Dominants Lasting 5-6 Weeks

November 7, 2019, 4:35 PM · My dominant strings are not lasting as long as I thought they would. It seems like they last many others 8-10 weeks. The strings aren’t false, but they are unraveling and I’m not sure why. Should I change the brand of strings I’m using or is this a normal rate of deterioration? I play about 16 hours a week.

Replies (14)

November 7, 2019, 4:42 PM · Maybe the grooves in the nut and/or the bridge are too narrow, so that the windings stick as the strings stretch or contact during installation and tuning.

And even when the grooves are are well cut and smoothed, we should lubricate them with the lead of a pencil.

November 7, 2019, 4:48 PM · Are all of your strings unraveling or just certain ones? If the A string is the main culprit (and maybe the D string, albeit at a slower rate), it is probably your body chemistry. I have acidic sweat, which not only corrodes my A string faster but also wears off some of the varnish next to my violin's neck. This is natural, since the Dominant A string has an aluminum core and is therefore susceptible to this kind of degradation.

If you aren't doing this already, I'd advise using a silver D string, as this type of core will give you a warmer sound and be more resistant to acidic sweat. If your strings wear out faster in the summer in particular (due to higher humidity), this is probably the reason why you're seeing what you are in terms of string wear.

Another brand of string might help, but at the end of the day, your body is your body. Dominants are not expensive strings, so the wise choice would be to keep a spare set or two in your case at all times (i.e. never let the string you're currently putting on be the last one of that string you have). I only recommend exploring other brands of string when you aren't satisfied with the colors, playability, or projection of your instrument. If that's the case, then exploring might be worth it. However, you do play the violin quite a bit, so it doesn't seem unreasonable that a person with acidic sweat would need to change their strings a bit more often.

Note that this trend should not really affect the G or E strings, and the D string should only wear to a minor extent if its silver. A Dominant A and an aluminum D would very much be affected by this trend.

November 7, 2019, 4:52 PM ·

Are they unravelling under the finger...?

I use Dominants and they last me way longer than that.

And I play more than that.

Edited: November 7, 2019, 5:03 PM · The unraveling is not normal. Are your nails cut short (trimmed down to where almost no white is visible)? Are the grooves at nut and bridge smooth, and are you lubricating with graphite when you change the strings? Is the fingerboard properly planed?

Where is the unraveling happening? Always the same location or different places? All the strings or just one?

Where are you purchasing the strings from? Are you sure you're not buying fake Chinese strings that are in Dominant look-alike packaging?

November 7, 2019, 5:12 PM · Thanks for the responses everyone!
They are unraveling mainly on the A and D strings, much more so on the A string. It’s unraveled over the fingerboard only as far up as I usually play, so sweating would be a reasonable cause. I do tend to sweat when I’m nervous and playing, though I haven’t noticed anything wrong with the varnish at the neck.

If that is the case, how can I make them last as long as possible if I keep using the same brand of strings, especially with the A string?

November 7, 2019, 5:25 PM ·

So, unraveling on the first finger note...?

You maybe pressing too hard...?

November 7, 2019, 5:43 PM · It’s mainly unraveled where D is, but there is unraveling happening from the first finger B up to the B at the next octave.

I play with short nails, and a luthier recently planed my fingerboard. The grooves look good and I do lubricate the grooves at the bridge and nut when changing strings.

I’ve gotten the strings at a variety of places- the luthier, the music store, and some websites like sharmusic, and I always have the same problem.

November 7, 2019, 6:19 PM · Nice posts by Evan and Lydia.
November 7, 2019, 6:29 PM · Where did you buy them? They could be fakes.
November 7, 2019, 7:20 PM · You might just be unlucky enough to have really corrosive sweat. I have historically destroyed E strings with tarnish pretty quickly, and have had better luck with some string coatings over others (for instance, platinum-plated E strings).

I'd just expect to change every 6 weeks, or even every month, if I were you (you want to change before they unravel). Try switching to Visions, which are a little cheaper than Dominants, are longer-lasting, and on many violins, have a better sound.

November 7, 2019, 10:02 PM · Visions could be a nice switch, but I'd warn that you might find them lacking in depth if your instrument is already on the brighter side, as is the case with my instrument. It sounds like sweat is the culprit here - I'm not familiar with many other causes of unraveling, and pressing is certainly not one of them. I realize that this probably isn't the answer you want to hear, but the reality is that some of us (myself included) just don't luck out when it comes to body chemistry. My strings last longer during the drier months of year (i.e. winter), but in the summer, I play so much that I'm lucky to have an A string that lasts a full month. Regular cleaning might help, but if your sweat is super acidic, there isn't much that can be done to extend the life of the string, since you play it so often. If you have the budget to allow for trying out other brands of string, it might not hurt. I know the most frustrating thing about changing Dominant A strings is having that metallic sound for the first few days. Best of luck!
Edited: November 8, 2019, 5:08 AM · Like @Lydia mentioned; my daughter has sweaty hands. If you combine that with a competitive practice schedule, effective expected life of a new set of strings are no longer than 6-8 weeks for us.

Besides that fact, everything else seems random and unpredictable.

Sometimes strings give you visible, physical and audible clues slowly before they fail. This i hate the most. Because those signs might materialize early in the strings life and leaves you with an annoying choice of either putting up with the side efects or buying a new set of strings.

The piece you work on at the time might require aggressive playing. Especially some beating with the bow frog or some heavy and busy left/right hand pizzicato. Surely degrades... For example; if a piece of that kind is challenging enough to make my daughter mad time to time, i can be sure that a string failure is due within a week.

Other times; everything is good and all. But the next day when you open up the case you see a snapped string. This i hate too. Because due to her studying at a regular school, practice time is rather late before dinner. Therefore If we get caught unprepared, finding a replacement is not possible. This could lead to gaps in practice times further if me or her mother feel lazy or forget about it the next day.

This august, her g string snapped 4 consecutive times within a month for which i had to check in with our luthier only to find nothing. And i must add, that was the first time ever a g string failed on her in 5 years. Just tough luck.

So unpredictable...

As for the dominants; we used the set only two times and both sets failed within a week. Also e string seemed prone to whistling as i've only heard my daughter whistle when she was using them for her entire education.

In terms of price, tone, consistency and longevity we found Vision series to be optimal to her needs. First regular than for the longest time using the Vision Solo, both sets always got to the end of the expected life without any problems.

But; for the past 1-1.5 years, i am having trouble finding the solo even the regular in stock locally for some reason.

Given our condition; within that period we mostly used a chepaer D'addario Prelude solution in order to avoid yet another costly journey.

This surprisingly turned out well as it became the most durable strings we have ever used. One set even lasted 3.5 months. Unfortunately; after about over a year any new set we bought began to drop like flies. This led me to believe that locally; the market might be filled with some stock waiting on the shelves for a long time.

So, back to the good old Vision series. Still can't find the regular or the solo. And i just don't want to anticipate failures to manage online or distant purchases. Therefore Titanium Solo it is. 2 months in and so far so good. Still solid...

November 8, 2019, 12:07 PM · No respectable brand of string just snaps, especially a G string.
Try another luthier. There is a reason, and it's not your daughter's fault.
November 8, 2019, 2:29 PM · I agree with Scott on this. I have not had a string break on me since the early 1990s. String quality these days is almost uniformly excellent. Any quick deterioration is a flaw and the string manufacturer will usually replace for free.

Make sure you're not ending up with Chinese fakes.

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