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String Cleaning

Chet W. 21 Jun 99 - 07:17 PM
Joe Offer 21 Jun 99 - 07:22 PM
Sandy Paton 21 Jun 99 - 10:27 PM
BK 21 Jun 99 - 11:19 PM
Mark Roffe 22 Jun 99 - 12:04 AM
Allan C. 22 Jun 99 - 08:32 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Jun 99 - 02:11 PM
catspaw49 22 Jun 99 - 02:36 PM
Mark Roffe 22 Jun 99 - 05:14 PM
catspaw49 22 Jun 99 - 06:16 PM
John in Brisbane 22 Jun 99 - 08:18 PM
Chet W. 22 Jun 99 - 09:38 PM
reggie miles 22 Jun 99 - 10:29 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 22 Jun 99 - 10:36 PM
Jeremiah McCaw 23 Jun 99 - 01:43 AM
Rick (Atechical@yahoo.com) 23 Jun 99 - 04:26 PM
Bert 23 Jun 99 - 04:46 PM
j0_77 22 Jul 99 - 08:55 AM
Steve Parkes 22 Jul 99 - 12:28 PM
Bert 22 Jul 99 - 01:15 PM
Mark Roffe 25 Jul 99 - 01:44 PM
katlaughing 25 Jul 99 - 03:54 PM
Banjoman_CO 25 Jul 99 - 11:26 PM
A Celtic Harper 26 Jul 99 - 04:13 PM
Duckboots 27 Jul 99 - 12:20 PM
A Celtic Harper 27 Jul 99 - 04:34 PM
Paul S 27 Jul 99 - 04:55 PM
katlaughing 27 Jul 99 - 05:38 PM
Sourdough 27 Jul 99 - 06:18 PM
katlaughing 27 Jul 99 - 09:52 PM
Sourdough 29 Jul 99 - 03:05 AM
kendall 09 Nov 11 - 12:57 PM
Tigger the Tiger 09 Nov 11 - 06:08 PM
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Subject: String Cleaning
From: Chet W.
Date: 21 Jun 99 - 07:17 PM

Looking for a brain to pick...I have recently acquired a couple of old zither-like instruments (mandolin-harp and ukelin), and I still have two old autoharps that are just short of being playable. Is there a folk-remedy or high-tech way to clean old strings in a case like this where you'd really rather not replace them if possible. Also is there a source for piano wire that might be more cost-effective than buying "sets" of autoharp strings? I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Chet


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jun 99 - 07:22 PM

You're too late for String Cleaning, Chet. It's already Thummer!
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 21 Jun 99 - 10:27 PM

Drew Smith uses Scotch Brite pads on his autoharp strings. Wraps 'em around the string and zips 'em back and forth a few times. Can't hurt to give it a try.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: BK
Date: 21 Jun 99 - 11:19 PM

For guitar & mandolin, at least, it never seems to help much; I assume there is corosion down inside the wraps of wire which interferes w/the ability of the string (maybe) to act as a relativly homogenious material. (Sounds plausible, I think...) Anyway it seems not to work too well, but good luck; you've little to loose.

Cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 12:04 AM

I've run into this advice many times, 'though I've never tried it: boil 'em.
Piano wire is readily available. I don't know if it's more cost-effective or not. If I don't see that you've found some in the next couple of days, I'll look around the web and find some.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Allan C.
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 08:32 AM

Splash a wee bit of vinegar onto that Scotch Brite pad. It may help to brighten up the windings a little and might loosen up small bits of rust. But be sure to wipe the strings with a dry cloth afterwards to remove the excess. Otherwise you might end up with blue-green strings.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 02:11 PM

Try Fast-Fret


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 02:36 PM

Hi Chet------Want my advice? (Everyone rises and screams "F**K NO!!!"

Ya' got it anyway as builder of hammered dulcimers I got a "thing about strings."

Don't boil them----yeah it will work, but the heat ain't good, it's a serious mess, and boiling strings is pain in the ass making you feel like the proverbial monkey fucking the football. If you're going to go to this much trouble, replace them.

How old are the strings? Yeah, scotch brite type pads and vinegar does work, but although the strings may look better, the sound improvement will be marginal. This may be worth your time. Whatever you do, DO NOT USE any cleaning agent with OIL in it. Getting even tiny amounts around the tuning pins may allow it to seep down and loosen them, a bigger problem.

