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String Went Slack
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damfino
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August 6, 2015 - 7:42 pm
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Quick question: Last night I did my usual practice hour or so, afterwards, lightly cleaned the strings of rosin, wiped down the violin and put it away in the case for the night.

So today I take my violin out to practice today, and the G string was totally slack. The peg hadn't budged, it was still good and tight in place, and the string still looked wound exactly the same. I tightened it up no problem, and had to give the peg a good twist to tighten it back up where it should be.

So what could make the string do that? Is it just a weird fluke? Mysterious violin trolls? Just curious, since I'm learning and like to know what might cause weird things like this.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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BillyG
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August 7, 2015 - 2:46 am
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Is there a fine-tuner on the G at the tailpiece?   If so, it might just be possible (a) that the tuner itself had not been seated properly and eventually "clicked into place", or (b) the ball-end on the string may not have properly engaged with the tuner fingers, and the ball suddenly fell into its proper place ?   That wouldn't slacken the string by much, but I suppose it's just possible...

Dunno, just guessing....

Other possibility is that although the peg felt tight, it HAD actually slipped overnight - how does it feel while you adjust it - easy movement or does it kind of "stick-for-a-bit and then free-up" while turning it ?

Although, as you say, it could just be the gremlins and trolls that make these instruments their home.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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FirstPancake
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August 7, 2015 - 6:52 pm
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where they steel or synthetic core?

I remember once I was installing some new strings, and I accidentally mixed up my A and D strings. As I was winding up this D string and trying to get it to sound as an A, I hit this point where I would turn the peg up, and the sound would stay the same or go flatter. I caught my mistake before I snapped the string, and switched the string back to the D string position, but it didn't really sound all that great.

My guess as to what happened there was I must have over stretched the synthetic core without breaking the rest of the string somehow. Maybe the string core gave overnight somehow?

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BillyG
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August 8, 2015 - 3:48 am
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Indeed, good point @FirstPancake 

Going back to the pegs possibility - here's an interesting article ( found by @Barry and posted elsewhere ) - http://www.allthingsstrings.co.....ir-of-Pegs

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DanielB
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August 8, 2015 - 7:23 am
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I've had stings just go slack like that in the case over night.  It doesn't happen often, and doesn't seem to hurt anything. 

I usually just chalk it up to weather and/or humidity changes.  I've only ever seen it happen with peg tuned instruments, so I'm pretty sure it's just a thing of how the peg wood and peg-box wood function.  Unless it happens a lot or happens while playing, I don't think of it as a problem.

I don't think that I've had it happen with violin since I started always peg tuning every string every day before playing.  I was told that is good practice to even out any odd stresses that may be due to temperature or humidity so the instrument stays in tune better when you play.  It wasn't mentioned as a remedy for the mysterious fiddle-pixies deciding to drastically loosen a string while the violin is in it's case, but I don't think I've had it happen in the couple of years since I've been doing that.

But I know a lot of folks here really hate to touch the pegs until they absolutely have to, so I doubt it will catch on here.  LOL 

I wouldn't try to push the pegs in so tight that it absolutely can't happen, though.  The difference between pressed in just tight enough to hold well and in so tight that the peg won't turn smooth isn't a lot, and the more the peg is jammed into the pegbox beyond what is actually needed, the more chance of the peg cracking the pegbox wood.   

"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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damfino
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August 8, 2015 - 8:35 am
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Thanks for the ideas and tips, everyone, and for the article, BillyG!

The pegs all seem to stick in place pretty well, to the point that I barely have to tune it between playing, usually just tweaking the fine tuners is all it needs. But I think we did have a drop in humidity that night after a stretch of high humidity, so that was most likely the cause. violin-student

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 8, 2015 - 10:31 am
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I realize that you say that your peg didn't move but do your pegs move smoothly or in tight sticky jerks?
Since it went completely slack I'm guessing the peg slipped and stuck again. Fine tuner problems can't change the intonation that much.

