In a recent discussion with my violinist-son, it came up that professional violinists tend to
replace their violins’ strings about every four months. Except for the e-string (highest, typically
solid steel) the violin strings have gold- or silver- or aluminum-covered polymer cores; some e-
strings have platinum covered chrome steel cores, not very harpsichord-like. No need to cover
here all violin-string versions for my question. With respect to that question below: I am well
aware of the different mechanics of exciting vibrations on violin strings and on harpsichord
strings. This introduction is only the motivation for asking the harpsichord related question.
Without remembering specific quotations, I recall that the age of harpsichord strings has come
up in discussions on sound quality. This topic is rather difficult for an amateur harpsichordist
because, I would think, professionals are exposed to replacement of old strings many more
times in their life-times and a matter of normal professional repeat experience.
Here is my question: Is there a consensus that replacing (all) “old strings” has a truly noticeable
effect on how a harpsichord sounds? If the consensus is in the affirmative,
a) what would be their age and the physical changes responsible for the effect and,
b) is there also a consensus on such a cause(s)?
How often do professional harpsichordists have all strings changed? Or do they? Would there
be a difference for brass and steel strings? I do understand that some of you have reported
specific brass manufacturers who are preferred, without getting into the materials science too
deeply. If age makes a difference, what do you do with coils of wire purchased “recently” but
which have (probably) been sitting on the vendor’s shelf for decades (if one knows)?