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The dieing string syndrome...

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by <sterio>, Jan 15, 2005.

  1. I've read that usually new bass strings don't need replacing for 3 months or so... at least 1 full month of frequent playing, anyway. However, I find that once I put a new set on my bass that "fresh" sound fades significantly after only a week. Like, we're talkin' "I think I'll need new strings soon" one week later. I don't think this is normal.

    I've used D'Addario and GHS strings, both medium guage. I've tried boiling my strings, I've tweaked the action and intonation and it's helped my left-hand tecnique, but not the life of my strings.

    I play an ESP LTD B-105. It's a five-string. I play finger-style and I'm in a speed metal band, so lots of stuff all over the neck. I've noticed recently that I tend to hit the strings quite hard, I think. I don't really have anything to compare myself to, so I'm not sure if my attack is to hard or not. If it is, I think I might have just worn the strings out quickly.

    So I honed my right-hand tecnique significantly, I have a softer touch now, will this solve my problem when I buy strings this week? Or will I be needing another set in 2 weeks?

    Any suggestions?
  2. altho this belongs in strings, the thing is, the strings wont retain that 'brightness' they have outta the package for long. they are breaking in. so when they've lost all that snappy ness that they had when they were new, that means they've broken in. you'll know when a string is dead. tone will be muted. and tuning will be an issue...
  3. That's what I'm saying. 2 weeks, the strings are dead, not just broke in. They slip out of tune easily, and sound like a rope tied from a bucket to the end of a mop, or like a bunjie chord.
  4. perhaps you need to wipe down the strings after you play, and wash your hands very well. i havent ever had a string die that fast in ~7 years of playing.
  5. or perhaps, try the denatured alcohol dip (with strings that DONT have silk wrappings)
  6. I would change to steel strings. They aren't as initially bright as nickels, but they retain their brightness longer, and they don't get ground by the fretwire.
    For cleaning I use WD-40. Just cover the fingerboard with plastic under the strings (so that the strings are exposed) and spray on a small amount all up and down. Let it sit for 10 min. then clean the strings from top to bottom with a clean shamois buy using a sideways twisting motion to cleanout the crud (in the same direction as the string wind). Works great!
  7. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    My experiences have been the initial brightness of steel strings only last for a short time. Some players actually change their strings every few days, some even more often, just because they like that initial brightness from strings. John Entwistle used to change strings before every show!:eek:

    One thing I HIGHLY caution you about is paying too much attention to a single source. If someone wrote strings should last 3 months, you should question what they mean by "lasting 3 months". My guess is the writer meant that's how long, given his technique, his bass, his ears, and his opinion of what sound good.

    Listen to your ears. It's not uncommon to lose the zing after several hours of play, retain a fair amount of brightness for a while, and gradually decay to the point where they become thumpy and lifeless. The decay process varies for everyone. ;)

    Oh...and for the record, IME, steel strings are initially brighter sounding than nickels and wear frets quicker than nickels. Nickels seem to retain their tone a little longer, however.
  8. Tritone

    Tritone Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    One thing people forget, is that body chemistry plays a big part too. As gross as this sounds, everybody's sweat is a little different, you know? Me, I kill nickel strings after one 4 hour gig, no matter how much I wipe or clean the strings (and I'm a fanatic about playing with clean hands). It's just the way it works. I don't have the same with SS strings. Everybody is different, so you just might have to live with it.

    OTOH, if you are pounding the strings to death, then there's nothing that will make them last longer other than lightening up. The things can only take so much... :D
  9. mnadelin


    Apr 6, 2003
    Kalamazoo, MI
    You could try elixirs. I didn't really dig the tone, but they certainly lasted a long time. Might as well give them a try. I've had good experience with DR high beams. I never liked GHS or D'Addario, and I had the same problem. Might want to try different strings. But thing about strings is, every guy has his brand and he'll pretty much stick by it. So I think all the string companies are valid. I just think you might want to try some different brands and see if those are any better for what you're looking for.
  10. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    This may sound really odd, but I've got a Westfield (I think it's an sB427 but it's different to all the other ones I've played) that I got from eBay about 5 months ago when it was in pretty aweful condition. It was only £60 so I thought it was a bargain. The neck was all over the place, there's almost nothing left of the frets, the pickups weren't even at all but the worst part was the bridge. I rewired the whole thing so it actually worked, levelled out the pups, adjusted the neck, cleaned the fretboard, polished the bass up till I could see my reflection in the gun-metal grey finish... But the bridge still bugged me. The saddles were flat, the springs were bent, and the bridge was just in a very bad overall state. I ordered a new one from eBay, and when I put it on... The strings went from being completely dead to being alive again! They used to seem dead after one or two weeks playing, but they last for much longer now.
    (I use Rotosound Swing 66 Stainless Steel Roundwounds)
    It may just be something adding to the list of oddities about this bass, or it may just be me... But check the bridge maybe?
  11. jani_bjorklund


    May 22, 2002
    Some pros change strings every night.
    If you need that fresh chrisp sound you just have to do so.
    In your case you probably have to change them every second week, I guess...it's just a matter o taste.
    You can also have them on like forever, like James Jamerson did.
  12. D'AddarioPD


    Jan 31, 2005
    Hi Stereo,

    Most new strings will lose that "new string" tone after a week or so of playing with moderate to heavy playing but this does not mean they are dead yet. They will still sound good for some period of time but they just won't have that new string "crispness". Wiping down the strings after you play will help a lot in keeping your strings sounding fresh. As stated earlier, body chemistry plays a big factor in how long your strings last as well.

    A couple of things you can try are stainless steel strings or coated strings like our EXP sets. Stainless steel will have a brighter tone then nickel strings and will last longer. They are a little harsher on your frets though. Coated strings will last the longest. For our EXP set we coat the wrap wire before the string is wound. This prevents finger oils and other contaminants from corroding the string while keeping the bright tonal quality of an un-coated string.

    Again, wiping your strings down after you play is the best thing you can do to expand the life of your strings.
  13. dmaki


    Apr 29, 2000
    I've had a set of DR Hi Beams on my bass for over 6 months and they are still really bright sounding. I'm not sure the kind of sound you like or the amount of flexibility you like, but you should check DR's out. Hi Beams have great flexibility and are pretty bright, have growly bass, but not a huge low end. Lo Riders are supposed to be a bit more rigid and have more bass, less growl.
  14. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    My experience is exactly the opposite. Steel strings are brighter in the beginning but their brightness don't last as longa as in nickels. I would switch to Ken Smith if I were to use steel, or Ernie Ball if using nickel. Had terrible experiences with D'Addario and GHS strings (both tone and reliability related).

  15. JonTheBassGuy


    Dec 12, 2004
    All my strings lose that new string zing in a day or so. I've noticed that nickels have that new string sound for about a week for me. OR you can just buy super cheap strings and change em every week ;)
  16. Great tip :) (except that the silkwrap easely holds up for the first 2-3 times, only getting a little fluffy, and it's not like it's going to affect the sound of the strings)

    To me nickle and steel strings last about the same time. But as nickels are a little duller initialy you don't notice them going off as much as with steel strings.