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'False' strings?


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My daughter just put on a new set of very good strings on her violin, and she (we) love the sound. However, someone very knowlegeable tried her violin, played a 'harmonic scale' and said the strings were 'false' and that she should get a new set. Unfortunately, being it was during a busy orchestra practice, she was unable to ask exactly what this meant and the person had to leave before she could speak to them again.

Can anyone tell me what this means?

These strings were a generous gift from someone who had tried them for a short while (a week?) and did not like them. (Perhaps because they were 'false'?)


Thanks in advance for any help.



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Yuen, thank you for responding!

I wonder if that would be a manufacturer's error... or could it be from the strings being used, (albeit, a short time) taken off, and put on another violin? What I mean, is, would them having been stretched on one person's violin, taken off and then put on another violin (and restretched) do this?

Yes, this is curious...


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I recently tested several horribly false steel-core strings on a handful of instruments and wrote a memo regarding my thoughts. I have edited the following slightly so that it makes sense here:

I found that, when I went up past a certain point while playing a scale, the "false" pitches disappeared. This leads me to believe that each of the false strings has a defect which will likely vary in location from bad string to bad string. I have a theory which could explain both the localized defect and why these strings get progressively worse the longer they are on the instrument.

1) The strings which are over-wound have a solid steel wire core. One of the processes involved in making wire is to draw the wire through a die in order to guarantee uniform roundness and thickness. I suspect that, on occasion, the wire passes through the die with either a thin spot or a weak spot somewhere along its length.

2) Strings which have a winding are again passed through another die in order to guarantee that the winding is of uniform roundness, thickness, and smoothness.

3) A wire string core with a thin spot will not vibrate "true" as long as the thin spot is in the vibrating length of the string. The thin spot will have less mass and cause the string to produce a non-conforming complex vibration which will be deemed to be false. If the thin spot is between the finger depressing the string and the nut, the remaining vibrating length of the string will vibrate true and the string will be okay from that pitch on up. However, since the string has a false vibration at some pitch or pitches along its length, the string will be deemed to be false.

4) A wire string core with a weak spot will vibrate true as long as the weak spot has the same mass per length as the rest of the string. However, since the weak spot is likely to stretch faster than the rest of the string, a thin spot with less mass will gradually form after the string is tuned up to pitch. As the thin spot develops, the string will begin to be false. The falseness should increase as the string continues to stretch.

5) Stretching happens in two stages--initial stretching over the course of a few days (during which time the instruments needs to be tuned frequently if it being played), and long-term stretching over the installed life of the string (during which time the string very gradually goes "dead").

6) Strings which have a thin spot due to manufacture will be noticed to be false immediately and will likely be replaced immediately rather than be played for any period of time.

7) Strings which have a thin spot which gradually develops because of localized weakness will not be noticed to be false during the set-up and inspection process. These are the strings which go bad after a period of time and which are not deemed to be false as soon as they are installed.

8) I believe that it is theoretically possible that the windings could periodically have thin or weak spots which could contribute to the strings either being or going false. However, this is much less likely to be the case since the string core bears a much greater burden of the tension placed on the string when it is tuned up to pitch, the two problems in the manufacture of the core wire itself are much more likely the culprits.


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It means either the A or D is false. Check the first finger E on the D against the first finger A on the G string. If they are OK and in the same place as they should be then the D is OK and it’s the A that is bad. I’m betting on the A being bad because the lighter string usually goes bad first. I’m not a fan of replacing strings one at a time as they go bad unless the set is fairly new but you can do it and get a lot of mileage out of the bottom strings.

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As has been confirmed, strings can come out of the bag and be false immediately. However, the original posting said the strings in question were on another player's instrument for at least 1 week, removed, and then reinstalled by someone else on a different instrument. IMHO asking the manufacturer for a replacement set in this scenerio is not a reasonable response.

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But, if the strings were defective to begin with...?

No, actually, I understand completely, your opinion, reedman, and therein lies my dilemma.

I am not the type who wants to cheat anyone, or who makes complaints unreasonably. Strings should not go bad in two to three weeks time, should they? And, if the product is defective, someone should be compensated, yes? Perhaps the original purchaser?

I don't know.


Regards and respect,


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