Dear me, there does seem to be some interest here! You know I'm not a professional -- and now the pressure is on to say something intelligent about violin strings. I said I'd got you all set up, but maybe you need to put one or more new strings on your instrument before we talk about practising?
Yes, I'm still learning myself and have newly-acquired knowledge in this area since I went ahead and changed my E string. On Wolfy the Warchal Amethyst E string often sounded harsh and metallic, plus it was so thin and sharp it wasn't nice to play on up high. So I put his former hardly-used Obligato E string back on. I didn't think it would wake up nasty Mr Wolf because actually the Pirastro Obligato E string in itself has a lower tension than my Warchal string, according to charts on the website ViolinStringReview.com.
I had a good look at how the luthier had put the strings on and discovered something. I shouldn't use tweezers and pull some of the string through the peg!
There were in fact no string ends in sight! To reach the E string peg hole (with the A string already in place) I just pulled the peg out further. Then I just poked the string straight ahead right into the hole and started twirling the peg while pushing it gradually back in. I found the string wrapped very neatly in place and seems fine.
Of course I had already secured the ball end of the string in the adjuster on the tailpiece and while tightening had to reposition the string in the groove on the bridge. (If there had been a little bridge protector on the string it had been lost at this stage but my bridge has a reinforcement on it for the E string in any case). Tuning of course was done very gradually with a few cracking noises as the ball end popped in snugly. While tightening the peg I kept a finger lightly about in the middle of the string in case it snapped in my face (my Mum told me to do that one long ago).
Now there are some good demonstrations and advice on changing strings on YouTube and I later found useful advice on the blog at Masterhandviolins.com. This one describes a method of crossing the string over itself when first winding and in fact my other strings do have this cross-over. On checking, I found my E string had (perhaps luckily) crossed over by itself. So good advice is out there. However there is one very important tip that I should draw your attention to:
Tip #16: When putting on a new set of strings, replace one at a time, and check the bridge doesn't tilt over.
Keeping tension on the bridge not only keeps it in position, it importantly guards against the sound-post inside the violin collapsing. Also keeping some tension on strings stops the tailpiece from falling and scratching your violin.
Well I am happy that I changed my string. I think it does sound better and is certainly better on my fingers when playing up very high (now I actually press my finger down to the fingerboard )
Tip #17: It's worth experimenting with different strings -- you may find your instrument sounds best with a mix of brands.
So many brands, gauges etc. and so many pretty colours in their silk wrapped ends!
Before posting I wanted to check my former strings were in fact Obligato because Wolfgang has had 3 different brand strings since I first met him. I noticed on ViolinStringReview.com that the web can help us identify strings from their colours, though I did find some websites dealing with this rather confusing. My strings were however very clearly identified on the site rdebey.com which has excellent well-lit photos. That site unfortunately does not include the Warchal brand and probably some others.
Now we have strings we really DO need to get onto the practising advice. If you are starting out again after quite a break there is one important bit of advice I can give:
Tip #18: Rome wasn't built in a day (don't practise too hard too soon).
For the full gory details on why I say this, read my "Education on hand injuries" thread under ABRSM's General Music Forum.
That will keep you going... till next time.