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MikeCanada

Do "new" strings have a shelf life?

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I have a violin that has not been played for a significant amount of time in the last 5-ish years. It sounds like it needs to open up a bit as a result, and my violin technique could also use a significant amount of refreshing as well. It was made in 1991 by a maker who is still alive and while it might benefit from some adjustments, it has remained in a humidified environment, does not have any open seams or other immediately apparent concerns and I would like to play it for a while before doing so. I am currently overhauling my violin bows, which will all benefit from significantly more than just a rehair. 

 

The strings on the instrument (Dominants with a Pirastro Gold E) need to be replaced, and I have a "new" set in the string tube in the case from at least 6 years ago, possibly longer. Do those strings, particularly the synthetic Dominants have a shelf life I should be worried about? Will I be further ahead buying new strings, or am I over thinking this?

 

Is there anything else I should be looking for/concerned about with an instrument that looks healthy but hasn't been played for that period of time?

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My experience with Dominants is that they are fine for longer periods than that. But I cant say I've done any controlled experiments. I've also had Dominants on instruments for longer than 6 years (not played much) that were still fine.

 

Set up adjustments may be more important, and it will be worth it to take it into a shop, probably for soundpost adjustments. Does the bridge still look straight?

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The strings on the instrument likely should have been replaced back when it was seeing regular use. I don't remember how old they are or when they were last replaced, but they sound like they are long over due for a change. 

 

While it hasn't been played any longer than maybe half an hour on a rare occasion since then, I have made sure to keep it in a humidified environment with the rest of my instruments, it has been kept at pitch for most of that time, the bridge is straight, and the soundpost is still standing in what appears to be a good location. The pegs could potentially use some work, but I have felt worse on a recently set up instrument. 

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I check strings for tarnished spots if they've been sitting unused for a long time. As long as they still have their original sheen and don't feel rubbery as you uncoil them, they'll probably be alright. If they've been around moisture and high humidity they won't last nearly as long.

 

As far as the instrument goes, it's good to make sure the neck is still at its intended angle and that the soundpost is fitting well so it doesn't cause damage to the top. It's also worthwhile to look closely at the pegbox to make sure there aren't any hairline cracks.

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