Changing violin strings

Throughout your career as a violinist, you will find yourself changing the strings on your violin often.  As I have mentioned before, it is useful to always keep an extra set of strings in your violin case, just to be precautionary.  Here are some useful tips for changing strings on your violin:

  • When replacing all of the strings, violinists generally replace one string at a time. Do not remove all of the strings on a violin at the same time, or the fingerboard could collapse.
  • Although the order you replace strings isn’t critical, many violinists start with the G-string, and work their way up to the E-string.
  • If the string you are installing has a fine tuner, insert the ball or loop end of the string over the tuner cartridge in the tailpiece, and pull the string toward the bridge.
  • If the string does not have a fine tuner, insert the ball or knotted end of the string through the tailpiece string hole, tug firmly to make sure the knot or ball is securely in the slot and pull the string toward the bridge. You may need to hold the ball or knot in place with your finger while increasing the tension of the string as you turn the peg.
  • Slightly pull out the peg the string will go in until the peg hole is just inside of the pegbox. Thread the end of the string through the peg hole (let the string slightly protrude), and evenly begin winding it.
  • Push the peg in as you’re turning the string to keep the peg from slipping.
  • Generally, fine tuners are used only on the E-string, but beginning violinists often find it useful to have tuners for each string.
  • When replacing all of the strings, violinists often tune all of the strings to an approximate correct pitch, then do the fine tuning to get each pitch precisely in tune.
  • Be aware that when you put on all new strings, it will take more adjusting than usual to tune the violin.
  • If your pegs are slipping or are too tight to securely adjust the strings, you may want to purchase a peg compound.
  • If you don’t have peg compound and need a temporary quick fix for slipping or tight pegs, you may want to try these options:
    For sticking pegs, pull the peg partially out, and rub pencil graphite on the sticking part of the peg.
    For loose pegs, pull the peg partially out, and rub candle wax on the peg to help it stick.
Here is another useful video presented by SHAR on ‘Changing a Violin String’:

Violin Types and Sizes

Before learning how to play the violin, it is useful to know about the different sizes and types of violins.

The type of violin can be classified by the country of origin, brand or style of music.

  1. Acoustic (Non-Electric) Violin – This is the traditional violin that is more suitable for beginners.  It is the standard violin within the classical music repertoire.
  2. Electric Violin – This type of violin is usually utilized by more advanced players experimenting with different types of music, especially improv.  Electric violins convert regular vibrations generated from the strings to an electric signal for a more amplified sound.

Violin sizing is fractional, meaning that a full, adult size violin is 4/4, or a whole.

The smaller sizes were developed to fit the Suzuki Method of teaching violin, where children as young as three would acquaint themselves with the instrument.

The right size depends on your arm length and hand size. With your arm fully extended horizontally, perpendicular to your body, measure the length between your neck and the middle of your left palm. Another measuring approach is from the neck to wrist. Both methods of measurement are valid indicators for fitting a violin.

The different sizes of violins with approximate  arm and age measurements:

  • 1/16 – Three to 5 years old with an arm length of 14 to 15 inches.
  • 1/10 – Three to 5 years old with an arm length of 15 to 17 inches.
  • 1/8 – Three to 5 years old with an arm length of 17 to 17.5 inches.
  • 1/4 – Four to 7 years old with arm length of 17.6 to 20 inches.
  • 1/2 – Six to 10 years old with an arm length of 20 to 22 inches.
  • 3/4 – Nine to 11 years old with an arm length of 22 to 23.5 inches.
  • 4/4 or Full Size – For violinists age 9 and above with an arm length of 23.5 inches and up.  This size is the adult size.

Here is a reputable video from the respected SHAR Violins on how to find the correct violin size:

Although you can fit yourself, it is suggested that violinists go to a local music or violin specialty shop to be measured correctly.

Some reputable music shops in and near my city Tempe, AZ include:

For the next post, I plan to demonstrate how to properly hold the violin and the bow.