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The Weekend Vote

V.com weekend vote: Have you ever broken a string?

August 10, 2013 at 8:33 PM

One of my greatest fears as a young violinist was that one of my strings would break and go flying into my face and perhaps take my eye out.

Indeed, I've had strings break, and though it is startling, it's never caused me or the fiddle any harm! I was thinking about strings being broken because of this week's interview with Augustin Hadelich, in which he talks about Paganini purposely breaking strings as a show-off move, so he could play the "Moses Variations" on one string.

My theory is that not too many of us break our strings on purpose! But quite a few of us do it by accident. What is your funniest string-breaking story, and how did it happen?


From Steve Reizes
Posted on August 10, 2013 at 11:36 PM
When I started learning it was gut or steel and steel did not sound good on my violin at all. Add Caspari pegs and I often opened my case after a change in weather to find I had a broken string.

I've snapped a few loop eings on the fine-tuner also.

From Nairobi Young
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 2:34 AM
I think the best story that hasn't happened to me is that one day in my chamber coaching we were tuning and our coach (a cellist) told the violinist to tune her Estring higher and she kept going higher as good with the fine tuner and it finally popped because it was WAY to sharp. I once tuned a friends violin (this was a violin that knew how to throw a temper tantrum) and as I was tuning A string (which was not new or that old) it broke and gave me a welt on my left hand...I never tuned her violin again.
From Patrick Tinney
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 4:33 AM
I've had two break. One a couple of years ago when I checking something that did not look right on my fine tuner. The little loop broke. It was one of my first loop end strings, ever.

Though I have been taking lessons for almost two and a half years now, back in 1990 I tried to teach myself the fiddle using Robin Williamson's English, Welsh, Scottish & Irish Fiddle Tunes. This lasted just under a year.

I used Super Sensitive strings back then. One day I was playing particularly aggressive and the E sting popped near the nut. You never forget having a thin wire pass rapidly near your face.

From Carla Dumonte
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 10:44 AM
Breaking E strings is among the most common stories here a violin student can share. I once popped one while doing pizz. Others popped out of nowhere, and thankfully, I have to wear glasses (poor eyesight can actually save a face). Left hand didn't had the same luck.

The strangest I had was with the D string. Well, not that strange, it was an old string my teacher gave me and it started making creaking noises. I put the violin on my lap and stared at it. Nearly fell of the chair when it broke. By then, I had heard E strings snapping like this, or eventually A strings. Never a D.

From Alice Trimmer
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Christmas morning many years ago, new violin under the tree. Eagerly opened the case and started tuning, and the E string immediately snapped. Have exercised greater care since.
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 2:49 PM
The only time I've had a string break when playing was three years ago when I was leading in a Christmas Carol Concert that was being recorded live for transmission the next day on community radio. As the conductor brought her baton down for the first piece so my E string popped. What could I do under the circumstances except, due to demands of some of the pieces in the programme, to become thoroughly acquainted on the hoof with the highest positions on the A! Later, I inspected the E, an Eudoxa Gold, and it had snapped in an unexpected place - halfway along the peg.


From Jayanthi Joseph
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 5:09 PM
I've broken at least 3 strings on quarter and half size violins during tuning. The E's are the first to go...
From Nicky Paxton
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 5:56 PM
As a boy I had a string snap quite arbitrarily while playing in a lesson. I can't remember whether or not it hit me in the face but it gave me a shock. Rather embarrassingly, I also snapped an E string while tuning someone else's violin. I have opened cases to find a string broken, but who hasn't?
From Thomas McGregor
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 6:26 PM
Once while performing, I had 3 strings(E, A, G) snap during a very intense variation(mine)of Orange Blossom Special, touring in Missouri. I finished, in 5th/6th position.
From Bruce Berg
Posted on August 11, 2013 at 8:05 PM
My E string broke in a performance of Bartok #6 Quartet about 2 pages from the end of the piece. I had to continue with some very challenging playing on the A string since it was a choreographed performance with dancers. Luckily no one really noticed and I had the satisfaction of following the adage of "the show must go on."
From Mark Roberts
Posted on August 12, 2013 at 2:40 AM
I've had a few snap when cleaning violin.
From Maurice Gatewood
Posted on August 12, 2013 at 3:42 PM
Yes, Yes, and Yes! -M
From Aaron Krosnick
Posted on August 12, 2013 at 4:15 PM
I was playing 2nd violin to Sascha Jacobson (former concertmaster, LA Phil) in a Mozart G Major quartet at Kneisel Hall, Blue Hill, Maine when his E string broke in the last, fugal movement. Sascha went backstage to repair the damage, but was blind as a bat. He appeared at the stage door, glasses up on his forehead (in full view of the audience) and stage-whispered to me, "Aaron, I can't find the hole." I had to go thread the E string into the peg for him. We started the last movement half-way through instead of starting at the beginning. I loved playing quartets with Sascha, and this was a comical moment worth remembering.
From Stephen Symchych
Posted on August 12, 2013 at 6:04 PM
I just finished a run of La Cenerentola on period instruments, and over the rehearsals/performances, my stand partner broke 7 eings. Luckily we were in a pit, so nobody could tell. For some performances he finished by moving up on the A string, and in another he stopped to change the string. With lots of re-tuning, of course. The potential hazards of gut strings!
From Bob Small
Posted on August 12, 2013 at 11:55 PM
My brand new Cecilio violin...shipped with loose strings and no extras. My first time with a violin in my hands and NO experience in tuning...Overtightened the G string and SNAP. I have replaced many sets since then with no breaks, thank you...the learning curve...
From Lois Linton
Posted on August 13, 2013 at 6:42 PM
Funny string story...

I was competing with Recitative and Scherzo in a highschool competition a few years ago. In an attempt to warm up my fingers and fiddle at the competition location, I started tuning and noticed that my G was more out-of-tune than usual. I turned to my mom - while tuning - and said, "Funny, I had a dream last night that my g string popped." Seconds later, it popped.

Moral of the story? Don't dream about violin. OR always have extra strings on hand...

From John Rokos
Posted on August 14, 2013 at 12:08 AM
Paganini's E strings broke very easily, because in his days they were gut.
From Skylar Nguyen
Posted on August 14, 2013 at 5:04 AM
My best friend, snapped not one, or two, but THREE G strings by god knows how. The first I witness, she was attempting to tune with only pegs ( she have a student grade 1970's violin). The second was a mystery. And the third was due to bad set up... Now I always two spare sets of strings in my case.

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