Why not just replace them? Instruments with LOTS of strings look intimidating, but they're not as bad as they seem. Worried about finding strings? Send me some details about your instruments and I can probably help. Use the personal message or my e-mail and I can hook you up with gauges and sources for piano wire in smaller quantities.

catspaw


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 05:14 PM

Well, yeah, but he'll miss out on that delish string soup.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 06:16 PM

Yeah Mark, that's true. A soup you can eat and floss with at the same time.

catspaw


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 08:18 PM

If you speak to an old-fashioned clock repairer they have ultrasonic baths they use with special solvent to vibrate the microscopic crap out of tiny watch parts. He/She may do it for a nominal charge, or advise you of the solvent used - in the 70's when I was associated with instrument makers it was a highly volatile hydro-carbon something like acetone. It will remove every element of human or other gunk, but probably needs the ultrasonic agitation to get deep down clean. There is minimal heat involved.

Otherwise search the Yellow Pages for watch-makers supplies - they could give some free advice.

Regards
John


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Chet W.
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 09:38 PM

Thanks all. Catspaw, I'll measure all the strings the best I can and get back to you. I once strung a hammer dulcimer for a friend who built it from a kit. It was an experience to remember.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: reggie miles
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 10:29 PM

Carbontetrachloride is one solvent that I've heard that is used in cleaning watch parts but it's nasty stuff! Better to keep your health intact and go the cost of a new set. Perhaps a line of credit on your existing home could help or I understand blood banks are always looking for donors. You might check the price of recycling aluminum cans in your neighborhood. There must be at least several other ways to come up with some extra $$$. How about pop bottles, they don't let you turn them in for deposit here where I live but maybe...


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 22 Jun 99 - 10:36 PM

If any of you guys find a good source of cheap piano wire online, I would like to know about it too! I have a clavichord that needs it. At the moment I get it from a friendly piano repairman and he doesn't charge too much. I don't know what an unfriendly one would charge.

Murray


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Jeremiah McCaw
Date: 23 Jun 99 - 01:43 AM

Tried boiling bass guitar strings once. Brightened 'em right up. For about a day. Phooey.

If you're totally broke, and you have to try it rather than just replacing th' durned things, try the following:

Get a pot that will never again be used for food prep and fill with water. Add a goodly dose of vinegar. You want to boil the strings for about half an hour.

Don't know how long the treatment will last; I didn't have the "recipe" when I tried it.

Lord, how I HATE restringing instruments! Sorry, I had to get that out.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Rick (Atechical@yahoo.com)
Date: 23 Jun 99 - 04:26 PM

Juststrings.com from here in NH will sell you a new set for about $41.00 US. Eh?


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Bert
Date: 23 Jun 99 - 04:46 PM

The only thing that boiling will do for you is to improve their appearance.

Strings become dead after a time because of a phenomenon called 'creep' that happens when you apply a load to metal. The strings gradually stretch until they will stretch no further. And that is why they sound dead. The improvement in tone comes from the recovery of a small amount of creep due to removing the tension from the strings. Most of the creep cannot be recovered and the strings soon stretch back to their old 'dead' position.

Replace 'em.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: j0_77
Date: 22 Jul 99 - 08:55 AM

This may sound weird to a relatively new picker but to those seasoned lifelong addicts, familiar. I can't hardly play new strings, in fact untill the strings are on there at least 6 months, no chord/tunes sound right. The strings need at least a coating of grease and crud to get em vibrating well. I think certain kinds of debris would be better than others.

I notice if I get auto repair debris on them it deadens em. Also noticed when I use a heavy gauge pick and really lean on em they will later play well. Suppose all the wrong kinds of crud falls off and the right adheres :) Strings at 1 year are at their best and 2 years its time to replace em.

Before I get walloped - there was a time when I could not afford to replace em but once a year that's how I found out.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 22 Jul 99 - 12:28 PM

Don't try boiling nylon strings!


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Bert
Date: 22 Jul 99 - 01:15 PM

Why? Don't you like spaghetti Steve? :-)


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 01:44 PM

I was of the same opinion as j0_77 until a couple of years ago. I thought that new strings had too much squeak, too much treble, and too much noise from left hand changing positions. Plus, I played mostly blues, and I liked my guitars funky. But a couple of years ago, I put a new set on and rubbed my hands over them a bunch, thinking it might speed up the aging process. Maybe filling in the grooves with detritus, skin flakes, oils and other pleasant things. It seemed to work. The next few sets, I didn't even bother with the rubdown, but noticed that I was starting to like the clarity of the new strings more. Now I'm at the point where I like the sound of brand-new strings the best. I had a talk with Martin Simpson about this - he claims to be cursed with corrosive skin oils that destroy strings in a matter of days, and suggests that if you're lucky enough to have chemically friendlier skin, your strings can last longer. He thinks that strings are as close to perfect as they will ever be when they first leave the factory. When first put on the guitar, they vibrate as they're designed to. But as they get flattened against the frets, they lose that characteristic and don't sound as good. I agree with that more, now that I'm playing better sounding guitars. The Goodall, for example, sings out with a longer lasting resonance when the strings are new.

