Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

I moved to the other side of the world and bought a cheap Chinese fiddle to tie me over. It’s ok but the tuning pegs on it are pretty bad. It requires frequent application of rosin and re-tuning but with some patience you can get it to stick for a week or if you’re lucky, longer! Anyways I bought some Pirastro Chromcor today. String instability is expected with new strings of course. I was able to get the D, A and E string to Db Ab and Eb respectively with no trouble.

However the G string is proving to be a nightmare. Everytime I tune it I can get it to a mere octave below standard G before it starts acting funny. Often I will turn the peg and it will not tune even a little bit. Eventually if it does, it will start to "creak" (the sound of it makes me anxious!) and I can see the ball of the string being pulled closer and closer out of the hole. I keep tuning the string and eventually it WILL pop out of the hole at the tailpiece. I usually can get it to a B or C below standard G before the string "pops" out of the tailpiece. I do not have fine tuners on any of them except E.

Does the string just need more time to stretch, unwind and acclimatise? Or is it doomed? I really REALLY want to play fiddle with new, quality strings after using cheap Chinese ones for the past few months. How can I stop this from happening? Should I cover the hole at the tailpiece so it won’t pop out, and tune to G hoping nothing happens? As I say the other strings are fine. But this is driving me crazy. I miss my quality violin from home, how I regret not bringing it now.

I live in Vietnam where violin luthiers are basically non-existent and knowledge of violins in music shops is poor. Definitely not enough to make any adjustments. I can post pictures/videos of the process later if that would help. Would really love if someone was able to help fix this!

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

if the hole in the tailpiece is somehow „off“ such that doesn’t hold your ball-type string properly, you could fit a fine tuner , they cost a couple $? or get a loop end string and thread through the loop?

I am pretty sure you’re better off not having the expensive violin in subtropical climate

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

Very Coarse Fiddle Maintenance.

It sounds as if the groove section of the hole in the tailpiece isn’t deep/wide enough so the string can’t slide in properly. A small file or penknife might do the trick.
Failing that, you could simply tie a big knot at the ball end of the string (there’s usually a fair bit of extra length at the pegbox end)
Another possibility is to remove the ball and slip a small nail into the loop to act as an anchor.

There is a way to deal with the pegs; I have a cheapo electric fiddle I use for ‘silent’ practice and it has the same problem pegs as your fiddle has. (One of these days I’m going to remove them completely and replace them with mandolin machine heads - but that’s another story) But, you will need fine tuners for each string. You slacken off a peg and while it’s still loose tune up to as close as you can get to the correct tone and then jam the peg back into the hole so it’s solid. Then do all subsequent tuning with the fine tuners. Of course, the day will come when a fine tuner has reached its limit and you’ll have to repeat loosening and jamming business.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

The hole is wide enough for the ball end of the string to pass through. It’s when I start tuning it past an A (below standard G) that the ball end of the string starts getting pulled through the tailpiece hole, with the creaking noise. Basically the more I tune the string, the more it gets pulled out of the tailpiece’s hole. This is baring in mind that it’s getting pulled out from well under the hole; the ball end of the string is deep within the hole and at first glance it would seem impossible that it would get pulled out!

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

So a tailpiece looks like this:

https://4.imimg.com/data4/GR/XW/MY-12960371/violin-tailpiece-500x500.jpg

There’s a hole, and a slot attached to each hole which points towards the string. The slot should accommodate the string but not the ball.

Are you saying the ball is getting pulled through the slot? In which case, I’d invest in a semi-decent tailpiece.

I’m a bit confused about the mechanics of what’s happening, because as the string tightens, it should be getting pulled into the slot and it shouldn’t be able to work it’s way out the hole. I don’t want to suggest you’re doing it wrong, but are you sure the string is going where it should?

Posted by .

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

I don’t think it’s the string’s fault - at least, not entirely. New strings do always take a bit of time and use to stabilise but, aside from that, there are two unconnected things going on here: i. the ball end pops out of the hole and ii. the peg won’t hold. Muircheartaighs tips above should help with these.

A word of warning re the 2nd issue, though: It is not a good idea to use rosin on pegs, as it can cause them to jam completely. If they are made of softer wood (as cheap pegs often are) then the torsion required to turn the peg may be more than the wood can take, resulting in a broken peg lodged firmly in the hole. The ideal thing would be to have new (ebony) pegs fitted - but the calibre of the instrument probably does not warrant this. Short of that, put some *peg paste* (e.g. https://tinyurl.com/y8b6g94l ) on each of the pegs - this will go some way to smoothing the peg action and helping them hold.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

alternative to peg paste can be three strokes with a wax candle interspersed with three strokes of chalk, along each peg.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

I’d second the idea of buying an integrated tailpiece, like a Wittner. Just go to Google, select Images, and type "Wittner integrated tailpiece".

