String Problem

October 28, 2004 at 04:59 AM · What's the diffrence between a normal violin strings and an 'olive' E string. And what types of strings would you recommend for someone thats about to do eighth grade???

Replies (55)

October 28, 2004 at 05:26 AM · Greetings,

an olive string tastes good in a Martini.

Less seriously, when you say 8th grade do you mean enter it or are you doing grade 8?

There are an awful lot of choices out there now. Basically, there are 4 kinds of string:

1) plain gut

2) wound gut

3) metal

4) synthetic

Type one are not really suitable for beginners and are most frequerntyly used on baroque isntruments. Very sensitie to climate.

type 2 includes things like Pirastro eudoxa and olive lable, although the e stirng you are talking about is not wound gut. Most e strings are various combinations of metal thee days.

The metal strings include brands like Astrea which used ot be all us kids could use but they are , in my opinon, hard on the fingers and lousy for learning bowing. Avoid them.

Type four are probably the most widely used these day. They vary from relatively cheap (dominant/Tonica) to more xpensive brands like the Evah Pizazzi. Dominats were somehting of a revoltuion in their time as they are very relaible and come close to imitating the sound of weound gut strings. Before them most synthetic strings had sounded well, synthetic. Dominat are veyr widely used by both orchetral players and soloists. They are probably your bets start point for exploring strings.

The same company has now produced a new generation of strings which I think are even better than Dominant: Vision and Vision Titanium. Apart from the e string these strings are superb but a little more expensibe than reguular dominants. There are also Infeld strings by the same company which are excellent. They mix very well with the former so if you started witha set of Dominats you could easily try a few Infeld combinations. Mixing strings in generla is a bad idea unless they are made by the same comapny to similar specifications or have a lot of experience and money to burn.

The best strings in the world right now, in my opinon are Pirazzi a powerful synthetic that comes close to the rich , warm gut sound.

A very good, and cheap e string is the goldbrokat. Heifetz and Milstein both used these. But don`t touch anything by this company excpet the e strings. teh otherthree are awful, even if you can still get them...



October 28, 2004 at 01:32 PM · I personally like wound gut strings, my favorite being Pirastro Olive & Eudoxa strings.

Evah Pirazzi's sound good, but beware. I just tried a set of them. They took about a week to break in and they've gone false after only 1 month of being on my violin. I've heard similiar stories from many other people. So, unless you're willing to replace strings frequently and spend a good deal of money, I'd stay away.

I'm currently trying the Vision Titanium Orchestra strings by Thomastik. Unfortunately, before I can play on them, I need to have my soundpost reset as it fell last night while trying to put my Titanium strings on... Once I've had a chance to listen to them, I'll let everyone know how they sound!

If you're in 8th grade school, I'd try the Pirastro Tonicas or Goldlabel. Decent price and decent sound. If you're grade 8 in violin, try going a step up to the Infeld strings or Pirastro Eudoxas. Even better sound, only a little more expensive.

October 28, 2004 at 03:30 PM · If your violin typically has a birghter sound, which some student models do (like mine), I'd recommend D'Addario Preludes. Their tone is very sweet, though a little lacking in volume. The upper level Zyex are much better, and both sets stay in tune very well, while lasting (for me) for about two months before sounding false.

Right now, I'm using Corelli Alliance Vivace, which gives a wonderful sound on the G,D, and A. Have some problems with whistling on the E, but otherwise I them.

October 28, 2004 at 04:52 PM · Melanie,

I had the same experience with Evah Pirazzis. What I'm trying now is using them for recitals and then switching to Dominants when the EPs wear out. I haven't tried the Titanium line yet.

I can't tell from the original post if she is doing grade 8 in violin, or if she is in 8th grade in school. I'm in 8th grade in school and using EPs and Dominants, used to use Olivs. But grade doesn't really matter as much as what kind of playing you're doing and how you sound.

October 28, 2004 at 06:33 PM · Joseph, I used D'Addario Preludes on my student violin and the sound wasn't as good as with _cheaper_ Pyramid Golds I'm using now. I'm planning to change the strings in december (I've got a set of Thomastik Vision and Pirastro Violino - in december I'll put Vision for the school play, and after they wear down, I'll put Violino). I can't explain in english what was bad about Preludes, but the sound was not so clean and brilliant - it was about dead and dull, perhaps because these strings didn't suit my violin well.



