Title:
String cleaning system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus may include a first support and a second support integrally coupled to the first support. A first side of the first support and a first side of the second support are movable relative to one another so as to dispose the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support on substantially opposite sides of a string.



Inventors:
Chiappetta, David (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/936375
Publication Date:
03/09/2006
Filing Date:
09/08/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
15/220.4
International Classes:
A47L25/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
SPISICH, MARK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUCKLEY, MASCHOFF & TALWALKAR LLC (NEW CANAAN, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus to clean one or more strings, the apparatus comprising: a first support; and a second support integrally coupled to the first support, wherein a first side of the first support and a first side of the second support are movable relative to one another so as to dispose the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support on substantially opposite sides of a string.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and to the second support, the hinge operable to move the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the hinge is operable to rotate the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other.

4. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the hinge comprises a living hinge.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1, the first support comprising: a first beveled edge and a second beveled edge opposite the first beveled edge, and the second support comprising: a third beveled edge and a fourth beveled edge opposite the third beveled edge, wherein the first beveled edge and the third beveled edge face substantially in a first direction, and wherein the second beveled edge and the fourth beveled edge face substantially in a second direction.

6. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: a first cleaning material coupled to the first side of the first support; and a second cleaning material coupled to the first side of the second support.

7. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the first cleaning material and the second cleaning material are composed of a substantially identical material.

8. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the first cleaning material and the second cleaning material are composed of microfiber material.

9. An apparatus according to claim 6, further comprising: a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and to the second support, the hinge operable to move the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other; and one or more securing elements to maintain the first side of the first support in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to the first side of the second support, wherein, in a case that the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support are in the substantially fixed relationship, a compressive force between the first cleaning material and the second cleaning material varies based on distance from the hinge.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: an element integrally coupled to the second support, extending substantially normal to the first side of the second support, and comprising a protrusion extending in a direction non-normal to the second side of the support; and a receiving portion integrally coupled to the first support, the receiving portion comprising structure to receive the element and to thereby maintain the first side of the second support in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to the first side of the first support.

11. An apparatus according to claim 10, further comprising: one or more extensions integrally coupled to the second support and extending substantially normal to the first side of the second support, each of the one or more extensions to engage an edge of the first support or the receiving portion in a case that the receiving portion receives the element of the second support.

12. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support are movable relative to one another so as to dispose the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support on substantially opposite sides of two or more strings.

13. A method comprising: placing first cleaning material adjacent to a first side of a string, the cleaning material coupled to a first support; and moving the first support and a second support integrally coupled to the first support relative to one another so as to press the first cleaning material against the first side of the string and to press second cleaning material coupled to the second support against a second side of the string.

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein moving the first support and the second support relative to one another comprises: rotating the first support and/or the second support around a pivot point of a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and the second support.

15. A method according to claim 13, wherein placing the first cleaning material adjacent to the first side of a string comprises: moving a first beveled of the first support between the string and an instrument to which the string is attached.

16. A method according to claim 13, further comprising: moving the first support and the second support lengthwise across the string.

17. A method according to claim 13, wherein placing the first cleaning material adjacent to the first side of a string comprises placing the first cleaning material adjacent to a first side of two or more strings, and wherein moving the first support and the second support comprises moving the first support and the second support relative to one another so as to press the first cleaning material against the first side of the two or more strings and to press the second cleaning material against a second side of the two or more strings.

18. A method according to claim 13, further comprising: applying a cleaning solution to the first cleaning material and/or the second cleaning material prior to placing the first cleaning material adjacent to the first side of the string.

19. A method according to claim 13, further comprising: securing the first support in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to the second support; and moving the first support and the second support lengthwise across the string.

20. A method comprising: manufacturing a first support and a second support integrally coupled to the first support, wherein a first side of the first support and a first side of the second support are movable relative to one another so as to dispose the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support on substantially opposite sides of a string.

21. A method according to claim 20, wherein manufacturing the first support and the second support comprises: manufacturing a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and to the second support, the hinge operable to move the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other.

22. A method according to claim 20, the first support comprising: a first beveled edge and a second beveled edge opposite the first beveled edge, and the second support comprising: a third beveled edge and a fourth beveled edge opposite the third beveled edge, wherein the first beveled edge and the third beveled edge face substantially in a first direction, and wherein the second beveled edge and the fourth beveled edge face substantially in a second direction.

