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String Life

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Bijoux, Dec 16, 2001.

  1. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    David friesen told me about a month ago that he had the same set of Tomastiks on his EUB for 12 years!!! I was just wondering how often do you guys chance strings?
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I use Thomastic Spirocore Orchestra gauge, and I have no idea if or when I'll change them. The first set I ever had was given to me by a friend who claimed that they were 15 years old at the time, and they still sound great (I still have them on my plywood bass). The ones I have on now came with my bass, so they're just a little over a year old and still going strong.

    I gather that those who use gut or "gutlike" strings have to change them a hell of a lot more often.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I wreck a set of Thomastik Orchestra Gauge every three to four months.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Define "wreck"....I always thought of these as the cockroach (or if you prefer, the Keith Richards) of strings because of their durability. In addition, on any given long gig, they always seem to outlast my RH fingers.

    This is slightly off topic, but since the subject came up, I was wondering about how long the BANJO EFFECT (produced when a new set of these is put on) lasts...I remember thinking how awful my current set sounded when I first got them - they actually made me wonder if I'd made a mistake in buying my new bass at first. Recently I bought a set of Pirastro Jazzers to try out, but the only tune that sounded good on them the first day was FOGGY MOUNTAIN BREAKDOWN. Since I wasn't planning to play that tune on any of my upcoming gigs anytime soon, I got disgusted and put the Spiros back on. When I do try them out again, how long will I likely have to wait before I can play a real jazz tune on those suckers?
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    By destroy I mean that the pitch gets funny -- the open strings waver 4-5 clicks on either side of zero, and you generally can't play them in tune. Also, the sound gets thin and mid-rangy; the fundamental disappears. Also, the volume output diminishes considerably.

    For Thomastiks, the break-in period for me is about 4-10 days, depending on how hard I play them (hard meaning time spent as well as a lot of LOUD acoustic playing). From two weeks to about 2 1/2 months they sound perfect, and then they start to deteriorate pretty quickly. I've also noticed that with better basses this seems to take a little longer. On my old plywood, three months was it. On my Juzek I could sometimes get almost four. My Sirleto has had a set on for almost 5 months, and I didn't really realize how bad they were until I put on a new set. A trick I use if I have to sound presentable right away is to spend some heavy time with the Stick'O Pain before I play out and leave the rosin on the strings.

    The average life cycle for Thomastiks for jazz playing is about a year. I just have a pretty aggressive PH balance, I think. Another note: Right at the point where Thomastiks are dying is when they start to bow nice. I've found, though, that by using Kolstein Medium Cello rosin and white hair, I'm getting a pretty decent sound with fresher strings without as much work.
  6. warwickbass


    Dec 8, 2001
    I use DR's and they go dead about every 3 to 4 months, im supprised i dont hear any more about string boiling on talkbass. Go out buy a new set of strings give them the 3 to 4 months then remove them fill a pot with water put in the strings, let boil for 15-20 min, and the srtings are as good as new.
    Bassfiddle likes this.
  7. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    Hey Warwickbass thanks for your reply but we are talking about DOUBLEBASS STRINGS, I think you may be on the wrong side of the forum, I don't think that DR makes strings for DB!!!
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Been through all of that. It'll buy you a few days in a pinch. I think taking them off and putting them back on probably does as much or more than the boil.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I think this may have something to do with it. I don't understand the science of the whole PH thing, but I can have a set of PLANK strings on for 6 months or more and they sound and play fine, but if one of my students who happens to be a "secreter" plays the bass even for half an hour, the strings go dead right away. My guess is that folks who can keep their strings sounding good for years have a certain kind of skin or "PH Balance" which doesn't corrode the strings. It would be interesting to find out just what's involved in this phenomenon.

    Also, I don't use the "Stick 'O Pain", which may have something to do with both the lifespan of my strings and the relative longevity of the BANJO EFFECT when I change them.
  10. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by Ray Parker
    The average life cycle for Thomastiks for jazz playing is about a year. I just have a pretty aggressive PH balance, I think...
    I had always thought this to be something of a fallacy,but recently my brother,who plays guitar in the band,has started to double on mandolin for some songs.The mandolin player,upon the return of his instrument,regularly complains that the strings sound dead and lifeless.My brother is now known as `acid fingers`.Maybe there is more to it after all.
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There's a bass player from my home town who has what must be the opposing PH. Whenever we play each other's basses, we wake the strings back up. Wierd or what?
  12. I think it helps to wash your hands with soap and warm water before playing whenever possible.

    I'll have to try boiling my gut strings; might make a good stew.
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Trust me, my string habit has ensured that my hands are clean and the strings are properly wiped down after playing.
  14. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I happen to be a scientist in my other life (but I am not the Dr Johnson, PhD in physics, of the 2Xbass list, nor the Dr Science of NPR). I am not going to give any lecture, I'll just say that the study of the effect of epidermal pH on string life is not likely to win the Nobel prize of Physiology. Forget it, not an inspired hypothesis.
  15. klepto

    klepto Guest

    Nov 10, 2004
    it looks like it's been about 3 years since anyone has commented on this thread

    i'm wondering how long you all keep your strings on these days

    i had a set of thomastiks that were on my bass for about 9 -10 years by the time i finally took them off
  16. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    The Obligatos on my bass on my bass have about 6-7 months actual playing time on them and have been taken down a few times. They are totally shot.

    I have two brand new sets waiting to be installed as soon as my Pecanic TP arrives.

    I think it is all in the strings. Most types of steel core strings seem to last much longer.
  17. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I've been playing Spirocore Solos and get about 5 months out of them. No idea why they last longer than orchestra gauge.
  18. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    I play G and D plain gut and A and E Pirastro Olive, the plain guts used to last about 6 months, lately, i've been taking good care of them, oiling them more and i can get an year from them, in the Olives after 8 months or so, the windings start to loose, and break, time to call Lemur :crying:
    I never really understood guys who are using their strings for 10, 15 years, i wonder if theres a special secret and the strings in fact really keep sounding good , or they are just lazy.

  19. Five months only?
    And this is longer than orchestra gauge?
    What are you doing to your strings?
  20. I keep bragging about my Bohmann bass' low B' string..a Thomastik Orchestra that was on the bass when I bought it in 1977, and still sounding swell!

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