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epe913

String unraveling at nut mystery

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Hello - I have recently had 2 strings in a row start to unravel, weaken, and eventually "crack" in half where they go over the nut.  No, I do not have a sharp spot on the nut... I obsessively felt and looked for anything sharp.  This also is a violin that I had some nut work done on a few years ago and I have never had this problem before.  I changed strings, and it just randomly started happening out of the blue.  After the first string broke, I lubricated the replacement string and nut with soft 0.9 lead pencil and the same thing is happening.  It is a Pirastro Evah Pirazzi A.  Still sounds fine, but with tuning and playing I worry it will need replacement in a few weeks like the last string, and I am afraid of it randomly breaking during a performance.  Did I just get a bad batch of strings?  Something randomly change with my nut?  Or another issue I need to look into?  Hoping this is something I can fix myself and be my first "violin repair" haha!   :D   

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If the new strings are a larger diameter than the old and the string grooves are smaller than the string or excessively deep , that could cause a problem.

 OOOH!  Good idea!  I had not thought of that!  But they are the same string.  Unless they somehow barely changed the string design just enough to cause fraying... or this batch of strings is somehow slightly different...?

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According to my notes, the Evah A string is just a hair larger in diameter than most other A strings, and when making the nut grooves, I have to use a file slightly larger for the A groove than the D groove.  Add to that: the Evah A is very high tension and stretches a lot, therefore more sensitive to the slightest imperfection.

 

If the nut worked well on Evahs before, I'm not sure why it would be any different.  Perhaps one A string unraveled a bit, and then passing over the nut it tore up the groove.  Or wore it down a slight bit, so that the leading edge (where the string enters the nut from the fingerboard side) became sharp.  I round over this edge just a very tiny amount... only to take off the sharp edge, but not enough to cause buzzing or intonation problems.

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According to my notes, the Evah A string is just a hair larger in diameter than most other A strings, and when making the nut grooves, I have to use a file slightly larger for the A groove than the D groove.  Add to that: the Evah A is very high tension and stretches a lot, therefore more sensitive to the slightest imperfection.

 

If the nut worked well on Evahs before, I'm not sure why it would be any different.  Perhaps one A string unraveled a bit, and then passing over the nut it tore up the groove.  Or wore it down a slight bit, so that the leading edge (where the string enters the nut from the fingerboard side) became sharp.  I round over this edge just a very tiny amount... only to take off the sharp edge, but not enough to cause buzzing or intonation problems.

Interesting!  I wonder if the individual who did my nut work noticed I use Evahs and thought/knew to make it a tish larger???  

I have noticed that they are more sensitive.  My hand oils cause them to unravel sometimes and cause little snags.  But that happens most during sweaty summer months or if I leave them on too long without changing them.  

It did work well before... I have had no string troubles on my A nut until I changed my strings recently and then the new string just started to unravel at the nut.  Perhaps one just randomly unraveled and now has caused damage that causes future strings to unravel also.  

 

I am reluctant to work on it on my own without knowing exactly what could be causing it...  :wacko:

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Evah A's, over time, tend to cut the groove in such a way that it becomes the same radius as the stretched string (or even a little tighter), pinching the string. Usually, the problem can be solved by opening up the groove a little bit. Not that an Evah A is a terribly durable string anyway.

 

They tend to be pretty hard on upper nuts, typically wearing/cutting into that groove much faster than the other three strings.

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Evah A strings are notorious for fraying in front of the nut. Perhaps other people have found a solution but given the price of them, my solution is not to use them.

 

Wow, really?  This is my first time having that problem in probably close to 10 years of using Evahs.  The price is part of the reason why I am trying to get to the bottom of the cause instead of just putting on a new string.  

 

I do not know much about strings.  Does anyone know of any string that is similar in characteristics, but cheaper?  Before I started using Evahs I used Zyex, and I am not a fan of Dominants.

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Since there are strings that fray at the nut even if the nut is good, you might try putting something over the groove, like a thin piece of mylar or teflon.  Some candy wrappers are mylar, esp. ones that look shiny and metallic, and you can get teflon tape at the hardware store.  Both on the order of a couple of thousandths thick.

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it could be sharp edges (where the strings enter the nut) or it might be that the nut is too high. When you play near the nut (G#, D#, A#, F), you might end up bending the strings too much.

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Off the specific topic, is there any reason why the notch for a string is best if it is snug to the string?  In other words, obviously we have problems if the notch is too small, but if a notch had a more open radius than the string would that cause a tonal problem? 

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Wider notch would not be a problem, if it would be V shape. But notches are usually made U shape. Such notch does not provide the vibrating  string enough support and direct contact with the instrument. It simply roll back and forth loosing its energy in the notch. Maybe nut is a bit more "forgiving" as bridge, the string is hold by a longer spot there. Moreover, the notch is bent down, there is definitely more chance for contact as on the bridge. 

 

However, on the bridge even slightly wider (and shallow) notch may cause serious problem with projection and especially with response. 

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