In the case of our subject, we're just going to change the G string because, as the G is plated in silver and the others in aluminium, the silver has deteriorated much quicker than the others. If you need to change the whole set you can just follow the same steps for each one. Unlike on a guitar where you typically take all of the strings off at once in order to change them we would generally recommend only changing one at a time on violin - that way you won't have to worry about the bridge or soundpost moving.
1. Before we do anything let's have a quick look at this bridge. Notice that the feet are in contact with the belly of the violin on both the front and back edges, that the bridge is located in between the little nicks on the inner side of the F hole and that the bridge appears to lean slightly back so that the side facing the tailpiece is about 90% to the belly and the side facing the fingerboard appears to lean back slightly. If you notice the bridge has moved at all whilst you loosen and tighten the strings, grasp it firmly between your thumb and forefinger of each side and gently push it back into place. The most common thing is for the bridge to tip forward when the strings are loosened or backward when they're tightened. You don't want it to fall over so keep a close eye on it!
2. To remove the old string, simply loosen the peg and it will come free:
3. Here's the new string ready to go on. The ball on the end of the string simply goes through the hole and locks into place under tension. If your violin has a fine adjuster it's pretty much the same idea - just pop it into the slot and the string tension will hold it in place:
4. Here's the string properly loaded into the slot:
5. Heading over to the peg box, the peg has a hole drilled into it which you pass the end of the string through:
6. Here's the string already passed through the hole with the peg back in the peg box. Remember a violin peg works by friction in the taper, so if you pull it away from the peg box it will get looser and if you push it inwards it will get tighter. You want a nice smooth turn so you don't need to push it hard, just a little gentle pressure as you start to turn will help you find the sweet spot.
7. Now we need to wind the string onto the peg so that it goes over the top and down. I want to clamp the loose end of the string between coils so I'm going I've wrapped one coil to the inside of the loose end and subsequent turns will stack to the outside. It's a good idea to have the windings heading into the direction of the handle of the peg so that the string continues over the nut in a straight line: if the string pulls sharply in a diagonal direction it will tend to pull loose or tight (depending on direction) of it's own accord as you turn the peg:
8. Here's an irritating thing: whilst you've been concentrating on getting the string threaded neatly around the peg, the ball has long since popped out of the hole in the tailpiece and now you need to strat again! As you get more proficient threading the string at the pegbox end, you can avoid this by threading the string with one hand whilst holding the string tight with the other. In the photo I'm using my thumb and third finger to tension the string so that it remains locked into the tailpiece:
9. And we're done! Here's the peg box with the string neatly in place:
Hope that makes things a bit less frightening! If you're struggling with it or if your violin maintenance needs are more than just changing strings give us a call or email and we'll be more than happy to help!