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Thread: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

  1. #1
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    Default Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    Should I slack the strings on a 2nd mandolin that is not played much?

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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    I’ve never bothered.

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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    Me either.
    (Nor on the 3rd, 4th,5th...)
    Kirk

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    I'd say it depends on how long of a time it is "not played much".

    If we're talking a year or under, probably not. If we're talking multiple years, maybe. If we're talking decades, definitely.

    It also depends on the instrument, btw, and the tension of the strings. Violin family instruments with a sound post will frequently need the sound post re-positioned if string pressure on the top is removed. Most mandolins, banjos, violin family and some guitars will at least need their floating bridges re-positioned if strings are slacked, and many will have the bridge fall.

    There is somewhat expected neck damage that happens on a neck under tension for many years -- decades usually -- such as weakening the joint where the neck attaches to the body, and possible warping due to forward tension. But necks can also warp when they are not under tension. Removing or reducing tension does usually preserve a normal neck joint, unless heat, high humidity or other factors are involved.

    Under normal circumstances, an effort is usually made to build a stringed instrument so it can withstand normal string tension for its expected active lifetime.
    -- Don

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  5. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    I'd say, depends on how it's stored when not being played. If it's just in its case in the corner of the "music room," it should be OK at pitch; take it out and check it now and then. If it gets exposed to temperature or humidity significantly different from where the "favorite" is kept, wouldn't hurt to take a bit of the tension off.

    I have sometimes been (unpleasantly) surprised opening the case of an instrument I haven't played for a year, to find perhaps a broken string -- which I attributed to a major rise in humidity, swelling the wood and increasing the load on the strings. The environment in my basement "cave" changes within very narrow ranges, but humidity does go up in the summer.
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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by tiltman View Post
    Me either.
    (Nor on the 3rd, 4th,5th...)
    Kirk
    I was also thinking of my 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th !!

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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    I've never understood the concept that you should loosen the strings on an instrument that isn't getting played. If you are playing it or not playing it, wouldn't the string tension be the same? In reasonably controlled environmental situations of course.
    Drew
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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Slack strings on 2nd mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Egerton View Post
    I've never understood the concept that you should loosen the strings on an instrument that isn't getting played. If you are playing it or not playing it, wouldn't the string tension be the same? In reasonably controlled environmental situations of course.
    If you're putting a stringed instrument away for "the rest of your life", which is how many old stringed instruments have been found under beds, in closets and attics, you can preserve the neck joint by slacking the strings...

    That's the most dangerous weak point that will receive damage in long term storage and we have seen many examples of old stored instruments that were damaged in the neck joint (as well as fixed bridges that have pulled up and various top cracks that may occur) by continuous string tension over decades. The most obvious evidence of this damage is an apparent upward bend of fingerboards starting at the neck joint.

    As has been mentioned, slacking the strings in this case may also help prevent warping of the neck, but it does not guarantee this will not occur since woods can move as they age. But if the instrument doesn't get into bad hot or cold temperatures or extremely low humidity for long periods, it can at least preserve that neck joint, and in doing so, extend the life of a stored stringed instrument.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

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