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Do strings have a shelf life?

Nancy King 12 Feb 01 - 04:33 PM
Bert 12 Feb 01 - 04:52 PM
Sorcha 12 Feb 01 - 05:25 PM
Bert 12 Feb 01 - 05:51 PM
Sorcha 12 Feb 01 - 06:06 PM
Bert 12 Feb 01 - 06:18 PM
Sorcha 12 Feb 01 - 06:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Feb 01 - 07:08 PM
Sorcha 12 Feb 01 - 07:14 PM
Dave Wynn 12 Feb 01 - 08:17 PM
cowboypoet 12 Feb 01 - 08:51 PM
reggie miles 12 Feb 01 - 09:52 PM
jeepman (inactive) 12 Feb 01 - 09:57 PM
Sorcha 13 Feb 01 - 12:01 AM
DonMeixner 13 Feb 01 - 12:29 AM
Bert 13 Feb 01 - 01:09 AM
Lady McMoo 13 Feb 01 - 03:07 AM
Kim C 13 Feb 01 - 03:36 PM
Bert 13 Feb 01 - 03:53 PM
Bill D 13 Feb 01 - 06:52 PM
Nancy King 13 Feb 01 - 08:10 PM
Mark Cohen 13 Feb 01 - 11:04 PM
Little Hawk 13 Feb 01 - 11:53 PM
Night Owl 14 Feb 01 - 12:06 AM
Kim C 14 Feb 01 - 01:11 PM
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Subject: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Nancy King
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 04:33 PM

I have several packaged sets of Martin steel (bronze-wound) guitar strings that must have been in this drawer for at least 5 -- maybe 10 -- years. I expect I'll use them eventually in any case, but I'm curious: do strings deteriorate in the package over several years?

Thanks, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Bert
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 04:52 PM

Not if they've been kept dry.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 05:25 PM

Well, fiddle strings eventually get brittle, but I don't know just how long it takes. I had this old guy, Marvin, in my music group whose parents bought him a Sears/Roebuck violin outfit when he was about 10. They also bought at the same time, a billion sets of strings. Marv never changed fiddles, and never changed a string until it broke. As he and the strings got older, that became more and more often. By the time he died, it was at least once per session.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Bert
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 05:51 PM

Were they steel strings Sorcha?


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 06:06 PM

Absolutely. I think Marv was born in the mid 1920's--fiddle bought in the '30's sometime.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Bert
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 06:18 PM

If they were steel then they should have been OK unless they were stored badly and had corroded. Are there any piano tuners out there who can comment on this?


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 06:44 PM

I have no idea how Marv stored them. In the bathroom for all I know. He was a little strange anyway.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 07:08 PM

That story about Marv has an eery feel about it. The strings and the man, who was once a boy, all growing old together. And in the end, the last string breaks... And the fiddle passes on to someone else?


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 07:14 PM

McGrath, the only thing that fiddle was worth passing on to was the fireplace! You're right, tho, it would make a neat song from that angle. I couldn't write it, tho, because I really couldn't stand Marvin. He was totally self taught, only played in D, used one bow stroke for EVERY beat.......and generally drove us all nutso!


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 08:17 PM

I found a 15 year old (at least) set of Red Dragon (Cardiff) strings in my case (the shop I used to buy them from was my only supplier and it closed down 15 years ago) and they worked fine for me.....can only give anecdotal evidence as I have only a little knowledge of metalurgy.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: cowboypoet
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 08:51 PM

Don't know enough to comment scientifically, but I recently bought a total of fifteen sets of strings (three different well-known brands) because they were being closed out by a local music store. The guy behind the counter was right up front that the strings had been in the store for months and made no guarantee that they were anything other than old, marked-down strings. And that's pretty much what they sounded like. Let us know when you try yours -- I personally wouldn't buy old strings again if I knew they were old.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: reggie miles
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 09:52 PM

Hey, Marv didn't pass on after he broke his "last" string did he? If so, that sounds suspiciously like a Twilight Zone episode where the granfather clock winds down and and the old guy who owns it passes away.

