So you’ve broken your first string! Don’t despair, this happens all the time and as long as the broken string didn’t pop into your eye or cut your finger, you’re doing well!
In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the steps on how to change violin strings. Whether you’re replacing just one string or a whole set, this post will give you everything you need to be able to remove your old string and replace it with a brand new one. I’ll also point out some of the common mistakes people make when replacing their strings.
Is My String Actually Broken?
I’ve had students tell me that their strings are broken when really, they’re just loose. The following set of images depict the most common ways your string will look if it is either broken, going to break soon or simply looks broken but just needs to be tightened.
Before You Start:
Before you remove the broken string, you’ll want to have a replacement ready. You’ll also want to read ahead and watch the video to completion so that you don’t bend your new string the incorrect way; it’s often difficult to work with a string that has been twisted or bent out of shape!
There are literally hundreds of different brands of violin string that you can choose from and you’ll find some really good ones here. The strings that I use and recommend for my student are Dominant; I find these to be mellow, forgiving and therefore perfect for student use. If you click here, you can find dominant strings in different sizes and package sizes; this link makes it easy to select the right size string for your instrument
Take the new string out of it’s packet and familiarize yourself with its orientation; you’ll note that some of the more expensive strings include a small piece of plastic tubing wrapped around the higher strings; this is to protect the string from burying it’s way into the wood of your bridge. Be careful not to lose the plastic tubing when you unroll your new string!
Removing The Old String:
It’s important that you remove your string completely and correctly. Don’t just yank the string out from the peg as this may cause damage to the peg or leave a small, difficult to remove part of the string wrapped around the peg.
pull the string gently towards you with one hand while gently unwinding the peg in an anticlockwise direction.
The end of the string may become stuck so be particularly careful not to pull too hard at the final stage; I’ve all too often seen pegs snapped in two from being flung onto a tiled floor in this manner.
Installing The New String:
Before attaching your new string, take a look at the peg and be sure that the hole into which you will insert your string is upwards facing.
Place the ball of the string in its placeholder and gently unwind the string so that it stretches towards the scroll. It is at this stage that many students incorrectly install their string, so be sure that your peg hole is upwards facing as you install your string. You will then be able to rotate the peg in a clockwise direction to tighten it.
All that’s left now is to tune your new string. If you’re replacing the whole set of strings, I’d recommend doing no more than two at a time; wait a couple of days before replacing the remaining strings.
Don't Remove All Your Strings!
There are some fundamental errors that students make when replacing their strings, and removing the lot at once is the biggest!
If you take all your strings out at once, your violin may well fall apart. Once the pressure of your bridge is removed, the sound post (a small cylindrical piece of wood inside the instrument) is likely to dislodge. While I won’t go into details of this here, let’s just say it’s quite a disaster.
If you’re wanting to replace all your strings, do one at a time.
Don't Mix And Match Strings And Pegs!
Make sure that when you replace a string, it goes on it’s correct peg. For example, the A string must always wind around the designated A string peg.
The strings are placed around pegs in such a way that you can tune easily and without disrupting the intonation of other strings. This is another good reason to only change one string at a time!
Don't Use The Wrong Sized Strings!
I was told once by a great salesman at the local music school that it didn’t matter how big the strings were, as long as they were the right string. Needless to say, I never went back to purchase anything from this seller again!
If your string is too big, the sound will warp when you play with more pressure. If your string is too small, there will be insufficient length to attach it to it’s peg.
Don't Turn Your Pegs The Wrong Way!
I guess if you’re the only one ever going to tune your violin, this doesn’t matter all that much. However, I once broke a students brand new E string by loosening it the CORRECT way. Unfortunately, her dad had installed her E string so that a small anticlockwise turn tightened it to the point of snapping.
Changing your strings is something that you’re going to need to do regularly over the course of your violin journey. Whether it’s a necessary measure due to a broken string or if you’re just wanting to improve your sound quality, these steps will hopefully be helpful to you.
Please do let me know if you have any comments or questions about changing violin strings and remember, if you ever need a hand with anything, leave a comment in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can
Founder of myviolinbff.com