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How Often Should Someone Change Their Strings?

Instruments: Everyone says different things when it comes to how often you should change your strings, but what IS the right answer?

From Eloise Garland
Posted January 2, 2011 at 01:28 AM

 Everyone says different things when it comes to how often you should change your strings, and also depending on what type of string. Some say once every 3 months with X amount of practice, some say 6, some say 'when they wear out or become false'. To be honest, I've always been the 'When they wear out or become false' type of person, but now I have a much better violin and expensive set of strings, I am becoming curious as to what IS the right amount of time people should be leaving before changing their strings?

Are there any differences between the type of string used? If so, it would be good to put here just as a reference for anyone else who is curious. 

I have a set of Pirastro Passione Solo strings, which are expensive and something I can't afford to invest in too often. 

Thank you, and happy new year!

From Sarah Greenwald
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 02:23 AM

Well, this could be answered different ways by different people.  I am the type of person who likes a new set of strings about once a month or so.  I practice 2 hours a day, teach 10 hours a week, and have orchestra about 3 hours a week.  So, I guess I am changing my strings once every 108 hours.   I can't stand having strings on my violin that are even starting to go dead, so I do change them more often than some people.

Others will wait until absolutely necessary to change their strings.  Some people say you don't need to change them until they start unraveling.  Now, this I don't know much about.  I have ever only once or twice had a string start to unravel, and even then it was not "dead". 

As for different types of strings, as a general rule, gut strings will wear out much faster than synthetic strings, so if you are looking to save a few dollars, don't go for the gut strings.  Usually it seems that if you buy more expensive synthetic strings like Pirastro Obligato, they last a really long time, so it may be worth the few extra dollars you put out. 

In summary, I think you are just going to have to experiment with different strings.  I'm actually in the process of doing the exact same thing.  I'm trying to find the brand (or combination of brands) that sound best on my violin and that last as long as possible.

Good luck!!

From Nate Robinson
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 02:42 AM

 I use gut strings.  I recommend changing them every 4-6 weeks if you play 3-5 hours a day.  I used Pirastro Evah Pirazzi strings during university and would change them every 3 weeks.

Passione strings are on the expensive side.  I'd suggest Eudoxa.  They're in my estimation the best wound gut strings for my violin and they do cost way less than Olive or Passione.

From Sherman soothoo
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 07:54 AM

 Hi, Happy new year to one and all!

Changing strings really depends on an indiv...

I will change the strings when I find that the sound of the strings of the violin becomes dead. I find it more practical to fully use the potential of the strings before throwing it away.

Some people like my teacher only changes it when she's going for a concert because her reason is that playing is just for practice and she don't want to waste the money.FYI her dominants has been there for a year already and I can hear that the tone is very dull/nasal.

So it is up to you really :)

From Julian Stokes
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 08:29 AM

My experience of violin strings in this incarnation has been Dominants. When I practice my fingertips turn black from the metal. After 3 months I'd worn away the wrapping on the E string so that it was starting to unwind and catch on my fingers as I played. Obviously time to change that string. Then about 6 weeks later the same happened to the A string.

In my previous incarnation when I was at school, I don't recall such a rate of attrition of strings. However I wasn't obsessed and didn't play or practice like I do now. They must have been cheap strings and I recall the E string which did tend to snap - the violin teacher had a reel of piano wire which he used for his pupils' instruments.

In  my guitar playing experience, you just knew when the strings needed to be replaced. Even though they were in tune, everything, especially chords just started to sound sour.

I'm guessing that something similar will happen with the two larger strings, G and D, after several A and E replacements, that they will become "sour" and that is the time to change them.

From Tobias Seyb
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 09:31 AM

Strings behave differently, because they are constructed differently. But here is typical life of a violin string, being played every day:

- A few hours/days after being attached to the instrument it settles and stays in tune, it loses some sharp or harsh overtones.

- some 100-200 hours of playing resp. a few months everything is fine (numbers can vary).

- gradually it loses overtones (brightness, definiton). This is a slow process that has no defined starting point, but when it becomes noticable, the string should be replaced.

- some times later and also unnoticable in the beginning the intonation gets worse.

- If the player still hasn't changed strings to this day, even if they sounded muddy and out of tune, the strings begin to lose their structural integrity (unwinding wrapping, shape going from round to oval), and no ship engineer can etablish a beta shield to prevent this.

- If the violinist fiddler still uses those grimy wires, he has the chance to experience a cracking string, something the average musician seldom encounters nowadays.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 01:13 PM
My luthier's rule of thumb is to change after 120 hours. Works well for me.
From Trevor Jennings
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 02:21 PM

When I can afford it. 

From Richard Watson
Posted on January 2, 2011 at 02:23 PM

 No one has brought up the necessity of having a pre-stretched set on hand at all times for those emergency changes when you can't be retuning every few minutes. Happy New Year.


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