How to preserve New Strings when not playing

August 16, 2018, 4:55 PM · First discussion post!

I had changed my strings for a festival I went to play, and now I am in holidays meaning that I wont practice for a month. Any advice how can I preserve as much my strings now they wont be used?
Would tuning them a tone down help?

Replies (18)

August 16, 2018, 5:14 PM · I don't think one month will cause any trouble as long as the violin is not subject to great temperature extremes.

I have several violins and I keep them in tune but only play one of them over a several month period and don't play it that much because I've been playing viola mostly in recent years and I have no problems with the strings. I'm talking about the violins being strung up for up to several years with no problems to instruments or strings.

August 17, 2018, 6:17 AM · How can i preserve my strings, so they dont lose quality?
Edited: August 17, 2018, 11:22 AM · Greetings Mambis and Welcome to Violinist.com!

I would not worry too much about your newly installed set of violin strings if you are not going to playing much for a month or two. I do think it a good idea to wipe them off frequently when practicing and another thorough wipe when done and putting instrument away for the night. I also like to wipe my bow off when I am finished with it.

August 17, 2018, 11:53 AM · Leave the violin at full tension. Strings do wear even when you're not playing, but a month isn't going to make much of a difference.
August 17, 2018, 11:00 PM · Lydia and Andrew seem to have different views on whether strings deteriorate while not in use. I wonder why. Maybe it depends on climate or the type of string?
Edited: August 19, 2018, 1:39 AM · I do not think Lydia and Andrew do disagree :-)

From a stringmaker point of view you are just now preserving your strings the best way you can - by avoiding playing them. You actually cannot do more for your strings :-). Just protect your instrument from access of unauthorized people, kids, pets e.t.c and you can enjoy the good quality of your strings in one year time again if you want. (However, I am just not sure your playing skills would survive such a break... :-) )

August 18, 2018, 6:26 AM · oddly, your focus is on strings (perishable, replaceable), not your violin (priceless).
August 18, 2018, 10:29 AM · Frankly, the whole thing is a non-issue. Tune them up, tune them down, whatever.
It won't make a difference.
August 18, 2018, 10:45 PM · "...you can enjoy the full quality of your strings in one year time again if you want."

I have seen statements here and on other forums that strings will age so fast that you need to replace them within a year or less after installing them on the violin .

D'Addario states: "Strings that are installed on an instrument will wear out eventually since they are under tension and exposed to humidity and corrosive pollutants in the air. Therefore, one should change the strings on an instrument at least every year for violin and viola, and every two years for cello and bass, even if they are not frequently used."
http://www.orchestral.daddario.com/OrchestralFAQ.Page?solutionid=447

Thomastik, Warchal, and Pirastro do not seem to make such statements. Warchal states: "The action of putting strings under tension has little ageing effect." - https://www.warchal.com/faq/the_lifespan_of_strings.html

I'm still trying to understand where these (conflicting, in my eyes) views are coming from.

August 18, 2018, 11:29 PM · Han N.,

Marketing, or a genuine conviction to that effect from the person (or people) at D'Addario.

Strings will indeed last longer if not played much, UNLESS it's gut strings and you leave the poor instrument to dry during Winter (the strings will likely snap due to them going too high pitch-one IMHO should check on gut strings every once in a while because the pitch wavers under certain atmospheric conditions, unless it's stored in a room where temps and humidity levels are quite stable.)

August 19, 2018, 2:02 AM · I have edited "full quality" in my previous post into "good quality" now. I have to admit that wrote the previous post a bit in hurry :-). But the main point is that keeping fresh strings under the tension does have minimum aging effect compared to playing, especially playing with dirty hands hands, particularly if the player does eat a lot of meat and salt.

To be very precise, it very much depends what strings formula we are talking about. With aluminium strings it depends what pollution grade was the strings in when you had stopped playing it. (The salt may do its job even if the instrument is resting in case).

In order to answer the original question, tuning the string down does not help to prolong their life. Another issue is instrument protection as Rocky said. Although violins have been designed to stay under the tension for decades or even centuries, I would consider detuning at least valuable vintage instruments. These instruments were build for a lower string tension than the nowadays standard is. On the other hand, I am talking about longer periods of rest. Frequent tuning and detuning of a fragile old instrument might be neither what it would appreciate...

August 19, 2018, 2:10 AM · You loosen/untune your strings. Strings not under tension go bad more slowly. They maintain their elasticity. Just don't make them so loose that the bridge collapses.

I have multiple violins. I had put new strings on all of them, but I only play one most the time. The strings on the unplayed violin is still worn. Strings STRETCH under TENSION. They lose their elastic recoil. So you reduce the stretch by reducing the TENSION. In other words, untune your strings.

August 19, 2018, 3:13 AM · Elasticity is a vague/broad term. In engineering, the precise term (of what I think you mean) is 'compliance', but the process of irreversible elongation (of e.g. synthetic strings in the first two weeks) is called 'creep'.

It is not clear to me how creep would affect compliance and why that would be a bad thing. What I think affects the sound of a string is more its bending stiffness and energy losses associated with bending and recoiling. Bohdan would probably be able to explain precisely what happens, but he might prefer to keep that knowledge to himself. :-)

Anyway, if I were to take a violin out of storage, I'd rather not have to deal with the tuning instability for a week. I would assume that the strings are designed to sound best after that settling period, so better get it over with as soon as possible.

August 19, 2018, 5:37 AM · Just to be precise. I have spoken about the good quality strings. Please be aware are are not able to test every single string available on the market. If there is some manufacturer ho uses low quality of core with constant creep, the recommendation would differ of course. But there is a question whether there is a sense to spend money for such product.
Edited: August 19, 2018, 7:30 AM · What are your strings made of? Ancient silk? Dandelion rope? They shouldn't explode on you if you leave them for a month.
August 19, 2018, 2:43 PM · I mean the ability for the string to return to its original shape/length.

When I un-tune a string to let it sit, and then re-tune it in order to play it, I get a clearer sound. For strings that die quickly (Evahs) I'll untune it down a whole note or two for storage.

When I leave it tuned and sitting there, the string sounds more fuzzy after a few days. (I have a reference instrument that is incredibly clear and focused.)

August 20, 2018, 12:24 AM · Do Evahs tend to creep a lot if you don't go through these tuning cycles? I mean, do new strings detune only in the first week or does it go on and on until they are worn out?
August 20, 2018, 9:00 AM · My strings are the Gold Evahs, I will play violin in exactly 4 weeks, I take this time for exams, move my house and finally holidays. i guess I should just clean them, and leave them as they are. violin is in my room, humidity and temperature is great, as well as my violin case.

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