How often do your strings break and which string breaks most?

April 30, 2012 at 09:55 PM · Today was practising and broke again the E string its my second in just two months, manage to record the moment since I like to watch myself to try improve.

So to me is the E (goldbrokat gauge 0,27) string around every 3/4 weeks.

Replies (21)

April 30, 2012 at 10:13 PM · The E is most common, since it's so thin. I haven't had a string break for a while, but when they do break, it's usually after 3-4 months, when I should change them anyway! Twice I've had my E string break as I've tuned before concerts. Not onstage, but having to install a new string backstage is a bit stressful! I've also had strings slip waaay out of tune during concerts too!

April 30, 2012 at 10:25 PM · I don't break strings. Unless you strike them with the frog, it shouldn't happen. If it does, there is a mechanical reason. One common reason is the fine tuner, the contact point of which is often squared off. If your string breaks at the loop, then you can file down the sharp corners of this contact point. Otherwise, the problem may be at the nut.

May 1, 2012 at 12:47 AM · I agree with Scott that mechanical reasons are the most likely cause of a string failing, which may not only be a break but a frayed or loosened winding. Manufacturing defects are rare.

The only time I've had a string break was a Pirastro Gold E, literally as the conductor was raising her baton for the start of a big carol concert being broadcast on local radio - and I was leading. All I could do until the interval was to explore the upper reaches of the A on the hoof!

That string broke in an unexpected place - halfway along the peg winding. I had transferred the string the previous day from another violin and I suspect a kink had developed, and that, in metal, is of course an instant source of weakness. The moral of this story is that I never now re-use an E.

Scott has already talked about fine adjusters breaking strings (be very careful with loop ends!), and I've known other player's strings break on the bridge or at the nut., This is invariably due to rough grooves abrading the string. The solution is obvious. Loose windings after a few weeks, or even days, of playing are, in my estimation, usually caused either by finger-nails or by a heavy finger action on the strings (hammering), especially if the violin itself is set up with a high action. Again, solutions are fairly obvious.

One thing I like about plain gut strings is that they give plenty of warning when they're going to fail. The tone quality, strangely enough, seems to me to be retained almost to the end, unlike with synthetic cores, but when the string starts to fray enough so that one's fingers are aware of it when playing, or the string can no longer play 5ths in tune, then it is time to retire that string to good use in the garden.

A tip to help ensure string longevity is, when installing a new string, not to take it up to pitch too quickly, but to do it slowly and steadily. That means that you avoid a sudden peak in tension (perhaps near to its rated maximum) which can weaken the string and reduce its playing life. And make sure the pegs are properly lubricated and turn well without sticking, which itself will cause an unwanted sudden increase in tension.

May 1, 2012 at 01:48 AM · I also hardly ever break strings. I almost always have to change them before they break for other reasons, like falseness, or whistling, especially with the E. I don't know why old E's start to whistle, but changing it always helps.

May 1, 2012 at 01:57 AM · After I switched from a regular hill-style tuner to a Gotz fine tuner (a slight improvement over the regular hill design), I never had any more E strings break at the loop; also, the Gotz adjusters are less prone to having their threads jam.

That being said, the string I seem to break most often while playing is the A string (at least, it was back when I used a steel A).

May 1, 2012 at 02:23 AM · Poor quality strings do break quite readily. I used to break strings on monthly basis back in China many, many years ago. But since I moved to Canada, I've never broken once. My recent trip back and again saw some student violins still had lousy thin strings that I didn't dare to tighten in fear of breaking them.

May 1, 2012 at 02:59 AM · Strings rarely break for me too. They are changed regularly every three months or more often (usually around 2 months). The last one I remember was in an orchestral concert and that was about 7 years ago - and surprisingly a G string.

If your fiddle is in good shape and the strings are newish then a breakage is quite rare.

PS. Goldbrokat's are very cheap so put a new one on every two weeks ...

May 1, 2012 at 04:38 AM · I rarely break strings and can't even remember when the last one broke. I have three main violins all using different strings - one in strung with gut, one with perlon and with steel strings. I use Old Fiddler strings and this violin (I call it a fiddle) has machines instead of pegs and no fine tuners. the other two only have a fine tuner on the E string and as far as I know are original to the respect violin; 160 and 200 years old.

