Strings play an important role in a violin’s sound quality and performance, and they also require regular care. While some variables make it difficult to assign an exact time frame for when to change violin strings, the general consensus is that it’s best to replace them every 9-12 months. Doing so will ensure that the violin remains in peak condition, and that you’re getting the maximum amount of life out of your strings.
String quality can degrade slowly without you noticing, and physical deterioration often shows in the form of grimy, dull, or squeaky strings. Aside from affecting sound quality, this kind of deterioration can also make the strings harder to tune and play.
Violin strings are a very delicate part of the instrument, and should be treated with utmost care and respect. To avoid damaging the violin while changing out old strings, always use a soft cloth to protect it. Also, a small amount of vaseline or similar lubricant will help you to loosen and remove the pegs without any hassles.
The average string lasts about 300 hours of playing – or three months of practice at four hours a day. Keeping an accurate practice/performance log is an excellent way to track your string usage, and will give you a solid estimate of when your next set should be.
Besides keeping an accurate record of how often you practice, keep in mind that other environmental factors can impact string life, including humidity and your own level of sweat. Sweat and oil from your hands contaminates the strings with salt and acid, and can degrade their longevity. This is especially true if you frequently play in an environment with high humidity.
It’s also a good idea to practice in different environments, as the temperature and humidity in your home can affect how long the strings hold their pitch. This will give you a better sense of how the string performs in various conditions, and whether it’s time to change your strings.
When it’s time to change violin strings, it is very important to do so one at a time. The bridge and sound post inside the violin rely on the tension of the strings to remain in place, and removing multiple strings at once could cause them to collapse.
Most violinists prefer to start with the G string and work their way across to the E string, as this allows for a clear and methodical process. However, the order of the strings can be changed as you see fit. Just remember that the more careful you are with the strings, the less risk of overuse injuries to your wrist and shoulder!