How to change violin strings

Workshop Insights
27 August 4421

When your violin strings begin to produce a dull sound, show signs of depletion or you find yourself constantly needing to retune your instrument, it’s time to start thinking about changing your instrument strings. Changing the strings of your violin, cello or viola can be a little daunting, so we’ve put together our recommendations – so you can learn from our years of experience.

1. When changing the strings, lubricate the nut.

Both the strings groove on the bridge and the strings groove on the upper nut will need lubricating with a soft graphite 6b. This will help improve the durability of the strings and reduces tension in the pegs.

2. Always change the strings one at a time.

We have found it is best to lower the tension a little bit on the E string, and change the G string first, then we tune it. Next, change the E string and tune it again, change the D string, tune it, and finally change the A string. After each is done, tune the entire instrument. This makes sure you can check each string is changed correctly as you go.

3. The bridge must always form a 90º angle with the table.

Right after the instrument is wholly tuned, check if the bridge is in the correct position. This can be done by checking the angle of the bridge using a bookmark, or anything else with a 90º corner that is thin and straight. Correct the position so that the angle of the strings can become as equal as possible.

4. Wrap the strings as closely as possible to the pegbox cheek.

Wrap the strings around the peg and leave it leaning against the pegbox cheek. This helps to hold the pegs in when the weather is dry and makes the tuning of the instrument much easier.

5. Don’t forget to lubricate the pegs.

Take advantage of the opportunity to lubricate the pegs with a suitable lubricant. There are specialist tuning lubricants suitable for violins/violas and cellos, which we would recommend to ensure you don’t damage your instrument.

6. Clean off any sweat by rubbing the string with a cloth until it warms up

As you play, the sweat from your hands will penetrate the strings, causing them to oxidise from the inside out. This causes the strings gradually lose their initial shine. By heating them up with friction, some of the moisture will evaporate, minimising oxidisation within the strings.

If you want to learn more about the making and maintenance of fine string instruments, take a look at our other workshop insight blogs by clicking here.