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bcncello

A is always low...

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The thing is that every afternoon, as I tune my violin before playing, I must rise the A pitch. When I take the pitch with a digital tuner it's always at about 438 - 439Hz and then I rise it to 440Hz...but next day is the same again.

 

As I changed the A string two months ago, I thought at first some stretching (past the first week) was normal but it seems now a never ending stretch! -No matter if the relative humidity rises or drops, on the 90% of the days the pitch is lower.

 

I also thought that perhaps I could have not properly wound the string end around the peg and it could be slowly slipping but since once I've tuned the A string I must re-tune D and G I'm not sure of that. On the other hand I seldom need to re-tune E or if I have too it's very little.

 

Right now I have fine tuners installed on the A and E, and D and G are tuned by the pegs and I usually play exercises for about 30 min a day.

 

I keep the violin after playing inside its case on a 'suitable' place of the house, away from direct sun exposure and of sudden changes on temperature or humidity. Where I live the climate is very mild throughout the year anyway.

 

So...is this normal or should I be worrying about neck or top sinking? or anithing else?

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You could be looking at an issue with the strings having excess friction over the bridge.  If the strings are getting buried in the top of the bridge and catching, tuning them will bend the pitch of the other strings.

 

What material are you using for your tailgut?

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IMHO, If all the strings are affected, it's usually a sign of neck movement, but in that case you'll start seeing heel edge exposed at the button.  Could your A peg need a bush?

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I've been inspecting the heel edge but everything seems to be ok. Strings aren't buried on the bridge too...

 

Now I hadn't think about the tailgut! and I must say that when I changed the A string, about two months ago, I had a little 'accident': I left the violin standing on the PC chair, leaned against the chair back. Later I forgot that and was about to lean my back on the chair when I felt the violin so I jumped up again! Nevertheless the tailpiece got pressed against the top and there was left on it a very little scratch from one of the fine tuners  :wacko: . Should had I mention that at the beginning?  B)

 

I checked everything afterwards: neck projection, string heights, etc. but apparently everything was ok...perhaps the tailgut got damaged? (It's made from nylon BTW)

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What kind of strings? When I used Evahs the A would be flat every day. They sounded so good it was worth it..besides, I tune multiple times in a playing session anyway so it was no big deal.

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The fact that the E string DOESN'T go out of tune precludes problems with the tailgut, neck, or body.  The E is far more sensitive to those problems.  Whatever is going on has to be restricted to the A string or the things only the A string connects to.  I think it's just a stretchy creepy string.  Peg problems usually don't cause consistent, itty bitty steps.

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In (one of) the worst case scenarios, you pegbox could be cracked.  The A-peghole is the most likely place for this to occur. You want to look at both sides, see if you have a split with the grain, particularly on the side leading out towards the scroll.

 

Another common problem is the string hole in the peg is up against the far wall, limiting how tightly the peg can be seated.  Drilling a new string hole fixes that problem.

 

At the very basic level, remove the peg, dope it up, put it back in.

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 Peg problems usually don't cause consistent, itty bitty steps.

 

While I still mostly think it's a stretchy string, I remembered something... if there is some out-of-round, and/or the peg and peghole grain are in the right orientation, there could be a stable position just below where you're trying to tune, and it might always slip back there.  Try this:  note the peghead angle, and keep track of how it changes.  If you have to gradually keep turning it in the same direction, then it's the string.  If you find it at the same position every day, and have to tune it up slightly every day, then it's the peg.

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I tend to agree that it's the string but strange things happen. The out-of-round condition requires that both the hole and the peg be out--not an uncommon situation.

 

A little off-topic, and no help to the OP, it recently occurred to me that the grain orientation of the peg box is conducive to the hole becoming out-of-round, that is end grain in one direction and cross grain in the other. The peg should be more uniform in that regard. That led to a small test with a plain hole, one bushed the usual way and one bushed with plugs cut like the peg box but turned 90º. After taking the sample to oven dry, then to 80% RH (around 17% moisture in the wood) then back to "normal," I found that the usual end-grain bushing was the only hole that really returned to round. I tested the holes with a peg made deliberately oval. I expected that the plug-bushed hole would do best but that was not what happened. Now I'm considering bushing the holes in my new fiddles for potentially better peg performance.

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Is anyone aware of the normal behavior of strings, and strings of different types, under various circumstances?  It would make an interesting study; hard to believe no one would not have already gotten a doctoral  thesis out of it.  

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The fact that the E string DOESN'T go out of tune precludes problems with the tailgut, neck, or body.  The E is far more sensitive to those problems.  Whatever is going on has to be restricted to the A string or the things only the A string connects to.  I think it's just a stretchy creepy string.  Peg problems usually don't cause consistent, itty bitty steps.

 

That could be the problem, not always need to re-tune D and G but most often need to, so it could be a stretchy string in the end. All four strings are Thomastik Dominant (low tension -yellow coloured at the end) and I use the fine tuner only to tune the A string, haven't touched the A peg since I wound the string and it hold more or less the pitch.

 

No craks or any hint of them are to be seen on the scroll and I deem the A peg must be stuck being not used for a long time. What I wondered is if the winding at the peg could be slipping...Well in any case no need to worry about serious things like sinking necks or tops?

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Well in any case no need to worry about serious things like sinking necks or tops?

 

Probably not.  With a new nylon tail gut, it stretches quite a bit, and all strings go flat.  If all strings go flat AND the action seems to be rising, that's the time to worry.

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I feel like somene should mention that obvious.  As a player, I have to tune my instrument every time I take it out of the case regardless of where it's been or how long it's been there.  It's not uncommon for me to have to retune in the middle of a practice session or rehearsal simply because things have stretched or moved a little from playing.  Dropping 1-2 Hz is probably pretty normal.

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I'm with Tim, I don't see any need to start thinking about structural problems.  I cant think of any violinist that expects their strings to hold pitch overnight, and I cant think of any strings that do.  Some steel strings might do better than others and maybe some of the newer synthetics, but even guys that have those types of strings seem to be tuning all the time.

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As a fiddler, I find that after a year or two, the strings have stabilized and I don't need to tune much.

Unless the weather changes.

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