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Thread: hypo-allergentic strings?

  1. #1

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    hypo-allergentic strings?

    hello. i have been playing guitar for over 10 years and bass now for about 6 months. i can only play about twice a week and for short periods of time when i do, because i suffer from "nickel dermatitis". its an allergy to nickel. if i play for too long or start to sweat, my hands break out in a very "poison ivy" like rash. it last for about 3 days and goes away. it is a very frustrating thing to deal with. the itching is enough to drive one insane!!! now that im playing bass, its getting worse because of the string size, im exposed to more nickel. i have tried stainless strings but they also contain nickel. i wish surgical stainless steel strings were available, or some other alternative to nickel based strings.
    anyone know of anything?
    i am in the process of trying out ointments or creams that i can rub into my hands and fingers before i play to see if that helps. i have no good results yet. i talked to one doctor who told me to drink benedryl before playing to block the hystimenes. (sp?) but i dont wanna fall asleep playing or at a gig so i havent even tried it. i know this isnt a medical forum, but i was wondering about string options so i thought i would ask incase anyone else had the same problem.
    thanks for any help!
    ps- i may try elixer strings next to see if the "nano-web" coating helps any, but ive always feared they would sound bad, i like a very bright sound and the thought of a wrapped strings just makes me think it would loose brightness.
    Last edited by cold_lump; 05-18-2004 at 08:49 PM.
    dream a good one tonight

  2. #2

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    Until you said "I like a very bright sound", I thought about those...what are they called? Asbory basses? They use some kind of odd rubber strings, but I doubt they're very bright.

    Wish I had some good advice for you, man. Allergic to strings - now THAT is a bitch.

  3. #3

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    On the note of those Elixer strings... Try 'em out! And what about those other silk coated strings? I doubt they'll sound bright, but if I were you, I'd be primarily looking for a string set that doesn't irritate me. Only then would I proceed to search for bright, safe strings.

    Well, that's my input. Your condition really is a bummer - you've got my regards. However, is there any way out of it (ie. some sort of medication, surgery, etc.)?

  4. #4

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    Re: hypo-allergentic strings?

    Originally posted by cold_lump
    i have tried stainless strings but they also contain nickel. i wish surgical stainless steel strings were available, or some other alternative to nickel based strings.
    anyone know of anything?
    Okay, I am not a metallurgist or a dermatologist, but...

    Clearly you are aware that there are different types of stainless steel. Here is a rundown on the compostion of various types:

    http://www.ssina.com/chem.htm

    It's not exhaustive, but even the 316 surgical alloy that is used for body jewellery contains as much as 10% nickel.

    I don't know of any string makers that use 316, but SIT Rock Brights Stainless use the 430 alloy that contains almost no nickel...

    http://www.sitstrings.com/bass.htm

    According to study reported in this article:

    http://www.euro-inox.org/pdf/health/...eChoice_EN.pdf

    "...clinical patch tests clearly show that (...) the ferritic grade (AISI 430/1.4016: Ni-free 17% Cr) stainless steel are harmless since no allergic reaction was seen on the 50 already Ni-sensitised persons."

  5. #5

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    Re: Re: hypo-allergentic strings?

    Originally posted by dlloyd
    Okay, I am not a metallurgist or a dermatologist, but...

    Clearly you are aware that there are different types of stainless steel. Here is a rundown on the compostion of various types:

    http://www.ssina.com/chem.htm

    It's not exhaustive, but even the 316 surgical alloy that is used for body jewellery contains as much as 10% nickel.

    I don't know of any string makers that use 316, but SIT Rock Brights Stainless use the 430 alloy that contains almost no nickel...

    http://www.sitstrings.com/bass.htm

    According to study reported in this article:

    http://www.euro-inox.org/pdf/health/...eChoice_EN.pdf

    "...clinical patch tests clearly show that (...) the ferritic grade (AISI 430/1.4016: Ni-free 17% Cr) stainless steel are harmless since no allergic reaction was seen on the 50 already Ni-sensitised persons."
    wow...

    i was about to say that...but you...y'know....beat me to it..


    I new a guy who was alergic to the finish on gibsons. Nitrocelulose laquer...at least he said he was. all his gibsons were sanded down to wood and oiled.

    thanks
    joel D.

  6. #6

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    Re: Re: hypo-allergentic strings?

    Originally posted by dlloyd
    I don't know of any string makers that use 316, but SIT Rock Brights Stainless use the 430 alloy that contains almost no nickel...
    Other strings that are made from 430:

    D'addario Prisms and EHR
    SIT Power Steel

    Perhaps someone from EB could comment on the alloy used in their stainless slinkies?

