Boiling Strings

Boiling Strings

Boiling Strings    20:27 on Friday, May 02, 2008          


Hi! I heard from a few places that boiling old guitar strings will make them sound like new, and will also lengthen newer strings. I was wondering, has anybody boiled thier strings, and does it help?

Re: Boiling Strings    00:36 on Thursday, May 15, 2008          

(175 points)
Posted by theholytaco

If you actually want to keep you string in good condition then do the following:

Wash you hands before you play your guitar
After playing the guitar for a period greater than 30 minutes rub the strings down with rubbing alcohol

Re: Boiling Strings    18:40 on Thursday, May 15, 2008          

(63 points)
Posted by rhaisley

I don't know.

Re: Boiling Strings    09:38 on Friday, May 16, 2008          

(1279 points)
Posted by JOhnlovemusic

Does it work? Yes, BUT -------
Boiling the strings will help them sound better, but you should understand why. The concept behind the boiling is to loosen and remove the skin you have left behind from playing. The skin that has schluffed off and is now embedded in the coils, or wrapping of the string.

As mentioned above, washing your hands before you play and keeping the strings clean will help them last longer. If you do boil the strings they will sound better but they will not sound like new strings and they won't be as strong or as durable.

For guitar strings I do not think it is worth it - buy new strings! If you are a string bass player out of work, with no money and you have an audition opportunity with a major symphony this weekend, then boil them.

Re: Boiling Strings    10:17 on Friday, May 16, 2008          

(63 points)
Posted by rhaisley

None of that is true.

I know that for a fact.

Re: Boiling Strings    22:42 on Friday, May 16, 2008          


Yes, boiling strings does remove build up on strings, and washing your hands does help. But I was wondering if it helps to loosen strings before putting them on a guitar. I heard EVH boils his strings before putting them on his guitar. It said so in wikipedia, so I'm not sure if it's true or not.

Re: Boiling Strings    09:25 on Saturday, May 17, 2008          

(1279 points)
Posted by JOhnlovemusic

Here is what I hear from my Guitar pro freinds and engineers.
Yes, boiling the strings will remove build up and they will sound better for a couple of days. Yes, the boiling will stretch the strings (but not like you think).

Stretching does occur, or seems to occur but here is what is happening. The strings are made out of various materials. We know strings stretch and this is part of playing any stringed instrument. The boiling weakens the molecular bonds. When you put them on the guitar they will not stretch out of tune as quickly which makes you think they stretched in the boiling process. What really happened is the string lost a lot of its elasticity. So, the string will not stretch as fast, but it won't sound as good as new either.

Also, when you boil wrapped, spun,or coiled strings. the string expands and then contracts while cooling (this contraction is the temporary "new life" the string has). BUT!!!! you have now introduced water between the coil and the fundamental wire. Hmmmmm, could we have rust building up underneath weakening the string? Yes, I think so. So you are weakening the string and there is more chance for the string to break.

Regarding Mr. Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen did mention in an interview that he boils his strings. Mr. Eddie Van Halen is also known to have said he uses new strings on every concert. I have not spoken directly to Mr. Van Halen (however my friend Andy used to call Sammy Hagar from my apartment all the time). I would not be surprised if EVH is boiling the strings to limit the stretching during the concert. Since he is also replacing the strings every concert he does not need to worry about the weakened string or future rusting.

Re: Boiling Strings    12:47 on Saturday, May 17, 2008          


Thank you, JOhnlovemusic. Everything you said makes perfect sense. It's seems like a bad idea to boil strings. Besides, guitar strings are cheap enough to replace, anyway.

Re: Boiling Strings    05:47 on Friday, June 20, 2008          

(308 points)
Posted by dickdona

During the 70's I was doing a lot of Folk singing around. There wasn't much (if any) money in it where I was based. I used to boil my strings to get a few more gigs outta them. But that's all. I didn't really trust them. So asap I bought new ones. Also when I was buying new ones I always had the chance of trying a new brand.

Re: Boiling Strings    19:08 on Friday, June 20, 2008          


Thanks for the contribution, dickdona. It seems that boiling strings would be a good idea for someone on a low budget.

Re: Boiling Strings    01:45 on Thursday, July 10, 2008          

(591 points)
Posted by Scotch

Each to this own, I suppose, but I actually much prefer the sound and feel of old strings. I generally don't replace strings until they break (unless the last time one broke I couldn't find a proper replacement and made do temporarily with a kind of string or gauge I really don't like).

(I did once clean my cello strings with rubbing alcohol, but cello strings are different animals entirely.)

Re: Boiling Strings    14:59 on Thursday, August 14, 2008          

(3 points)
Posted by BigBill

I wash my hands before I play, but wouldn't applying rubbing alcohol increase the risk of corrosion of the string?


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