Violin strings go bad if haven’t used

June 14, 2019, 5:05 AM · If you purchase a new spare set of violin strings will it go bad if you left it outside without use?

Replies (21)

June 14, 2019, 5:37 AM · You mean in the open air/weather?
June 14, 2019, 7:27 AM · No, in its package
June 14, 2019, 7:55 AM · No.
Edited: June 14, 2019, 9:53 AM · Well, I'll let you know about this one. In 1959 - 60 years ago - my mother sent me downtown to a violin shop to get an A string. I was 9 years old. In those days kids went everywhere on their own, and nobody thought twice about it. Anyway, I found the shop, but bought a G string by mistake. Recently, I found my mother's old violin case with that string still in its wrapper. The next time I change strings I'll put it on a violin and let you know how it sounds. Personally, I suspect it will break before I get it tuned up, but if this one survives and sounds good, I'll be amazed.
June 14, 2019, 8:46 AM · Just use it before the expiration date on the package and you should be good to go!
June 14, 2019, 9:15 AM · I do have an unused Jager silver G that has gone "black" in its envelope in my string drawer......?
June 14, 2019, 9:46 AM · I've used strings that have sat in my case, in their packages, for more than a decade. Still fine.
June 14, 2019, 11:15 AM · Gut strings will degrade. You can use them but thier life span will be greatly decreased. Steel strings are fine so long as they have not corroded. Rust and corrosion spots will make them false and whistley(if that is a word). Synthetic core strings are fine. I usually gently wipe the tarnish off the silver wound strings.
June 14, 2019, 12:28 PM · The black silver corrosion is sulfide. It happened very quickly when I lived in L.A., from SO3 air pollution, but not in the rural area where I am now. I once did a wedding job at a volcanic hot springs, with lots of H2S fumes. The flute totally corroded in a couple of hours and had to be sent to the factory for cleaning.
Edited: June 14, 2019, 6:02 PM · I have used strings that have been in my case for over 30 years, they sounded fine to my ears.

June 14, 2019, 12:56 PM · It will be interesting-IF-I ever try the new Olive gut-core strings that have been in my cases string tube for the past 30 years!

I've been too caught up" suckering" into proliferation of new strings the past two decades and just storing them until I'm dissatisfied with the strings on the instruments now.

June 14, 2019, 7:17 PM · What about dominant strings?
Edited: June 15, 2019, 6:23 AM · A string tube, might be your friend...They can be really cheap nowadays. Most of the cheaper ones I have seen are not totally airtight, but they still do the job, and perhaps slightly better than those paper packages. (Some strings come perfectly sealed in their package so that is not a case I guess, I am talking about the rest of them). You can store your string tube or string tubes at home, or mount it in the inside of your case with those special string tube mounters (I don't know if they have a special name). Also many strings that come "straight" are available in a string tube already.

Of course, there are many things to consider, like string core, wrapping etc. Various materials behave differently when exposed to different weather conditions. I live in Greece and sometimes it gets really humid, but my string tubes seem to keep my spare strings ok...

Edited: June 15, 2019, 6:28 AM · This discussion leads me to a question. Recently all of my strings were changed, and there is enough life left in 3 of them to save should something break when I'm not home. Given that they are used, does it really matter how I store them in my case? I don't have a string envelope for them - would it be best to keep them in my string tube? They are Dominants. I want to try other strings, but only when I'm ready to replace all of them.
June 15, 2019, 7:45 AM · I actually used to give my used Dominant strings to a friend (a much better violinist than I was) and she had no problem with them. I also had some unused (but not new) ones that she bought from me for less than others charged - after I had stopped using Dominants. No problems!

I have always carried some used (still "alive") strings in my cases in case I or a colleague had a break. I certainly did not want to have to part with a new string or to "break up" a new set and request payment for a string replacement in a situation like that. It did come in handy a few times, 'though not in recent years. I also carry tweezers in my case to help with string replacement because used strings do not insert so easily into a peg's holes.

June 15, 2019, 8:51 AM · @Catherine, like mr Victor said, I also keep used but still good-to-go strings in my string tube (currently two sets of TI Dominant) just in case. If you have to replace a string during a rehearsal or a concert a used A, D or G could lead to a much a painless procedure, it would be stable in considerably less time and that is a big plus for me. Also, if your rest of the set is not brand new a used string would not stand out.

Provided that the instrument case is not left open in extreme conditions I don't know whether the string tube would be THAT necessary, though I prefer it. Besides, and since most strings are colour coded I enjoy that I can always see at a glance exactly what spare strings I am carrying, instead of searching through envelopes.

June 15, 2019, 10:09 AM · Catherine - what Hermes said. I keep my used ones in my case, and although I have never had a string break or go bad on me, several orch colleagues have been grateful when I had the string they needed. I keep them in the packages for the convenience of being able to figure out immediately which is which, but I do not think that matters in terms of anything else.
June 16, 2019, 1:08 PM · It depends on their storage conditions. For synthetic strings, as long as they retain their cylindrical shape and have not been crushed on any sides, and the winding has not degraded, they should work just fine. I've had Dominant strings forgotten in a drawer for a decade or more that have not had any issues.
June 16, 2019, 1:31 PM · Over ten years ago I inherited a string pouch that had been my paternal grandfather's. In it was a gut D string. Its thickness was uneven, and it sounded like that, too. Of course, I don't know how it would have sounded back in the 1950s, or even before that. Another heirloom, a Dominant G string from the 70s, was still usable.
June 16, 2019, 2:56 PM · Thanks for the tips - and I finally have a use for the string tube that came with my lovely new violin case. Obviously I will keep new strings in their package until used, just wasn't sure if it mattered how I stored the used Dominants for emergencies. Hopefully there won't BE any of those!
Edited: June 16, 2019, 3:37 PM · When my gut strings go false or start warbling, I take them off, wash them with mineral spirits and hang them in my basement. That is, if they didn't snap or totally fray. They're still usable backups if I need to practise, even months later. Sometimes they even come off the rack sounding better than when they went on.

Maybe you could preserve your used strings in a jar like some sort of crazy science exhibit... hung from the cap in an alcohol bath.

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