Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Choice of classical guitar strings and technical issues connected with their use.
kirolak
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Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by kirolak » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:08 pm

I would appreciate it if someone would let me know how long the ProArte high tension carbon strings should last . . I change mine every 6 or so weeks, which is quite expensive.

After only 3 weeks, I find the bass strings show discolouration along the position of each fret - is this normal? It is the rainy season here, so I am wondering if there is too much moisture in the air? And is there a way to clean off the discoloured places (surely it's not rust?? so soon? :cry: ) I keep my guitar in a Gator travel case at all times (except when playing it, haha!)

Thanks in advance!

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:28 pm

Speaking generically, string life span is highly variable and depends on many factors: how aggressive you are, quality, hand saltiness, etc. I always rate string life span in hours, not calendar days. For example, I can get 80 hours out of my Hannabach 815s easy.

And I'm super cheap! I'll use my strings long after they show signs of wearing out.

But to your question: it seems what you are describing is wear on the bass windings from fret friction. This is normal. You certainly want to change strings before they break through. But as a devout cheapskate, I use until they are ready to break. If I have a performance coming up, I will swap them out if worn.

Also note that some string sets come as "only basses" or "only trebles". I replace the basses twice as often as trebles in this way. Saves me money. If the bass-winding-wear bugs you, spend the money.
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Luuttuaja
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by Luuttuaja » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:47 pm

Yes, I also use ProArte and my bass string metal windings turn brownish at points where the string hit frets. It's normal, don't worry.

simonm
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by simonm » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:07 pm

kirolak wrote:
Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:08 pm
...
After only 3 weeks, I find the bass strings show discolouration along the position of each fret - is this normal? ...
So long as there is no major deteriorating in the sound, I wouldn't worry.

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pogmoor
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by pogmoor » Fri Jun 23, 2017 10:18 pm

simonm wrote:
Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:07 pm
So long as there is no major deteriorating in the sound, I wouldn't worry.
I agree; if the strings sound ok it doesn't matter what they look like. BTW it's certainly not rust as there's no iron in guitar strings.
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lagartija
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by lagartija » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:28 pm

As I understand it the bass strings are wound with silver wire (adds mass to the core). The discoloration is just oxidation of the silver.
If it really bothers you, you can clean it using one of those impregnated jewelry cloths made for the purpose. Using silver polish would just clog the windings, so I wouldn't recommend it.

They also make cloths that you wrap silverware in which absorbs the sulfur compounds that cause oxidation on silver. If you put one of these cloths over your strings in the case, it might help.

Some people cause oxidation when they handle metal... some do not. I am lucky to have good body chemistry for handling metal; it gets cleaner where I've handled it.
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es335
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by es335 » Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:19 pm

The majority of bass strings feature silver plated copper wire winding. Depending on the coating thickness their color can change from silver to copper brown where abrasion at the the frets removed the silver coating. :wink:

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lagartija
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by lagartija » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:27 pm

es335 wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:19 pm
The majority of bass strings feature silver plated copper wire winding. Depending on the coating thickness their color can change from silver to copper brown where abrasion at the the frets removed the silver coating. :wink:
Yes... but hard to believe you could visibly wear the plating off in three weeks of playing unless you were playing for many hours each day. :shock:
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Beowulf
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by Beowulf » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:06 pm

It can also help to wipe down your strings after playing to remove oils, sweat, etc.
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Evocacion
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by Evocacion » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:14 am

lagartija wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:27 pm
es335 wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:19 pm
The majority of bass strings feature silver plated copper wire winding. Depending on the coating thickness their color can change from silver to copper brown where abrasion at the the frets removed the silver coating. :wink:
Yes... but hard to believe you could visibly wear the plating off in three weeks of playing unless you were playing for many hours each day. :shock:
Not so hard to believe when you realise the copper has been electro-plated, and the plating is only a couple of molecules thick.

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lagartija
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by lagartija » Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:33 pm

Evocacion wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:14 am
lagartija wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:27 pm
es335 wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:19 pm
The majority of bass strings feature silver plated copper wire winding. Depending on the coating thickness their color can change from silver to copper brown where abrasion at the the frets removed the silver coating. :wink:
Yes... but hard to believe you could visibly wear the plating off in three weeks of playing unless you were playing for many hours each day. :shock:
Not so hard to believe when you realise the copper has been electro-plated, and the plating is only a couple of molecules thick.
Awww...c'mon! ASTM B 298 standard is 40 micro-inches (equal to 1 micron)....surely that is a bit more than a few molecules! :-D
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kirolak
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by kirolak » Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:47 pm

Thanks for all the replies & advice :)

n response to queries/remarks, I am quite aggressive, I suppose, in that I play loudly, & for around 3 hours each day :( or longer if I am off work . . so perhaps I am abusing the strings as well as the guitar. Playing softly or more gently seems to weaken my death-like grip (!) & I know I need to work on a more lyrical approach.

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Evocacion
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by Evocacion » Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:12 pm

lagartija wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:33 pm
Evocacion wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:14 am
lagartija wrote:
Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:27 pm


Yes... but hard to believe you could visibly wear the plating off in three weeks of playing unless you were playing for many hours each day. :shock:
Not so hard to believe when you realise the copper has been electro-plated, and the plating is only a couple of molecules thick.
Awww...c'mon! ASTM B 298 standard is 40 micro-inches (equal to 1 micron)....surely that is a bit more than a few molecules! :-D
OK, I exaggerated a bit... A micron is apparently about 10,000 atoms thick (according to the internet, which is always completely accurate :roll: ). Next time I change my strings I'll keep an eye on them to see how long it takes to for the coating to wear off.

Laudiesdad69
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Re: Bass strings getting discoloured at frets

Post by Laudiesdad69 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 2:40 am

8) 1My Ramirez strings are showing wear marks on the silver already and I've only got about 10 hours on them. The silver plating is really thin on guitar strings. I change them when they have significant wear on the windings. By the time the d string is toast, I just change them all.

I think the OP said in her post that she uses D'Addario, in which case shouldn't have much to worry about. When I've used D'Adds the basses seem to last a good long time, before the windings start to dent, and they are inexpensive when is time to change them.

Just out of curiosity Kirolak, how much is a set of Pro Arte where you buy Them? Strings by Mail has them for about $7.00 USD, and they ship worldwide.

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