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anna_violin

Broken D String on Violin - Beginner Player

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Hi everyone,

I'd like some clarification on how I should have tuned my D string. It broke while I was tuning with the pegs after straightening the bridge  (it arrived with the feet not in full contact with the body of the violin). I was using a chromatic tuner to check pitch, but the smallest turn of the peg caused a jump from A to G ranges. Am I correct in assuming I should have tuned with fine tuners once I reached the upper end of G or lower end of A using the pegs? Or should it have been easy enough to tune to a D with the pegs? For reference my A string was in tune before I tried to tune the D string.

Also, should I tune the other strings, or just leave it as it is until I can replace the string?

Thanks!

Edited by anna_violin

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2 hours ago, anna_violin said:

...Am I correct in assuming I should have tuned with fine tuners once I reached the upper end of G or lower end of A using the pegs?...

I don't think so.  I think you should have brought it up to around C sharp or D with the peg before going to the fine tuner.

It depends somewhat on whether you have steel strings or synthetic-core strings.  The pitch of steel strings changes a lot more than that of synthetic strings when subjected to the same amount of peg rotation.  This means that you need to tune synthetic strings closer to the final desired pitch than steel strings with the pegs.

If your D string was only tuned up to A or G below D, I am very surprised that it broke.  It makes me wonder if the string was defective or if there is some problem with the instrument that would cause the string to break.  Where did it break?

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14 hours ago, anna_violin said:

 I was using a chromatic tuner to check pitch, 

See if you can get the tuner to tune at A 432 to A 434 instead of A 440.

If you can, you'll save a lot of anguish caused by future string breakage at the expense of realizing the full potential of the new instrument, assuming this won't be for school or community service work.

 

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15 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I don't think so.  I think you should have brought it up to around C sharp or D with the peg before going to the fine tuner.

It depends somewhat on whether you have steel strings or synthetic-core strings.  The pitch of steel strings changes a lot more than that of synthetic strings when subjected to the same amount of peg rotation.  This means that you need to tune synthetic strings closer to the final desired pitch than steel strings with the pegs.

If your D string was only tuned up to A or G below D, I am very surprised that it broke.  It makes me wonder if the string was defective or if there is some problem with the instrument that would cause the string to break.  Where did it break?

I have D'Addario Prelude steel strings. It broke in the peg box, right where the coloured cotton wrapping on the string starts (not sure what that's called). I probably tightened the peg too quickly and too far right before it broke. 

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Preludes break pretty easily, so it’s not hard to imagine the string breaking under normal circumstances. However, if the string gets kinked or if the edges of the peg hole are too sharp, those things can cause trouble as well. Before putting another string on, just make sure the strings are installed properly and that the pegs are finished well. If you’re unsure about how to evaluate the pegs, visit a violin shop (NOT a music store) near you and have a luthier look at it. 

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I'm surprised your string broke. It may have been defective. When I put on new strings I loosen the fine tuners all the way, then bring the string all the way up to pitch using the peg. Even a little sharp, because it will settle around the peg and maybe stretch a little. I only use fine tuners after the string has settled in. For what it's worth, I use Prim strings for fiddle tunes and can't comment on brands used for classical music other than to say I don't think it would matter.

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You should lubricate the nut grooves with graphite, after checking that the groove is actually wide enough for the string. Breaking in the pegbox usually means the string was pinched in the nut.

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27 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

You should lubricate the nut grooves with graphite, after checking that the groove is actually wide enough for the string. Breaking in the pegbox usually means the string was pinched in the nut.

Another argument (if one is needed) for V shaped grooves. That shape won't pinch.

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53 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

You should lubricate the nut grooves with graphite, after checking that the groove is actually wide enough for the string. Breaking in the pegbox usually means the string was pinched in the nut.

I'll second this.  That it broke in the pegbox is a good sign that the string was pinched or otherwise stressed at the nut.  That should be checked/corrected before you spend too much on D strings.

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51 minutes ago, bkwood said:

Another argument (if one is needed) for V shaped grooves. That shape won't pinch.

String grooves should never be V-shaped. That causes strings to get pinched and break. If the string broke at the pegbox, it likely had an issue there, not at the nut. It’s definitely worth checking the groove, but that’s probably not the cause of the trouble, unless that’s where it actually broke. 

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1 minute ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

If the string broke at the pegbox, it likely had an issue there, not at the nut. It’s definitely worth checking the groove, but that’s probably not the cause of the trouble, unless that’s where it actually broke. 

Not in my experience.
When the string is pinched or binds in the nut, the tension increases significantly between the nut and peg, when turning the peg. The string will then break around halfway between the nut and peg.

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I find that if the nut grooves are improperly shaped, the string will bind and degrade at the pinch point. This is more common with  synthetic core or gut strings, where the winding unravels and exposes the softer core.

The OP’s description led me to believe the issue was with the peg, but without seeing it in person it’s hard to know. The nut could be an issue. But I’ve seen enough instruments with Preludes to know that they break quite easily. 

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Thanks for  all the comments, everyone. It's a great learning opportunity for me! I'll definitely lubricate the nut.