October 28, 2004 at 07:26 PM · I agree with Melanie. Evah Pirazzis do take quite a long time to break in. I remember for my last set, I had a competition coming up and I wanted to change strings, so I did. And I practiced 2-3 hours a day and they didn't break in until one and a half to two weeks later. But they're fine now.

Speaking of Evah Pirazzis, does anybody else feel that the brightness of these strings lessen over a really short period of time? I feel like my strings wear out in terms of sound really quickly. I notice that when you first put on the string, it sounds great--loud, clear, precise, and ringing. After like a month or two, it sounds "normal." And it's harder to produce clearness, especially on the G string, even though I am playing with less bow and away from the bridge. What's wrong?

For my next set of strings, I am considering trying the Dominant Titanium strings set. I don't know whether I should make the change though, because I still love Evah Pirazzis, and I do agree with Buri that they are the best strings out there. Melanie, I'm excited to know what you think of the Titanium strings. I hope your violin gets better soon! :)

October 28, 2004 at 07:43 PM · I love the Pirazzi's! But I had a problem, they wore in quickly and played beautifully, but barely 2 weeks after they were on they were dead. :( I'm quite liking the Pirastro No. 1 brand that I'm trying out, a bit bright for my particular violin, but it's been on for three months and is only just starting to give a bit of it's sound.

I highly recommend Buri's post! If you ever happen to be in Toronto, check out The Sound Post, they have a string labratory where you can go in and try different combinations of strings and find a set-up that works on your instrument.

October 28, 2004 at 07:54 PM · I've noticed that quite a few people have problems with the Evah Pirazzi's dying quickly. They sound beautifully to begin with, but mine went false after 3 weeks.

The good news is, my baby's fixed! I took her to the local shop today during my lunch hour and got the sound post reset. So, I should be able to try out those new Titanium strings tonight. Yeah!!

October 28, 2004 at 08:56 PM · Mateusz,

Must be differences in the actual violin. Mine's a Helmuth Knilling - i don't know anything about Knillng violins, except that this one was cheap.

I tried Thomastik Dominants and they sounded absolutely terrible on my violin. I could only take their sound for a short period of time. That's what led me to try the Corelli's.

October 29, 2004 at 12:22 AM · I really like Piastro Obligatos.. I like the Obligato Gold E, and I like to sometimes use the Kaplan Golden Spiral E...

Obligatos don't seem to take that long to break in on my violin and produce a very nice warm and well-rounded sound that I prefer..

October 29, 2004 at 02:17 AM · I put Obligatos on for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I was worried that I didn't like the tone as well as Dominants, the E gurgled on me a few times, as well as the A and D in higher positions. But after about two days, they broked in very nicely, and I decided the tone was much nicer than Dominants, after all. There's a metallic edge on Dominants sometimes that these don't have. However, you will pay over $10 more for these, and Dominants worked fine for me for many years.

I'm trying Vision Titanium orchestra next.

October 29, 2004 at 05:00 AM · I've had my Evah Pirazzi's on for exactly eleven days and the brightness is leaving already. When I first put them on, the E string fairly shrieked and the A was very strong. Now all seems smoother and warmer, and I don't even practice that much (< 1 hour/day). I'll time when they start going false or dull (D and G went dull on my last set, whereas the A and E went false).

October 29, 2004 at 05:14 AM · I've got a technical question - what's the cause of strings to wore out? I'm curious if that depends of the playing time, or just staying on the violin under the pressure? Thanks!


October 29, 2004 at 11:27 AM · Strings wear out b/c of different reasons. The most common one is that they've been on the instrument. They are played and get stretched and have rosin on them, etc..they're bound to wear out after a while.

The other reason is that the strings just aren't made to last. Just as you have some clothes that last a long time and keep their color, some strings last and keep their tone, others don't.

