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How to Change Strings

Instruments: I'd really appreciate some instructions on how to change the strings on my violin. Thanks.

From putch panis
Posted May 25, 2005 at 05:55 AM

I'd really appreciate some instructions on how to change the strings on my violin. Thanks.

From Aleksandr Salamov
Posted on May 25, 2005 at 06:29 AM
Never change more than one string at the same time. Because if you will take of all strings you can wait for some damage to your violin.
And try to change G , E, D , A
From putch panis
Posted on May 25, 2005 at 08:02 AM
Um, how do you actually unwind the string and put the new one on?
From Aleksandr Salamov
Posted on May 25, 2005 at 09:07 AM
How to unwind? Just take it and unwind - very slowly (don't make fast movements).Then take your new string and put it on. Do it slightly. While moving the peg you need not only to do this circle muvment but also push it towards peg box.
From Larry Brandt
Posted on May 25, 2005 at 05:55 PM
Maybe some more precise step by step instructions (10 easy steps to changing a string!) are needed:

Before starting, I recommend starting with the A string, then D, then G and then E. Only change one at a time!

1. Work out where each string leads to in the peg box, that is, which peg to turn to loosen which string. You don't want to find yourself loosening strings you've already changed!

2. Grip the peg quite firmly between your thumb and forefinger, and turn it towards you, using a little bit more pressure in the beginning to get the peg moving.

3. Once it starts turning you can apply a little pressure as if you are pulling the peg out, to help it turn easily. Don't pull the peg right out, just loosen it a little.

4. Unhook the other end of the string from the tailpiece (that is where the strings connect where you put your head) as soon as the string is loose enough. Hold this in your hand now, so that it doesn't slap your violin and scratch it!

5. When turning the peg now, pull gently on the other end of the string which is in your hand, to help it pull out. Keep turning and gently pulling until the string exits entirely.

6. Take the new string, and make a little bend at the end where there is no little metal ball. This bend will help the string to "catch" when you put it into the hole in the peg. As many people don't realize at first, there is a hole which goes through the peg, and the first step in installing the new string is to thread the end which you bended through the hole. As soon as it has gone right through, start turning the peg away from you to tighten.

7. Try to not overlap the string on the peg. Maybe this is just my habit, but I like to wind the string round the peg with just one wind right across, that is, I don't criss-cross the string on the peg while turning it. I think this should make it easier to tune later with the pegs. It also keeps the strings straighter. For the A and E string, you would start the threading on the left hand side, for the G and D you would start the threading from the right hand side.

8. Gently push the peg in as you tighten it, holding the end of the string with the metal ball in your other hand, keeping some pressure on the string to aid the tightening of the string around the peg. Don't worry about tuning yet, as it will all be out of tune as soon as you install the other strings.

9. As soon as the string is sufficiently tight, hook the little metal ball into the slot on your tailpiece. Tighten the string enough so that there is a good amount of pressure on the bridge, but not so tight that in the end you break the string! (careful about overtightening the E string, which can easily snap if overtightened). Ensure that the string falls into the little notch at the end of the fingerboard, and on the bridge. This ensures the correct positioning of all the strings. The E string may have a little plastic sleeve. This fits into the groove on the bridge where the E string sits. Position the plastic sleeve so that most of it is on the non-playing side of the bridge, so that it does not disturb your bow when you are playing.

10. Tune all the strings, starting with the A, then D, then G and finally E. Don't worry about being too accurate until all the strings are almost in tune. They will keep going out of tune for at least a couple of hours.

