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What kills strings?

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  • What kills strings?

    You put a nice new set of strings on your regular player guitar. You pick it up daily, and play the hell out of it.



    You put an identical nice new set of strings on another guitar. You put it in its case, and lean it up in the closet... and you don't touch it for a year. (The guitar is in an appropriate temp/humidity controlled environment. No tarnish/corrosion issues.)



    So... In a year, the strings on your regular player are likely going to be pretty "dead." I can think of numerous reasons why that is likely so.



    But, how are the strings on the closet queen? And why? If you have an opinion about it, what is your opinion based on, experience or speculation?



    I have my own thoughts on this, but I want to hear others.
    Proud reject from the HCAG Civil Posters Society, Martin snob, vitriolic sociopath, and tantrumist

  • #2
    1. I try not to own instruments that I won't play for a year at a time.



    2. The more the strings get used, the better they sound. Your mileage may vary.
    <div class="signaturecontainer">&quot;I would kill the children of a thousand planets, just to see you smile&quot;</div>

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    • #3






      Quote Originally Posted by Scodiddly
      View Post

      1. I try not to own instruments that I won't play for a year at a time.




      So do I.









      Quote Originally Posted by Scodiddly
      View Post

      2. The more the strings get used, the better they sound. Your mileage may vary.




      If that is so, there should be some really good sounding guitars on the wall at the Guitar Center.
      Proud reject from the HCAG Civil Posters Society, Martin snob, vitriolic sociopath, and tantrumist

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      • #4
        I don't really have very many that sit around that long, though some of my guitars don't see the usage that others do.. Part of me wants to believe that finger oils, and such tend to kill the longevity of that "new string jangliness".. I did a minor experiment with 2 of my strats this summer.. Tho, not acoustics, I know, so forgive me that. Both were strung up with 9 guage Blue Steels. One I would play for half the night at a gig, the other half on the other. On one, I would wipe down the strings between each set and at the end of the night, and the other I just tossed in the case. After a month, I noticed an obvious degredation of the high end tones and solidity of the low end tones on the one that I didn't wipe. That being said, the one I did wipe, I also noticed some degredation as well, but not nearly so much.

        I kind of believe that whatever mojo protectant, coating or whatnot is applied while the strings are raw and just sitting there.. Apply tension and you stretch that mojo is stretched and weakened.. I say mojo, because every string wants you to believe they do something miraculous to their product.

        In the end, I just tend to change strings regularly, about every two months, or when tone is lost..
        <div class="signaturecontainer">Long sigs suck<br />
        <br />
        I have a hard time getting rid of things<img src="http://img3.harmony-central.com/acapella/ubb/facepalm.gif" border="0" alt="" title="facepalm" class="inlineimg" /></div>

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        • #5
          I wouldn't talk to you either if you shut me out for a year.



          My real guess is the strings, being tensioned at that particular value for a year, are all stretched out, flat, lost their elasticity to produce the frequency of vibration needed.



          I change my strings 2-3 weeks, tops, and enjoy them for their freshness. After that they are dying. Some will argue the sound of the initial brilliance (lasting 2-3 weeks) is the part they don't like and rather prefer the sound that occurs after that is gone. Okay. Then they like the sound of dying strings. I suggest they experiment with strings that do not produce that initial brilliance and listen to how they sound over time. They might have been buying the wrong strings. Jacketed strings with tone attenuation come to mid, like Elixirs.
          <div class="signaturecontainer">Be back when I get back. TTFN.</div>

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          • #6
            I've always attributed string life to two main issues.



            1. The fact that they are under tension approaching their maximum strength capacity.

            2. Human contact.



            The percentage each of the above plays, for a given set, seems to depend on a lot of variables that are difficult to quantify. I do place a larger percentage on human contact based on my own experience.



            Consider this: How often do you change strings on a piano?



            I have always been one to wash my hands before playing, and I try not to pick my nose or butt between songs ...... Seems to help, and grosses out an audience a bit less.



            Those strings in the closet will eventually fall prey to number one, regardless.



            Of course, I could be totally wrong.



            Paul

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            • #7
              The vibration from being played and the oil, acids, moisture, etc. from you fingers kill strings I think.



              Since the strings on the closet queen isn't exposed to those elements I would think they would sound pretty good, probably not a 100% but pretty decent at least.



              Based on how the strings sounded on a guitar I played often and one I didn't. I've since gotten rid of the one I didn't play.

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              • #8
                My sweat seems to be toxic to strings. I can play one summer "patio" gig, and the strings are severely discolored.



                Assuming I am gigging, I change my strings weekly. I'll play one or two gigs (sometimes three) that weekend with the strings, but that's about it.

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                • #9
                  There are two things that could obviously deteriorate strings. The first is oil, sweat, dead skin, and/or other assorted crud from dirty human fingers, and the second is wear at the fret points... but a string only accumulates these maladies if it gets played, so the unplayed strings are not affected by these things.



                  Corrosion or inclusion of chemicals in the air could deteriorate the metal. Unless the strings are sealed up, this is even going to happen to strings in a package. I haven't heard too much about strings going dead on the shelf.



                  As to the strings "stretching," or changing hardness, basic physics says that it ain't gonna happen. The tension on a string is well below the modulus of elasticity for the steel involved. In simple terms, that means that the metal is not stressed to the point where it is permanently deformed, or where its hardness is changed.



                  I'm betting that no one could tell that the strings on that closet queen are a year old by playing it.
                  Proud reject from the HCAG Civil Posters Society, Martin snob, vitriolic sociopath, and tantrumist

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                  • #10
                    I should get at least one attaboy for my answer ..



                    Also I think the string would become fatigued from the vibrated much like a jet plane does. Not a good analogy but you get what I mean ...

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                    • #11
                      atta boy
                      <div class="signaturecontainer">&quot; HAVE FUN, TRY NOT TO HURT ANYONE AND EAT PLENTY OF GREENS&quot;</div>

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                      • #12






                        Quote Originally Posted by poppytater
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                        atta boy




                        Thank you kind sir ...

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                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by EdBega
                          View Post

                          I should get at least one attaboy for my answer ..



                          Also I think the string would become fatigued from the vibrated much like a jet plane does. Not a good analogy but you get what I mean ...




                          Great analogy, wrong crowd.
                          <div class="signaturecontainer">Be back when I get back. TTFN.</div>

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                          • #14
                            In a word: oxidation.

                            But jamesp posted this last week which will cure what ails ya.




                            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNJ1g18fmwg

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                            • #15






                              Quote Originally Posted by Pitar
                              View Post

                              Great analogy, wrong crowd.




                              I'll take that as an attaboy.



                              Eight more and I get a set of steak knives.

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