October 29, 2004 at 01:17 PM · I have been thrilled with the Vision strings...quick break-in period, exceptional tone, durability and tuning stability over the highly variable weather conditions of the past few months in the Northeast US. My experience with the Vision Titanium E has been similar to the Eva Pirazzi's which were my preference before the Vision's came along. The Titanium E has not lasted as long as the plain Vision. Shar is selling the Vision strings only by the set but the sets for a limited time are including free Titanium and Infeld E strings! sells individual Vision strings but I've not ordered from that site before. I've not had much success with the Goldbrokat E as far as durability so it wouldn't be my choice for a student, unless it was put on for a performance... the Visions, on the otherhand, have durability and tuning stability way beyond the Dominants and would be my choice for students (although I believe they are only available in full size at this time).

October 29, 2004 at 03:23 PM · My strings tend to snap at the pegs or the bridge after a bit - usually the sound doesn't deteriorate that much right before this happens.

October 29, 2004 at 06:21 PM · I've been toying around with the Infeld Red's (and Blue's) for the last year or so. They're supposed to be "warmer" than Dominants, to which I will agree if by "warmer" the advertisement meant "fuzzier." I wanted a darker sound and tried about 4 sets of strings before settling on the Infeld's. I wouldn't recommend them for general use, but there's something about the raspy breathy sound that they can produce that I've been liking these days. Maybe it's just that it's Halloween and raspy and breathy sounds appropriate. But anyway, if you don't mind shelling out $30-$40 a set for some strings that sound funky in a cool way, then these are your babies. Come to think of it, I really like the packaging, too.

October 29, 2004 at 07:42 PM · So after getting my violin fixed, I finally had a chance to try out the Vision Titanium Orchestra strings last night.

I will guarantee you that I will never purchase these strings again. Maybe they need more time to break in, but they sound very tinny and metallicy. To put it nicely, they truly sound awful on my violin! Not only that, but the E String just doesn't have that nice, sweet singing tone that I like.

I'm going to give them a few more days to break in, but if that sound doesn't change, off they go! I'll probably go back to my Eudoxa and Olive strings after this.

October 29, 2004 at 08:20 PM · That's interesting - I'm afraid I won't be satisfied with Vision's sound too. My violin has a bright sound, and as you say - Vision doesn't sound as good as they should. Maybe Pirastro Violino (which I've got too) would be better?


October 30, 2004 at 12:00 AM · hmmmm... everybody is saying that the evah pirazzis wear out really quickly. i actually heard several times before that they last a really long time. two really different opinions.

October 30, 2004 at 12:58 AM · I wonder if the Evas have been changed. When I first tried them I loved them and they lasted really well. The last set was done after six weeks and the set before that only a few months. I can't afford new strings every two months. I am trying the Vision strings also. So far the orchestra set has been good but a little to metallic for my old Sylvestre violin. The titanium E is much too bright. I just today put on a set of Vision heavy and like them very much. I will experiment a little with the E's. I like this discussion thread and will report back as I gain more experience.

October 30, 2004 at 04:17 AM · This is my second set of Evah Pirazzis (with a set of Dominant in between). This time, the e string broke as I was tuning it. After two weeks, the a and d string are fraying again. I guess it could be the bridge, but the dominants didn't do that. I am going back to olivs or dominants.

Ryan, didn't you use to like olivs?

October 30, 2004 at 08:37 AM · June, I haven't tried Obligato yet. My violin was shipped with a metal rubbish which I changed to D'Addario Prelude, and after D string broke I replaced them with Pyramid Golds (all these are quite cheap student strings). I bought one set of Thomastik Vision and one set of Pirastro Violino, because I'd like to change strings before school conecrt (not accualy a concert, but a little performance for the Christmas Eve), and now I've got Pyramids on my box and two sets of strings lying on the shelf. _Perhaps_ I will put Thomastik Vision first, because I have heard many good things about them, and nothing about Violino (nobody using them?). If I do so, they will stay as long as possible (3 - 5 months perhaps), becuase changing to Pirastros. But _maybe_ I'll put Violino first (about 10th of December) - If I do so, I'll write on this forum about the strings. :)



October 30, 2004 at 08:59 PM · My friend told me it's not the problem changing the strings now - Pyramids would stay as a backup in the case. And... I did it. Now I've got Thomastik Vision (heavy gauge) on my violin and I'm pretty happy with them. The sound change is not really significant (maybe it will be after the break-in time, I've just put them), they are a little bit more responsive, and the sound is a little bit more clear, but the violin itself has the same cheap sound - in third position (and in higher ones too, of course) the sound of G and D strings is horrible. They are gentle to touch (but if you press to deep, it hurts - they have bigger diameter beause of the heavy gauge). And about violino - because these are synthetic, I'm not going to change to violino just because they are other brand - Visions have to wear up. (i changed them, because of metal->synthetic transition).

