When replacing strings, do you replace just one string or the whole set?

February 6, 2017 at 10:09 PM · I have a quick question. When one string breaks (string A i.e.):

Do you change just string A or do you normally change all the strings to refresh the whole set?

Replies (35)

February 6, 2017 at 11:22 PM · Changing all strings at the same time would be a disaster. If your A string breaks, replace only your A string. Regardless of breaking, you should change your strings regularly (every month, year, etc. depending on how much you play). When you replace your strings regularly, do not replace them all at the same time.

February 6, 2017 at 11:32 PM · You don't literally want to remove all 4 and then go at it. But especially if you're not going to be practicing on that instrument for the next 24 hours, I see no reason not to replace one at a time in one sitting-- or two if you're especially worried. That way, you don't have to remember which string is older than all the others.

February 6, 2017 at 11:35 PM · But then you will have four strings that are constantly going flat because they are new. That might lead to the bridge slipping because the strings hold the bridge in place.

February 6, 2017 at 11:45 PM · I've replaced all four strings in one sitting several times and I haven't had the problem of the bridge slipping. If it starts to lean you can just pull it back a little with your fingers.

February 6, 2017 at 11:58 PM · Tim wasn't asking if you should remove all the strings at one time, then put the new ones on. I think most everyone knows that you remove and replace one string at a time.

Instead, I think he was asking, should I replace the whole set just because one string broke? I think it depends on how old the string set is. It's a judgement call. Why did the string break, anyway? I honestly can't remember the last time I broke a string. Maybe your set was just too old.

February 7, 2017 at 12:06 AM · Not a whole set unless I want to try a new brand, then yes. I change E string a lot more frequently than with other strings. The next is A and D. My G string seem to last the longest.

February 7, 2017 at 12:12 AM · The only times when I let all the strings down is when I change the tail-piece, and then I take the opportunity to install a new set of strings. I take certain precautions to minimize the chances of the sound-post falling down when I do this, an embarrassment that hasn't happened. The entire process takes about 20 minutes, and then I allow about 24 hours for things to settle (I have a second violin to use in that period).

February 7, 2017 at 01:26 AM · I agree with Mark. Unless I feel it is absolutely necessary (e.g all strings sound bad), I never replace all strings in one sitting. In certain circumstances I might replace one string today and one tomorrow until I go through the whole set. Otherwise I only replace the string(s) that has gone bad.

February 7, 2017 at 01:59 AM · I second Paul's opinion.

Unless a set is brand new, if one string broke that may be a sign that others are due - I doubt that top players ever take chance with this. It is also a good idea to have a pre-stretched (but not already expired) string available in case you need a quick replacement.

Having strings of different age may drive you crazy, especially on instrument where evenness across strings is not at its best. Taking stock of string's age is also cumbersome.

If you know how to properly install strings, there is no reason (other than financial) to delay replacing the whole set.

February 7, 2017 at 02:07 AM · I replace all my strings at once twice per year. I keep the old ones. If one breaks between these two dates, I simply put the old one on to replace the broken one, unless I am very close to the replacement date for all of them.

February 7, 2017 at 02:15 AM · I replace my Dominants once per month like clockwork. Hill E gets replaced at the same time.

On my backup fiddle that I play less I use Vision Solo's. They get replaced every 3 months.

February 7, 2017 at 03:01 AM · Why fix it unless it is broken? Usually one or two strings need to be changed at most. Both practical and economical, I guess. The exception is when an important event (e.g. local competition) comes up in a couple of weeks. Then change all four strings.

February 7, 2017 at 05:34 AM · You do it one at a time

Start replacing the strings in the following order

G string

D string

E string

A string

February 7, 2017 at 08:48 AM · I always replace all four strings (sequentially, not simultaneously). The set I use (Eudoxa Stiff G/D, Dlugolecki Varnished Plain Gut A, Goldbrokat 26 Steel E) usually lasts about two months of 3-4 hours of playing daily, before they start to lose their resonance. Sometimes, depending on the environmental conditions or what gets played the most, the A and E will wear sooner and have to replaced after the first month, while the G and D tend to last longer. I wouldn't let it get to the point where it actually breaks...by then the quality of the sound the string produces as well as its pitch stability is already in the gutter!

A new string next to an old one will reveal that they behave very differently in terms of pitch. It's already challenging enough to play in tune without having strings that don't work well together when playing say, intervals like perfect fifths and octaves.

February 7, 2017 at 12:00 PM · I think exactly like Rocky and Tom Holzman.

I change strings in a violin about every 14-15 months. Usually, when a strings breaks, i change the whole set.

I change them one at a time, giving time to stretch. The changing session can last even 2 hours.

The next 2 days they sometimes go flat, so i retune every few hours, and at night i overtune them a bit, allowing them to go down.

Never had a single problem doing this, leaning bridge, etc.

February 7, 2017 at 12:06 PM · OK, OK, I see there has been a little confusion about my question. Mark Bouquet is right, I know that when you replace the strings, you do one by one, you don't remove all of them at the same time. But this was not the topic at all, hahaha.

The topic is, when one string of yours gets broken or starts to sound dull:

Do you normally replace that string that is sounding bad, or do you replace the whole set (yeah, one by one) in order to start again with a fresh new set?

My concern was what Rocky said, to have a set of strings where one string is 3 days old and another string is 4 months old. How does that work?

February 7, 2017 at 01:38 PM · it does not!