It's worth mentioning that the violin is part of a brand set up by a luthier here in New Zealand. He gets them made in China then sets them up professionally when they arrive. He's pretty confident in his brand, although as the bridge feet were not flush with the violin body, I'm  wondering how much set up went into it! Picture of the peg box for reference 

WIN_20200117_15_13_03_Pro.jpg

Edited by anna_violin

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22 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

String grooves should never be V-shaped. That causes strings to get pinched and break.

We'll have to disagree on this. To clarify why I favor a V groove, it's because it it an open shape giving 2 solid points of contact with the string, without capturing it lateraly. If one tries to have a U shaped groove it has to be perfect for each gauge of string. Any variation and it is either too wide leaving only one point of contact that can allow sideways movement of the string, or too tight and it pinches. Change guage of strings and it's different again. A string will never pinch in a V groove and break.

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51 minutes ago, bkwood said:

We'll have to disagree on this. To clarify why I favor a V groove, it's because it it an open shape giving 2 solid points of contact with the string, without capturing it lateraly. If one tries to have a U shaped groove it has to be perfect for each gauge of string. Any variation and it is either too wide leaving only one point of contact that can allow sideways movement of the string, or too tight and it pinches. Change guage of strings and it's different again. A string will never pinch in a V groove and break.

A V groove only gives 2 points of contact, whereas a curve provides infinite points of contact and therefore reduces chances of binding. You’re right that each groove must be exactly made for the string, but any competent luthier does this as a routine part of setup. I know of a couple people who use triangular files to make the grooves, but they’re infamous for their setup work...
 

If the string is deep enough in the groove to be able to slide around, something is very wrong with the groove. The sound of the instrument is also going to suffer.

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12 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

A V groove only gives 2 points of contact, whereas a curve provides infinite points of contact and therefore reduces chances of binding. You’re right that each groove must be exactly made for the string, but any competent luthier does this as a routine part of setup. I know of a couple people who use triangular files to make the grooves, but they’re infamous for their setup work...
 

If the string is deep enough in the groove to be able to slide around, something is very wrong with the groove. The sound of the instrument is also going to suffer.

Agreed. A V groove pinches the string. It can then break or unwind or the winding can bunch up, causing it to break anywhere along the string.

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4 hours ago, sospiri said:

Agreed. A V groove pinches the string. It can then break or unwind or the winding can bunch up, causing it to break anywhere along the string.

Disagree strongly. V groove allows free movement of the string, the opposite of pinching which can happen by trying to capture it perfectly. No problem if doing it that way works, which it often will. But it is an unnecessary waste of time that provides a poorer overall result. I know many of you  disagree with this so I'll just leave it there. Have at it.

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On 1/16/2020 at 5:23 PM, Wood Butcher said:

You should lubricate the nut grooves with graphite, after checking that the groove is actually wide enough for the string. Breaking in the pegbox usually means the string was pinched in the nut.

Agreed.

24 minutes ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

As a stringmaker, I also second V shape. Please switch to V shape to avoid 80% problems with strings breaking and strings unwinding.

Bohdan, can we spend a bit of time with some strings, some files, and some setup techniques sometime?

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2 minutes ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

Of course we can. Do you mean here, or in peson?

I was thinking at one of the VSA Competition Conventions. Aren't both of us usually there anyway?

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I am still not sure of my personal visit there. If I come, I will be pleased by having a talk with you. Should you come to Shanghai or Cremona, we could meet for sure. If you would like to contact me by e-mail meantime, just write to my surname@familyname.com

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On 1/16/2020 at 4:52 PM, bkwood said:

Another argument (if one is needed) for V shaped grooves. 

 

On 1/16/2020 at 5:46 PM, The Violin Beautiful said:

String grooves should never be V-shaped. 

I have a Rouge Valley 7 string guitar laying around with no strings.  I just wanted to see what the guitar nut looked like after reading here.  I see they slotted the thicker wound b thru d strings with a round groove and the g thru e strings v shape.   

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9 hours ago, bkwood said:

Disagree strongly. V groove allows free movement of the string, the opposite of pinching which can happen by trying to capture it perfectly. No problem if doing it that way works, which it often will. But it is an unnecessary waste of time that provides a poorer overall result. I know many of you  disagree with this so I'll just leave it there. Have at it.

This doesn’t make sense to me. A V groove has two sharp edges that can cut into the winding. The only way to avoid those sharp edges is to make the groove wide enough that the string isn’t in contact with the edges of the groove, which means the string has to be buried in the groove—a distinct disadvantage. Getting the groove to match the shape of the string is critical to proper functionality. And lubricating the surface helps to lower friction.

Another thing that often gets overlooked is the path of the string from the nut to the peg. If the string doesn’t “flow” over the nut to the peg it’ll pinch. And it’s important to make sure that the groove isn’t an uneven width. 

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I have broken several D'addario D strings just tuning fiddles while.setting them up. Never any other kind of strings.  Now I have an old set of Prim I use to get fiddles set up as far as string height, and when it's right I then put a new set of strings on.

 

Helicores have been horrible the last several years.

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