Mark


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 03:54 PM

Here's a nice link I found last night while trolling around Nova Scotia looking for ancestors, there's what looks to be a nice little guide to taking care of instruments, etc.(didn't have time to look it over too much) by a NS fiddlemaker. nova scotia instrument care guide

kat


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Banjoman_CO
Date: 25 Jul 99 - 11:26 PM

Chet: I see that no one has mentioned it so I will. I have boiled strings in baking Soda instead of vinegar. This seems to work rather well. But I still suggest as others have, nothing works as well as new strings. Good luck with your quest.

Fred


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: A Celtic Harper
Date: 26 Jul 99 - 04:13 PM

?I've a vague memory of being advised to use "Dr. Bonner's Peppermint Soap" (all natural, liquid) to clean all kinds of strings, nylon, steel, brass (probably NOT gut!) If anyone knows where to find the stuff, please tell!


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Duckboots
Date: 27 Jul 99 - 12:20 PM

Celtic Harper, I think you're looking for Dr. Bronner's all natural soap. I've sent you a phone number for Ralph Bronner by e-mail.

I think Dr. Bronner died but Ralph, his son, is carrying on the business. We met him a few years ago at Sandy and Caroline Paton's. He's a very nice guy and gave us a few bottles of the soap, nice stuff and smells great.

Duckboots


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: A Celtic Harper
Date: 27 Jul 99 - 04:34 PM

Thanks, Duckboots!!!!


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Paul S
Date: 27 Jul 99 - 04:55 PM

Cleaning and re-using strings. Doesn't the bible say something about that being an abomination?


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Jul 99 - 05:38 PM

Mudcat Bible, that is, it's in the commandments:

Thou shalt not cleanse nor re-employ thy strings of any of thy non-bodily instruments. When they are spent, they shall be cast asunder there to turn to rust and ashes.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Sourdough
Date: 27 Jul 99 - 06:18 PM

Great stuff, Dr. Bronner's soap. Because it is so versatile, it is terrific for backcountry living, cutting down the weight of your backpack. I've washed in it, bathed in it, bathed the dog in it, even used it to brush my teeth. Once, when I was stuck, I used it to wash my motorcycle, giving me a peppermint flavored BMW.

Then there's the label. An amazing amount of reading on that small label.

The only thing I can think of that is more versatile is duct tape.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Jul 99 - 09:52 PM

Sourdough,

You tasted your BMW??? **Big Grin**

katlaughing


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Sourdough
Date: 29 Jul 99 - 03:05 AM

La Chat qui Rit:

About tasting my BMW motorcycle:

That bike wasn't my first flavored motorcycle!

I used to work at WGBH, a public broacasting television station in Boston. Not having any other vehicle and having an an aversion to public transportation which in Boston was sporadic and unreliable (remember Charlie on the MTA?), I rode my motorcycle to work every day. Boston winters are not what most people would call Motorcycle Weather. Sometimes the weather would drop to fifteen or ten degrees. One day it was below zero.

This kind of weather is not only uncomfortable, it is tough on the bike. Eleven o'clock in the parking lot on a winter night after a long day in the studio as a stagehand and then trying to get a coldly reluctant bike to start, is quite unpleasant but I found an alternative.

In the front of the studio building there was an air exhaust. It blew sixty-five degree air out of the building through a duct located at street level only a few yards from the main entrance. The outlet had the added advantage of being underneath a portico. I could pull the bike under there, keep it out of sleet and snow, and have it bathed in a constant flow of 60-65 degree air. It was so easy to start the bike when it had been warmed all day in this river of air.

One of our shows was "The French Chef" with Julia Child. Julia spent one day a week rehearsing with her producer, Ruth Lockwood. They would try recipes, time them and figure out such things as how many stages they will need to show all aspects of the process of cooking the featured dish. Often they would have five versions of the same dish in different stages of preparation. During that day, the studio would be filled with the rich smells of shallots, garlic, wine sauces, fines herbes and the like. The same was true of the production days. They were filled with the same wonderful smells.

Have you guessed what happened? The fragrant air would be sucked out of Studio A and expelled through that exhaust under the portico near the main entrance. Two days a week, my motorcycle would be immersed in Julia's flavors. After a while, I noticed that when I was away from the station and I started my bike, as it warmed up, that my friends were delighting in pointing out that a complex set of odors was rising from it. It was Julia's delightful, appetizing, kitchen smells mixed with 10/30 oil, gasoline and warm rubber. Strange to say, not everyone enjoyed it.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: kendall
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 12:57 PM

I washed that E string last Sunday and it is still almost as good as new.


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Subject: RE: String Cleaning
From: Tigger the Tiger
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 06:08 PM

I begin to think there may be something to string-boiling;I have heard this discussion for about 45 years. It only really makes sense now that it takes a second mortgage to pay for strings.


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