String Lube: Good Idea, or Bad Idea?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by BassDaddy77, Jan 27, 2023.

  1. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    So, I've been trying to understand the purpose of products like Fast Fret, etc. I've never used a product like that, therefore I have no real world experience with them. But I'm a little confused about the overall premise.

    It seems counter intuitive to "lube" your strings, doesn't it? By adding some sort of oil/lubricant, wouldn't you be introducing a substance to the string surface that would attract dirt and grime? I'm sure many of you have seen the YouTube video showing the guy smacking his bass strings against the fretboard to get the gunk out from between the windings. This suggests that you don't want anything between the windings that would deaden the sound. So wouldn't a product such as Fast Fret or Ax Wax String Lube fill in the gaps between the windings and therefore cause a deadening effect? Which (for most roundwound players) is not desirable, right?

    What am I missing here?
  2. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I don’t get it. But some people like Fast Fret and that’s cool. It’s just a preference. I keep my strings clean and when they aren’t how I prefer, off they go.
    tindrum, Artman, Barticus and 2 others like this.
  3. I love Fingerease and have used it for decades. My hands don't sweat so occasionally I need it to reduce friction
    or to get a better feel if my hands are too dry. One can lasts me years. I always have in my gig bag. If you Don't Get It, then you don't need it! I've used Fastfret before, but Fingerease is what I prefer!! BTW, it has never affected string life or had any negative effects in my case!
    Pop C, pcake, BlueTalon and 6 others like this.
  4. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    My hands don't sweat much either. But, maybe that's why it never occurred to me to try a product such as this. Is it supposed to prevent corrosion for those that do have sweaty hands?
    Steve Slate likes this.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i've used fingerease outside in some of the summer swelts, and it definitely lubes the playing --- makes it easier. i don't know if the spray-on fingerease is a different formulation than fast fret, but i've never been aware of dirt/grime buildup from using it.
  6. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    Clean strings with open windings (free of oils, dirt, dead skin, whatever) are what enables them to produce the sustain and overtones roundwounds are known for. How does filling in the grooves in-between the windings with a string "lube" not have an adverse effect on that?
    Artman and DrThumpenstein like this.
  7. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    Depending on your EQ preferences, finger noise on strings, and strings that 'grip' your fingers can be tamed with Fastfret.
  8. Its really great stuff!! I've used since the 60s.....yep I'm old HaHa!!
    A little goes a long way!! Oh...I've heard some people use WD40. Fingerease is formulated for Guitars so I stick with it.
  9. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    I actually haven't used it for a while -- my bass playing is mostly confined to home studio recording nowadays -- but when I played live more, I found that GHS Fast Fret kept older strings sounding better longer, and also made sliding with my fretting hand more comfortable.

    I agree that it seems a bit nonsensical to put something "on" your string, but I honestly didn't think much about it, and it just worked for me.
    One Way, pcake and JRA like this.
  10. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Same here. When I use Fast Fret, I rub the things with the FF stick, then play and rub them down again after playing, this time I wipe the strings with the cloth.
    If anything, this takes off grime and dirt. Other than that, I don't usually play in environments where lots of grime are hitting my bass. And I wash my hands before I play when they are dirty from hauling gear.

    In my personal experience the pros are:
    -strings get slippy and easier to play
    -strings life expectancy is prolonged a bit

    -none so far.
    slagbass, One Way, pcake and 9 others like this.
  11. FullumMusic

    FullumMusic Commercial User

    Oct 13, 2022
    Queens, NYC
    Audio/Music software developer, contracted with a company you've heard of and deving my own stuff.
    I would assume it's a good way to get a coated-string feel without having to buy coated strings, or being able to use strings whose sound you like feel coated? And i think the stuff getting into the spaces on roundwounds, in theory, is supposed to prevent actual crud and sweat and corrosive stuff into the strings and around the core. I have zero evidence to back that up. Just a thought.

    I ran into an issue with my tapewounds where i was getting a really slight stick-slip at the nut when i would tune. It was nothing major. Just a few cents of pitch. I would be doing some really fine-grain tuning, slowly turning the peg. The string wouldn't change pitch because it was sticking at the nut, then ping when it released itself, and the pitch would jump slightly. I'm talking microscopic jumps in pitch. But enough to drive me crazy. A little bit of lube on the nut and now it tunes oh-so-smoothly.

    But i didn't use a string lube. I got a pack of graphite art pencils, took the softest pencil (10B), and just rubbed the graphite tip on the nut slots. Graphite is a great lubricant, and no liquids, no silicones, no chemicals etc. But i don't know what graphite would do if rubbed along an entire roundwound.
    /\/\3phist0, mikewalker and JRA like this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i don't think those formulations "fill in the grooves" so much as they 'coat' the strings. again, i've never noticed any 'buildup'...of anything.

    you might want to try it just to see for yourself. ;)
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2023
  13. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    Great replies everyone! I'm certainly not arguing that these products actually do deaden the strings, just that logical thinking suggests it would. This is quite fascinating to me, lol.

    Seems like if it deadens the strings, it's not to the extent that causes much of a discernable difference in tone.

    Has anybody who's tried one of these products had a drastic enough tone difference that they decided not to use it anymore?
  14. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    You are missing the point that there is a lot of marketing BS.
  15. HeadWind

    HeadWind Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2016
    Western New York
    In the summer, I can't survive without fastfret. I guess my hands just sweat a lot. I suddenly feel like I can't play. Winter and lower humidity isn't so bad. The other thing I use is baby powder to dry my hands. Like I said, I guess I just have sweaty palms.

    Neither product appears to have any deleterious effect on the strings or tone.
  16. The only time I thought it might be useful was watching a video of Dream Theater recording. Someone was spraying John Petrucci's fretboard while he was doing this long slide thing. Maybe useful in the studio, can't see myself needing it.
  17. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    How so?
    Socobass likes this.
  18. coy garcia

    coy garcia

    Jan 18, 2020
    I find it useful on basses with rounds where the strings are still in good shape but the bass has been sitting unused in the case for months or years.
  19. Grinderman


    Dec 21, 2013
    Los Angeles
    When will a string maker/brand start marketing seasonal strings, like performance, all-season and snow tires?
  20. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I use Pam. No-stick and my omelets come out nice & fluffy looking. OTOH, I can not stomach watching players lick their fingers between riffs, runs, or passages. Maybe they should use the butter-flavor?

    Chain_Lightning, JRA, pcake and 3 others like this.