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String treatment experiment

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by paulraphael, May 4, 2006.

  1. paulraphael


    Apr 13, 2006
    If you heard me play, you'd stop reading what I write.
    Warning! May be a bad idea! If it doesn't work out, please don't bill me for your strings!

    That being said, I might be onto something. I just changed the strings on my bass for the first time in years. I don't actuall go for the Jamerson thud, but I hate the sound of new strings on my G&L. so I wait until the old ones are beyond gone, and then suffer until the new ones break in.

    I use GHS brite flats, which are really groundwounds, and they're actually pretty sticky and abrasive when new (they seem to smooth out over time). They also have a of zingy metalic high end that I don't like, that usually takes a few weeks to mellow out.

    I wanted to try solving both problems by greasing the strings with something. Ideally something that wouldn't gum up the fretboard, damage the strings, damage the wood, or stink. I didn't have any fast fret to try, so I thought of the wax-based teflon bicycle chain lube that I have.

    I don't actually like the stuff for bike chains ... it doesn't last as long as some other (stinky) synthetic lubes. But the idea is pretty cool. It's an aqueous solution that has a polymerizing wax in it. It seeps into all the nooks and crannies that the water can get to, and when the water evaporates, it leaves behind a dry film of wax that's laced with teflon. very slippery, and, curiously, water repellent. I decided to risk a set of strings to the experiment.

    Anyway, it seems to work great. The annoying aspect of the strings' brightness is gone, but the strings sound completely alive. and they're much smoother. not actually slick, but my fingers don't catch on the windings, and there's much less finger noise when I slide around.

    I don't forsee the wax harming the strings .. if anything it should protect them a bit from sweat getting into the windings. The wax should be harmless to the wood, also. similar compounds are used for waterproofing leather.

    What remains to be seen is how long it lasts. Seems to me a bike chain has a harder life than an instrument string, so I'm optimistic.

    If anyone's interested, the product I used is called Pedro's Ice Wax. I think other people make similar lubes. I put paper under the strings to keep drips of the fretboard, and squirted it over the length of the strings, working it in with my fingers. A couple of hours later i wiped off the dried excess, did another coat, and let it dry over night. Presto.
  2. Darth Tater

    Darth Tater

    May 20, 2005
    Sounds like you need to try D'Aquisto Stainless Steel flats. Zero zing.
  3. paulraphael


    Apr 13, 2006
    If you heard me play, you'd stop reading what I write.
    maybe. in general i'm not looking for flatwound sound though. i just don't like these strings when they're spankin new. it's not that they have zing, it's that on my bass they have nasty zing.

    on other basses i've prefered roundwounds.
  4. cabcreaser

    cabcreaser Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    I appreciate the ingenuity, so by no means is this an attempt to dissuade you on the experiment, but I have had great luck using TI Jazz Rounds (they don't have the zing right out of the package, but they have a unique top end that lasts and lasts and I would guess that they sound great on a G&L).

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