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  • Can guitar strings go stale?

    Recently I posted about picking up an Affinity Squier from a Starter Pak on Craigslist. I noted that it was a 'dark' sounding guitar, and many pointed out that it is likely made of Agathis, which will be darker and somewhat less resonant than the usual Alder or other Stratwoods, etc.

    However, it just occurred to me that the new set of strings I put on it right after I got it were a set I bought on clearance about a year ago from a local music store going out of business. No idea how long the music store had them, but I don't see any "Use by [such-and-such date] for best taste". They are the first set I pulled from a D'Addario XL .009" 3-Pack. I only played the strings that were on it for about a minute or so when I was checking the guitar out, and they came off as soon as I got the guitar home.

    Even running my fingers up the surface of the strings from nut to bridge doesn't produce the usual "shhhing!" you get from new strings. They're new so they get in tune and stay in tune and their intonation is fine, but I wonder if maybe the strings are somewhat dead themselves. To be perfectly honest, brand new strings are usually too bright for me and I don't enjoy them until they start losing that shimmer off the very top end.

    Ever get a bum set of strings? To some extent I'm hoping that the guitar isn't quite this dark sounding. I know the real answer to my question will be to buy another set of new strings (diff store, as the other one is long gone) and put 'em on. However, I'm curious if y'all ever had it happen where a set of (roundwound, not flatwound) strings were kinda 'dull' out of the bocks.

    Thanks.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

    It's funny how nowadays the only decent metal around is the theme music for a cartoon that makes fun of metal bands.

  • #2
    Yes, they do start to loose some of their brightness after a while. It's always good to buy strings from someplace that sells through them pretty regular and even rotates them out so that the ones on the back of the display get rotated forward. A store that buys direct from the mfg. will also have fresher strings than a store that has to buy through a "jobber" or distributor. Even stores that are in areas where they keep the doors open in the summer or that have a high degree of dampness can have problems with shelf life on strings.
    <div class="signaturecontainer"><div align="center">All there really is, is virtue and vice.</div></div>

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    • #3
      Yes, they do start to loose some of their brightness after a while. It's always good to buy strings from someplace that sells through them pretty regular and even rotates them out so that the ones on the back of the display get rotated forward. A store that buys direct from the mfg. will also have fresher strings than a store that has to buy through a "jobber" or distributor. Even stores that are in areas where they keep the doors open in the summer or that have a high degree of dampness can have problems with shelf life on strings.


      D'Addarios come in sealed bags.
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      • #4
        The electrons spin down after a couple years.
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        • #5
          If when making the strings, the unpolished steel, has moisture on it or the beginning of rust,
          the chroming that goes over the steel can trap that rust below where it grows and eats through the steel.
          It can also be the chrome is weak and the bare steel starts to corrode.

          Theres less chance of corrosion after the strings are manufactured and humatically sealed in a bag.
          Many manufacturers are doing this including Boomers and D'Addario. But even there, I've open packs that
          have spots on them. The corrosion was present before the strings were packaged.

          As far as going dead because of shelf life, its unlikely. They do tend to get brittle, break or corrode.
          That may be your problem if its heavy. As far as going dead like they do from being on a guitar a long time,
          not so much. The strings arent under tension like thay'd be on a guitar.

          I just change brands. If you bought those strings recently, send them back for a refund.
          If someones selling bad strings, they should know it.

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          • #6
            You think the time coiled matters?
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            • #7
              I have a few sets of EB 11s from before they went to a sealed pack and those are probably going to be kind of dead when eventually resort to putting them on. But one thing I do know is that if the windings become dislodged from the core, wound strings can sound really dead. Normally this happens when you manhandle the wound strings before or during replacement. It is pretty common with fender vintage tuners where you have to cut the string before you put it on. If you remember the old SIT strings pack, it used to give instructions for replacing strings and it said to put a 90 degree bend in it before you cut it to lock the windings to the core. I do that religiously now after a quick string change before a gig in a bar became a quick string change after the second set in a bar. It can be really noticeable.
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              • #8
                I usually more associate the word stale with food.

                Have you actually tried putting cheese on them?

                What did they taste like?

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                • #9
                  D'Addarios come in sealed bags.


                  The material of those bags was developed for the military in Desert Storm for shipping parts and supplies. When it was first adapted by D'Addario I remember getting memos and cut sheets on the technology and the history of it.
                  <div class="signaturecontainer"><div align="center">All there really is, is virtue and vice.</div></div>

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                  • #10
                    If when making the strings, the unpolished steel, has moisture on it or the beginning of rust,
                    the chroming that goes over the steel can trap that rust below where it grows and eats through the steel.
                    It can also be the chrome is weak and the bare steel starts to corrode.