I hope this guide is useful to you, and anybody else who has never changed a string before! :)

Best Wishes

From Eric Stanfield
Posted on May 25, 2005 at 06:01 PM
One thing I do on guitar, and I would think it applies to any metal wound strings. After putting on the new strings and tightening them to pitch they will begin to go flat more or less immediately until they have stretched themselves out to the point where they stay in tune. To speed this process up, you can gently 'stretch' the string between your thumb and index finger in between the bridge and fingerboard (where you bow). They will go flat immediately. Tighten them up, repeat. Keep doing so until they hold their pitch.
From Bert de Vree
Posted on May 25, 2005 at 07:58 PM
Great article Larry!
Personally I tend to hook in the metal ball as early as possible in the process, and keep the string under light tension by pulling it away from the keyboard, while turning the peg to wind up the string,
works ok for me,
kind regards, Bert
From putch panis
Posted on May 26, 2005 at 12:43 AM
Thank you very much, Larry! This is a great help :) Thank you all for your advice and comments :)
From Keith Arnold
Posted on August 4, 2007 at 12:56 AM
Dear Larry, and Bert,
My sincere thanks for the article on attaching strings to the violin.
My tailpiece just broke, and I have to install a new one. I am a bit new at this wonderful instrument. Maybe some day I can make it sing.
Keith Arnold
From William Bledsoe
Posted on June 24, 2008 at 03:42 AM

I too at new to the violin, and I am changing my strings for the first time. I purchased some steel core strings. Each string came with the protective sleeve that goes on the bridge. Is it recommended to put all the covers on each of the strings? Or should I only put it on the E string. Also, in addition to the 4 sleeves for the bridge, it came with 4 little rubber washers, perhaps 1 millimeter thick. What do I do with those washers? Thanks again for creating this very helpful article.


From Alexandra Birch
Posted on June 24, 2008 at 04:57 AM
Putting on Strings for the first time can be risky b/c you don't want the bridge to fall or something. Have the music store that sold them to you or your teacher show you in person, and you'll remember it for the next time you buy them. Do have a pro show you in person though, and also help with the string selection for your particular instrument. Best of luck.
From William Bledsoe
Posted on June 25, 2008 at 04:38 AM
Hey, thanks for the advice. I'll get right on that. Don't want to miss too much practice


From Christopher Ciampoli
Posted on June 25, 2008 at 06:08 AM
I'd recommend maybe put a cloth under the tailpiece or bridge in case any mishap might happen
From Bill Rose
Posted on June 25, 2008 at 02:04 PM
After the string is off - I lube the nut grove and bridge groove with #2 pencil. I also lube the peg where it contacts the peg box with the Hill peg paste. I wind one turn away from the pegbox wall and then cross over the hole toward the wall. Wind one layer tightly as close to the peg hole as possible without jambing the windings against the pegbox wall. Keep an eye on the bridge as the strings are tensioned as it tends to lean toward the fingerboard. You can gently bring it upright using both hands to pull the top of the bridge toward the tailpiece.
From Robert Courteau
Posted on July 4, 2008 at 01:59 PM
When changing all strings, watch for the bridge, it will certainly get out of square, getting pulled forward. You will need to reset it, and probably a few more times as the strings stretch and you re-tune over the following days.
From John Scott
Posted on July 2, 2011 at 12:54 AM

Does anyone know what brand of violin strings has a sleeve for the bridge on every string??



From Trevor Jennings
Posted on July 2, 2011 at 02:04 AM

One item I strongly recommend should be kept in every violin case is a pair of tweezers, and possibly a miniature torch. They are a god-send when you're trying to tease the black-colored end of an A-string into the hole in a black A-peg in the dark and tight far recesses of a peg box, the interior of which may also sometimes be painted black. Need I say more?

Did any poster above advise on rubbing 3B or 4B pencil lead into the nut and bridge grooves before putting on the new string?  If not, then I advocate doing it; it stops the string from sticking when tuning.

