Are the strings on your violin worn, broken, or lost their sound? It is recommended to change violin strings every three to six months or as soon as you notice problems. This might seem like a daunting task but with a little practice, you will master the art. In this guide, we’ll show you how to install new strings for your fiddle.
Tools for violin string replacement
You will need the following to replace violin strings:
- New strings
- A pitch checker such as a piano, digital tuner, or tuning fork
Step-by-Step Guide for changing violin strings
Step 1. Remove the old strings
- Hold the violin in a secure position. We recommend sitting with the instrument in your lap.
- Next, turn the tuning peg towards you to unwind the string from the peg. With the string lose on the pegbox side of the instrument, you can now remove the other end of the string from the tailpiece.
Pro Tip: Remove the strings carefully especially if they are made from steel as these can end up scratching the varnish, leaving your instrument looking tardy.
Step 2. Lubricate the peg
Replacing the strings on your violin gives you a great opportunity to lubricate several parts of the instrument such as the tuning peg.
- To get started, turn the peg anticlockwise to remove it from the pegbox.
- Apply peg compound around the rings on the shaft of the peg. This will solve the problem of a peg that won’t hold or one that is too tight.
- Put the peg back into its respective hole in the pegbox and turn it around a few times to get the lubricant into the shaft rings.
Pro tip: The pegs on a violin are not interchangeable. Be sure to take out and replace each peg one at a time.
Step 3. Apply lubrication to the nut and bridge
Lubrication helps the string to easily run across the nut and bridge when tuning your instrument. The best lubrication to use is graphite, which you can get from a simple pencil.
- Scrape the tip of a sharp pencil back and forth on the nut grooves then do the same for the bride. The strings should now glide smoothly along the length between the nut and bridge.
Step 4. Insert the string through the peg hole
- Locate the small hole on the tuning peg. Then, insert the string in the hole so that a small amount comes out through the other side of the peg.
- Holding the string in one hand, use the other hand to turn the peg. Turn the left pegs i.e. D and G anticlockwise and the pegs on the right side in a clockwise motion. This will secure the string on the tuning peg and prevent it from slipping.
- Turn the respective peg severally to form three or four coils to tighten the string and to bring it an appropriate length. The coils of string should come close to but not rub against the pegbox.
- Remember to match the right peg with the right string. For example, you should install the G-string into the G pen otherwise the strings with intercross, making it difficult to play your fiddle.
- Be sure to turn the peg and secure the string correctly to avoid overlapping, which will make it impossible to play your violin. Check out this helpful video on the appropriate technique for securing the string on the peg.
Step 5. Feed the ball end through the tailpiece
- Hold the string between your index finger and thumb and gently stretch it down toward the tailpiece.
- Ensure that the string runs straight from the peg to the nut to the bridge and then to the tailpiece.
- Turn the tuning peg in the appropriate direction to remove any snugs on the string.
- Insert the ball end of the string through the correct hole in the tailpiece. Keep the string tight and slowly pull it up toward the nut.
- Keep winding the tuning peg away from you until the string has the correct tension.
Pro tip: If your instrument has a bridge protector, remember to secure it atop the bridge. If it is not secured this way, the bridge protector will keep vibrating when you play your fiddle.
Step 6. Adjust to the correct pitch
After replacing the strings, be sure to bring your instrument up to pitch.
- First, slightly loosen the finetuners in the tail piece. Then use a digital chromatic tuner, tuning fork, or pitch pipe to test for pitch.
- Tighten the fine tuners gradually until you attain the desired pitch.
- Alternatively, you can tune the strings using the pegs. This is the best method if, after testing, you find the pitch is off by more than half a tone.
- To reach the desired pitch, simply turn the peg slowly. To learn more about how to tune a violin, check out this video.
That’s it! You have successfully changed a string on your violin. Repeat this process for the other strings if necessary.
Here are extra recommendations to make this project a success:
- Replace one string at a time
Remove and replace one string at a time. Removing all the strings at once will cause the soundpost and bridge to fall in. We recommend changing the strings starting with the A string followed by the E, D, and lastly the G string.
- Select the correct strings
Be sure to buy the right replacement strings for your violin. When choosing an E string check whether the fine tuner accepts a loop end or ball end string.
Keep in mind that synthetic strings are usually thicker and prone to fraying. If you are replacing steel strings with synthentic ones, ensure that the grooves in the nut are smooth and large enough to accommodate the new strings.
- Inspect the bridge
Changing the strings on your violin offers a great opportunity to check that the bridge is well-positioned.
Ensure that the side of the bridge facing the tailpiece lies at a 90-degree angle to the body of the violin. The feet of the bridge should also lie flat on the violin. If the bridge is crooked, have it replaced by a professional.
A DIY violin repair that you can easily master
The secret to successfully changing the strings on your violin is to do it slowly. This way, you will avoid common mistakes such as overlapping strings or mismatching the pegs and strings. Follow our simple instructions and soon, you will be replacing the strings on your fiddle like a pro.
Do you have any questions or comments on changing the strings on a violin or viola? Let us know below—we’d love to hear from you!