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Tinny A-string
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tamami
Northern California
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February 22, 2017 - 5:18 pm
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Hi everyone, 

I am a new adult violin learner and am hoping that you can offer some advice.

I bought a used violin about two months ago, which I love, but soon the A-string started to sound very tinny. It sounded awful -- very metalic and no resonance. I thought it was my poor playing technique, but my teacher noticed it and changed the string for me. That was about a month ago. What a difference it made! Sounded amazing, and it made the practice fun again.

About a week ago, I had to take my beloved violin to a luthier because the G-string peg broke inside the scroll. When it came back, the A-string started to sound tinny again. The string is three to four weeks old, so it can't be the string! I'm just so puzzled. My teacher is on vacation so I can't get his opinion. Can anyone tell me what I should check and correct? 

Really appreciate any pointers.

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Charles
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February 23, 2017 - 9:17 am
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It would be unusual for a string to go bad that quickly, but it's possible. You might want to talk to the luthier. They're experts on how stringed instruments are put together and what can go wrong with them. (Or supposed to be, at least.)

If going to the luthier is not practical, I'd try changing the A string again. If that fixes it, then the question becomes what is killing the A strings so quickly. (Not knowing what brand strings you're using, I can't say much about how long they "should" last.)

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tamami
Northern California
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February 23, 2017 - 11:15 am
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Thank you Charles! I might just have to go see the luthier again. 

The string is Prelude, and I practice about an hour a day, every day. That means the string only lasted for 28 hours! 🙁

I think I need another stash of A-strings... I broke three A-strings in three days when I was just starting out (on my starter violin) because, basically, I had no clue on how you have to go by micro-millimeters when you are tuning. 

So much to learn!

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Charles
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February 23, 2017 - 2:05 pm
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You might want to consider getting either Wittner or Perfection pegs to replace your regular ones if tuning is a problem. The traditional pegs are 1:1 (one turn of the head means one full turn of the peg body. Perfection pegs are 4:1, Wittners are 8:1.  I prefer Wittners, both because of the gear ratio and because installation of them is really easy.  Both of them hold their tuning when temperature and humidity change MUCH better than standard pegs.

It's still possible to break a string with them, but if you're trying to tune the string, it's not likely.

If you've been stressing the A string a lot when tuning, that might explain the premature aging. 

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
February 23, 2017 - 2:52 pm
Member Since: March 22, 2014
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Are you aware of where abouts the string broke ? Same place each time or not ?   I've seen posts (in different forums) about perhaps a "sharp edge" at the point where the string leaves the nut (so it breaks there), or a string "caught" in the bridge channel when tightening that catches the outer binding giving a weak-point - and finally - someone who actually had damage on a deeply grooved (cheap, not ebony) "rough" fingerboard and it always broke around the "D on the A string" (whilst playing, not during tuning)...    just what I've read - never experienced a broken string...  ( yet ! LOL ) 

If you are afraid - or uncertain - about over-tightening - then consider a tuner ( a real one, or a 'phone app ).   On occasion I tune one of my fiddles a full tone up - not recommended, but well within the tension limits of the strings - and even then, they have never broken either whilst playing or during tuning....  ( and I relax them back to their intended tension once I'm done with what I'm doing )

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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tamami
Northern California
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February 23, 2017 - 6:14 pm
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Actually, all of my ever-traumatic string breakage episodes happened on my starter violin, the cheapy ($67 set!). Not sure where it broke, but all happened when I was tuning. Even with the tuner's help, I just didn't know how sensitive it is. 

I've been pretty careful on my current old violin, and have not broken any strings -- yet! But I am having a problem of A-string going tinny on me on this one.

I wonder if it could be the bridge? I might try experimenting with a different bridge tonight. Worst case I can always go back to the luthier. 

Thanks!

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Uzi
Georgia
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February 25, 2017 - 3:28 pm
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Well, preludes are steel core strings right?  They are likely, by definition, to sound more metallic than synthetic core strings.  If you like D'Addario you might want to try Pro Arte or Zyex strings instead of the Preludes.  They cost a bit more, but they're pretty much guaranteed not to sound tinny. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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tamami
Northern California
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February 27, 2017 - 6:00 pm
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Ohhhh I see. I didn't think about the kind of strings. I tried switching the bridge, inspecting the nut, etc with no avail, so I will now try a set of synthetic core strings. Will probably try Fiddlerman's ! 