                    Theres less chance of corrosion after the strings are manufactured and humatically sealed in a bag.
                    Many manufacturers are doing this including Boomers and D'Addario. But even there, I've open packs that
                    have spots on them. The corrosion was present before the strings were packaged.

                    As far as going dead because of shelf life, its unlikely. They do tend to get brittle, break or corrode.
                    That may be your problem if its heavy. As far as going dead like they do from being on a guitar a long time,
                    not so much. The strings arent under tension like thay'd be on a guitar.

                    I just change brands. If you bought those strings recently, send them back for a refund.
                    If someones selling bad strings, they should know it.


                    Is it not the case that the majority of strings are now made in the same few plants, since sales volumes per brand do not support individual factories?
                    Bad batches are more likely than bad brands in that case.
                    <div class="signaturecontainer"><b>Rules for a Happy Life:</b><br />
                    Never attribute to malice, that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.<br />
                    I am happy with who I am. You do not have to like me.<br />
                    <div class="bbcode_container">
                    <div class="bbcode_quote">
                    <div class="quote_container">
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                    Originally Posted by aenemated <br />
                    doc always has been and always will be. He behaves as if he is 18 years old with worlds of wisdom

                    </div>
                    </div>
                    </div> 6 senses, 5 cables, 4 different coloured guitars, 3 amps, 2 pedals, 1 footswitch. <br />
                    <i><font size="1">Statutory Disclaimer: Any advice I may give is ill-informed and is to be treated with the utmost suspicion.</font></i></div>

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                    • #11
                      Agathis dark? Never heard of such a thing.
                      Electrics: Fender '73 Mustang RI, Epiphone Inspired by John Lennon Casino, Gibson 60s Tribute Les Paul Studio, Daisy Rock Retro-H Deluxe, Squier Hello Kitty Strat x2<br>Acoustics: Taylor 316CE-LTD, Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QIT<br>Basses: Squier Badtz Maru Bronco Bass, Aria CSB-300, Fender Mustang Bass RI<br>Amps: Vox TB18C1, Vox Pathfinder 210, Peavey Transtube Envoy, Ampeg Micro VR Stack<br>My Band: <a href="http://mittensband.com" target="_blank">http://mittensband.com</a>

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                      • #12
                        does anyone know a method to make brand new strings sound a bit warmer like you have played them in for say 2 days or so with heavy playing?
                        I hate the tone of brand new strings and someone told me to just boil them for 10-20 mins to get rid of that harsh new tone?

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                        • #13
                          I used to put grease on new bass strings to deaden them up, but really, nothing makes that aged tone quite like... well, age.
                          Electrics: Fender '73 Mustang RI, Epiphone Inspired by John Lennon Casino, Gibson 60s Tribute Les Paul Studio, Daisy Rock Retro-H Deluxe, Squier Hello Kitty Strat x2<br>Acoustics: Taylor 316CE-LTD, Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QIT<br>Basses: Squier Badtz Maru Bronco Bass, Aria CSB-300, Fender Mustang Bass RI<br>Amps: Vox TB18C1, Vox Pathfinder 210, Peavey Transtube Envoy, Ampeg Micro VR Stack<br>My Band: <a href="http://mittensband.com" target="_blank">http://mittensband.com</a>

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                          • #14
                            I used to put grease on new bass strings to deaden them up, but really, nothing makes that aged tone quite like... well, age.


                            LOL well i have heard of some using butter,wd-40,vasoline,lotion and all kinds of things so grease does not surprise me one bit! LOL

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                            • #15
                              Bacon grease!

                              I use olive oil when I do it. Some people think olive oil turns rancid but dude, my roommate, who is a chef who is a germ freak, has no problems with leaving vats of olive oil out in the room, which makes me think there's little chance of rot.
                              Electrics: Fender '73 Mustang RI, Epiphone Inspired by John Lennon Casino, Gibson 60s Tribute Les Paul Studio, Daisy Rock Retro-H Deluxe, Squier Hello Kitty Strat x2<br>Acoustics: Taylor 316CE-LTD, Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QIT<br>Basses: Squier Badtz Maru Bronco Bass, Aria CSB-300, Fender Mustang Bass RI<br>Amps: Vox TB18C1, Vox Pathfinder 210, Peavey Transtube Envoy, Ampeg Micro VR Stack<br>My Band: <a href="http://mittensband.com" target="_blank">http://mittensband.com</a>

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