Why do strings die?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by TTA, Jul 27, 2021.

  1. TTA


    Jun 10, 2021
    Just looking to understand: got a brand new 5 string that came with a dead e string. Bass sounds amazing and is setup perfect… but the e string sounds dull. Entire string. No nut issues, no bridge issues.

    Hoping it might be twisted, i removed the string and restrung it. On the bridge side the relaxed string had a curve. No help when i retuned it however. If anything maybe it now buzzed more with lower tension and playing acoustically, the string has a slight buzzing sound. Not touching frets… mounted propetly on the bridge. Seated well in the nut.

    i assume it was installed twisted, had a slipped core, or was just a bad string.

    How can you detect a twisted string? why would the string now buzz (it is not buzzing in the saddle, nut, or on the frets)? Can a string buzz from within? Physically, what causes a new string to be dead? I am just trying to understand the “how/why.”
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
    spatters likes this.
  2. TrevorG

    TrevorG Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2012
    You didn't say what kind of strings you're using. Round wounds can lose the grip on the core wire when you cut it to size. Always best to bend the string at the right point and then cut just above the bend helping the winding to get a grip of the core. The buzzing could be anything
    Grinderman and Koshchei like this.
  3. TTA


    Jun 10, 2021
    New strings. Strings installed by the factory.

    mark roberts likes this.
  4. Your title and post don't really match. String death has been covered many times in this forum. You are talking about twisted strings or bad new strings. IMO string death after use is a completely different thing.
  5. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    The main cause of string damage is the bend at the bridge saddle, which causes permanent damage to the structure of the hardened steel core. The higher the break angle, the greater the damage to the string. So, strings that are set up on bridges with a shallower break angle will last longer. IME.
  6. Relayer71

    Relayer71 Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2009
    Everything dies.
  7. TTA


    Jun 10, 2021
    “Why are some new strings already dead? Would be a better title. But my post i think covers it
    Basslice likes this.
  8. This post belongs in the Philosophy Forum.
    What is the meaning of the life of a string?
    gg22, Vinny_G, spvmhc and 3 others like this.
  9. TTA


    Jun 10, 2021
    It is more about what can happen/happens to the structure of the string to cause such a fault. It is like… “this guy had a heart attack cause he was fat. Ok. Cool. But i want to know that obesity led to athletscleeosis and narrowing of his coronary arteries leading to ischemia” kind of stuff. But it is ok to just say if you dont have the answer. ;-). And if you do, please share as i would love to learn.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
    DanDBassist likes this.
  10. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    string death = sweat, dirt...maybe some blood
    DJ Bebop and gebass6 like this.
  11. Lenny JG

    Lenny JG

    Aug 3, 2019
    You meant round CORE not round WOUND.

    Edit: to clarify, round core wires don't have the edges for the wrap wire to grip onto while winding like a hex core does; so if you don't bend/crimp the end that goes to your tuner, it's very liable to unwind and pretty much immediately go dead. They don't always have time or care to do that with random strings that may or may not be round core from the factory the bass came from. Most of the time they just use whatever strings they have around.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
    Phaidrus, TTA and TrevorG like this.
  12. TTA


    Jun 10, 2021
    Thanks. Makes sense. I crimp my strings first, but i can see the failure point in this scenario.

    will this lead to the observations of these dead strings buzzing? Core slippage?

    the no-no that i have done before is mistakenly over tightening a new string. But i never heard any significant ill effects.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2021
    Lenny JG likes this.
  13. TTA


    Jun 10, 2021
    I used to boil and re-use my strings back when i had no money. Worked really really well. They just never stayed as bright as long as a fresh pair.
    HardNHeavy and B-Mac like this.
  14. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess You Guys Are Getting Paid? Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    My strings have found the light of the lord and as such have eternal life. Consider preaching to your strings before every gig, unless you're playing Gospel or at a church in which case the problem takes care of itself.
  15. MikePlaysBass


    Oct 3, 2011
    Check your witness point on the bridge. It could be a simple as that if it’s only on string and the rest are fine. On most strings there’s always a brand new sound until they stretch and settle in from playing them, so some tonal changes are to be expected, but it should be across the entire set.
    chadds and TTA like this.
  16. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Because a cruel and unforgiving God kills them for their sins.

    Or dirt, oil, and the winding getting loose over time.
    Phaidrus and Pimpernel Smith like this.
  17. Ric5

    Ric5 Inactive

    Jan 29, 2008
    I like 5, 8, 10, and 12 string basses
    Some string manufacturers seem to have more dead out of the box strings than others. This is why I stopped using certain brands. I am very happy with D'Addario strings for not have dead new strings.
  18. RattleSnack


    Sep 22, 2011
    Bad string out of package is IMO rare, and I've never had one. I venture to say SOME of the time when it's pronounced "dead", folks just put it on wrong, twisting the core.
    How do you know it's twisted? You release it from the tuner, hold it by that end and lift it in the air - you'll see it is not straight - it's got a slight twist. Twist of the core prevents it from having that complex vibrations that produce harmonics.
    I tried fixing twisted string couple of times I got when I bought used bass guitar, and it's hit or miss. I leave upper part in the tuner but release the tension so I can grab bottom barrel with pliers and untwist it.
  19. 2112

    2112 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2005
    Old strings don't die, they just play that way...

    Seriously tho... the molecules of most shaped and/formed metals, including bass strings, are bonded into crystallattice structures that determines their resiliency and tone. These structures deteriorate with each deformation applied to them.

    Deformations may be caused in varying amounts by a variety of different manipulations.... which can come from contraction and/or expansion via temperature changes (faster/bigger changes are harder on strings, another good reason for acclimation periods), rapid/repeated changes in tension (I don't care to re-use bass strings), conduction of electrical current (thankfully not common with bass strings), corrosion or other chemical reactions (wash your grubby mitts and keep your bass clean), physical manipulations and movements (the harder you play, the faster the deterioration accumulates), and several other sources.

    The deterioration is cumulative, and eventually causes the strings' abilities to produce desirable tones, stay in tune, play at a desired tension, and not break altogether, to fall below levels acceptable to the player and/or below their physical limits.

    And this is why strings die.
  20. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    When you say die do you mean loose brightness or outright break? They loose brightness from skin particles getting lodged in the windings. They break from metal fatigue at the bend of the bridge or nut. All the strings I ever had to break was at the bridge.