Will strings go bad on an unplayed instrument?

April 30, 2020, 6:32 PM · I put a new set of Evah Perazzi strings on my old acoustic viola about a year ago, but have not played it much since then, since I switched to a better instrument. Does anyone know if good strings will degrade in tonal output just from aging (in the case)?

Replies (12)

Edited: April 30, 2020, 6:44 PM · In short, yes. Especially the synthetic strings under tension lose integrity and oxidize (rust) over time. If you wipe the string with a bit of cotton with a drop of iso-propanol (>70%), you will see the oxides coming off.
Edited: April 30, 2020, 7:08 PM · I reeaally doubt that an aluminium-wound string will undergo any significant corrosion, left unplayed for any amount of time. Silver strings may tarnish, but that's surface-level as well. Really the most likely candidate for any kind of corrosion is a plain steel E, but unless you leave your violin outside / in a storm drain, shouldn't be a problem.

Given how quickly Pirazzis go bad while in use, I think the elasticity of the core does have some effect on their sound. When left under tension (but not being used), the string *might* stretch out and lose that elasticity, but that's just a guess. If you leave them slack, they'll be fine.

April 30, 2020, 7:15 PM · I have had strings on some of my instruments, pretty much unplayed, for significantly more than a year and they sound better to me than ever. and they were close to in tune. In particular most recently these were either Warchal Timbre strings on the violins and Pirastro Flexocor and Permanent on cellos.
April 30, 2020, 7:21 PM · I have noticed unplayed Evah's to be going a bit bad after 3-4 years on an instrument, one year should not be a problem though IMHO
April 30, 2020, 7:39 PM · I have gold Evah's on a violin I put away around a similar time to you. I think they're okay, but I've left them slack as I have on every instrument that I don't use (there are 4 currently I think)
April 30, 2020, 7:42 PM · Strings CAN go bad when left sitting on an instrument, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they WILL.

A lot depends on the conditions in which the instrument is being kept. If there’s too much moisture, the strings will tarnish and the cores will degrade. The tone diminishes when the materials lose their integrity.

May 1, 2020, 1:22 AM · I had a set of Visions go bad on an unplayed violin, but by then the strings were 9 years old. When I noticed they were bad, I was playing the violin for the first time in almost 5 years, and the violin had been played for less than 10 hours in the 4 years before that.
Edited: May 5, 2020, 3:36 AM · I had a Warchal brilliant set stretched out on a fiddle I did not play for 4 years. I took them off, put them on my no2 violin and they sound weirdly muffled. Nothing I remember them like from when they were new.
But I can only compare them to gut strings on my no1 fiddle, so what do I know... they are not bad in a way string goes bad when you play it for a couple of months... but they are not ok either. At least to my ear.
May 2, 2020, 8:08 AM · I agree with Cotton. Corrosion should not be an issue except in an extreme environment (which will wreck your violin even faster), and the strings should keep for a long time if you loosen them some.
Edited: May 2, 2020, 9:59 AM · Gut strings will go bad even if you don't play them. Synthetic is probably fine, loosen them a bit.
May 2, 2020, 10:31 AM · I would recommend everyone read this article:

https://shop.warchal.com/blogs/what-s-the-best-way-to-care-for-our-strings

May 5, 2020, 12:00 AM · If an instrument is stored away, not being played, it is OK to lower each string by a half-step. It relaxes both the instrument and the strings.

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