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Yesterday I restrung my Gewa because the A string's winding had broken where I finger the B. Those were Dominants with a solid E string. They lasted 13 months. Not bad! I restrung it with Dominants with a wound E string. It seems that I could aim to restring annually, even if no string is damaged, at the current rate of play. I am led to believe that the wound E string may not last that long, but I have a spare. It is also possible that a spare A string may be sensible, as the fatter the string, the longer it lasts, as a rule.
I would restring long before the strings reach the point of having visible damage to the winding. The strings start to sound dull and the response slows down over time. Also, replacing strings when they are still playable (even if not at their best) allows you to keep old strings as emergency backups that are already stretched and don't need to be broken in.
On an average of about an hour a day of practice time, I typically replace all four strings every 6 months, which is about the point where there is a noticeable mismatch between the viola D and A strings and it becomes noticeably harder to play fast passages cleanly on the C and G strings.
I change my strings when they begin to sound dull (I seem to notice it first on the A string), about every 6-7 months. I use Obligato G, D (silver wound), A (aluminum wound), & Jargar E. I practice about 10 hours a week. However, I think a lot of variables go into when you need to change the strings beyond hours used, like string material, climate, how you play, etc.,.
Gordon Shumway said
The downside to changing strings is that the new ones sound hideously brash. The wound E seems twice as loud as the solid E. And I've already bought another replacement set of Dominants. Maybe I should have bought something sweeter just to experience the difference.
Just play them longer. Every synthetic string set I've ever tried has sounded brash and metallic for a few days before settling into its normal tone.
It's time to restring my Fiddlerman Master and after seeing many professional players recommending Evah Pirazzi gold strings, I'm thinking of trying a set. Has anyone tried using them on the Master? I really don't care about the cost, I just want the best sound. My strings are Kaplan Amo, and are starting to sound dull even after cleaning. They're a year old, so I guess it's time. Any Evah string users out there? Thanks,
The Evah Pirazzi gold strings are beautiful, I have them on my fiddle right now, finally wore out my vision solos (thought they were never going to die, they are pretty awesome too!)
Love the Evahs tho, you never know til you try them, I love them!
I am SO amazed, each time I change my strings - what a HUGE difference new ones make!
Wanted to revive this thread because I'm finding you just can't set specific dates for when to change your strings.
Pretty sure I changed out my main 4 strings last October (don't use the C string as much) - so maybe only 4 months ago! I probably average several hours of playing time a day, but I've really been digging in/playing more powerfully lately. I usually plan for my strings to last for 6 months.
These are signs I look for now:
- 😒 Not quite as easy to tune
- 🙄 Strings may ring, but not the way that gets me excited
- 😖 Harder to play with good tone
- 😬 Harder to play notes in tune
I started noticing these things a couple weeks ago but kept telling myself, maybe it's just me - I shouldn't need to change my strings for at least 2 more months!
Changed them out yesterday - wish I hadn't waited so long. If my "Mortimer" could actually feel depressed and then happy, I just witnessed it!
...or maybe it was just me feeling that. (lol)
I believe it's very important to really take note of how your new strings sound when you 1st install them and then again, when they've settled in - to help you notice differences later on.
If you are not happy with the way you sound playing,
- 👉 Figure out what strings make your instrument sound warm and full (experiment)
- 👉 Install new strings!
Yeah, I'm feeling all warm & fuzzy now.
Btw, on my "Mortimer" I use a D'Addario Ascenté C String (monel wound, Extra-Short Viola Scale), Larsen Virtuoso (silver wound) for G & D, Obligato Chrome A and a Pirastro "Gold Label" E.
I want to elaborate on the "mismatch" I mentioned earlier.
You may notice that different types of strings go dull at different rates, especially if you mix brands on your instrument. Even if you use only one brand, violin E strings are always steel and viola A strings are usually steel, which differs from the other strings in a synthetic set.
Because strings go dull gradually, it's often hard to tell when they need changing, so the trick I like to use is to look for a mismatch between the synthetic D and steel A. Because the different strings deteriorate at different rates, the difference will be more and more noticeable over time. I think of the strings as mismatched when maintaining consistent phrasing, tone color, and volume when crossing from one string to the other becomes challenging. If I find myself frequently having to put extra effort into maintaining consistent tone when crossing between the viola D and A strings, it's time to change strings.
The caveat is, if you are a beginner or near beginner, the natural quality of your tone will change faster than your strings change. How long it takes for that learning process to plateau off, I have no idea (it constantly changes at least until you can confidently bow sul pont). In addition, I have no real memory of absolutes and don't notice slow changes. So I shall probably change strings when the calendar tells me (6 months seems reasonable), unless string damage occurs first.
I changed the A-string to my cello yesterday. Wow, what a difference! 👍🏻 I probably should have done this a long time ago because the sound of the A-string has annoyed me for a very long time. 🙄 I had that string for almost 8 months, which is clearly too long time. I really should learn to trust my own ears...
But if new strings sound brash for 3 days, there will always be a difference when you change strings.
Very basically, if you are a beginner, change strings every 6 months and worry about yourself, not your gear.
My Breton has yet to be restrung. It was supplied with Dominant Medium G and D. Dominant Light A and Hill E.
I expect to restring it with ootb Dominant mediums.
I expect to hate them until I have acclimatised myself!
I have had to change 1 string and it made the rest of my strings come back to life! You are right to trust your ears - I know cello strings are expensive. 😊
@Gordon Shumway -
Are you using the strings you have because you don't feel like it makes enough difference to go to the effort of finding something better for your violins?
Here's my view on this.
In this day and age, especially if I wanted to play Classical music, I would never use strings on my violin that sound "brash" when 1st installed.
It just seems like an oxymoron.
Personally, I looked for the right match of strings for my instrument - they sound great from the start, warm when I 1st install them...
and even better after they settle in -
Never brash (those I've tried go into the trash, or donate - collateral damage).
The strings I use now have great projection for my violin - way too loud for my house (if I'm not careful)... but still warm.
Now, if I didn't have any money to experiment with strings (yes, I've known what that's like) or lived where there were no choices - that would be a different story.
"Old Time Style Fiddlers" want a specific sound for their type of fiddling, but pretty sure their strings will still sound that specific way right from the install - assuming it's the same with E/Vs.
The right strings can help a beginner enjoy their musical experience, MORE - maybe help their initiative!
For beginners, averaging a couple hours of practice a day, 6 months is always a good rule to follow. I would imagine most people can probably start to hear differences in strings within their 1st year of playing.
I probably sound like a broken record, but just because someone else recommends or uses a brand/type of strings doesn't mean they will be the best for your instrument - just a good place to start your experimenting!
After more than 20 years of playing, I have yet to encounter any synthetic strings that don't sound brash for at least the first day or two, so I don't judge strings within the first few days after installing them. Maybe my definition of "brash" is different from yours because it's a comparative term.
I would never perform on brand-new strings anyway, both because of the harsh sound and because it takes time for the pitch to settle. I normally keep my last two removed string sets in my case so that I always have emergency backup strings that are already broken in.