Acctually, I think I can recommend Visions from Thomastik.

Also I can say, that on my violin Pyramid Golds were outstanding for their price of 15$, and were much better than D'Addario Prelude for 25$. If someone is looking for cheap metal strings for student violin, Golds are a really god choice.


October 30, 2004 at 10:54 PM · Thanks, June. I'm not sure what gives about these strings, either. It very well could be my violin. It's been a while since its last trip to the shop, but something's just not right about the sound. Then again, it could be my ears, too. I just don't know.

Still guessing . . .


October 31, 2004 at 02:15 AM · I use the Violino strings and like them VERY much. They are Evah Pirazzi-like (not *quite* as complex a sound), but they last MUCH longer... and are less expensive too!

'Erie :-)

November 10, 2004 at 03:54 PM · Here you can get detailed informations about the differences of the Vision strings.

November 10, 2004 at 06:10 PM · What color are the tailpiece ends of the Vision strings? Are they that teal color I see?

I think I'm gonna give these a fair shot if somebody would affirm this choice...

November 10, 2004 at 06:54 PM · I'm currently playing Vision Titanium Solo with a Goldbrokat E (makes the set a lot cheaper). So far I am extremely happy with them. The sound is similar to Evahs, but with a tiny bit more of an "edge", I'd say. (Using the goldbrokat E instead of the $15 set E makes them cost the same as Evahs as well.) The jury's out as to whether they are better than Evahs, but they may be, and they are definately close. Before that I used Violino + Evah gold E, and that also worked well. My violin is a fairly young (made in 2001), bright instrument.

November 10, 2004 at 09:30 PM · I play an 1846 Sylvestre, rather mellow. I am in the process of trying Vision strings. The Titanium E is too bright for this fiddle but was great on one of my student's more modern fiddles. The Titanium Orchestra was too "metallic" for me. The Vision "heavy" are very good and quite comparable to Eva's. I would agree that their sound is just a slight bit more edgy that Eva P's

Note that a very brilliant E like the Titanium will also color the A sound significantly and to a lesser degree the D and even the G. I found that by switching to the Vision med. E the whole set was a little warmer.

Overall, I find the Visions to be quite good. I will keep experimenting. Now I am curious to see if the heavy set I just put on outlasts Evas.

Next week Brahm's 2nd Symphony in Anchorage so they will get a good workout.

November 11, 2004 at 01:40 AM · You can't go wrong with a set of Dominant strings and a Goldbrokat E string. If you are really advanced, you might want to try the new Vision strings. My violin maker, John Sipe, favors these above all others.

November 11, 2004 at 03:25 AM · I put a set of Evah Pirazzi's on about three weeks ago...and they're false already! I've been using EPs for about 4 or 5 years, and I've never had this problem as far as I can remember. (My last set lasted about 4-5 months) Are there any other strings out there that have the same tonal qualities as EP's for around the same price? How about the Vision strings? I've been hearing things about them on this thread...

Thanks for any suggestions!

November 11, 2004 at 04:33 AM · Greetings,

no. There is nothing equivalent to Pirazzi in sound. The Vision are excellent but rather different. Certainly worth trying. I just can`t stand the e string. It is extremely thin and hard on the fingers. Personally I would use a goldbrokat with the Vision.

Tonica is a good string but at risk of offending people it seems to be more of a good all round string for college level players who may be a bit short on cash but need a good set up.

You might try Zyex. They have a good reputation but don`t seem to get mentioned too often,



November 11, 2004 at 04:50 AM · How often should you change your strings? I had mine for I think a yr and a half now and they havent snapped. So Im wondering when should I change them, I used dominant strings. I'm going to change them when my new strings get here, but for future references how often should you do it?

