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Jul 30, 2020 - 10:11:38 AM
154 posts since 6/11/2019

Does anyone use those clear tubes that come with some cases to store spare strings? They make a good use of space, IMO.

But I suppose I'm afraid if I take the strings out of the package they will start to become "stale." The tube has a plug to seal it, but I'm sure it's not airtight.

I guess the question is, what makes a string go stale--1) Exposure to Oxygen, or 2) Use? Or, 3)??????

Thanks

Jul 30, 2020 - 10:36:47 AM

DougD

USA

9671 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

I think some people would say that what makes them go "stale" is being coiled up, which is unnatural for both the core and winding.
I'm not sure oxygen has much to do with it, and I don't think most string packaging is airtight. Moisture is not good though.

Edited by - DougD on 07/30/2020 10:37:31

Jul 30, 2020 - 12:44:47 PM

1598 posts since 12/11/2008

I've had no end of trouble ooching a once-coiled string into a tube. Am I just that clumsy? Also, no matter how many months my spare fiddle sets have remained in their original packaging, they've never looked or sounded the slightest bit spoiled or corroded. This post, btw, comes from a guy who relentlessly restrings his guitars.

Jul 30, 2020 - 4:58:17 PM

53 posts since 11/19/2019

I have one case with the tube and use it.

From a metal perspective (I've worked in automotive and medical packaging most of my career), unless the bags are VCI treated, then they are no better than the tube.

Jul 30, 2020 - 8:22:18 PM
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169 posts since 3/1/2020

The string tubes in cases are a convenient way to store spare strings. The tube isn’t all that airtight, but the strings should be alright as long as the atmosphere in the case stays at a good level.

I’m not sure whether you’re using the term “stale” to refer to corrosion visible on the surface of the metal winding or to the diminished response that comes from worn-out strings. The former tends to happen more with an increase in humidity. If the tarnish is only on the outer surface of the string, it won’t affect functionality, provided the string is kept clean.

If the latter situation is what you’re referring to, that feeling of flabbiness in the string comes from the materials losing their elasticity over time and wearing down. If the strings are just sitting in packages, they’ll be fine as long as they’re not tarnishing. The optimal functional life of a string depends on the amount of playing you’re doing. As a very general rule of thumb, if you play an hour a day, you should expect to change strings at least once every six months. As you practice more heavily you have to change strings more often. Just to make sure their instruments are in good shape and sounding their best, a lot of players will just bring their instrument in every six months to have the strings changed and their bow(s) rehaired. Having a luthier look at the instrument regularly helps to avoid subtle issues that can lead to serious problems down the road.

There are some players who insist on never buying strings that have been curled up in packaging. Those customers will ask that their strings be installed from the bulk tubes that luthiers buy. The reason for this is that there is a concern among some players that the string is weakened by being coiled and won’t perform as well. The straight strings fit into case tubes more easily.

Most packaging isn’t airtight, unless the string is vacuum sealed. It’s not much of an issue unless the strings are subjected to fluctuating temperature and humidity.

Jul 30, 2020 - 9:02:45 PM

154 posts since 6/11/2019

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

The string tubes in cases are a convenient way to store spare strings. The tube isn’t all that airtight, but the strings should be alright as long as the atmosphere in the case stays at a good level.

I’m not sure whether you’re using the term “stale” to refer to corrosion visible on the surface of the metal winding or to the diminished response that comes from worn-out strings. The former tends to happen more with an increase in humidity. If the tarnish is only on the outer surface of the string, it won’t affect functionality, provided the string is kept clean.

If the latter situation is what you’re referring to, that feeling of flabbiness in the string comes from the materials losing their elasticity over time and wearing down. If the strings are just sitting in packages, they’ll be fine as long as they’re not tarnishing. The optimal functional life of a string depends on the amount of playing you’re doing. As a very general rule of thumb, if you play an hour a day, you should expect to change strings at least once every six months. As you practice more heavily you have to change strings more often. Just to make sure their instruments are in good shape and sounding their best, a lot of players will just bring their instrument in every six months to have the strings changed and their bow(s) rehaired. Having a luthier look at the instrument regularly helps to avoid subtle issues that can lead to serious problems down the road.

There are some players who insist on never buying strings that have been curled up in packaging. Those customers will ask that their strings be installed from the bulk tubes that luthiers buy. The reason for this is that there is a concern among some players that the string is weakened by being coiled and won’t perform as well. The straight strings fit into case tubes more easily.

Most packaging isn’t airtight, unless the string is vacuum sealed. It’s not much of an issue unless the strings are subjected to fluctuating temperature and humidity.


Good information, thanks.

By stale I mean the condition of strings when they need changing--more bow pressure required, poor resonance at higher positions.  Conversely, newly installed strings are "fresh."  I assumed that string life starts as soon as you open the package, but it makes sense that, like a spring, it depends on the cycles of use instead.

I have seen strings on my mandolin or guitar start turning color not long after changing and thought maybe it was some kind of oxidation (rust).  Can't say they sounded bad, just that you expect fresh strings to be silver-colored for awhile.

Jul 31, 2020 - 12:49:52 AM

1598 posts since 12/11/2008

Compared to strings for steel string acoustic guitars, fiddle strings seem to last practically forever. I'm sure a lot of you have no end of experience with this, but when you restring your Yamaha, Martin, Gibson, et. al., the axe sounds insanely brassy for the first half hour. Over the next few days, though, the tone mellows to a golden richness. As the days, however, drift into weeks, the golden richness slowly becomes a mere hint of it's former self. The strings develop divots where they've been meeting the frets. The guitar develops a wooden bonkiness which doesn't sound as much pleasantly mellow as just plain dead. Time to restring.

With the fiddle, the restring starts off a bit bright but it isn't long before it's your beloved fiddle once more. If you regularly clean the strings with a soft cloth, it takes several months before you even begin to think about perhaps changing your strings. It's only when the wound strings start to lose their windings do you begin think that, perhaps, it'll soon be time to seriously think about holding a string-changing party. In any case, you are glad that you don't have to change strings very often. The good strings cost a mint. And they're a bear (pardon the euphemism) to put on.

Aug 1, 2020 - 5:48:58 AM

11030 posts since 9/23/2009

I keep extra strings because the poverty of the past taught me it's no fun to not be able to play if you can't get strings...lol...so now, now that I'm way richer (not really...lol...well yeah maybe), I have three fiddles, one viola, one cello, one banjo, two dulcimers, and down to only four guitars...I never thought I'd have all that...lol...but I keep extra string inventory and when I open a new package try to order a replacement as soon as possible...still, it's very humid here and we don't have air conditioning, so they can rust in their packages. I noramlly keep ahead by a few packages of coiled up strings...so I put them into a ziplock baggie and squeeze the daylights out of them until all the air I can get is out and then seal them shut. Seems to be working for me, so far. I've been storing them that way for a few years now, after I had bought a case of guitar strings and then some of them went rusty on me...or maybe not rust, but just corroded in their packages before I opened them up.

Also, to be frugal...I have a string hand-me-down procedure going here...the fiddle that behaves best for me gets brand new strings...then there's a lot of swapping going on with the others, depending on whatever. Fiddle strings are expensive. I never have changed strings often...I try to squeeze all I can get out of them. On the guitar, I actually prefer the sound and behavior of older strings...never did like the sound of new strings.

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