This may have come up before. What are the criteria for changing violin strings? Could be related to hours of use, sound, scratchiness, sliding, too much resin in the strings,etc. Some people seem to go by the calendar which makes no sense to me. Eg some people during the 3 months may only play once per week,
others 2 hours per day. Is there not a scientific way to do it?
Happy playing well!!
I find one of the easier ways to tell is to take advantage of the different string compositions on my viola: the synthetic C, G, and D strings don't stay good for as long as the steel A, and I change them all at the same time. Typically after about 5-8 months I start to notice a mismatch between the D and A strings, which is my cue to change strings.
I change my strings based on the phases of the moon.
Hours of play. You will notice when they feel dead and not sounding as good as before.
Add the confusing mix is the fact that some strings will last longer before sounding dead than others, so there really isn't a "change your strings every X hours of playing time" rule that works all the time.
Cotton, Please explain in more detail! Sounds sounds fascinating!!
I have 2 different and independent criteria for changing strings.
There’s no exact rule for changing strings, but there are some signs to look for:
You don't replace strings because of tarnish buildup, you just clean off the tarnish!!
Totally agree with Lyndon, I’ve cleaned tarnish off strings a few times; no problem at all.
I can't see any reason why even a badly tarnished string would be bad in any way for the tone, as far as I know it's only a cosmetic issue.
Heavy tarnish might impact tone a little since it would change the vibration properties of the string. Light tarnish probably wouldn’t affect the tone at all. Of course if the strings are tarnished up on the fingerboard, you might not like it rubbing off on your fingers :)
Tarnish isn't only a cosmetic issue -- how do you think the discoloration occurs? Oxygen molecules bond with the molecules of the string itself. Think of iron which rusts -- that's just a more severe form of tarnish and it works quickly making the iron disintegrate. The materials used on strings don't deteriorate that quickly but what happens with tarnish is much the same. When you remove it, you're removing a tiny bit of the string itself. Sure it's only microns, but if you do it enough those microns add up and alter the construction of the string at that point.
Good point David, for me personally I can’t tell any differences after removing tarnish a few times, at least on Vision and Pirastro strings. You’re right eventually it would affect the material strength of the string but it would have to be very heavy tarnish or get tarnished very often for that to be a major factor. The exact material of the string would make a difference too, so as you said, there’s no one size fits all answer.
When I find myself flirting with another instrument and contemplating about an eventual upgrade, I know it's time... They don't go false yet, they still seem to be "okay" from a technical point of view, they just become somehow dull. And with a new set of strings, I always fall back in love again with what I have.
My luthier's rule of thumb is to change after 120 hours of play. That has worked well for me over the years and avoids my having to guess at how bad they are.
Although tarnish doesn’t always mean the string is compromised, it can be a sign of a bad string, as the core can be damaged by the chemical reactions.
I looked at the A and D strings under my microscope. Everything below the edge of the fingerboard was as smooth as silk but where the bowing is there are gaps between turns of the windings and irregular edges. So I guess this is fairly scientific!
Did anyone see my note about looking at my d string under my microscope on the April 22 discussion? The windings are fraying and spreading. This would be a good test when the sound changes or the bow hair makes scraping sounds frequently.
Terry - for those of us without access to a microscope, your system does not sound very convenient, although it probably works well for you. The real problem is, for me, that most changes are so gradual that the strings would be in real bad shape before I could really be sure they needed changing. As pointed out above, my luthier's 120 hour rule of thumb works quite well. I end up changing the strings every six months or so based on that rule. It works well and I do not have to worry that I am not hearing the changes that would signal the need for new strings.
120 hours is too short... If you play 2 hours per day, that's 60 days, aka two months. May be a good rule of thumb for Evah Pirazzi, but that's terrible.
120 hours is just a very generic clue. The real lifetime very much depends on factors such a playing style, perspiration, cleaning method used by player e.t.c. It does also matter whether your instrument prefers mellower strings (and therefore you need to wait a bit longer break-in time with any synthetic core strings) or rather a brilliant one (and therefore the strings may work right from the beginning for you, but you find them dying sooner). Our customers refer much longer durability mostly, at least with our high-end strings like Timbre or so on.
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