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The denatured alcohol report...

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by Chef, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    So, I read here denatured alcohol can bring tired, oily, oxidised, dead skin filled stings back to life.

    With 30 or so basses on hand, that sounded good to me, so I ponied up $14 for a gallon, and filled a BAPJ (big a** pickle jar) with it.

    Pulled some oxidised, tired sounding rounds off one of my G&L L1000's and soaked them overnight; occasionally shaking them up when I passed it on the kitchen counter.

    Pulled them out 30 or so hours later, placed them on a towel on the counter and let them air dry-which don't take too long.

    Strung the G&L back up about an hour later; and...

    Yep, it works like a charm.

    I've repeated this on several basses now. In fact, I pulled out all my "used but saved in case I break a string on the job" sets of extras, and have been "processing" them as well.

    The BAPJ did evnetually develope a layer of filth and ick that settled down in the bottom. So, I got a second BAPJ, made a funnel of paper towels, and "filtered" the denatured alcohol; and am continuing to use it as needed.

    I cleaned one set twice, and the tension/de-tensioning hasn't seemed to effect them.

    Of course if you beat the tar outta your strings, and the show wear from frets, or say move them from bass to bass so fret wear marks don't line up, or the break point over bdige saddles moves, or where they pass thru the nut moves...you might start getting weird overtones, or have intonation problems.

    YMMV; but, as far as I'm concerned, it's no longer "urban myth" by me.

    So, there ya go.
  2. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Yes, I used to use the alcohol soak back in the days I used roundwounds. It does work as you've found out for yourself. Before then I used to soak myself in alcohol but I couldn't tell how the strings sounded after the fourth or fifth shot.
  3. I wish I had a "Bunch" of old bass guitars to soak my strings :( I use a vinegar and water with an old clean sock...
  4. Sounds good - let me know where I can send my old strings and how long it will take for you to turn them around? :D
  5. funkometer

    funkometer Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Birmingham AL
  6. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Yep, it works. And although it may be necessary to dunk roundwounds occasionally, I keep individually wrapped alcohol wipes (sold to clean eyeglasses) in my gig bag and use them to wipe down my flats between sets to keep them from getting too funky in the first place.

    OTOH, I don't allow liquid alcohol anywhere near my uprights because it dissolves so-called "spirit varnish" (shellac).
  7. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I wipe all my strings down with a soaked cotton pad (little round things the wife keeps in the bathroom) about once a month.

    Never felt the need to remove them from my bass to do it.
  8. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Hey James;
    I'd iimagine that works great for flats...is that what you're using? Cause I think with rounds, the facial wipes (flat, woven pads as opposed to round spun balls) might still shred on roundwounds and leave cottony bits in the strings?
    That's why I pull them off and soak...

    And for flats, I'd really rather have them go a little dead....
  9. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I have Stainless Rounds on most all my basses... Never had an issue with cottony bits. I don't 'scrub' the things, I wet them down and let the stuff evaporate.

    I clean my flats on my fretted 5, doesn't really brighten them to me.
  10. i have always been advocating this method to everyone but people dismiss it before trying on basis of their stupid chemistry and calculations anyway glad that you found the best way to save money when it comes to strings!
  11. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    i have been cleaning my strings like this for years, but NEVER thought of this.

    Thanks for the thread!

  12. Denatured Alcohol owns... so does vodka.. im drunk.. friday night.. uuughh,,... better hydrate.
  13. mrman740


    Jul 2, 2006
    That's a Friday night for ya...
  14. I usually soak all my B strings in it so instead of going out and buying 5 string sets I just get a 4 string set, which is about $8-$10 cheaper, and reuse the B. I have actually soaked whole sets but this is what I like doing while I still have a job and can afford new strings from time to time. It gives me an excuse to go to the music shop.
  15. rufus mangler

    rufus mangler

    Oct 10, 2007
    I've been doing the denatured alcohol in the PVC tube method.
    (That doesn't sound right.)

    I've been using the tube.
    (That's worse!)

    All I know is those things have a mind of their own when they come out of that tube!
    (Damn it.)
  16. How long do they sound "fresh n new" with the denatured alchohol? The main issue I read about boiling is how they sound new again for about 3 days then go completely dead again, which is absolutely true.
  17. Does anyone know if this stuff is good for callousing up your fingers?? I heard upright dudes dunk their fingers in it. My old teacher told me to put my finger tips in vinegar but that didn't really help. I want to build hard callous and I am wondering if dunking my finger tips in this would help or if it owuld be a bad idea

  18. 59jazz

    59jazz Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma Supporting Member

    I use a 1.5" pvc tube that has a threaded cap on one end....filled with DA, works quite well Last week, I mistook a diaper wipe (w/ aloe) for an alchohol wipe; my DR Hi-beams, became instantly dead. 30 mins in the soak, and they were sounding like new!
  19. I did this, the tube thing, parts and alchohol cost me 10$, my DR's after being in the bath for 12 hours sound 95% new for about a month. saved me tons of money......it really works !!
  20. Right on Chef! It makes me sick to think of all those sets of strings I threw away in the past. Now, I rotate 2 or 3 sets on a weekly basis with one pair soaking. Alcohol soaked strings last the same amount of time as brand new ones for me.

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