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What's The Black Oxidation All Over New Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Ric Vice, Sep 24, 2010.


  1. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I just had a new set of Spirocore Weich's put on my bass. When I go to wipe them with a cloth they have all this black residue that comes of on the cloth. What is this stuff! It's always there with new Tomastik Strings and it always takes several days to get it off.

    Ric
     
  2. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    That's oil on there to preserve the string while its in the package. It should have been wiped off with methyl hydrate before the strings were installed... :(
     
  3. Many other brands use that oil too.
    A new string should always be carefully wiped off before use.
     
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I'm not a safety expert, but it's my understanding that methanol (methyl hydrate) is absorbed through the skin.
     
  5. I use a soft dry rag only.
    No chemicals.
     
  6. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Its a dangerous profession! ;)
     
  7. Well, methanol is absorbed through the skin a little... but it's only a problem if you're using it a lot (and if you are, wear gloves). It evaporates so fast it's not going to be a problem for the player, only for the first couple of minutes after the strings are cleaned.
     
  8. moles

    moles

    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    Love this place. Ida never known all this otherwise...
     
  9. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Put yer smoke out before you mess with the methyl. Don't drink it or you'll die. Probably a good idea to use (the correct) gloves if you're wading in it. And don't get it on yer bass. Other than that it's like Guinness: safe as mother's milk.
     
  10. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    nah, if you're wading in the stuff, wear dark UV proof glasses.:atoz:

    but seriously, is methanol harmful in that kind of low dosage? if it is, then why not use something else to take off the oil?

    or better yet, why not just leave the oil on there? or wipe it off with a plain rag? i've seen the oil on my hands after playing new Spiros out of the package, but oil itself is harmless.

    or is it? :D:confused::eek:
     
  11. Methanol isn't particularly harmful in small doses, if you don't use it often.

    But the pro luthiers around here should be a bit careful with the stuff, as should anyone who uses it more than, say, a couple of times a month. Same goes for epoxy and cyanoacrylate glue and many, many other organic chemical cocktails (including the sanding dust of many kinds of wood, actually).
     
  12. I sometimes use rubbing alcohol, and it works great too, and isn't harmful.
     
  13. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I've been using Deoxit String Wipes and it seems to be doing the trick but it's taking over a week of daily cleaning to get that stuff off. I wonder if that's one of the reasons it takes Tomastik Spirocores so long to "settle down"? Cleaning it off seems to improve the tone a little. Probably not, but I was just wondering.

    Ric
     
  14. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Removing the oil is pretty important as it keeps the stuff a) out of your bloodstream and b) off your bow! ;)
     
  15. Yet another reason to switch to gut. :D
     
  16. William Hoffman

    William Hoffman Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2009
    Lodi, California
    Good insight. Maybe the oil has something to do with the time Spiros need to settle in. And their initial sound. And why they are such damn good strings. :cool:

    So you think the oil Thomastik has been feeding us all is actually a hazard to our health? Should they be putting a "Warning" on the package? :eek:

    Hear, hear!
     
  17. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    I don't think that a European company would be using PCBs to coat their new strings. They are pretty health-conscious in Austria - unlike say, North American nail companies in the eighties... :(
     
  18. moles

    moles

    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    I don't know if a warning on the package is necessary, but you'd think there'd be something on there.... Like a little scrap of paper or something.

    Cleaned my new-ish Spiros, that I put on the hybrid a couple of months ago, with some rubbing alcohol last night. Picked up the bow. BIG difference, now that the rosin can actually grab on to the string...:meh:
     
  19. dj5

    dj5

    Sep 17, 2009
    England
    Well I've obviously discovered something for myself that was already common knowlege.
    After a couple of weeks of the new Spiros I thought I'd better clean them off. I used alcohol, and was staggered at the amount of the black tarry substance on the strings. I was wiping for ages before I got most of it off.
    When I played the bass again, I was really surprised at the improvement in tone - much more open and vibrant. I expect this would happen as the oil comes off on the players fingers over time, but I'm sure it would take many hours of playing.
    When I used Jazz Flats on my EB's, there certainly was an oil on the new strings, but it came off more readily, and the strings didn't seem to be dulled by it's presence.
    Perhaps they should put a little note in the box about pre-cleaning for us noobs!
     
  20. Certainly I learned something new in this thread, I had no idea about the need to clean strings before first using them...I had noticed in the past sometimes a coloring (at times reddish I think) on relatively new strings but didnt have any idea that they came protected by some oil, certainly failing to wipe any oily substance could also damage the bow hair somewhat...
    Funny how one can overlook something for so long...!
     

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