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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Have you changed your strings in the last six months?

September 23, 2011 at 3:28 PM

"So when is the last time you changed those strings?" I asked my student, who had taken a little hiatus from lessons and was getting back into the swing of things.

"Maybe, three years ago?" she said. During those years, she'd still been playing daily in school orchestra, so they definitely had some wear.

"It's time!" Okay, way past time. The strings had flabby response, fuzzy sound and unstable pitch. The violin itself was sick.

"My violin is sick? What do you mean? Will it get better?" She was concerned.

I explained: We've all heard about how a fiddle can "open up" from being played well, how the violin grows more and more responsive to sound the more the wood resonates. Well, the opposite can also occur. A violin can "shut down" as the result of disuse, or as the result of failing to activate the resonance when playing. That can happen from playing out of tune, or playing too softly, which was not really the problem in this case. It can also happen from playing for years with strings that are totally false, flabby, loose, lacking in spring, dead…

"Change them, now!"

And so we did. We're going to try out some Zyex strings from D'Addario, and I'll let you know how she likes them.

Meanwhile, when is the last time you changed your strings?

From Jonathan Frohnen
Posted on September 23, 2011 at 5:04 PM

No but I really need to!


From Michael Divino
Posted on September 23, 2011 at 5:41 PM

 Yes, and I've gone through 2 eings in the past 4 or 5 weeks or so.  :)

From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 23, 2011 at 7:04 PM

Every two months.  Thanks for the reminder!

From Juan Manuel Ruiz
Posted on September 23, 2011 at 7:13 PM

Two weeks ago, and after 6 months. Dominant strings can last a lot, but the loss of tone quality is so progressive you can't tell the difference until you replace them...
Changing strings makes me feel a bit uneasy, since I always get the feeling that I need to correct (mess with) the bridge angle/position as well, until I end up telling myself to leave it alone.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on September 23, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Last change about mid-August.  Change schedule here: about every 3 months -- mostly Pirastro gut-cores for A-D-G, some composite-cores, and usually steel E's.  Mine are still solid at 3 months, even with 3 hours a day of practicing and playing.  In fact, I don't recall one of them ever failing during the 3-month interval.  But better safe than sorry.  No experience yet with Zyex.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 1:55 AM

 I change them out about every three months.  They are the standard 'gifts' I receive for holidays, birthdays, etc....  

From Julian Stokes
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 6:27 AM

I have fingertips that turn black when I practice.

Dominants - the wrapping of the E goes mid string after about 8 weeks and the A about 4 weeks later.

I had a set of Visions (ordinary) which lasted 5 months before the A started to sound sour and unwrapped.

Now I'm on Pirastro Evah Pirazzi which I've been on for 3 months.

From Millie Bartlett
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 11:35 AM

I change strings about every 4 months. My first strings were Dominants and lasted around one year. Then I tried and very much liked Peter Infeld Signature strings which lasted 4 months nearly bang on for both sets.  I now am on my second set of Evah's which I found my violin really likes, and they seem to be ok at 4 months, but no longer.  I practise one to two hours per day only. Interestingly I've never had a string unwind, I wonder if that's due to playing hard or taking the string past its' lifespan.


From Marsha Weaver
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 1:14 PM

It's been about 5 months -- I'm hoping they'll hang in there til around mid-November.  We've got an orchestra concert on December 8.  I'd like to change them about three weeks before that. 

From Mark Roberts
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 1:37 PM

My violin "shut down",   turns out that it was congealed cleaning fluid on the inside next to the f holes.

From Betsey Karako
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 1:52 PM

It's tough to tell how regularly I change my strings, because my A usually ends up unraveling about once every two months and then I don't have enough money to replace the whole set. So I usually replace my A twice, and then I change them all out. I used to go with Dominants for the lower three strings, and a Pirastro Goldtone E, but I recently switched everything to Visions and I am a total convert!!! They sound so nice, and I wonder how long they'll last......(and their wrapping is so pretty, haha!!)

From Amanda Riley
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 8:56 PM

I have the Zyex strings on my vioiln right now. They are very similar to Dominates, which are what i generally use! I really like them.

From Emmanuel Borowsky
Posted on September 24, 2011 at 10:23 PM

I average every month for a new set. They just don't sound anywhere near as good after that if you play a lot. Been a long time fan of Vision SOLO, TItanium SOLO, Zyex, and right now trying a second set of Tonica. Always using a Peter Infeld Gold E or Goldbrokat 27. Best E strings for sure. I guess when you sell strings, changing each month isn't as bad. hahahah

From Barry Nelson
Posted on September 25, 2011 at 4:55 AM

just changed mine two weeks ago, I normally change them every 4 months

From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on September 26, 2011 at 4:11 PM

I don't know how long those Dominants had been on, but I replaced the E with a Pirastro Gold 7 months ago.  I replaced them all with a set of Tonicas a couple of weeks ago, and they've almost finished stretching in.  I like the Tonicas - they make the instrument ring like never before when I hit a combination that sets up a sympathetic vibration, like a 3rd-finger D on the A string.  It's still hard to get good tone when playing up the neck on the G string, but I guess that's another topic...

Speaking of A string, when I took the Dominants off and went to coil them up, I found that the A bent sharply at about where my 3rd finger would be in 1st position.  It obviously was about to break, although I hadn't yet felt anything strange about it.  Interestingly, I changed from my previous set of Dominants when the A string started unraveling in about the same place.  I wonder if I'm causing this, perhaps by not keeping my nails trimmed enough.

From Daniel Miller
Posted on September 27, 2011 at 11:47 PM

 On top of "when's the last time you changed your strings"  I ask my customers/violinists "Do you have a wood bow?"


I find that unfortunately most smaller violin shops, when selling a beginner violin (or renting), will supply the violin with a  fiberglass bow. (EWWWW)  SO I usually recommend onto of new/better strings to also upgrade your bow.  


At my shop we offer 2 different brazilwood bow selections from Howard Cored company.  One is slightly less pricey at $24.99, the other better quality at $39.99.  As for strings personally I like the D'Addario Helicore strings (i'm a bluegrass/celtic player), but for orchestra My suggestions are typically our $49.99 Dominant strings with a pirastro gold E string, OR a set of Pirastro Tonica strings $39.99.  Also every player should have good rosin, and my #1 recommendation is pirastro goldflex.

All in all I can upgrade a players violin for around $90-100 one time that will bring much more life to their instrument regardless of it's quality.



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