23. A method according to claim 20, further comprising: coupling a first cleaning material to the first side of the first support; and coupling a second cleaning material to the first side of the second support.

24. A method according to claim 23, wherein the first cleaning material and the second cleaning material are composed of microfiber material.

25. A method according to claim 23, wherein manufacturing the first support and the second support further comprises: manufacturing a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and to the second support, the hinge operable to move the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other; and manufacturing one or more securing elements to maintain the first side of the first support in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to the first side of the second support, wherein, in a case that the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support are in the substantially fixed relationship, a compressive force between the first cleaning material and the second cleaning material varies based on distance from the hinge.

26. A method according to claim 20, wherein manufacturing the first support and the second support further comprises: manufacturing an element integrally coupled to the second support, extending substantially normal to the first side of the second support, and comprising a protrusion extending in a direction non-normal to the second side of the support; and manufacturing a receiving portion integrally coupled to the first support, the receiving portion comprising structure to receive the element and to thereby maintain the first side of the second support in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to the first side of the first support.

27. A method according to claim 26, wherein manufacturing the first support and the second support further comprises: manufacturing one or more extensions integrally coupled to the second support and extending substantially normal to the first side of the second support, each of the one or more extensions to engage an edge of the first support or the receiving portion in a case that the receiving portion receives the element of the second support.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field

The claimed invention relates generally to string cleaning systems. More specifically, some embodiments of the claimed invention may be used to clean musical instrument strings.

2. Description of Related Art

Many types of musical instruments use strings to generate sound. A string may collect debris on its surface and in its microscopic pores, which reduces the quality of sound generated thereby and may increase the possibility of breakage. This debris may consist, for example, of dust from the surrounding air or oil, dirt and sweat from a musician's fingers. Steel strings may also collect rust simply due to their exposure to air. “Wound” strings, which consist of one or more strings wrapped around a core of one or more other strings, are particularly susceptible to collecting debris. Wound strings are also more difficult to clean than conventional strings.

Several string cleaning techniques are known. One such technique, exemplified by U.S. Pat. No. 4,112,808, involves removing a wound string from an instrument, wrapping the string around one or more rollers, and moving the string back and forth along the rollers to dislodge dirt within the string. Other techniques do not require removal of the string from the instrument. Such techniques include rubbing a cloth or applicator on one side of one or more strings, and moving a cloth that is wrapped around one or more strings (U.S. Pat. No. 4,528,889). Conventional string cleaning systems have proven to be unsuitable with respect to one or more of ease of manufacture, cost, cleaning effectiveness, ease of use, and other factors.

SUMMARY

Some embodiments of the claimed invention may address the foregoing by providing an apparatus including a first support and a second support integrally coupled to the first support. A first side of the first support and a first side of the second support may be movable relative to one another so as to dispose the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support on substantially opposite sides of a string. In further aspects, also included is a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and to the second support, the hinge operable to rotate the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other. Some aspects include a first microfiber cleaning material coupled to the first side of the first support, and a second microfiber cleaning material coupled to the first side of the second support.

In other aspects, first cleaning material coupled to a first support is placed adjacent to a first side of a string, the first support and a second support integrally coupled to the first support are moved relative to one another so as to press the first cleaning material against the first side of the string and to press second cleaning material coupled to the second support against a second side of the string. Further to these aspects, the first support may be secured in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to the second support, and the first support and the second support may be moved lengthwise across the string.

The claimed invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, however, as those of ordinary skill in the art can readily adapt the teachings herein to create other embodiments and applications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the claimed invention will become readily apparent from consideration of the following specification as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals designate like parts, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a string cleaning apparatus according to some embodiments;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a string cleaning apparatus according to some embodiments;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of a hinge according to some embodiments;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of a support edge according to some embodiments;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of a string cleaning apparatus according to some embodiments;

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of process steps according to some embodiments;

FIG. 7a is a top perspective view of a string cleaning apparatus during use according to some embodiments; and

FIG. 7b is a top perspective view of a string cleaning apparatus during use according to some embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following description is provided to enable any person of ordinary skill in the art to make and use some embodiments of the claimed invention and sets forth the best modes contemplated by the inventor for carrying out the claimed invention. Various modifications, however, will remain readily apparent to those in the art.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of apparatus 1 according to some embodiments. Apparatus 1 may comprise an apparatus to clean strings, including but not limited to guitar strings, banjo strings, and mandolin strings. Apparatus 1 may also or alternatively be used to clean piano strings, harp strings, or any other suitable string that is or becomes known. The verb “clean” as used herein does not necessarily denote removal of all foreign substances, but encompasses actions that attempt to remove some amount of debris from an object.

