Back to School Strings Tips, Part 2

Even the finest instrument can’t sound its best with old or poor quality strings. Strings will usually go bad (6 months) long before they break, so look for changes in the appearance of the string surface. By regularly examining the windings for changes in texture and color, you soon learn the signs that your old strings are becoming lifeless, false, and dull. Check your maintenance and warranty brochure to be sure you replace your strings with the same type that is currently on your instrument so that you don’t jeopardize the soundpost adjustment. Put new strings on one at a time. Guard against the bridge being pulled forward while tuning new strings up to pitch and avoid using Super Sensitive or other bottom-priced steel strings if you have a better quality instrument.

If your tuner has a lever under the tailpiece, don’t let the lever touch the top of the instrument. This can seriously bruise the wood. To reduce the depression of the lever, turn the tuner screw counter clockwise. Then raise the pitch with the peg. If you wish to use more than one fine tuner, consider having a professional install a Whitner tailpiece with the built-in tuners for ease of tuning and changing strings.

If the chinrest is loose or touching the tailpiece, it may produce a buzzing sound. Insert a chinrest key into the small hole in each chinrest bracket barrel and turn clockwise to tighten just enough to firmly secure the chinrest. Be careful not to push the key out the opposite side of the barrel so that it scratches your instrument as you are adjusting it.

Even normal tuning will cause both the peg and the peg hole to wear smooth, which causes slipping. To give the peg more grip, apply ordinary Lava brand soap (dry) against the peg shafts where they have become polished and shiny.

For repairs and maintenance related to the fingerboard, soundpost, or any open edges or cracks in the instrument, consult a professional stringed instrument repairman.

Read Part 1.

These tips were compiled by MENC corporate member The Potter Violin Company. Read MENC news stand article Potter Violin Fosters Sense of Community, Sharing Among Music Educators and Students.
— Nicole Springer, September 7, 2010. © National Association for Music Education.