Just like any string instrument, viola strings should be changed over time for it affects the quality of sound the instrument produces. There are several factors that affect the lifespan of a string such as sweat (from when you are using the instrument), composition, and environment (especially if you are playing in various places and countries with different weather temperature). But generally, strings will have to be changed as it loses its ability to hold pitch and resonance over time. Also keep in mind that the strings of a viola differ from violin strings so it is a must to buy a set that is specifically made for violas



There are multiple reasons why your viola strings wear out over time. The common reasons are as follows:

  1. Time Frequency – The amount of time you spend on playing your viola can lower the lifespan of your viola strings. Earliest would be one (1) to three (3) months especially if you’re someone who’s been using it everyday for performances, practices and alike.
  2. Material of the String – Aside from the playing habit, the material your string is made of could be one of the factors. It’s ideal to go with synthetic nylon strings over steel fabricated strings for it has the ability to last longer than other materials and produces great sound as well.
  3. Setup of Instrument – For some instances, the way the viola’s bridge or nut has been shaped can affect the longevity of your strings.
  4. Contact – Everything that touches your viola – from hands, dirt, and especially the rosin can affect the quality of your viola strings through wearing it out.



It’s recommended that if you’re using your viola frequently, you should change the strings every three (3) to six (6) months. But if the viola is less frequently used, you may change it once a year, especially if you’re just at the beginner stage of playing viola.


Here are the common signs that it’s time to change your viola:

  1. It has lost the capability to hold a pitch for a long duration.
  2. It produces a dull sound when in use.
  3. It already has dull and murky appearance.



To change your viola strings, you may follow these steps:

  1. Do not remove the strings all at once. It can cause your bridge to fall off. Instead, remove the strings one by one.
  2. Next, turn the peg for the strings to loosen before removing it from the peg and tailpiece.
  3. After which, if your tailpiece has fine tuners, you may want to place the ball of new set of strings between its little legs. But if your strings don’t have fine tuners, just put the ball in the hole of the tailpiece.
  4. Now, put the string through the hold of the peg and prevent it from winding around the peg. If this happens, this can affect the tuning of your instrument and also shorten the lifespan of your viola strings.
  5. Do not forget to check your bridge when you’re changing strings. During tuning, pull the bridge to the other side and make sure that it can stand up straight.
  6. When you’ve successfully changed your strings, you must tune them until you get the perfect tone.



If your viola strings keep on coming off on the peg hole or it won’t stay in the tailpiece, it’s ideal to consult a repair technician. Also, if you started to hear a buzz whenever you’re playing your newly installed strings, it’s about time that you look for a qualified viola repair technician or seek help from your instructor.

  • Photo Credit:  Musician’s Friend

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