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

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BillyG
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August 8, 2015 - 10:34 am
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DanielB said
.....
But I know a lot of folks here really hate to touch the pegs until they absolutely have to, so I doubt it will catch on here.  LOL 

I wouldn't try to push the pegs in so tight that it absolutely can't happen, though.  The difference between pressed in just tight enough to hold well and in so tight that the peg won't turn smooth isn't a lot, and the more the peg is jammed into the pegbox beyond what is actually needed, the more chance of the peg cracking the pegbox wood.   

Good points, Dan !

LOL - love your pegs is what I say !!!!   

The following is "just me thinking about this" - it may be completely off-track - but as someone who "thinks about these type of things" - it seems a "reasonable kind of analysis"....  here you go - and I await further discussion / feedback /  comment / criticism / correction / update  etc etc...

Wood, even dead wood is still a "living" thing.   Why ?

Well, there are marginal differences in density ( imagine the "rings" you see in a tree-trunk ) within any one single piece of wood - some areas ( such as the wood between rings ) will be more susceptible to swelling in the presence of moisture than the denser wood of the "rings".  ( "Rings", may be visually un-noticiable in the wood of the peg-box, but for any once-growing thing that has lived through changing seasons, I'm sure there will be, if not "visible" at least "measurable" density changes across its cross-section )

What's more, the wood in the peg-box and the wood used in the pegs themselves, are generally different types - the pegs being much harder wood than the peg-box.   Both woods ( peg-box and pegs ) will experience different expansion and contraction rates with differences in both temperature and humidity.  Many pegs are ebony, and even these days, synthetic, being almost immune to humidity changes - but the box itself, is not so fortunate.

With changes in humidity in particular, the expansion of the wood in the peg box and in the pegs ( probably less so in the pegs, being "denser" wood ) will be "differential".  That is, a once "perfectly circular" taper-reamed hole in the peg box, may become slightly oval.    And then, as it dries out again as the humidity lowers, relax, back more closely to its original shape - but not necessarily exactly - because - it has a "tight-fit" to the pegs once they are fitted.   This may lead to small "ridges" building up over time.

This could lead to a feeling of "stickiness" and then "sudden freeing" when trying to tighten a string.

Answer - USE THE PEGS for tuning.  Repeated use of the pegs for tuning, especially  by relaxing the string back enough for say a good half turn of a "reasonably-tightened" peg, will, over time, help to gently abrade the wood-to-wood contact between pegs and peg-box, keeping it (on average, over time and environmental changes) pretty much "smooth"

Downside - eventually ( like over MANY YEARS, probably more than your lifetime of playing ) - yes - such continual wear ( largely on the peg box ) will cause the tapered pegs to sit further and further in to the peg-box.  Eventually they will be at the limit of use - at that time - ( after MANY MANY years you ( or by then, probably the next owner of the violin ) can get specially made, marginally over-sized-taper pegs which will fit perfectly - giving the violin another 100 years plus of playability....   LOL

-----

Well, whatever - I was just "thinking about it" and the physical characteristics of what is really involved.  Much as I like the "ease" of 4 fine tuners I do regularly relax and re-tighten the strings using the pegs.  

And this is another story entirely, but I am beginning to think about getting rid of all but the tuner on the E - but I'll take advice first as it means changing the whole tailpiece....  (not a "problem" for me - it's just the choice of material, etc )

SO... that was just some thoughts on the topic of pegs / peg-box interaction.  Whether they are worthy of consideration or not - I simply don't know - but from an engineer's perspective, I'm sure that to some extent they are valid.  

I'm also sure there are many many more subtle effects in the area of the pegs and peg-box that affect the playing of the instrument.....  That was my tuppence-worth for today ! LOLOL...

 

EDIT: LMAO FiddlerMan - I was writing this 1000 word opus while you posted !  LOL - yup- "the sticky jerks" - that is kind of what I was trying to get at and maybe explain.. or put a "reason" to and how to overcome it (through time)... LOL 

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 8, 2015 - 12:28 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Got to watch out for post timing Billy. 😉 ROFL

