How Not to Snap an E string

June 6, 2018, 10:30 PM · So recently I ordered a new set of strings (Thomastik Vision Ball-end), because my old ones were getting worn down. So I put on the new G and it was fine, same with the D, and A. But when I went to tighten the E, it snapped and broke. Now I know this is fairly common, but it is a pretty big problem for me because I live in a very remote location and it takes a while for packages to get here. I want to order the Goldbrokat E string, however this time I would prefer not to snap it. Do you have any ideas or techniques that could help me not to snap my E?

Replies (8)

June 6, 2018, 10:51 PM · Where did it snap? Was there something rough/sharp on the violin, or did you just tune too hard and too fast?
June 7, 2018, 2:00 AM · Order a variety of E strings as they are cheap enough and then if one snaps you do not need to interrupt your playing waiting for one to arrive in the mail.
June 7, 2018, 3:24 AM · It snapped at the end where you wind it up, not on the actual string itself.
June 7, 2018, 4:44 AM · Unless you have a sharp edge in the nut at the top of the fingerboard that cut into the string, you probably got a defective one.
June 7, 2018, 4:47 AM · Aidan, it seems to me that there was probably a kink in the string in the peg area. A kink will severely weaken the string - especially a metal one - and any microscopic crack will instantly propagate into a fully-fledged break when under load. So be extra careful with a steel E. In particular avoid using an old E because the peg end will have accumulated damage in its previous life and you'll be asking for trouble if you re-use it (voice of experience!).

When I install a new metal E I take it up slowly to a half or quarter tone below pitch, let it settle (that's movement of the string on the peg) for a few minutes and then continue up to pitch with the fine tuner. I make sure there is enough movement in the tuner screw to allow for that last bit.

June 7, 2018, 8:25 AM · There well could have been the issues mentioned.

This is why I like the tuners on the bridge. The pegs bring it close while the micro tuners bring the tuning the rest of the way.
All it takes is one turn a little too far and those E strings can break.The bridge tuners have helped a lot.

Some E strings come with a plastic sleeve that goes around the string on the bridge. This can lessen the impact of stress on the string.

Tension to get to tune is also important. Some strings need more tension.Others here can likely comment more on that. Not all violins are designed for higher tensions.

June 7, 2018, 9:21 AM · For reference I'll add that a plain gut E installs very easily without problems or likelihood of snapping, but note that you can't use a fine tuner with it. However, the plain gut E isn't for all occasions.
Edited: June 9, 2018, 4:30 AM · In my experience at least, it is NOT a common occurrence. I'ts happened to me maybe a few times in my life as I recall - and I've been around since gambas and dinosaurs roamed the earth! ;-)

Anyway, as Trevor says: "When I install a new metal E I take it up slowly to a half or quarter tone below pitch, let it settle (that's movement of the string on the peg) for a few minutes and then continue up to pitch with the fine tuner. I make sure there is enough movement in the tuner screw to allow for that last bit."

Also that little sleeve is called a "tone filter". It protects the bridge if there is no parchment there - but I can't imagine how it would lessen any tension. What has happened to me on some occasions is the E snapping during playing or finding that the E has snapped overnight when I take out my violin in the morning. Usually it snaps at the loop where it is fitted onto the fine tuner. There's quite a lot of pull on that thin loop! My preference when available, is a ball end, which is much less likely to snap. A ball end usually has a hole in the middle, like a doughnut or bagel. It can be easily fitted onto a double-pronged tuner and with some care, even onto a single-prong tuner.


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