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Thread: string life with limited playing

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    Default string life with limited playing

    I have 2 mandolins. The main one is played nearly every day and I change the strings every 3 months. The other mandolin gets played occasionally. Should I expect the strings to last longer? Is time or finger goo the main cause of string degradation?

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    All in FredK's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Strings can and do lose their vibrance and tone over time whether played or not. Finger residue and sweat can speed up the process, especially if you're not careful to clean the strings after playing.
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    rust (steel) & corrosion (non ferrous) is oxidation.. & we need Oxygen.
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    I play every day, and since I am not performing, it's been at least 3 months. Strings still sound good. Phosphor bronze wouldn't be holding up this long by any means. I am using pure nickel and they don't seem to corrode and get dull like bronze.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    I've had the same strings (mostly bronze) on my mandolin for few years and playing it semi - regularly and it still sounded good... The mandolin was a bit bright to my taste with new strings and I liked more mellow tone of older strings on that one. I don't have agressive sweat and don't fret too hard and without that the strings don't seem to change much after first two- three months. I did use the GHS "Fast fret" for conditioning strings both before and after playing and sometimes I refilled the stick with WD40 which had worked very well and inhibited any corrosion. I guess if you clean the strings well they won't go bad too soon. But if you prefer the twang of fresh set, they will likely lose that after some time even without playing.
    Adrian

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    I played a gig on a stage facing into the sun on a 95 degree, humid day. We were sweating like crazy. I ruined a brand new set of EXPs in an hour. Other times they have lasted months. I had a set of T-Is last a couple of years with fairly regular playing, but almost all inside. There are so many variables. Temp, humidity, personal sweat chemistry, type of strings, etc. I just play them until they start sounding dull or looking bad and I change them. I stopped paying attention to how long that takes.

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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    No sweaty acid hands here, I change a string when it wears through or breaks, 6 months picking on PB original strings and holding strong.
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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Quote Originally Posted by J Mangio View Post
    No sweaty acid hands here, I change a string when it wears through or breaks, 6 months picking on PB original strings and holding strong.
    We are the lucky ones it seems... :-)
    Some of my friends have so bad agressive sweat that they kill set by just warming up for gig... completely black a strings after two songs...
    Adrian

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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Does it make any sense that strings go bad because of uneven stretching? If a section of a given string has a weak spot where it stretches more than adjacent sections, the string would lose its uniformity in mass per unit length, one of the factors in what frequency it vibrates. I would expect uneven stretching to lead to intonation problems and thus a need for a change.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    Is time or finger goo the main cause of string degradation?
    I'll say it is a question of cleaning. If the corrosive agent is not removed from the strings, they silently get eaten away while sleeping in the case, despite not being played.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    I'll say it is a question of cleaning. If the corrosive agent is not removed from the strings, they silently get eaten away while sleeping in the case, despite not being played.
    What do you use to clean the strings with?

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    All in FredK's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    What do you use to clean the strings with?
    I just use a microfiber cleaning cloth. Wipe down the strings after each use. Cleaning under the strings with the cloth helps, too.
    "If your memories exceed your dreams, you have begun to die." - Anonymous

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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    My mandolin is not bright so I the strings, especially the G, go dead after a time. Because I am not gigging I am putting up with the deader G string, the rest still sound good. Long as I don't have to tune more than usual I'll keep them on.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  14. #14
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    What do you use to clean the strings with?
    Dr Duck's AxWax
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Registered User Aaron Bohnen's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    I have some instruments I don't pick up that often and it's a hassle to go to play one of them and find oxidized strings. Here's what I've noticed:

    J74s don't last long in use - I may have slightly acidic fingers. They do just OK in the case but oxidize there too. Music Nomad's String Fuel cleaner product after every playing seems to help.

    Monel strings last far better for me both in regular use and in the case. (The Curt Mangan ones are superior to the others I've tried, for both longevity and tone). Again the String Fuel seems to help these last even longer.

    XTs last longer too, presumably because of their anti-corrosive coating/plating. I prefer Monels.

    Elixirs last even longer for me both in use and in the case. These have their own characteristics that people have different opinions on (feel, tone, etc.) and they cost more. If they do oxidize in the case it's typically only the plain strings that get yucky - I've found the wound ones stay really consistent. I've gotten away with just changing the plain strings and sticking with the wound ones. So that could be an option.

    Thomastiks are super long-lasting for me. Played occasionally, cleaned and put away in the case they can last for years. (the Starks are like regular mediums and sound better to my ears than the Mittels which I find quite light). Again these have their own characteristics (feel, tone, volume, etc.) and cost way more.

    Enjoy!
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    I use pure nickel and they don't seem to oxidize or tarnish from playing. Like all strings they will get dents where they contact the frets. When I can feel the dents on the under side of the string, they usually need more tuning too, it is time to change them.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  17. #17

    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Monel strings has spoilt me. Didn't really prefer the Martin Monels.

    I wipe down with just a smidge of WD-40(and rub it off) when they get that "less than fresh" feel.

    Agree with everything AaronB posted so eloquently.

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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Bohnen View Post
    I have some instruments I don't pick up that often and it's a hassle to go to play one of them and find oxidized strings. Here's what I've noticed:

    J74s don't last long in use - I may have slightly acidic fingers. They do just OK in the case but oxidize there too. Music Nomad's String Fuel cleaner product after every playing seems to help.

    Monel strings last far better for me both in regular use and in the case. (The Curt Mangan ones are superior to the others I've tried, for both longevity and tone). Again the String Fuel seems to help these last even longer.

    XTs last longer too, presumably because of their anti-corrosive coating/plating. I prefer Monels.

    Elixirs last even longer for me both in use and in the case. These have their own characteristics that people have different opinions on (feel, tone, etc.) and they cost more. If they do oxidize in the case it's typically only the plain strings that get yucky - I've found the wound ones stay really consistent. I've gotten away with just changing the plain strings and sticking with the wound ones. So that could be an option.

    Thomastiks are super long-lasting for me. Played occasionally, cleaned and put away in the case they can last for years. (the Starks are like regular mediums and sound better to my ears than the Mittels which I find quite light). Again these have their own characteristics (feel, tone, volume, etc.) and cost way more.

    Enjoy!
    Thanks for the detailed response. I am conflicted here. I'm cheap so I don't want to pay a lot for strings, but I'm also lazy and hate changing strings. Right now I use j74's since they are fairly inexpensive and are popular

  19. #19
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    the strings on my piano are over a hundred years old.

    f-d
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  21. #20
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    Default Re: string life with limited playing

    I ordered Music Nomad's String Fuel on Amazon so we'll see how that goes

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