, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Just to clarify, the Eurosonics are steel wound with silk, and that is wrapped with synthetic.
    Thanks, All Three
  20. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Larry Grenadier seems to make them sound OK :)

    I had a weird experience recently where I bought some brand new Spirocore weichs and out of the box they sounded totally dead and lifeless on my bass. Put on some two year old helicore hybrid lights and they were brighter, louder, more growly, and easier to bow. I guess every bass likes different things.

    Spirocores do have the longevity thing going for them, though. The brand new Spiro weichs I bought sounded almost exactly the same as a set I have that is at least 15 years old!
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.

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