Spooky! Reg


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: jeepman (inactive)
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 09:57 PM

When I started playing Banjo, we could only afford Black Diamond strings. They would rust and they would break. I used to tie them back together and keep pickin. Jeepman


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Sorcha
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 12:01 AM

Reggie, I don't know that, lol! My guess is there was still packets and packets of strings somewhere at his house.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 12:29 AM

I have bought new Martin Bronze Lights and found the core wires rusted, new from the box. About one in five of the long neck Vega sets I buy each year break at the loop end of the G string.

I must say that I think this is due to shoddy manufacture and not the shelf life of metal. Which seems counter intuitive to me.

Don


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Bert
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 01:09 AM

I had a reel of music wire which rusted even though it was oiled. It was kept in a very damp environment (Alabama). The steel itself will not age unless it is loaded, ie. strung on an instrument, then it will creep, go hard, sound dead, and be difficult to tune - THEN it will break.

I would guess that he didn't keep the strings in a dry place and they corroded.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:07 AM

Basically yes. Unless they are hermetically sealed or kept in a dry environment, water vapour will slowly corrode the steel strings and cores and discolour the brass/bronze windings.

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Kim C
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:36 PM

This last set of strings I put on my fiddle about 4 weeks ago seem to not be as good as previous sets. Of course they always suck when they're brand new... but these don't want to stay in tune even now and sound funny, at least to me. I change about every three months and I guess I got these strings maybe back in September?

Anyway, am I dreaming that? Did I maybe get a bum set? I've been using Helicores and have been very pleased. Maybe I'm just being particular...


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Bert
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 03:53 PM

It's unlikely that the strings are the problem, Kim. The most likely thing is the way they are attached to the tuning pegs. Make sure that they are fitted properly.

If they are fitted properly and still won't stay in tune, take a look at the tuning pegs and make sure that they are not slipping.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 06:52 PM

I have an original Zimmerman autoharp with 'mostly' original strings on it...it HAS to be about 100 years old now, and the strings are still 'ok'....several have broken...but....*shrug*...

if any of you have ever heard Ron Wahl play autoharp (he is GOOD), ponder this:...I met him in 1972 or so at Winfield, just as he was starting to build weird autoharps. There was a workshop, and the subject of changing strings came up...and Ron said, "oh, I never break string anymore...I vaseline them"..."HUH?" says the crowd..."yep", says Ron,"I noticed they always break where they bend around the little steel peg near the tuning peg...so I reasoned it was metal fatigue. And I loosened each one and put a bit of vaseline there...I haven't broken a string in a couple of years"........"....but, Ron, what about sound quality?"............"Well, you've been listening to me play...how do they sound to YOU?"

...so...I have no idea whether sound quality in autoharp strings is even noticable...probably not nearly as relevant as on a fine guitar, but there is some anecdotal evidence of their lasting ....analyze away!


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Nancy King
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 08:10 PM

Thanks, folks -- this is interesting. I did put on a set of the strings in question yesterday, and they sound fine to me, considering who was playing the guitar...

Cheers, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 11:04 PM

Well here in old 150-plus-inches-of-rain-a-year Hilo, guitar string life can be measured with a stopwatch. There's only one way to keep something dry in Hilo, and that's to drive it across the island to Kona. So I'll give a big vote for humidity killing strings in a hurry. Seriously, you can hear the difference in a matter of a month or two. (They don't break, they just sound like wet newspaper and feel like a lead pipe.)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Feb 01 - 11:53 PM

My impression is that they do age on the shelf, particularly when it's a humid environment. Best to keep unused sets sealed in ziplock baggies, I'd say.

When I was in Cuba the strings went incredibly dead incredibly fast...must've been the sea breeze that did it.

Lately I've been playing Elixirs, which are coated, and I love them.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Night Owl
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 12:06 AM

anyone know if wrapping the guitar in a towel inside the case helps or hurts in humid environments??


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Subject: RE: Do strings have a shelf life?
From: Kim C
Date: 14 Feb 01 - 01:11 PM

Those damn pegs! ;) Actually my teacher had a look last night- she didn't say anything about the pegs but noticed that the nut seems to be cutting into the A string a little. Which is somewhat perplexing because I have never had this problem in the 2 years I've been playing... sigh...


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