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Life of strings
strings
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Helvetika
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February 24, 2013 - 12:06 am
Member Since: February 2, 2013
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I am just wondering what the typical or average life of a set of strings would be.  Obviously it depends on how much they are played. I think I read once when they start to go flat or lose their brightness, they're about had it.  Lately I have noticed more scratchiness and was told it was the strings.  Now these strings are the D'Addario Zyex that I got maybe a year and a bit ago, but I have haven't played too much in the last year.  And I never did like the A string at all from day one as it seemed 'warbly'.  Unless it is switching back and forth between two bows which is messing up my bowing.  How often do the rest of you change your strings? 

Cindy  serenade

 

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pky
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February 24, 2013 - 2:58 am
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Some experts said one should change his/her strings every three months. I wonder if that standard is for professional violinists who play their violin 8+ hours aday. I change my strings and my daughter’s strings when they look like they are going to break soon. There is another post that may be of your interest: "How do know when your strings are worn out?" under "The Violin."

I put a set of new dominant strings and they lasted for about 10 months, whereas my daughter’s new set of dominant strings (1/4 size) also lasted for about ten months; I didn’t play a lot, may be on average 15 to 30 minutes a day, while my daughter plays on average of 30 to 45 minutes a day (her A string looked awful, looked as if it was going to snap off, not at the nut or bridge but above fingerboard near the nut).  

Dominant strings definitely last longer than the steel strings that came with our cecilio violins. My daughter’s first set lasted for about three months (playing 15 to 30 minutes a day), second set lasted about six months. So quality of strings plays an important role on your strings’ life.

 

My question is: How long is the shelf life of a set of new package of strings? Say I have a package of Zyex strings -- well package compare to a set of Dominant strings -- not as well package as zyex strings?

A package of strings that has been sitting on a shelf for two three years definitely aren’t going to sound as good and last as long as a set of brand new strings.  

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Tyberius
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February 24, 2013 - 4:19 am
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This is a hard one to answer. It will depend on allot of variables. 1 of them being how long they have been sitting at the retail/online store warehouse. There are no "Born" dates on the packaging. So, who knows how long they have been sitting on a shelve in a non-conditioned state. It would also be noted that how many hours you have played on them, how often have them been loosened and re-wrapped on the pegs.

Damage done to the strings in any fashion will certainly decrease the life span. pky (above this post) pretty much summed up the rest.

"I find your lack of Fiddle, disturbing" - Darth Vader

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Ferret
Byron Bay Australia
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February 24, 2013 - 5:38 am
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I 've been using 'Dominants' for a while now and have found that,while they are a very good string, their life is more limited than others that i'used. I intend to keep using them because they sound good.

It depends on the brand. But the real test is not how long they last. It's how they sounddone

Seen it all. Done it all. Can't remember most of dunno ..... What was I saying???? facepalm

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RosinedUp
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February 24, 2013 - 6:13 am
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Maybe you've heard advice to put on better strings when you buy a violin.

Unless you know the strings are good, accept that advice!

After about five months, I finally put on some Preludes, replacing the stock strings on my cheap violin.  It was a very big improvement!

 

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DanielB
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February 24, 2013 - 7:56 am
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It depends on so many things, as others have pointed out.  I'll add body chemistry to the list.  I've known some people over the years where the bit of sweat or whatever it is from their skin was enough to make strings go to crap quicker.

I usually figure that when I can hear a definite difference, like some of the brightness of the sound has faded or when playing harmonics they aren't as loud and clear as they once were, it is past time to change strings.  If one or more strings suddenly seem to be having trouble holding tune, sometimes that happens right before they break. 

When funding is running a bit tight, sometimes I don't change strings as often as would be optimal.  But I have quite a few different guitars and instruments other than violin that use strings so my "yearly string expenses" are probably higher than most folks anyway. 

But when you really get right down to it, with the amount of time and work we put into trying to sound good, it doesn't make sense to self-sabotage by intentionally using strings that no longer sound their best.  For people who worry about acquiring bad habits, since you will bow a dead string differently than one that is still good, you end up basically practising how to try and get a reasonable sound out of strings that are basically defective now.  That probably isn't going to help as much for learning proper playing and etc.  I don't know, but I kind of doubt that most teachers would recommend it.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Helvetika
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February 24, 2013 - 12:04 pm
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I went back and found that other thread on strings, guess I didn't go back far enough when first looking for info on strings.  Good info, but nowhere does it mention scratchiness.  Also went to the link someone provided. So I went back to the fiddle, examined the strings, played very slowly with both bows, and have decided there is still lots of life left in the strings. The tone hasn't faded. I was trying to remember just when I did buy those strings; it might have only been last spring or summer & as i mentioned I haven't played as much since I lost my teacher.

So now I am thinking it must either be me, rusty, or the bow or too much rosin.  The first bow is the really old one that came with the fiddle, and it is wrecked.  It cannot be tightened or loosened, and there is not much hair left.  However, I prefer the warmer sound that I get with it.  As well it is a bit lighter, but more top heavy than the one I bought when first setting up this fiddle.  I went back to it as I no longer care for the newer one. 

Cindy aka Helvetika     coffee2

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pky
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February 24, 2013 - 1:41 pm
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Helvetika said
I went back and found that other thread on strings, guess I didn't go back far enough when first looking for info on strings.  Good info, but nowhere does it mention scratchiness.  Also went to the link someone provided. So I went back to the fiddle, examined the strings, played very slowly with both bows, and have decided there is still lots of life left in the strings. The tone hasn't faded. I was trying to remember just when I did buy those strings; it might have only been last spring or summer & as i mentioned I haven't played as much since I lost my teacher.

So now I am thinking it must either be me, rusty, or the bow or too much rosin.  The first bow is the really old one that came with the fiddle, and it is wrecked.  It cannot be tightened or loosened, and there is not much hair left.  However, I prefer the warmer sound that I get with it.  As well it is a bit lighter, but more top heavy than the one I bought when first setting up this fiddle.  I went back to it as I no longer care for the newer one. 

Cindy aka Helvetika     coffee2

Yes, when there's excess rosin it could accumulate on the strings and make the strings sound scratchy, sandy -- not clean. I usually wipe my strings off with a piece of cotton fabric after each practice or whenever I felt the strings aren't clean.

 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 24, 2013 - 3:02 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

I've read a lot about life expectancy of strings. It's very hard to predict how long your strings will last and then there are many levels of degradation.
I find that Obligato will outlive Dominants by almost twice as long. I love how my Zyex strings sound after say 3 months compared to Evah or Dominant. That is not to say they don't sound better when I change them.
When a string has degraded so far that they make strange noises it's definitely time to change them. LOL
I've had students come to me and admit that they have never changed strings after several years.
Other factors play in affect as to how long your strings will last.
Relative humidity, type of skin you have (moist or dry fingertips), type and quality of the materials that the strings are composed of, How often and hard you play, are just a few of the factors.

Change your strings when you find that they don't sound good anymore. For this you need know what your instrument sounds like with fresh strings.

Just because you buy a new instrument doesn't mean the strings are fresh. Some instruments do a lot of traveling, ship from China, sit in containers, rest in distribution warehouses, etc.

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

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