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How Often Should I Change My Strings?
By West Music Company
9/9/2011 3:25:00 PM

How Often Should I Change My Strings?

Over time orchestral strings can wear out. When they do, their sound quality changes, and they might become difficult to tune, taking additional adjustments to achieve the right pitch. This leads to a commonly asked question from new violin, viola, cello and string bass players:

How often should the strings be changed?

Unfortunately, there is no warning light that comes on when the strings are ready for a change and no set rule, like "change every 3,000 miles". Really, what it comes down to is how often one plays.

Rosin naturally builds up on strings, as well as the oil and sweat from your hands, wich will gradually decrease the longevity of the strings. Wiping down the strings after every playing session will help prevent this build up Another tip is to always wash your hands before playing to minimize the accumulation of oil, dirt and sweat from your fingers. 

Cleaning Strings

If your strings are looking a little dull or tarnished, you can clean them with a little rubbing alcohol. It is easy, but be careful to wipe only the strings! Alcohol can be damaging to the varnish on your instrument.

The best method is to hold the instrument upside down with the strings facing the floor, so any drops of alcohol will fall away from the instrument. Rub a small cloth with some rubbing alcohol on it over the strings a few times. Pre-moistened alcohol pads—the kind doctors use before giving an injection are a great tool for this project. You might need to rub hard if the rosin has hardened onto the strings. It shouldn't take too long before your strings look brand new again.

So How Often Should I Change My Strings?

Professional musicians may change their strings every 1-6 months, but a beginning student can go for 1-2 years before needing a change.

Parents of beginning students will probably not have to worry about changing dull strings, unless one breaks or frays, since they will move up an instrument size each year until they are on a full-sized instrument.

Tags: string instrument care, string instrument maintenance, changing strings
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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