According to some embodiments, apparatus 1 comprises a single integral unit. Apparatus 1 may therefore be manufactured using conventional injection molding techniques. In this regard, apparatus 1 may comprise any combination of suitable currently- or hereafter-known materials, including but not limited to plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene, aluminum, steel, or wood.

Apparatus 1 includes first support 2 and second support 3, which are integrally coupled to one another. Shown in FIG. 1 are first side 4 of first support 2 and first side 5 of second support 3. First side 4 and first side 5 may be movable relative to one another so as to dispose first side 4 and first side 5 on substantially opposite sides of a string. Such operation according to some embodiments will be described in detail below.

Hinge 6 is integrally coupled to both first support 2 and second support 3. Hinge 6 may be operable to move first side 4 and first side 5 toward and away from each other. Hinge 6 may comprise a “living” hinge and/or may be operable to rotate first side 4 and first side 5 toward and away from each other.

First support 2 includes edge 7 and edge 8, and second support includes edge 9 (facing in substantially the same direction as edge 7) and edge 10 (facing in substantially the same direction as edge 8). One or more of the edges may be beveled. A beveled edge may facilitate movement of first support 2 or second support 3 between a string and another object located proximate to the string, such as a fingerboard or a fret.

Securing elements 11 through 15 may be use to maintain first side 4 of support 2 in a fixed relationship with respect to first side 5 of support 3. In particular, element 11 is integrally coupled to second support 3 and extends substantially normally to side 5 of support 3. Element 11 includes protrusion 12 extending in a direction either skew or parallel to the plane of first side 5.

Element 11 may be received by receiving portion 13. Receiving portion 13 is integrally coupled to first support 2 and defines structure 14 to receive element 11 and protrusion 12. In a case that structure 14 receives element 11, first side 4 of support 2 is maintained in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to first side 5 of support 3. Such a configuration is illustrated in FIG. 5 and FIG. 7b and will be described in more detail below.

Second support 3 is also integrally coupled to extensions 15. Extensions 15 may extend substantially normally to first side 5 and may engage edge 7, edge 8, or receiving portion 13 in a case that receiving portion 13 receives element 11. Extensions 15 may provide stability to apparatus 1 in a case that receiving portion 13 receives element 11.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of apparatus 1 according to some embodiments. FIG. 2 shows first cleaning material 20 coupled to first side 4 of first support 2, and second cleaning material 30 coupled to first side 5 of second support 3. First cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 may be coupled to their respective support using any suitable adhesive (e.g., glue) or fastener (e.g., thread stiches).

First cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 may be composed of different or substantially identical materials. Any currently- or hereafter-known material may be used for first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30. The compositions of first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 are particularly suited to cleaning strings according to some embodiments.

In some embodiments, first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 comprise microfiber material. Microfiber material comprises fibers of 0.9 denier or finer. Some microfiber material utilizes polyester fibers for scrubbing properties and polymide fibers for absorbing and drying properties. The fibers are woven into a fabric that may include thousands of microscopic loops per square inch. The loops may dislodge small particles from small crevices and trap the particles within the weave.

FIG. 3 is a detailed side view of hinge 6 according to some embodiments. As described above, hinge 6 may be integral with support 2 and support 3 and may be formed contemporaneously therewith. According to some embodiments that may be suitable for cleaning guitar strings, hinge 6 may rise 1.75 cm above first side 4 and second side 5 and the thinnest portion of hinge 6 may be 0.2 cm thick.

FIG. 4 is a detailed side view of first support 2 and edge 7 according to some embodiments. Edge 7 is shown beveled on a side opposite first side 4. The bevel may facilitate movement of first support 2 between a string and another object located proximate to the string. In some embodiments that may be suitable for cleaning guitar strings, first support 2 may be 1.3 cm thick and a thinnest portion of edge 7 may be 0.3 cm thick. Edges 8 through 10 may share a similar configuration.

FIG. 5 is a side cutaway view of apparatus 1 according to some embodiments. First side 4 of first support 2 and first side 5 of second support 3 have been moved relative to one another so as to dispose first side 4 and first side 5 on substantially opposite sides of strings 40. Strings 40 may comprise any strings to be cleaned according to some embodiments. Strings 40 may comprise a combination of different types of strings (e.g., wound and unwound) having different compositions (e.g. steel and nylon) and different diameters.

