The violin is a wonderful instrument. The tunes it creates can be truly soothing and relaxing. Although it may not sound too different to many people, violinists would often be able to recognize a bad string from a well-cared-for violin upon the first pull.
What many beginner violinists are not aware of, however, is that a bad sound doesn’t necessarily come from their playing sound – but instead that the culprit is in the bad string.
But what are bad strings, and do violin strings go bad? Simply put, yes, your violin strings can go bad after prolonged use. Bad strings are often known to create harsh sounds, and the violin can be harder for the violinist to play, causing it to be an unsuitable instrument to practice and perform with until the strings are replaced.
In this article, we’ll share more on why your violin strings may go bad prematurely and discuss when your violin strings need to be replaced. Let’s get to it!
Reasons Why Your Violin Strings Go Bad
While violin strings can generally last up to a year, there is a variety of reasons as to why they go bad. Here are 3 of the main reasons why your violin strings will go bad after prolonged playing.
The Duration of Playing Each Day
Like most items, your violin strings can deteriorate prematurely if you practice for long hours in a day. Typically, a one-hour daily session can wear down your violin strings quickly, and you may have to replace your strings once every 4 to 6 months.
If you’re practicing and performing more often, then a string replacement may be required within 1 to 3 months.
The Material and Quality of Your Strings
There are a variety of selections to the material used to make your violin strings. Steel strings are known to last the longest, but may produce sounds that are frowned upon by classical violinists. While violin strings made of gut can typically produce rich-sounding notes, they may break easily and you’ll have to spend a fortune to have them replaced often.
For steel string replacements, this set is budget friendly, as well as great for beginners.
For gut strings, this set is highly recommended by musicians.
If you are looking for an all in one kit that includes a beginners violin, plus strings and everything you need, I highly recommend this Cecilio set. I like this one because it pretty much has all the materials, replacements parts and of course, a high quality violin.
Alternatively, many violinists today have also considered using synthetic nylon strings such as these. These strings are popular for their mid-range prices, melodic sound productions, and can last a long time.
Dirt and Oil Build-up From Contact
Your strings may also go bad from the constant contact with your skin, resulting in built-up of dirt and oils. This can make your violin strings break prematurely, forcing you to replace them even if they are fairly new.
A great way to prevent dirt and oil build-up from harming your violin strings is to clean your strings after every play and practice. You can do this with a soft, dry cloth, and be sure to wipe to down thoroughly. If your strings begin to fray around the windings, you should also consider replacing them immediately.
How Long Do Violin Strings Last?
Now that you know what can cause your violin strings to go bad, you may be wondering how long your violin strings can last. Typically, violin strings should only be used for up to 12 months before they need to be replaced. With constant play and practice, however, you may see your violin strings breaking from as early as 1 month after replacing it.
Purchasing high quality strings can sometimes go a long way. As we talked about above, violin strings come in steel, gut, and synthetic. Beginners typically start with steel strings, since they are very affordable to replace, and then you may see a professional violinist using synthetic nylon strings.
To know when you need to replace your violin strings, you’ll have to pay attention to the wear-down signs when you’re tuning or playing your violin. Below are common scenarios faced by most violinists to help you decide when you should replace your violin strings:
It’s Difficult to Tune Your Violin
An easy way to identify when your violin strings must be replaced is if they require constant tuning. It may also be difficult for you to find the right pitch during tuning, which is a common sign that your strings have worn off and needs a replacement immediately.
This is also why most violinists often carry an extra set of strings, as you’ll never know when you need to replace your existing strings.
I highly recommend purchasing a professional tuner. This UberTuner clip-on tuner is perfect for tuning your violin. You can even use it to tune guitars, bass and more. Because tuning a violin can be difficult for a beginner, it’s always recommended to have it professionally tuned, or do it yourself with a portable tuner. I recommend the latter, that way you learn as you go along.
Your Violin Produces Harsh Sounds
As musicians, our ears may be trained to hear the tiniest of details in the change of tune, pitches, and sounds. If you’re noticing harsh sounds coming from your violin, then it may be a good idea to check on the strings to see if they need to be replaced.
Strings that have gone bad also make it harder for you to achieve certain pitches like the vibrato. You would also have to exert more force on your bow to produce certain sounds, making the overall playing experience uncomfortable. These are all signs that you need to have your violin strings replaced immediately.
You Feel Uncomfortable With the Way Your Violin Plays
You may call it a musician’s instinct, but if you’re uncomfortable with the way your violin plays, then chances are that it requires a replacement. There’s nothing worse than having to play through a session with strings that don’t feel right to your ears and hand when you’re playing, so you should replace your strings as soon as the opportunity arises.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Violin Strings?
Depending on the quality and material of the strings, it may cost between $20 to $100 to fully replace your violin strings. Do note that this occasionally does not include labor if you’re taking your violin to be restrung at a music store, and you’ll have to fork an additional fee to do so.
If you’re keen and confident to perform a DIY violin string replacement, then it’s best to refer to numerous tutorials on the best way to replace your violin strings from home. You’ll have to remember to replace one string at a time, instead of removing all the strings at once.
I think it’s a great idea to try and learn it yourself, that way anytime your strings break, you know how to change them. Otherwise you will be stuck waiting for a professional to get it done.
The pricing for each string can also vary if you’re only replacing one of them at a time, with the G string being the most expensive string to replace. This is because it’s the thickest string on the violin, while the thinnest string – the E string, is the cheapest to replace. A high quality G string, like this one, can go up to $80 at times.
The brand of violin strings you choose to replace them with can also play a part in how cheap or expensive it may be to restring your violin. Well known brands like Helicores, Pisastro Chromcor and Prim are often chosen for their mid-range and excellent sounding strings.
On the flip side, you may also choose to purchase cheaper strings from brands like Red Label or D’Addario, that should cost you approximately $20 a set. The Evah Pirazzi strings are a great quality of strings for the violin but are possibly the most expensive alternative in the industry to date.
In conclusion, violin strings do go bad depending on the way you play and care for your violin. To ensure you won’t break the strings prematurely, proper care for your strings will be necessary during and after you play the violin.
Although the average lifespan of your violin strings can stretch between 9 to 12 months, it may be possible that they will need to be replaced earlier if you play and practice often. You should assess the condition of your strings before playing each time, that way you can make sure your violin is up to par.
I hope this article helped you understand why violin strings go bad, and what your options are for steel, gut or synthetic string replacements.