Pop goes the..... Bad days for As

Edited: July 10, 2021, 10:14 AM · So.. I opened a violin case on Thursday morning to find a popped A string. It was a "new" Eudoxa gut-core string that I had bought and installed only a month earlier. The break was at the Knilling tuning peg.

Friday morning as I uncovered the viola in my double case I saw immediately that its Dominant (Weich) A string had popped at the tailpiece.

These are the first broken strings I have experienced in at least 10 years. In fact the last broken strings I can actually remember were on a cello while I was trying to install a new Obligato A string. Those strings are steel-core and apparently very sensitive to over-tuning. I actually broke 2 in a row trying to install them - that was at least 20 years ago. This happened whil I was still using friction pegs.

I recall the old "gut days" before 1970, when all my strings were gut and gut-core and I kept them on until they broke or became so frayed that I could not shift properly. There was a time, while I was in high school that I wore out a gut cello A string in a week (more than once).

I do not change my strings on a regular schedule, and I don't play all that much these days. However I am susceptible to advertising and I tend to change strings to try out new brands - perhaps that is why I have not had many strings break this century.

I am wondering whether other people have experience with strings breaking.

Replies (11)

July 10, 2021, 11:20 AM · I play a set of strings until one breaks. On the viola it's always the G (Helicore). I haven't had a string break on the violin for a long time but I sometimes broke the E because I didn't realize that when using the peg you tune down first always until the stiction is broken and then tune up.
July 10, 2021, 11:40 AM · Only guitar bass strings so far. It's very annoying when it happens.
Edited: July 10, 2021, 12:32 PM · The steel E is susceptible to breakage, usually on the peg, if it is a used string and has developed an unnoticed kink during storage. When tension is applied to such a used string when it is on the peg that kink will flatten out but in doing so will generate a zone of weakness which will very quickly develop into a full-blown break.

Moral: be very careful when coiling and storing a used steel string, and throw out any string that has a kink in it.

I learnt all the above the hard way many years ago, the only time I've had a string break during playing.

Edited: July 10, 2021, 12:42 PM · Ann Morrill: Props for "stiction!" I looked it up. What a great word! Almost onomatopoeia-like.

At the risk of derailing Andrew's thread, I'm interested in your use of Helicores on your viola. There isn't much mention of them on this board and what there is is usually negative. Maybe I should start a new thread...

Edited: July 10, 2021, 1:25 PM · Amrita, Stiction is a word in my normal working vocabulary. I'm a scientist. Also, I will not make remarks about my choice of strings for my 14" viola. You should know that strings vary by individual instrument and the player has a lot to do with it. The player's ability has more to do with the sound of an instrument than any other factor.
July 10, 2021, 1:28 PM · I understand, Ann. FWIW, I've used Helicores on my 14" viola, too, with the heavy gauge C.
July 10, 2021, 1:30 PM · The Helicores open up the sound wonderfully. It doesn't sound like a student instrument. But it was made by a good maker and is about 60 years old.
July 10, 2021, 1:40 PM · Agreed.
July 10, 2021, 2:20 PM · Yeah I’ve had that happen occasionally. It could in my opinion be weather related or the nut might need a little more pencil graphite to help the strings pass over the area more smoothly.
July 10, 2021, 2:26 PM · I've only ever broken E strings. I have had a couple of A strings lose their windings a couple of inches from the nut.

It's a sign you need to play more! Call up your buddies and dust off some Beethoven.

July 10, 2021, 2:53 PM · Or play through all your etude books in a marathon back to back with only breaks for necessities.


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