The term is kind of hilarious when I see it written by someone else. LOL

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

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BillyG
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August 8, 2015 - 3:43 pm
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LOL -  Yup - I kind of start some responses, then a message comes in, or an email I have to attend to - and a post I had started writing can sometimes get posted like 30 mins or sometimes even more, later - which more than once has been "confusing" LOL...   Guess it happens to others as well...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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damfino
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August 8, 2015 - 7:34 pm
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I've honestly barely had to even turn the pegs since the violin came (when the fine tuners seem to be getting too far past the halfway point, I loosen them and tighten the strings a tiny little bit at the pegs), but from what little I've done, I think the D and E string pegs turn and stick. A string is very hard to turn. The G string did feel like the easiest of all of them to turn. So I think maybe when the humidity dropped after being so high, that might have been why that was the only string that went slack over the others.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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Fiddlerman
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August 9, 2015 - 8:22 am
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Change of temperature and humidity levels will affect the pegs and cause them to slip. It differs so much from violin to violin and environment to environment. The important thing is that it tends to stay for the most part right? A once in a while peg slip is more than normal.

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

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damfino
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August 9, 2015 - 7:43 pm
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Yeah, they do stay in place really well, this was the only time it did that. I like to know how things work, so I was curious what would cause this. It's good to know it's just the wood reacting to the humidity changes and not something I did, lol. 🙂 

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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Kim D
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September 20, 2015 - 5:53 pm
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I just had my first peg slip today on the D string. Freaked me out at first because being a newbie I'm handling the violin like an egg.  I'm glad to see that it is normal.  The other odd thing is that I had to tune my strings several times today.  For some reason, they wouldn't stay in tune (mostly the G, D and A strings).  The E string only went out of tune once.  At least I'm getting alot of practice with tuning.

I think that I should purchase some backup strings just in case a string breaks. I don't want to miss too many days of practice.  

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damfino
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September 20, 2015 - 6:01 pm
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@Kim D I am happy that so far this was the only time it ever happened, though since now I've changed the strings, tuning the violin with the pegs doesn't scare me anymore.

With your strings, having to tune them often probably has to do with how new your strings still are. I would imagine this week you should have to tweak it less 🙂 Here in Ohio our humidity rises and drops quite a bit sometimes within a day, as well as our temperatures, and when our weather does that I have to tune more often in the day than others where everything is pretty stable.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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BillyG
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@Kim D - yup as folks have said, nothing to get too concerned about!   Real reason for post is - YES - get a spare set of strings !!!!   ( strings can be relatively expensive - but if one is going to break it is more than likely it would be the E - and strings can be bought separately ).   The other thing regarding this is to research what other people think about different types of string, and if you're going for a stand-by full set, perhaps get a set different to what's currently fitted.   I did that from the outset, but to be honest my playing (bowing) technique was really poor, so although I swapped strings out of interest to "hear the difference" - really it was lost on me. LOL.   It's only now, probably 18 months or so into playing and with a somewhat improved bow control that I really CAN hear (and feel) the difference.   Whatever you decide, unless you happen to be fortunate enough to have a music shop nearby, trust me - you do not want to be stuck for 3 or 4 days waiting for that new E to arrive in the post !!!!!!!  Oh no, that's definitely not a good place to be.....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

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

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Fiddlerman
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September 21, 2015 - 9:21 am
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So the normal thing that happens to most violinists Kim. Stable weather helps with not having to deal with this.
Push the pegs inwards kind of hard while turning up and down till you feel the right amount of non slip friction. Just don't go over the pitch. Get used to finding the feel of the perfect amount of friction.

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

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Kim D
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September 21, 2015 - 6:50 pm
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Good to hear @fiddlerguy and @damfino.  I will pay more attention to the non slip friction with the pegs.

 @BillyG I'm fortunate to be close to Fiddlerman's shop.  I really like the strings that are on the violin.  I'll have to ask Pierre what they are.  I do know that the E string is a different string (steel core).  The others are synthetic.  

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Fiddlerman
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September 21, 2015 - 8:51 pm
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Most likely Larsen strings Kim D. That is usually what we put on those great violins. Take a picture and I'll confirm.

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

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Kim D
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@fiddlerguy I took a photo of the strings. Is the picture okay?  I don't know why the photo is so large.  The first photo that I took with my cellphone was 4 MB.  The photo was really large and fuzzy.  I took the photo attached with a camera and it's only 122kb, however, it's still huge.  I made an assumption that you wanted a photo of the bottom of the strings. P1030767.JPGImage Enlarger

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