It all depends on your sound preferences..... I mean, people here go nuts to find a proper rosin, or a "perfect" set of strings. Just like coffee or vine tasters, once you go beyond the "economy sound" and start looking for those nuances, one dull string is like one bad coffee bean - will end up in garbage.

This is not to berate those of us who can not afford new strings often.... life is tough and strings are indeed expensive. I still remember days when a set of Dominants smuggled from Germany was like a relics! One would play until string breaks, sometimes for years.....

I save my old sets; mark the date I put them on and took them off. Sometimes they will go to my other violin, sometimes to Cuba. I wish more producers were like Warchall so one could recycle strings.

February 7, 2017 at 02:37 PM · It depends on your strings, really. If you've had your strings for a month and you blow an E-string, you put on a new E-string, right? You don't put on a whole new set. But if you've had your strings for close to their normal replacement interval (the duration of which has already consumed several entire threads on v.com) then I would think you'd take the opportunity to replace them all.

Just remember that each of your strings should be a different brand and that the number of times you wind your strings around your pegs has an extreme effect on your tone. I mean, why be sane?

February 7, 2017 at 03:46 PM · If a string breaks on a new set, the string was defective--replace only it, and complain to the manufacturer. But if you're playing on old strings until one frays or breaks, you're keeping them on too long (with the possible exception of breakage-prone E strings). In that case, replace them all and don't wait so long next time.

I replace all my strings in one sitting--sequentially, of course--and have never had a problem with doing so. I do, of course, check the bridge and straighten as necessary if it starts to lean. I put the old strings back in the envelopes and keep a set of those at all times to offer as replacements to students who show up with a frayed string so the lesson isn't interfered with, and so they don't have to reimburse me for the string. Of course I also instruct the student to replace my old string (and their others as well) with new strings at the first opportunity.

February 7, 2017 at 03:59 PM · Wow, Rocky,can you explain more about that Cuba thing?

Do you return "old" strings and they pay you a little bit for that?

Paul, didn't understand your last paragraph. Why each string should be from different brands?

Also, never heard of what you say about sound depending on how many windings the string has in a peg. Is that true?

February 7, 2017 at 04:30 PM · Paul is being facetious.

February 7, 2017 at 04:49 PM · Yes of course I was just kidding around -- but just stick around here long enough and you'll see people claiming that kind of stuff and more. Wrong afterlengths? Fine tuners? Gear pegs? Plastic tube on your E string at the bridge? All of these things will turn your Strad into a plywood VSO...

February 7, 2017 at 05:51 PM · I've personally found that E strings deteriorate much quicker than the rest of the set – hence I tend to change my E twice as often as the others, which normally last me about 3-4 months tops.

February 7, 2017 at 06:18 PM · Another question. Oh, first thanks about your comments.

So... how do you know a string sounds dull?

The process of deterioration is very slow and progressive, making it quite hard to know it's sounding different than the first day.

Sorry Paul, I thought you were serious, lol. And you're right, probably there are a bunch of violinists that are in the Secret Winding Society that states a violin only will sound great if you have between 3 and 4 windings.

February 7, 2017 at 06:28 PM · If a string frays, I would replce it immediately and don't bother with the others. Old strings can sound dull, muted or scratchy.

February 7, 2017 at 10:54 PM · Mary Ellen, what strings do you use, and after how many hours of playing do you normally replace them? I'm interested in comparing your practice to some other advice I've heard.

Thanks!

February 8, 2017 at 02:20 AM · I use Peter Infelds and I replace them not nearly frequently enough--more than once a year, beyond that I cannot say. I do not recommend following my practice.

Once we get our kids through college, I'll return to conscientious string replacement.

February 8, 2017 at 03:11 AM · Why do you not recommend following your practice? Are you saying you are not changing your strings enough and leaving them on, even when they sound bad (probably not plausible)?

February 8, 2017 at 03:59 AM · Yes you read that correctly; Mary Ellen is saying she is not changing her strings often enough. Ella, do you have any kid$ in college?

February 8, 2017 at 05:55 AM · Well, no. I'm just asking out of curiosity.

February 8, 2017 at 07:51 AM · Quality of Infeld PIs declines so slowly that it is often hard to recognize how much you've lost. Not that their worst is that bad.

Compare to Pirazzis, that seem to fall off a cliff when they're done. Absolutely impossible to play in tune.

February 8, 2017 at 06:09 PM · After about 200 hours of playing I notice my hybrid set (PI G, PI Alum D, Vision Solo A, Jargar med. E) has had a significant reduction in tone compared to the new set I put on to replace it. It's not false by any means, but it does not sing brightly or respond as quickly.

However, I'm glad to hear that I don't really have to replace my strings every 2-3 months and could go longer...

February 8, 2017 at 10:00 PM · Yeah, well, if you play a lot, then a string change every 2-3 months might be necessary, but it depends on how long the strings last and how much deterioration you can tolerate.

February 8, 2017 at 10:06 PM · Wound E's and A's, and silver-wound D's deteriorate faster as the windings become damaged. I change G's and C's less often.

February 13, 2017 at 05:16 AM · Replacing all four in the same day is a recipe for a bent, leaning, or collapsing bridge. I start by replacing the worst string, play until it settles and repeat. As they stretch in, lift the string using a finger on either side of the bridge to relieve the pulling force towards the fingerboard along with any built up twist. It doesn't even have to lose contact with the bridge, just enough to release the friction holding it.

I'll use a rubber practice mute to bring the bridge back to 90 degrees only as a last resort as this can damage the windings.

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