Apparatus 1 is shown such that first side 4 is maintained in a substantially fixed relationship with respect to first side 5. This position is maintained due in part to the reception of element 11 by receiving portion 13 of first support 2. This position also causes first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 to be pressed together and against strings 40.

A compressive force between first cleaning material 20 and second material 30 may vary based on distance from hinge 6 according to some embodiments. In the FIG. 5 example, a compressive force at a location close to hinge 6 may be greater than a compressive force at a location farther from hinge 6. Such an arrangement may provide an adequate force for cleaning smaller-diameter strings located near to hinge 6 while avoiding the application of too much force on larger-diameter strings located away from hinge 6. Too much force may inhibit movement of apparatus 1 along the strings and/or may damage first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30. Some embodiments provide less compressive force at locations near hinge 6 than at locations farther from hinge 6.

The compressive force at each location along apparatus 1 may be controlled in several ways. According to some embodiments, a thickness of one or both of first support 2 and second support 3 changes along the length of apparatus 1 while maintaining the overall height of apparatus 1 when “engaged” as shown in FIG. 5. In some embodiments, a thickness of one or both of first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 differs along the length of apparatus 1, while again maintaining the overall height of apparatus 1 as shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of process 50 according to some embodiments. Process 50 may be executed to clean one or more strings according to some embodiments. Although process 50 will be described below with respect to apparatus 1, another one or more devices may be used to execute process 50.

Initially, at 51, a user places first cleaning material adjacent to a first side of a string. The first cleaning material is coupled to a first support. FIG. 7a is a top perspective view illustrating some embodiments of 51. As shown, first support 2 is placed between strings 40 and instrument fingerboard 60. First cleaning material 20 is coupled to first support 2, and therefore is located adjacent to a first side of strings 40.

Next, at 52, the first support and an integrally-coupled second support are moved relative to one another. Such movement may comprise moving either one or both of the first support and the second support. Moreover, the movement results in pressing the first cleaning material against the first side of the string and in pressing second cleaning material coupled to the second support against a second side of the string.

FIG. 7b shows apparatus 1 after 52 according to some embodiments. FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of apparatus 1 as shown in FIG. 7b. As shown, second support 3 has been moved so as to press first cleaning material 20 against the first side of strings 40 and to press second cleaning material 30 coupled to second support 3 against a second side of strings 40.

The first support and the second support are moved lengthwise across the strings at 53. Arrow 70 indicates a motion of apparatus 1 that may be employed at 53 to move support 2 and support 3. Such motion may allow first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 to remove debris and fluids from strings 40. Apparatus 1 may also be moved in the directions indicated by arrow 80, and in any direction between those of arrows 80 and 90, in order to clean strings 40.

According to some embodiments of process 50, a cleaning agent may be applied to one or both of first cleaning material 20 and second cleaning material 30 prior to 51. The cleaning agent may be a liquid and may be particularly suited to cleaning strings of the type to be cleaned. The cleaning agent may be non-water-based in order to prevent damage to fingerboard 60. The cleaning agent may be compatible with cleaning materials 20 and 30 and/or with an adhesive used to couple cleaning materials 20 and 30 to supports 2 and 3.

In some embodiments of process 50, support 3 is placed between strings 40 and fingerboard 60 at 51. Some embodiments may involve positioning apparatus 1 so that hinge 6 is disposed on a left side of fingerboard 60, as opposed to the right side as illustrated in FIGS. 5, 7A and 7B.

Some embodiments further include manufacturing a string cleaner. Currently- or hereafter-known manufacturing techniques may be used to manufacture a first support and a second support integrally coupled to the first support. A first side of the first support and a first side of the second support may be movable relative to one another so as to dispose the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support on substantially opposite sides of a string. Also manufactured may be a hinge integrally coupled to the first support and to the second support. The hinge may be operable to move the first side of the first support and the first side of the second support toward and away from each other. Manufacturing according to some embodiments may also include coupling a first cleaning material to the first side of the first support, and coupling a second cleaning material to the first side of the second support.

The several embodiments described herein are solely for the purpose of illustration. Embodiments may include any currently or hereafter-known versions of or substitutes for the elements described herein. Therefore, persons in the art will recognize from this description that other embodiments may be practiced with various modifications and alterations.