November 11, 2004 at 04:59 AM · Greetings,

opinions differ. I suggest every three months. Some people say six. Any more than that is nuts as far as I am concerned,



November 11, 2004 at 05:01 AM · yeah I know, I noticed lately the sound has been all that great, my teacher mention it too and he right away told me to change my strings.

November 11, 2004 at 11:27 AM · Over the last few years, I have made a point of trying out virtually every string on the market (including the lesser known, lesser played ones). Although my opinion may be biased, I find that most of the strings put out on the market in the last 10 years really aren't that much of a "step up", and actually have disadvantages on top of the advantages.

The problem is that most of the new strings (i.e. Corelli Alliance Vivace, Evah Pirazzi, Zyex, even Obligato) are much too tense to allow for a range of sound and colours that is satisfying. Yes, they stay in tune better, last longer and sound "louder", but they are awful for bowing since they require a lot of pressure to sound, and often choke the sound of the instrument.

In spite of the problems of pitch instability, Eudoxa and Olive still offer the largest range of possibilities in terms of colours and dynamics (I have never tried open guts, but hope to soon). In terms of synthetics, Dominants are really among the best and most companies have actually simply tried to compete. They were designed to feel like and be a substitute gut strings and are more flexible than most sythetics now available, and are not too tense (I have not tried the new Vision strings but have heard mixed reviews). Obligato strings can sound good on some instruments, and are quickly tuned, but they are so tense that they choke the sound of many violins. They are however dark and seem to work OK for playing in orchestra and actually blend well. Evah Pirazzi's, although favoured by many, sound bright, loud, edgy, metallic and inflexible to me. One sythetic that can sound good in some circumstances are the new Larsen strings; similar to Dominants in composition and feel (not too tense) but with some more power and they project well over an orchestra when playing concertos.

As for E strings, I think that it depends on the instrument. Whether you use a steel or a gold plated E is a matter of personal preference and the kind of sound you are after. E's will react differently depending on the three lower strings as they will bring out different overtones. Most of the strings recommended here are excellent (Goldbrokat, Pirastro Gold Label...). To that I might add the Jargar (forte/thick) which is powerful like the Goldbrokat and has the ring of the Gold plated E's, but a somewhat rounder sound and is now favoured by many soloists. It's also much less expensive than the Gold plated E's. Might be worth a try...

November 11, 2004 at 07:04 PM · I don't know.

In a recent chat with another violinist we came to the conclusion that the main difference in sound is in the period before the strings are fully played in. After a while, you get used to the sound, and you just hear your own fiddle once again.

Of course things like response and tension make some difference, mainly to articulation, but I think it doesn't matter too much to me what I play on. Maybe my violin is very tolerant of different strings?

I prefer synthetics to gut, though I like Olivs. The problem with gut strings is their instability and they don't last as long. The synthetics tend to have more going on in the upper partials. I like brightness, as well as a good core of fundamental. I do some odd "overtone bowing" as well, where I bow quickly and lightly to get harmonics without using LH fingers, so strings have to be able to do that.

At the moment I am using Vision titanium, and I like them. But I liked Alliance last year, and Zyex before that.

I used to always use Dominant (heavy G, medium silver D, med A, plus a different E, Spirocore, or Pirastro Gold).

I will stick with the Vision for now. They last about six months, maybe even more


November 11, 2004 at 04:59 PM · I think the prior comment that the main difference in string sound occurs during their break in period agrees completely with my experience, and is very interesting.

I don't know whether that is because we get used to the sound, or because they actually don't sound very different in the normal period. (Or perhaps it is because they get rosin-caked and all sound the same...I clean my strings with a cotton cloth, but don't use any string cleaner out of fear for my rather fragile and wonderful-sounding varnish.)

Have other people observed this as well? I've found that Violino, Pirazzi, and Visions have largely similar sounds once broken in, and I do largely hear my own instrument's sound. (On my current instrument, I took a dislike to Infeld Reds and Dominants, even after break-in, so I think there is at least some string difference.)

November 11, 2004 at 08:43 PM · I use an Infeld red G, blue D, Dominant A and Infeld silver E, and couldn't be happier: very focused, refined sound, months after fitting. Less shiny than all Dominants.

Buri, maybe you can tip me off on where to buy strings? Over here Dominants are £34 per set - hardly cheap...

