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So how long can you store unused strings?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by packhowitzer, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    I used to gig 5 hrs a night, 4 nights a week in some pretty gnarly, smoky, sweaty conditions. I changed strings once per month. I bought in bulk to help defray some of the cost. That was years ago and now I change my strings maybe 3 times a year on my most used basses and 1 time a year on the lesser ones. I usually use nickel rounds.

    So my question is, I've got some strings left over from the old days that have always been stored in their original packaging without exposure to any extremes. BUT they are getting on in age. One of my twelve packs of Ernie Ball Slinkys has got to be getting on towards 8 or 9 years old. Should I hurry up and use them for the sake of using them? Will they be okay to use as necessity dictates? Will their useful lifespan be shorter?

    I've got maybe 25 sets of strings to get through that range from that old box at 9 years up to a few sets that are maybe 4 years young. The newer ones were usually freebies or whatever as clearly I don't need to go out and buy strings.

    So whach'all think?
  2. Wyzird05


    Dec 1, 2003
    South Bend, IN
    This question was asked on the double bass forum about a year ago. Everyone seemed to agree that as long as the strings are not exposed to corrosive materials (finger oils, salt, etc.) they're probably good for decades.

    I suppose the nickel could oxidize or tarnish and might change the characteristic of the string slightly, but I wouldn't expect strings to break.
  3. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    If the strings are sealed in plastic, you're probably fine. If not, I'd suggest finding a friend with a vacuum sealer and doing it, just to keep them away from moisture.
  4. lowendgenerator


    Mar 26, 2006
    I was thinking the same thing...
  5. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    Yeah, I would be willing to gamble that a brand new, factory fresh, untouched string would keep for a lifetime if kept at room temperature and away from moisture & high humidity. The sealed plastic envelopes that many companies use only help ensure freshness!
  6. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Inactive Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    I have some strings from the mid 90's (not selling these on my site btw!!!) that "Look" perfect.

    I have no idea what they will sound like though, but they look good :D
  7. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    I didn't search the DB threads. I didn't know if there was too significant a difference in the makeup of the string to know if this question was applicable across all string types. My dad has flat wounds on his 59 strat and only ever changes the high E and B as they get brittle. The current set of strings is literally 20 years old. I'm 33 and I remember when he changed them last. The guitar sounds fine and the strings are bright and shiny.

    I didn't know if nickel rounds were as hardy. They certainly seem to wear out faster under use as crud collects in the grooves.

    Do the winds get brittle or lose their sonic luster over the years of being 'on the shelf' so to speak?
  8. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    Most of my older strings are in non-sealed paper envelopes inside non-sealed vinyl plastic packages. A few of the sets that I have that were comp'd to me are in vacuum-style bags: newer sets of Ernie Balls for example). Since reading some replies I have put the strings in Gallon size ziplocs, but they are by no means cryo-sealed for freshness. As I said before, they've just spent their time with me in various closets and drawers in my house. No crazy temperature or humidity extremes.
  9. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    don't strings have a greasy/oily coating from processing? (that should help preserve them)
  10. scotch

    scotch It's not rocket science!

    Nov 12, 2006
    Albany, NY USA
    Please see Profile for Endorsement disclosures
    It certainly wouldn't hurt to put in a little desiccant pack!

    As a matter of fact, I think I'll put one in the drawer with my string supply... Anybody know where to buy them? Micheal's maybe?
  11. if kept dry... i cant imagine strings "expiring.."
  12. Thaos627


    Jan 10, 2011
    there is moisture naturally in the air so i recommend them in a sealed plastic. i would imagine them only becoming dead after awhile but as long as they arent rusty or unraveled they should still be playable.

    if u dont wanna risk it sell them on here. there are a lot of people who like dead strings.
  13. okofoto


    Jul 30, 2011
    Got a used CARVIN xb76pf. Don't like round wounds, so I put on Labella Nylon wound I got from a friend who had them, unused, for years. The E string is WAY louder than the rest, on piezzo (not on mag PU), playing with the trimpots did not help. The thread tells me that the culprit are not the strings. Must be the electronics or the piezzo PU, but what puzzles me is that all was well with the roundwounds. Any ideas? THANKS
  14. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    The fact that the magnetic pickup gives you the same string volume is an indicator that something is wrong with the piezo pickups and not the strings. I suspect the other strings are not making good contact with the piezo element(s). A good tech should be able to tell you more and fix the problem with minimal effort.

    Also, for things like this, it's more beneficial to start your own thread (in the pickups subforum, since you reasonably believe the pickup to be the issue) instead of piggy-backing on an older thread that is only somewhat related.
  15. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I just found a five year old pack of well used TI Flats I had intended to save for something. I just put them on a bass and they still sound fantastic. I know the question was about unused strings, but it seems to me if used strings can last that long then new ones should do even better.
  16. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    I think that your experience is certainly valid to this thread. Thanks for the input. I'm actually about to put a set of old Slinky's on my highway 1 pbass. i'll try to choose what I believe to be the oldest set I have. Then I'll post my opinions of the results. Unfortunately I don't have the ability to record myself, but I'll try to be as descriptive as I can. Thanks again everybody, and please keep posting your opinions and experiences with long-term storage strings!
  17. Sifl


    May 14, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Get a supporting membership and sell some of them in the classifieds section!
  18. Eight_Stringer


    Feb 22, 2009
    Dunno, have unopened packets here from late 1970's. Dont know how they sound as i have never opened them, why they are 30+ years old new old stock ( i bought new ), unopened. Though i did have a few RS66LD strings from the same era on hand, put them on a bass here, sounded fine, maybe a little less bright, yet brand new loose that brightness after a few weeks in anycase. No difinitive answer on this i suspect, matter of try and judge for yourself.

    As an aside, modern strings are for thr most part all very good. The reason Rotosounds sounded so good in the 70's had a lot to do with the very ordinary strings from many manufactures of the time, sounding well...ordinary under hand and fingers. HTH
  19. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    May be there will be a market for them like NOS tubes
  20. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I had a set of GHS Bass Boomers sitting around my house that I received when I bought a used bass in the classifieds. I through those bad boys on the other day after having them sit unused for about 4 years and...

    ...they didn't work. They wouldn't hold a tune, they didn't sound new, and they didn't even look new. I don't know if moisture somehow got in the pack (I doubt it) or what, but they didn't sound good at all.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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