How Long Do Unused Strings Last?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Phoenix1, Feb 9, 2021.

  1. Mr.Rags

    Mr.Rags New Member!

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    In the old days blues players used to take their strings off and boil them to get the dirt out and then put them back on the guitar. I have tried this; it does work, just for a while.
     
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  2. ChrisDowning

    ChrisDowning Strat-Talker

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    Yep boiling works although you take a bit of the finish off them. Or drop them into a jar of petrol or wood alcohol (meths) that will clean them. But at $5 a set is it worth your time? And they are a pain to reinstall, with bent ends.

    The main issue with old strings is they start to rust unless the storage has been very good. It's something to watch out for when you see someone selling cheap strings. How old? Condition? I've been caught with three sets that seemed like a good deal - slight rust - not good!!
     
  3. Misty Mountain

    Misty Mountain Strat-Talker

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    Man those are vintage! You probably could got lots of money for them. Especially if you dipped them in vinegar to add some relicing!
     
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  4. Fenderbaum

    Fenderbaum Strat-O-Master

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    If its proper packaged and sealed from air they last. Electric strings can last ages since its nickel. But Bronze strings have limited shelf life before they start to corode.
     
  5. Wayne Adams

    Wayne Adams Strat-O-Master

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    It depends on the package sealing, string composition, storage environment, etc. Brands vary. I've had D'Addario strings (bought in bulk) for several years that were still fine when I opened them. Same with the odd Dean Markley set I use on my "Telecaster". Opened a set of Ernie Ball 12-string electrics recently that were no more than a couple of years old, and they were all pretty badly corroded.
     
  6. rikbigcat

    rikbigcat Strat-Talker

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    Apparently strings can rust (unwound) and/or tarnish (wound)...

     
  7. beep.click

    beep.click Strat-Talk Member

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    I have some from the last century; they sound fine. At some point, I will definitely consider them to be collectible and stop using them up!!
     
  8. amstratnut

    amstratnut Peace thru Music.

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    Diaddario sells bulk strings that arent sealed. 25 sets per box I think. I hesitate to buy those because they arent sealed.

    I typically but the 10 sealed set box and have never had an issue. Fwiw
     
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  9. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    It depends on the humidity. Keep them dry and they will last forever.
     
  10. mike58

    mike58 Strat-Talk Member

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    I recently put an unsealed set of D’Adarrios on and they just didn’t feel right out of the packet, took forever to stretch and intonate, eventually the high E ball end unwound when stretching ... so yep, this set was a few yrs old... and felt it. Def shelf life issue or QC problem
     
  11. brashboy

    brashboy Strat-Talker

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    Yup. If they're clean and look good, they ARE good. I have sets from the late 90's I still use, though some had to be tossed.
     
  12. dirocyn

    dirocyn Most Honored Senior Member

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    I've had brand new strings arrive pre-rusted. Not sealed, shipped on a boat (salt air) from China. At least they were cheap.

    Really it's all about the environment they're in. Most materials eventually break down--plastics gas-off their plasticizers and turn brittle, metals rust from atmospheric moisture. In a climate-controlled house, I'd guess a simple celophane wrapper is enough to preserve strings good as new for 40-50 years. Unsealed, in the desert--metal strings might last 50-100 years, maybe longer. Unsealed nylon strings probably turn brittle after 10 years, likely faster in warm environments.

    When you crawl out of the vault 100 years after nuclear armageddon, definitely look for sealed packages.
     
  13. smithstrato

    smithstrato Senior Stratmaster

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    Use um or lose um..they will make more.
     
  14. Handsome McClane

    Handsome McClane Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    I remember getting a partial pack of strings about 30 years ago with one of my guitars. I just used one last year when it was the only one of the right gauge I had. Worked like new.
     
  15. MGW-AB

    MGW-AB Strat-Talker

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    I have old packages of strings that are no less than 20 years old. They were purchased in the 90s in a gauge I no longer use. A friend was over (just before covid) and needed a set in that gauge so I gave him one of the sets. They were as good as new. They're made of steel and they've been stored indoors. What could go bad?
     
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  16. Rocket King

    Rocket King Strat-O-Master

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    They should be good to go :thumb:
     
  17. thomquietwolf

    thomquietwolf Dr. Stratster Silver Member

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    Kinda like the frame on your car....
     
  18. Phil the pill

    Phil the pill New Member!

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    I would just try them see what happens might be ok
     
  19. Esg877

    Esg877 Strat-Talker

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    If sealed in plastic (properly), almost indefintely. If packed in paper, not so much. They will rust eventually, sooner rather than later, because it's metal in contact with oxigen. Rust is nothing but oxidation. Even plastic has limits, because manufacturers don't check to see if it's TOTALLY air tight (like they do with condoms), so there is usually a tiny little air gap, eventually, as the plastic ages.

    About changing strings, I usually change mine every 3 or 4 months on guitars I play a lot. Others can keep strings for almost a year, or more. Strings are expensive in Brazil, and constant changes adds up to a lot a money in time. Also, I don't see the appeal of new strings so much. I like how old strings sound, and honestly, any 'crispness' or 'freshness' that new strings may (or may not) have will disapear in a week, so I don't see the point in wasting money on that.

    Btw, I don't play gigs anymore, and at home I'm not a heavy 'hand-sweater', both due to temp control and lack of audience (no pressure), so YMMV. When I played gigs in hot places I sweated a lot (like dripping), and that certainly has a big effect on string life. That's one thing about gigging that I surely don't miss.
     
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  20. Bcorig

    Bcorig Senior Stratmaster Gold Supporting Member

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    I found several packets of Daddario .09 .10s that were 20 years old. Strung my Strat (.10) and Tele (.09). They play fine. Even used a 20 years old set of Elixirs (not sealed like the Da’s) and they play fine on my Ovation.
     
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