As a string player, I always have sets of strings on reserve on the off chance that I suffer a snapped string and will need to replace the string before I'm able to use the tools of my trade again. Plus, strings will eventually go a bit false as they are stretched on the instrument for a long time. They get a bit brittle and uneven, and they will tend to ring a bit flat and dull in comparison to when they were freshly stretched out. So, even if they aren't broken, they need to be replaced regularly if you want to keep your instruments in peak playing condition.
This problem is even worse for the instruments of my particular specialisation where the strings are made of pure naked gut made from sheep or cow insides. Modern Violin strings are made with steel in comparison, which has much more endurance and resistance to weather changes. However, they do have a very different sound and response.
Unlike modern violin strings, pure gut strings come in many different types... varying in thickness, length, type of twist and coating. Plus, each manufacturer has a very distinct style and choice of raw materials as well! Each instrument will have a certain preference for different combinations of thickness and type which will work best... which is the sort of thing that you settle upon through long experimentation and experience. Of course, to make things more interesting... these things change with the temperature and humidity, as the wood and sinews respond so differently in different weather conditions!
... and the manufacturers make these strings by a mostly manual method... so the quality is more variable from batch to batch in comparison to a factory line!
So, every now and then... I take a quick stocktake of what strings I have. I have 3 violins, 1 viola and a viola dámore that need sets of gut strings. So, a different combination for each instrument... which leads to a nightmare of figuring out what gauges (thickness) and types are required when I do the string order.
Thankfully, this time... I had more than enough Viola dámore strings (which are partially overlapping the violin and viola strings anyway....) so I didn't have that particular nightmare of 14 strings to reorder.
Meanwhile, the violins needed to have the top strings restocked (these are the thinnest strings, so they tend to break more often...).
For the high pitched violins (A = 430/440/466 Hz) I would need thinner strings, 58 and 60 for the E string, 80 for the A string and 110 for the D. The lower pitched violins (A = 415 and 392Hz) have thicker strings at 64/66 for E strings, 86 for the A string and 120 for the D.
The Viola needs a 80 on the top (A) and the D is a 110.... however, I can't use the strings of these gauges from the violins, as they are the wrong length! I also had to order a very rare C strings... these cost quite a bit, but I had managed to snap one recently!
So, a large string order this time... and also a chance to throw out some older reserve strings that seem to be dated from the last decade. Definitely too brittle to use anymore!
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