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string life

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by dancehallclasher, Dec 12, 2001.


  1. ok, i want to get this straight - do stainless steel or nickel plated strings last longer? i used to think stainless steels did, but i heard different recently. what are your experiences?
     
  2. Thomguy

    Thomguy

    Oct 15, 2001
    New York, USA
    htag's right about a player's ph level, add technique and climate factors, among other things, and it is indeed a toughie to nail down string life. Generally, though, nickel will last most players longer, nickel flats specifically. Although on a molecular level, steel decays slower BUT it's bending stiffness is higher. That being the case, the rigors of vibration, etc., while playing bass will cause the steel to less acurately reproduce the frequncy of the notes faster than nickel as it's bending stiffness is lower. You hear it as increased distortion then ultimately, "dead" tone. Nickel plated strings will have similar properties so if you want the longest life (and the tone agrees with you) go with pure nickel rather than nickel plated, if only for longevity reasons. Nickel has a property of "settling in" that generally takes longer than steel and usually continues to play in tune longer.

    There are plenty of players who get different results for different reasons, but the above is my personal experience with some science & research behind it, but certainly not an unbreakable law of physics or anything.
     
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I shall echo the thoughts of those above and add my own experience.

    I use nickel, and steel strings. I use steel strings on my P-bass for a cover gig I do. I rarely if ever break a sweat with that band - the strings last forever. If I use steel strings in The Nerve (where I always break a big sweat), they're dead after about an hour. Nickle strings seem to hold out a little longer for me, but they also have a little less top end.

    After hearing lots of people's opinions, reading BP magazine's issue on strings, reading everyone's thoughts here - I'm convinced that strings are a totally personal thing. What lasts one set for one person can last forever for someone else, and what someone burns out in 40 minutes could be the other guys dream string. I'd suggest using lots of different strings and seeing which your happiest with. Hopefully it'll be cheaper ones....

    Oh yeah - I once won 4 sets of Thomastick Infelds (spelling?) - I'd have never bought em cuz they cost way too much, and I know lots of people swear by these things. My body chemistry kills those strings faster than any I've ever played - so I wonder now what the deal is with expensive strings. I sometimes think the added bucks goes into their marketing.
     
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    PS.

    Right after I posted I saw Thomguy's post - must have posted the same time. I didn't mean the above as a knock to your company - in fact I was treated unbelievably well by your representatives. I was just telling my experience. As I said - lots of people I know swear by TI strings.
     
  5. nickel definitely lasts longer
     
  6. Thomguy

    Thomguy

    Oct 15, 2001
    New York, USA
    Interesting, Joe. Your experience with TI is surely not the norm. Your body chemistry claim is most probably why they didn't behave the way you may have heard from others. Some players have such a high pH level that they'll kill strings extremely fast. Typically, these players find they prefer stainless steel or plated strings. Many times (thankfully) these are not terribly expensive or regarded as premium strings, like ours are. As for the cost of our strings, that's another issue. I can't speak for all premium priced brands, but marketing costs with us are not factored into our manufacturing at the "drawing board" level as we're the importer. Our marketing budget has not changed in some time. Not because we can afford to keep throwing money into the machine, actually the opposite: Thomastik strings are designed and manufactured in Vienna, Austria. The import costs alone make them more expensive than domestically manufactured strings. On top of that, they use winding techniques that cost more no matter what country they're made in. Case in point; our nickel -vs- other nickel (this goes for guitar as well as bass)
    Players have found that they have an allergic reaction to nickel after playing Thomastik-Infeld strings for the first time. These are playeres that have played domestic nickel or nickel plated strings without any reaction. But, when they played a set of TI, they broke out! Why? Our pure nickel strings are NOT plated steel with nickel on top. The flats are a ribbon of pure nickel (they actually call it 'European grade') On their upright nickel strings they actually addressed the problem and developed gold flats for the upright bassists who were allergic to our nickel! They have not yet done so for the electric bassist as the number of players with the same problem are much smaller. Small enough to where it does not justify the expense of R&D at this point. On the orchestral side of the equasion it made sense as the majority of orchestral musicians use Thomastik-Infeld strings.
     
  7. Thomguy

    Thomguy

    Oct 15, 2001
    New York, USA
    No offense taken at all, Joe. BTW, It was probably me you spoke with if it was within a few years ago as I am THE representative. So if I treated you well, you're welcome ;-)

    There are indeed "padded" prices all over America in every industry. Some of my post was more about the real costs involved in just getting them here. I personally have more conspiracy theories than I like to admit, so I respect your post entirely!