November 11, 2004 at 10:43 PM · I'm playing with obligatos at the moment. It's an odd story with them.

I went to buy infelds after i wanted a change from tonicas. The store I went to didn't have the Infelds, so I tried the Obligatos. I put them on and they sounded great, I was really happy with the sounds. about 3 months later I had noticed that the sound had dropped significantly.

So I went and bought another set (this time with gold e-string) and the sound wasn't as good as when I had put them on the first time. But instead of having poor sound and then dying off, they seemed to get better as I played. It seems they're a bit dead every now and then, but it seems that whenever i'm getting up to a performance they sound pretty good.

I'm not entirely happy with them, as I would prefer them to sound good all the time than sound poor some of the time and brilliant some of the time.

November 11, 2004 at 11:54 PM · Greeetings,

Sue, I don`t know where to buy chepa strings. For me it is not too much of a probnelmn because I get 30% discount in Japan. But i gues if you buy in bulk from an overseas supply it might work out much cheaper. I think people have mnenbtioned a few cheap places.

I wonder if violin dot come can negotiate a massive string bu\ying festival with one shop for a week or something at a special discount?

Chortle, snarf,



November 12, 2004 at 06:03 AM · wow you're getting ripped off. its 25 dollars american here. i get mine from shar, do they hate british people or something?

November 12, 2004 at 06:36 AM · Sue, if you order online from a US provider that sells them for USD$25, then you'd end up paying about 13 pounds. Buy a few packs and the savings should cover the shipping.

November 12, 2004 at 12:42 PM · I've got Visian Titanium Orchestra strings on my violin right now. They have an awful metallic sound to them, not sure I like them.

I've always favored gut strings over synthetic strings, so after trying several other kinds of strings, I'll probably go back to my Pirastro Olive or Eudoxa strings.

However, I have noticed an unusual problem that I've never had with any other violin. I just purchased this violin about 2 months ago. I changed and put a different E String fine tuner on there, it's now one for loop ends. However, I've had 2 E Strings break on me in the past 2 weeks when the strings have only been on there for about a week each. One string was the Vision Titanium E String and the other was a Pirastro Olive Gold Plated. I've been changing strings on my instruments for 15 years now and have never had this problem before. Is this a sign that I should change my fine tuner to a ball end or a different loop end tuner?

November 12, 2004 at 01:38 PM · Melanie,

Perhaps you have a Hill type E string tuner. The good thing about these is that as the string is tuned to a higher pitch, the mechanism pulls horizontally (unlike many other types of E string tuner in which the mechanism moves verticaly, threatening to damage the top surface of the violin.) The bad thing about them is that the blade which pulls on the string's loop is often sharp enough to break the loop. The solution is to use a loop protector (a little piece of soft plastic which Pirastro makes) or to improvise something similar, or to file the blade, or have one's luthier file the blade so as to dull its edge.

November 12, 2004 at 02:29 PM · It is a Hill Type Fine Tuner. Pirastro makes the protectors, but they don't include include them in their sets of strings, how do I go about getting these?

Thank you!!

November 12, 2004 at 04:22 PM · Some places which stock strings also sell these. They come in a little plastic bag containing several protectors, as I recall. Alternatively, you could put just about anything (a sliver of electrical tape?) on the blade so that the loop touches the bit of tape, rather than making direct contact with the blade.

November 12, 2004 at 05:38 PM · I had Violino, the sound was ok but I found them a little thin under the finger after nylon Dominants, Pro Arte etc. This is because the composites are a good deal stronger and it's easier to make a nice sound with a thinner string. (I have dark-sounding Cristals which have a better sound than Pro Arte.)

October 23, 2010 at 04:37 AM ·

I know this is an old thread, but I think it's better to ask here than open a new one for same problem.

I have a problem as one of the poster here: "My strings tend to snap at the pegs or the bridge after a bit - usually the sound doesn't deteriorate that much right before this happens." Litterally i use 1 E string for 1 week then it snaps, near the ped, about 6cms from the color cover in the peg box.

I did a little research and they say that those kind of breakage are not covered by warranty because most of the time it's the instrument problem. I don't know what to do because my violin is very, few months in used, and I play about 1 hour each day, some day I don't.