Plastic sleeves on strings are, in my view, quite unnecessary, even (and especially) on the E-string. A few reasons –
1. They damage the tone in that they restrict the high frequencies that define the harmonics that make up the tone. In particular, a sleeve on the E-string that projects over the bridge toward the fingerboard will make it more difficult or perhaps even impossible to play clean harmonics, stopped or otherwise, on that string.
2. I'm not sure that distortion of the sleeve over time by the string inside it won't impede the sliding of the string within it and will therefore tend to pull on the bridge when tuning.
3. The sleeve will hold the string higher than the design of the instrument intends (therefore a slightly higher action which can be uncomfortable), and can affect bowing across the strings until you get used to it.

Before I changed over to gut I always removed the sleeve from the E string, usually by pulling it off the peg end of the string. Sometimes this isn't possible because of the winding at the peg end, so I then very carefully cut the plastic sleeve off with a razor blade.

There are a couple of ways to stop a high-tension steel string (the E especially) from digging into the bridge. One is to fit a tiny square of parchment into the groove. This procedure is best done by a luthier. The other way, which I used myself for the steel E, is to apply a tiny drop of super-glue (or equivalent) to coat the groove. I believe it helps the tone. Warning: don't let this stuff get on the violin or anywhere else – including you – except the bridge grooves, and make absolutely sure it is dry before you fit the string! 


From John Cadd
Posted on July 2, 2011 at 12:05 PM

Look up a site showing pictures of a pegbox to make sure you put the strings back on the right pegs.   If you change two strings at a time you will find it easier.The D string is easy to remove first. then remove the G. But replace  the G string first or the D string will get in your way.   Likewise A string out first and E string out second. Replace E string first and A string second.    Make sure, when you tune up , that the string coil round the peg does not press against the side of the pegbox.  If it gets too close slacken off and push the coil inwards with the tip of a pencil or something thin enough to fit in the gap.  Measure the vibrating string length and check to see if that changes over the next weeks. The bridge should look as if it leans away from the scroll end.  The back edge of the bridge (away from the scroll ) should be vertical  to the Belly glued join.

From Trevor Jennings
Posted on July 2, 2011 at 03:28 PM

Just a follow-on to John's useful post. If I need to change the G what I do is to let down the D sufficiently so that I can divert it sideways at the nut and hook it over the adjacent A string.  That gives enough room to access the G peg.  Similarly, when changing the E I let down the A and hook it over the D string at the nut end. In both cases there is enough tension in the diverted string to stop the windings on its peg from shifting on the peg, so retuning is no problem. 

From Andre A
Posted on July 2, 2011 at 11:08 PM

Remember not to remove all the strings at the same time. Replace the strings one by one so that the sound post stays intact. If the sound post falls down you have a problem. I have seen strong men lose it, and talk in languages.

From Christian Shepard
Posted on July 3, 2011 at 05:00 AM

 Take off old strings.  Put on new strings.  

I mean, come on!!!

From Filipe Alves
Posted on July 4, 2011 at 02:25 AM

Ok. Everyone says: "don't remove all strings at once" but I would like to know why. It have been said that it will damage the instrument but where specifically?

From Joyce Lin
Posted on July 4, 2011 at 04:31 AM

I don't know about damaging the instrument, but think about what will happen to the bridge and potentially the soundpost when all strings are removed...

Some websites say that removing all strings may cause the fingerboard to collapse. I don't see how it could happen.

From Brian Lee
Posted on July 4, 2011 at 06:46 PM

Yup, good luck finding the proper spot for the bridge after removing all four strings at once.

From Jack Shepard
Posted on July 4, 2011 at 07:24 PM

I watched this video from Shar the first time I changed my strings:



From Nicky Paxton
Posted on July 7, 2011 at 09:45 AM

Thanks are due to Larry, Bill, Trevor and John for their excellent, informative posts.  IMO, only one point needs adding.  If, like me, you can be clumsy-fingered on jobs like changing strings and live in a large city, it should be possible to find a luthier within easy driving distance.  Take the violin to the luthier, buy the string(s) and s/he will put the string(s) on for you as part of the service if asked.  Some may call this a cop-out but one can then be sure that the job has been done properly.

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