That will help to ease your tuning problems, and will fix your pop-out G.

As for the stiff pegs - sounds like the pegbox needs reaming and new pegs fitted, but if that’s difficult (and it is a cheapo fiddle), you can wind the string on to the peg so that the turns touch the pegbox wall. That will reduce slippage from the pegs.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

The ball is pulled through the hole, not the slot. It is firmly under the tailpiece at first. Here is a picture.

https://s33.postimg.cc/51mmt5msv/IMG_20180831_122611_1.jpg

When the G string’s peg is tuned, it will making a creaking noise and the ball, as you can see, will start getting pulled closer and closer towards the hole of the tailpiece (not the slot). It will eventually just pop out. Often turning the peg won’t even tune it, or it will instantly detune. It’s only through perseverance that it will start to, and when it starts to actually tune, that’s when the creaking/pulling happens.

I’ve also noticed as I tune the strings, the bridge starts tilting forward. Could this have something to do with it? I’ve heard it’s normal for that to happen, should I be fixing the bridge constantly while tuning or will it go away once the strings have stretched a bit more?

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

PS thanks for all the advice and help. Do you think getting fine tuners would help with any of this? There’s a moderate chance that some of the music stores may have at the least some fine tuners.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

From the picture it looks as though the slots in the tailpiece are too narrow for the strings so that they are not pulling in properly - the ball should be sitting at the end of the slot nearest the bridge, away from the hole, and hard up against the wood. I think the fiddle was sold with very cheap strings on, which are thinner than most better quality strings.

You could widen the slots with a sharp knife, thin file or possibly an emery board thet people use for their fingernails, but given that the strings you’ve bought have steel cores you’ll still find them almost impossible to tune accurately from the pegs. A Wittner style tailpiece with built in fine tuners is the answer. Don’t buy individual tuners to fit to your current tailpiece, they are only intended for use with the E string, and will cause other problems if you try to use them for the thicker strings without modification.

The bridge leaning as you tune up is perfectly normal, just grip the top edge of the bridge between the strings with two fingers and thumb and gently pull it back upright (the back face should be vertical, the front sloping back slightly due to the taper).

The other problem I can see from the picture is that the feet of the bridge haven’t been fitted to the soundboard - they need to be shaped to match the curve perfectly with no gaps. If you get that done, or look up on the internet to find out how to do it yourself you’ll find it makes a marked difference to the sound of the instrument. And if that hasn’t been done there are probably other aspects of the setup that need adjustment, it would be well worth getting it looked at by a luthier or experienced fiddler if you can - a few touches with a file in the right places can totally transform an instrument and make it much easier to play.

Oh, and I’ll second what others have already said about using rosin on the pegs.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

my fiddles are just fine with four identical fine tuners same as the e-string. I fitted them myself on one instrument and my luthier on my other. there have been posts here on thesession.org from people struggling to fit the thicker strings in, but they can just be bent gently apart to make this happen

if pianoter were to get a new tailpiece he’d have to go to a luthier as you risk dropping the soundpost if you take all strings off, and remember, he is not geographically near a luthier. but one string/tuner after the other can be done at home.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

Anyone can fit a new tailpiece, it doesn’t need a luthier. If the soundpost is fitted correctly it won’t fall unless you give the instrument a good hard jolt with the strings off. And on a student instrument it won’t fall even then - if you’ve ever tried adjusting one you’ll know they are always jammed in tighter than a tight thing, because they ship these things all over the world and have to be sure that they will arrive with the post still standing, no matter what the shipping company does to it.

Just levering e string tuners open isn’t sensible: they have a narrow slot down to a wider hole, and once you lever them open the shoulders between slot and hole become little barbs, just waiting to fray your new strings. If you are going to open them it’s best to do it with a file or hacksaw blade so that you remove the barbs.

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

Ah, I read the title of this discussion and I see a ball of fiddle string…it’s for people who wear out their strings often so buy in bulk. To stop your ball of fiddle string popping out and rolling behind the fridge and getting all dusty, punch a hole in the lid of a jam jar, and keep your string in there. I can also see where this discussion might head next, but I’m not going there. Good luck with getting your fiddle to behave itself.

Posted by .

Re: Ball of fiddle string pops out of tailpiece (+ G not tuning)

Also, I believe the Wittner integrated tailpiece is lighter than a standard tailpiece with four E-tuners, so that’s a consideration too.