So, my A string snapped last Saturday and as a result I re-strung it with one of my spare strings. I should note that at this point, after tuning it, the sound was coming out a little strange (or foreign) from this string. I thought it could be since I just strung it on so I didn't take any notice.

Today, this string snapped while I was tuning it. It went out of tune to even go lower than the D string. I tried re-stringing with another spare I had at hand, but this snapped also while tuning it.

Both of these strings were of the same brand.

I am unable to buy another string right now. Will I damage my violin if I leave it with 3 strings (G-D-E) until I go buy another A string or set?

So far I haven't found any web page with a definite answer, which is why I'm asking here

(Also, if anyone wants to comment below and say maybe as to why this happened (bad tuning skills, brand of strings, other reasons?) please do so)

UPDATE 1: When tuning I use a tuner. I'm still in Grade 1 and I don't have perfect pitch, so tuning by ear is out of the question.

UPDATE 2: I have changed strings before and none had given me such a problem.

  • I imagine it's hard to give an absolutely definite answer but I can't see you having a problem if there's nothing wrong with the violin already and it's being stored in sane atmospheric conditions. If you are paranoid you could slacken off the D string a little to balance out the pressure on the bridge. – topo morto Jun 15 '16 at 17:26
  • Did you tune your violin using a tuner or simply by your ears? – Raktim Biswas Jun 15 '16 at 17:26
  • 1
    @Rakitić I used a tuner. I'm still in Grade 1 and I don't have perfect pitch so tuning by ear is completely out of the question, though I have changed strings before – Mark Said Camilleri Jun 15 '16 at 17:28
  • based on your 2nd update ...were those strings from the same brand? – Raktim Biswas Jun 15 '16 at 17:36
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    @Rakitić Yes, all the strings were of the same brand. The ones that I had changed were the G and the E and they were all relatively OK. It's just the A string that's giving me trouble. I'm still using the stock D string which came with my violin – Mark Said Camilleri Jun 15 '16 at 17:39
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Whatever you do, leave as many strings on the instrument as possible. Taking too many off can cause your post to collapse, and then you have to pay to have someone reach in there and give a post adjustment. That really stinks.

I think it should be ok as long as you are careful not to joggle it too much and are quick in getting the next string.

As to why it keeps happening, when you tune your instrument, do you use the pegs or the fine tuners? Perhaps tightening too fast will cause your string to snap. And are you sure that you have the right size of string? One more thing that seems likely (maybe most likely?) is the width of the string.

(It is a funny thing indeed to note that this not only had nothing to do with the problem, it doesn't even exist as a problem... ;-D)

Thicker strings require more tension to keep up to tune, as said here:

Almost all strings are available in different thickness or gauges, for example Thomastik Dominants, which are available in stark (thick), mittel (medium), and weich (thin). Pirastro Eudoxa, Olive and Kaplan Golden Spiral gut strings come in a variety of gauges indicated by gauge numbers. The majority of string players use the medium gauges. In general a thicker than normal string will require more tension in order to bring it up to pitch.

Source: http://www.ifshinviolins.com/Articles/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/411/Guide-To-Choosing-and-Using-Strings-for-Violins-Violas-and-Cellos

Consider slightly thinner strings. I use medium, so you know. Hope you find out what's happening, and do tell us when you do! Happy playing!

  • Thanks for the detailed answer. To answer your questions I was using the pegs and it was still way below pitch. I went to a music shop today and we think it's the strings (a bad batch of As maybe since the others are relatively ok?) With regards to the string gauge I'm going to start trying the medium Pirastro strings and I'll see from there. – Mark Said Camilleri Jun 16 '16 at 9:23
  • I know it's been a year. However I forgot to write what did happen. It turned out the strings were low quality strings. This was confirmed later on when the e string (same brand) actually rusted. I changed to better strings since then and they still haven't snapped. Please note that when I was tuning and they snapped, both times the string was still too loose (the pitch was too flat). – Mark Said Camilleri Aug 27 '17 at 13:15
  • Actually, all other things being equal, a thicker guage string will not break more easily than a thinner: they will break at the same pitch. – Scott Wallace Aug 27 '17 at 18:06
  • @scottwallace Fair point! It may be that all of thee things aren't equal though... I thought of the possibility that a too-tight string might saw itself through the bridge -- or vice versa. But yes, to be fair, I wasn't think that when I wrote the answer. 🙂 – General Nuisance Aug 27 '17 at 21:29
  • @marksaidcamilleri Isn't it funny how the most obvious solutions are often the correct ones? All of those moments I've stood in front of the fridge looking for the ketchup which is right in front of my nose are coming running out on me. – General Nuisance Aug 27 '17 at 21:31

No, having only three strings will not damage your violin.

  • Yep. And if the sound post falls over with three strings still on and tuned up, then it was too loose anyway. – Scott Wallace Aug 27 '17 at 18:09
  • Quite so, but it is a teachable moment. – General Nuisance Aug 27 '17 at 21:33

It is possible that the tension of your A string is too high or that your bridge is not shaped well. Check that with pictures online and if it is incorrect then remove the bridge and smooth it down using a sandpaper. If you do not know how to, take it to your luthier nearby(search online) and get the instrument checked or any other professional. But I advise you to try a different string first as it could be a defect. If that does not work try a different string gauge and tension or from a different brand. It does not matter, many violinists mix and match. And as mentioned above any sudden atmospheric changes(temperature and pressure) can affect the strings and the instrument itself. When did the strings snap? When did you notice it?

Where did your strings snap from? I would look at the place of snapping as an indication of an issue with the setup. It could be that the bridge is too sharp, or the nut is too sharp, or if it broke somewhere else in the middle, it could be that the tension was too high for the instrument. As far as general suggestions, I would recommend you lubricate the grooves on the bridge and on the nut with #2 graphite, from a wood pencil, for example. This will allow the strings to move easily when stretched. By reducing the friction, you lessen the chances of strings snapping haphazardly.

Try lubricating the grooves in the nut with the lead of a pencil before you string it up. This part of the violin can often be responsible for string breaks.

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