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Scott C.
Nov-19-2014, 11:05am
Should the strings be detuned when a vintage mandolin is not being played? Or, is it safe to leave them tight and up to tune?

sunburst
Nov-19-2014, 11:54am
If stored out of sight, it is best to detune. The reason is; when we see, handle, play an instrument regularly, if something goes wrong with it, we notice it and can get it fixed before it gets worse. If an instrument is stored out of sight and, say, the back separates from the tail block, string tension can distort and misalign parts and make the situation much worse before it is noticed, so repair is much more involved and results can be worse.

We will often hear that "instruments are designed for string tension and it is not good for them to be left without tension" or something like that. That is not correct. Instruments are designed to withstand string tension, but not designed with a need for string tension to maintain structural integrity, so storing an instrument with no strings will do it no harm.

Scott C.
Nov-19-2014, 12:30pm
Thanks for your input. What about my mandolin banjo with the original skin head? Should I leave it at tension when not being played?

acousticphd
Nov-19-2014, 1:27pm
I tend to follow John's advice, and not just for vintage instruments. For both guitars and mandos I have closed away, I will usually lower the string pitch by 1-2 tones, as opposed to slackening the tension completely. I don't like the thought of those necks laying there silently, withstanding that string tension.

Tom C
Nov-19-2014, 1:33pm
I agree. I moved and not playing my Flatiron in a while, and stored in a place too humid, the tailpiece just ripped where the bend is going from the side over the top. Could have been worse as it was only hardware.

JeffD
Nov-19-2014, 1:38pm
I agree with John for long term storage. I don't think its necessary for every time it is not being played. When today you put the mandolin aside and pick up the banjo, I don't think you need to detune the mandolin first. It will likely be out again in what, a week, a couple of weeks?

But if you are closing the summer house and storing the beach mandolin for the season, I would detune it before putting it away.

Scott C.
Nov-20-2014, 1:01am
I am just concerned that if one sets for a month or two, what is the best thing to do to preserve and protect them. I have acquired more than I can play!!!

pfox14
Nov-20-2014, 6:13am
My rule of thumb is if the instrument is going to sit for longer than a month or two then detune it. When in doubt, detune it. Better safe than sorry.

Scott C.
Nov-21-2014, 12:55am
I have noticed that as the weather changes, so does the string tension. Both tighter and looser depending on the change. I am thinking it would wise to loosen them back a tad when not being actively played.