  7. #7

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    and if the stainless steel strings don't work, there was an article recently in BassPlayer on the Zawinul Syndicate's newest bassist, a guy from France, who plays while wearing silk gloves due to an excessive sweat problem with his hands. It would be weird playing with gloves on but might actually be an option and anything that'll help get you back and playing would be worth it right? Good luck with the search and with Professor Dlloyd here we might actually all be able to get "String" theory into the collective conciousness of the planet!! I know that we bassists are the intellects of the band but come on Dlloyd.... you're freakin' me out! hehehehe

  8. #8

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    Originally posted by Psychicpet
    and if the stainless steel strings don't work, there was an article recently in BassPlayer on the Zawinul Syndicate's newest bassist, a guy from France, who plays while wearing silk gloves due to an excessive sweat problem with his hands. It would be weird playing with gloves on but might actually be an option and anything that'll help get you back and playing would be worth it right? Good luck with the search and with Professor Dlloyd here we might actually all be able to get "String" theory into the collective conciousness of the planet!! I know that we bassists are the intellects of the band but come on Dlloyd.... you're freakin' me out! hehehehe


    I used to work with high power magnets and got to learn about the subtleties of various steel alloys, particularly with regards to body jewellery.

  9. #9

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    Would a tight rubber surgical glove and playing with a pick help?

  10. #10

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    probably, might feel weird but you wouldnt be touching the string. however playing with a pick mot not solve the problem unless you had a glove on that hand as well. you still touch the strings when you play with a pick. so youd need gloves on both hands, and then it wouldnt really matter what syle you played then would it?

  11. #11

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    im going to try out some of the strings you guys have reccomended. im very hesitant to try elixers, i dont know why. every bass ive ever seen with them on it, they are all "shedding" like a snake.
    too bad they dont make titanium strings. that seems to be the only thing i have found that doesnt cause me to break out.

    its a pretty irritating thing to have, (this allergy). i cant wear a watch, (even the cloth or plastic ones have a metal buckle) they make my wrist break out, i cant wear a ring (ill be getting married soom {god help me} and i have to get a titanium band) i even have to dip my belt buckles in plasti dip , that stuff you coat the handles of tools with or if i lean over and my gut touches my buckle, i will get a rash on my stomach!!!

    the other crappy thing is that im a guitar tech. i do alot of fret work. once i didnt wear gloves when leveling a set of frets and the next day my hands looked like freddy krueger!!!! it was horrible! i ALWAYS wear gloves for that now.
    dream a good one tonight

  12. #12

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    Lump,

    Elixir Nanowebs are GREAT! don't hesitate - trust me . My wife has the same allergy & we had the same concern w/my bass playing & putting my mitts all over her. I've had them on my SR5 for a few months now with no shedding. They're responsive, well balanced, with med tension. Of course they're not as bright as SS but they ARE very comparable to the nickel DR lo-riders & sunbeams I have on my other basses (washing my hands after). I play hard with a pick quite often and have seen no wear/shedding or loss of tone over the past few months. The Polyweb coating was more prone to shedding (Nanoweb = better)

  13. #13

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    Originally posted by Moondog
    Lump,

    Elixir Nanowebs are GREAT! don't hesitate - trust me . My wife has the same allergy & we had the same concern w/my bass playing & putting my mitts all over her. I've had them on my SR5 for a few months now with no shedding. They're responsive, well balanced, with med tension. Of course they're not as bright as SS but they ARE very comparable to the nickel DR lo-riders & sunbeams I have on my other basses (washing my hands after). I play hard with a pick quite often and have seen no wear/shedding or loss of tone over the past few months. The Polyweb coating was more prone to shedding (Nanoweb = better)
    Forgot to mention that they are also the smoothest string I've ever played - better than TI flats!!

  14. #14

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    Even if they made the strings out of a different material would they even sound the same?

  15. #15

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    just ordered the SIT power steels. they were the cheapest for an experiment. they are all 430 stainless. if they work i can go with any of them. however i have tried peavey stainless (they were the only stainless available within 100 miles of me) and they were no better than nickel. if the power steels dont work, im going to try the elixirs. i couldnt find any info on peaveys website to see what kind of stainless they use in their strings, had it said they use 430, i would have not ordered the power steels and went straight for the elixirs.
    oh well..... we will see what happens now.
    thanks guys!!!
    any more opinions are appreciated!!
    dream a good one tonight

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