String cleaning

After four months of daily use, my strings were starting to sound pretty dead so I ordered some new ones. Then I started looking around online for advice on cleaning them to extend their life and found this:

Anyway, basically what I did was loosen the strings a bit, scrub them down one at a time between by fingers with a bit of ethanol on a cotton rag (being careful not to get any on the fretboard), and then do the snapping thing in that video. Then I wiped everything down with a clean cloth and tightened it back up again.

It sounds noticeably better! Not like new strings, but it made a difference for sure.

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You and I are in the same time frame of 4 months, but I haven’t yet noticed any difference in my strings, @howard. I’m a bit behind you in Josh’s lessons, so you probably have a lot more playing hours on yours. ( I do clean my strings with one of those “Music Nomad String Fuel” kits once a week, though).

Good idea to have a backup set of new strings, and thanks for the video! I’ll keep it in mind for later on . . . :slight_smile:

edit: I forgot to ask what brand and type of strings you have and what you ordered.
I have roundwounds (from wherever they built my bass), and ordered D’Addario XL160 medium gauge roundwounds.

Thanks, Joe

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It has D’Addario EXL170SL light gauge roundwounds on it now, not sure why they strung it with super-long scale strings, but that’s what it says. I just ordered normal long-scale EXL170s.

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Haha, this guys has such a thick Danish accent… and, as most Danes, has no idea how strong some cusswords can come across in a foreign language :rofl:

My “bass guy” recommended me to wipe down my strings with a microfiber cloth every time I played, be it 5 minutes or 1 hour. I still have my first set of strings on my P-bass from when I bought it in the beginning of Dec last year - and, at least to me, they still sound OK. I think they are Regular Slinkys (roundwound).

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Haha, yeah, you get that kind of thing here too, where someone (like, say, your doctor) speaks quite good English but then drops in something like an S-bomb when you least expect it, without thinking twice of it.

Anyway I have probably been lax with wiping down my strings and they were probably full of my finger gunk. Cleaning them with alcohol and then slapping the sh*t out of them, as they say, did the trick.

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You could, of course, emulate James Jamerson and never clean the strings or the instrument. He said “the gunk creates the funk.” But he used heavy flatwounds, .052 – .110. That’s La Bella 0760M if you want to give it a go. I use their 760FS flats, .045 – .105, because I didn’t want to recut the nut on my P to accommodate the bigger strings. I also don’t plan on cleaning them ever. Lazy! :sunglasses:

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Ooh, I kind of wonder what huge flatwounds would sound like with double humbuckers.

Dunno about the sound in that configuration. I use them because it’s the sound I heard when I was but a callow yute, and, to me, flats on a P is just the right sound for a bass. Before about 1966, if you went to the music store and asked for bass strings they gave you flats. Then people started digging Entwistle’s sound with The Who (he played what are now Rotosound Swing Bass 66 roundwounds), and suddenly everybody had to have rounds. In those days I sat behind my Farfisa organ and listened to our bass player slam the dancers in the chest with the mighty tone from his Gibson EB0 strung with La Bellas and didn’t know from nuthin’ about guitars and such. Also, La Bella flats are super smooth and feel great to play. I usually play an hour a day at the least, and have barely any calluses on either hand. If I tried to play rounds now I’d be hurtin’ for certain! But if you switch to Jamerson’s gauge, be prepared for pretty high string tension. I’d imagine you’d be adjusting the truss rod to compensate, probably string height, pickup height and intonation too, and you might have a few days of acclimation, especially when playing frets 1-3 or so. From what I’ve read, Jamerson never did anything to the Funk Machine at all, and the neck was so bowed from the string tension that nobody else was able to play it but him. But man, what a sound!

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As ctthayer mentions, I just had my Yamaha restrung with the Rotosound 66’s. The more I read about flatwound strings though, the more intrigued I am; I will definitely have to try them the next time I get a set to see what the difference feels like (either good or bad). I love musical instruments and the inherent differences in the options, styles, feel , etc.!

-Kevin

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Ha! I’m one of those guys . . . :grin: . . . and yeah, I know Entwistle is not everyone’s favorite.

You’re right about how much they hurt your fingers, @ctthayer . . . but I just can’t get enough of that bright sound. After being away from the bass for so long, it took me 3-4 months to get my fingers back in shape . . . and I’m still working on it. lol

Thanks for your posts, and all best, Joe

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Am I different? Nah. RS66 on my precision copy and RS66S on my Epi EB. The only difference is I haven’t changed the strings on the Epi in about 3 years and 5 years on the Precision. I wipe the neck down after gigs and any heavy practice but thats it. It’s a part of “my sound” now. The gunk may bring the funk but the crud helps the mud?

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