Thanks for your suggestion!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
March 3, 2017 - 8:43 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12427

Usually, if strings are breaking without over-tuning, it's happening because of the nut, pegs (strings getting stuck in the peg hole), or E string fine tuner issues. Of course, some acidy sweaty fingers wear the windings till the string weakens.
Of course over time they break from normal wear and tear. Cheap Chinese strings have a reputation for breaking for no apparent reason. On a violin that cost you $67, I am sure that it was set up with cheap Chinese steel strings.
If a string breaks in the future, take note of wear it broke by stretching it in place up to the break.
It's highly unlikely that a bridge will be the culprit but it is possible if the string is very weak. The only time I had a bridge cause breakage on a string repeatedly was when I had a bridge with a bone insert under the E string. I used to have that all the time rather than parchment, but no longer.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Neo
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May 21, 2017 - 2:59 am
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Hey All

I've had a similar problem with my A String and it's been quite a long frustrating journey but I've found the cause and a simple solution. .. And because it's been so frustrating I need to vent/talk about my journey, but if you don't want to hear my rant just skip to the last paragraph to find the easy solution. 

I noticed my A string was damaged at the Nut after checking it after a drop. .. So I talk to my friend about what strings to buy and he suggests Daddario, I check out fiddlerman's reviews (gotta love that guy) and decide I'll go with Zyex... but as I live in OZ and i want them asap i decide to try the local shops for the strings. Three different shops i drove to didn't have them >< so I drove too a luther about 100km away (he wasn't answering his phone) he didn't have the strings either. . Whilst i'm there i decide I'll buy a different chin rest to experiment with so i don't go home empty handed. While he's fitting it I go for a walk, apparently he decides to tune it and a peg snaps. .. I tuned it the day before with out a problem,  but I did drop it recently so I give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe it's my fault and we start talking about cost of new pegs. ... He upsells me some mechanical pegs, cannot remember the brand, new pegs + fitting and a chin rest and I've just spent $300 and I still don't have any strings yet. He also quotes me $200 to restring my fiddlerman carbon fibre bow i bought a decade ago.... seems excessive considering the bow plus postage from the US to OZ cost me half that. ..

I order the strings from fiddlershop.com and they actually arrive pretty quick considering they've gotta come halfway round the globe. After buying Strings, pegs and a chin rest I've spent as much as the violin originally cost me >< I fit the new strings my self as I'm too afraid to go back to the luther after the last expensive trip. They sound ok,  warm but not very bright. . They do tune nicely though - the A on the D string sounds the same as the open A string and they are very forgiving of my poor bowing skills. .

 

Skip forward a month or two and the G and D string are starting to resonate beautifully but the A string sounds flat... close inspection I see that the binding on the A string at the nut has spread and tween the nut and the peg the binding looks stretched out, pretty similar to the last string. ..

I loosen the string to inspect the nut and it's quite obvious that the groove is to small for the string causing it to jamb up instead of slide and making it streeeeetch. I'm too afraid to take it to that ripoff luther so I try widen the groove myself,  I don't have a file that small so I fold some emery paper in half and try to sand it out. .. This is where you experienced guys are really starting to cringe right?  By the time it's wide enough I've gone too deep and the string sits on the neck and twangs like an archery bow. At this point the devil on my shoulder suggests that now would be a good time to become a rock star by smashing my instrument,  but I am if nothing else patient. .. I tried a few different things after that and here's what worked. 

I got a small peice of black rubber coated electrical wire and cut piece off about half an inch and pulled the wire out leaving me with the black rubber tube,  I threaded my A string through the tube and put the string back on the violin with the tube placed over the nut, and started tuning it, before it was even close I knew something was good. ... really really good. And when tuned it's resonating so beautifully it sounds like angels descending from heaven singing a perfect note... An hour after playing it; I'm not sure if I'm really happy or if my soul is still resonating to my A string. At some point I'll have to find a more pious luther to have the nut replaced or maybe I'll give it a go my self as its only a cheap violin so what have i got to lose. But you can at least learn from my mistakes. . May your soul for ever resonate with your A string : )

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
May 21, 2017 - 6:07 am
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I LOVE these sort of stories - awesome !   Glad you "fixed" it - cool - 1st-place

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
May 26, 2017 - 9:48 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12427
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Neo said

..........it sounds like angels descending from heaven singing a perfect note... 

I love it.

Very well written story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thanks!!!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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