May 1, 2012 at 06:55 AM · E-strings break quite easily for me during winter in orchestra rehearsals, probably because it's freakishly cold in there. I have a loop gold Evah, and an English fine tuner, and almost always my string breaks at the loop. I've invested in E-string protectors since then, after having the string break in the middle of the 1st movement of Mozart's piano concerto No 20. Replaced it with an old string. Snapped again. No longer had spares. After blindly groping my way through the upper A, I gave up and went home.

The worst was when I was playing Vivaldi's Winter. String snapped. After a moment of "omg I'm dead" I exchanged my instrument with the concertmaster's and continued.

After that, I make sure the concertmaster has a spare string in the pocket. You never know...

May 1, 2012 at 07:45 AM · If a string breaks before it goes false, I automatically assume a gear malfunction. Friction error: nut, bridge, tuner. Tuning malfunction? Probably not likely, if you've any experience in tuning your instrument. Since you seem to be having a regular problem with this, I would check the string's contact points. Otherwise, you need to change your technique.

May 1, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Never thought about it before, but I've never had a string break. I guess I'm not playing hard enough.

May 1, 2012 at 07:40 PM · I only break a lot of strings during St Patrick's season when I'm often performing 6-8 hour days under hot lights in crowded places. I think the culprits, in my case, are sweat, slides, and the irish technique of "flicking" the string with a finger while playing.

The E string is the first to go, usually at the F# point. Next is the D, also where I finger an F#. I've never broken an A or G that I remember.

I think the E goes because it's the narrowest guage. The D goes because I use synthetics wound in either Aluminum or Silver which are effected be the sweat and slides. First the winding goes, and then, bam, the string snaps.

May 1, 2012 at 08:05 PM · It's been a while, but it used to be Gold-plated Es back in the day, but ONLY because I didn't use the E loop protector. Gold Es (or indeed, any other E) won't snap that easily with the proper precautions (at least, in my experience and with my violin.) I am positive my current Oliv E won't snap-it has held up quite nicely since two months ago or so.

Last year, two regular Passiones (G and A) snapped at the peg box while the violin was in its case. I was shocked, because it was the first time such a thing happened to me. Besides that, strings rarely do break for me.

May 2, 2012 at 01:56 AM · I usually change my strings when they go false and the first one that broke didn't surprise me because I could feel it but I haven't change it early because the sound was more interesting...

The second one really surprised me because it was new like 1 week.

Interesting fact both broke on the nut so maybe I do have mechanical problem or maybe not... Time will tell.

@Adalberto Sometimes it happens to me too because of the weather like in hours dropping from 86ºF to 50ºF or vice-versa.

May 2, 2012 at 04:00 AM · I have only had gut cored strings break on my violin, back in the day when I used them. I too would open the case and find broken strings. I also tried some Passiones more recently (when they first came out) and ditto.

Now I have upgraded the Passiones to Dominants I have no problems.

Cheers Carlo

May 2, 2012 at 09:25 PM · I never have a string break. I use geared pegs and once the initial break-in period is over, I rarely have to tune so there is no working of the string back and forth.

May 3, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Several people refer to the moment when their string "goes false". Forgive me the stupid question but what does that actually mean? I must admit changing strings only when they are physically damaged in the winding, or when they break (only happens with very old E-string).

May 3, 2012 at 02:43 PM · To me "goes false" is when you are bowing and no sound comes off.

May 3, 2012 at 04:48 PM · For me, going false is when I play a note (or open string) and several different pitches come out. Also, a sound that's a bit like, 'BBBBaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrffff'.

On violin it's always my 'e' that snaps. On viola I always wear off the winding on the 'd' string at the pitch of 'a'.

May 4, 2012 at 03:10 PM · Woaw, I never heard my strings go "false" like that. I do play every day though. Maybe I don't listen carefully enough. Will listen extra carefully tonight.

May 4, 2012 at 03:40 PM · I second the idea that you may have a problem at one end or another, the nut or the fine tuner.

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