My strings are put on and tuned by my teacher. He didn't apply the pencil advice. I don't have any spare left so this time I take out my very first cheap string came with the violin and put it back on myself, put some pencil graphite on it as people advice. I'm not sure about my tuning, but it's acceptable for practice until I see my teacher in next lesson.

Could anyone let me know what to do to fix this? I can't afford to pay for qualiy string (6$ for an E)  every week!

And another question is, can I use the make up pencil instead of my regular one since they are softer so I think they lubricate better??


October 23, 2010 at 09:40 AM ·

I.'m no expert but I think the answer to the latter is NO.  What you want is the graphite from the pencil - and the softer the pencil the higher the graphite content, the better the lubrication.  I suspect that makeup pencils contain fats and I'm not sure if they have any graphite at all (worth researching!).

Ah: makeup pencils are mostly a gel or wax base.  I suppose wax might work but I would also worry that it would dry out and harden in time, making the stickyness worse.

October 23, 2010 at 01:37 PM ·

One of the earlier posters here had a problem with the sound post falling over when changing strings. There is a risk of this happening if all the strings are taken down together, so the thing to do is to change one string at a time, keeping the others at pitch, bring the new string up to pitch and then move on to replacing the next string. The order in which I replace a set of strings, which I was recommended to do, is E, G, A, D. This presumably ensures an optimum and even pressure on the bridge when making the change. If I'm not going to change the E (I rarely change that string unless it obviously needs it) then my order of change would be A, G, D.

  The risk with the sound post slipping or falling can be significant if you're changing the tail piece, because then all the strings and the bridge are taken down and there is zero pressure on the belly.  I understand that luthiers use a special clamp to keep the pressure on.  What I've done in the past was to wrap a cloth round the instrument between the bridge and the fingerboard, in order to protect the varnish, and then gently tighten a strap round it so as to hold the pressure on the sound post.  It should then be safe to take down the strings and bridge.  It worked successfully for me, but, erm, I almost feel inclined to say "don't try this at home, children!".  

If the sound post goes down when changing just one string then there would appear to be  a problem with the sound post  – shrunk or in the wrong position?  – so that's certainly a job for the luthier.


October 23, 2010 at 01:52 PM ·

 I haven't had any significant stability problems with Eudoxas.  The A, D, G  I have on at the moment are a few years old and the tone is definitely going, so they're shortly going to be replaced, but at our last 2-hour orchestra rehearsal they stayed in tune without needing any tweaking.  BTW, the Hill steel E is gorgeous to play, and it's under £4. 

Reasons for strings wearing out – in addition to the points already made I'd add:  
   1) action too high,
  2) finger nails contacting the strings, 
  3) fingers "hammering" the strings down onto the finger board (the string generally doesn't really need to touch the finger board),
  4) using too much bow pressure to get volume (use speed instead),
  5) too liberal use of rosin.


October 23, 2010 at 03:22 PM ·

no, my problem is not at the sound post. It's at the E string keeps snapping!.


Thanks for the answer on the pencil.

October 23, 2010 at 05:53 PM ·

@Phuong Bui, does your E break actually on the peg, or between the peg and the nut?  If it is the first, be careful how you wind the the string onto the peg and avoid sharp angled changes of direction on the peg, or worse still, kinks. The steel used is, I suspect, fairly brittle, and it may not take much to cause it to break on the peg.
Always take the E up to pitch real slow, slower than you would one of the lower strings, and do not, whatever you do, take it above pitch – that will weaken it (could also be the cause of a breakage between the peg and the nut).  When the string is almost up to pitch (say half to a quarter tone away) complete the final tuning using the micro adjuster.  You shouldn't need to touch the E peg again until you change the string.
Don't let the string contact the inside of the peg box – that's another way of weakening the structure of the string.
Don't be tempted to re-use an old E (bin it!), or transfer an E from one violin to another, as you can often do successfully with the lower strings.  The E string will no longer be in pristine condition and will be more liable to break.  I fell into the trap of transferring an E early this year and the weakened E broke on the peg a week later when I was playing in a concert.  That was when I discovered the excitement of having to play in the 12th position on the A string on the hoof!

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine