String replacement

Edited: April 23, 2020, 1:35 PM · Hello,

I am planning to change all four strings on my violin from one synthetic string brand to another; my last string change was done by my luthier, which was well over a year ago. I was planning on replacing just one string at a time, one string a day for the next four days to minimize any resulting movements in the bridge and soundpost. Are there any best practices I should follow? Does the order matter? I was thinking of changing them in the order of G, A, D, and E strings.


Replies (5)

Edited: April 23, 2020, 2:40 PM · I don't think the order matters. Shar has videos on how to do this. I like to wind once or twice on the inside of the hole where the end of the string is emerging (opposite the wall of the pegbox for that peg)before crossing over and winding back toward the pegbox. That seems to give a little more grip so the string doesn't slip out of the hole quite so easily. Whether you wind once or twice on the "wrong" side kind of depends on how much room you have in your pegbox. With some antique violins it can get really crowded in there. You can use a blunt steel tool like a very small screwdriver to keep things aligned as you go, I find that useful, so that your windings aren't every which-way. But careful that the tool doesn't scratch the peg or damage the windings on the string. Also remember to lube the nut and bridge grooves with graphite from a soft but sharp pencil. If using a mechanical pencil you can sharpen the graphite with an emery board. I usually plan on spending at least half an hour changing a set of strings because I really take my time to get it right -- it's kind of a Zen thing for me. I have to go slowly anyway because I've got gear pegs so it's a LOT of turning. That's one of the disadvantages of the gear pegs.
April 23, 2020, 2:53 PM · Turn peg, pull out strings, stick new string in hole, turn peg in opposite direction. VoilĂ .

If the bridge pulls forward while you tune you can grip it by the top edge and pull it back into place. Your violin will not explode.

Edited: April 23, 2020, 5:17 PM · I agree with what Paul has written.
But I do have a preferred order of string installation: 1, 2, 4, 3.
So for a violin that is E, A, G, D.
For viola and cello it is A, D, C, G.
The reason is to first install the string that is going to be covered by the other string on the same side of the pegbox. I can usually do this by loosening just one string at a time - but if I am inserting a used string under the other one it takes forceps or a surgery clamp (hemostat) to aim the end.

I change all 4 strings at one "sitting" unless replacing a broken string or "swapping a string" for a used one. No sense having to keep pulling strings up to tune any longer than necessary.

I have found that with most of my instruments I can safely loosen 2 strings at the same time and not "drop" the soundpost. If I have an instrument with a slight;y loose soundpost I may tug the soundpost a little to the side of the instrument while the two strings are loose and if it moves I will move it back after changing the strings. But in the past 10 years or so I have not had to mess with a soundpost when changing strings this way. (I do have soundpost tools.)

April 23, 2020, 3:05 PM · Nice set of instructions here:
a video demonstrating step 10 from above about break in new strings:
April 23, 2020, 7:44 PM · Andy Victor makes a great point. There's no preferred order in terms of the safety of the violin -- but there is in terms of convenience.

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