What is it?? — the plastic tube on a violin E string

“Teacher, I have a question! What is that?”

The purpose of the plastic tube on the violin E string

“Oh, this tiny plastic tube on the E string? It protects the bridge. Because of the thinness and the tension of the E string, the E string would sometimes dig into or cut into the bridge, even though all the strings need to be sitting on top of the bridge. If the string digs into the bridge, the string does not vibrate properly. That means the violin would not sound as good as it should. By placing the plastic tube between the bridge and the string, we can protect the bridge.”

“Do I have to use it?”

3 possible problems which the plastic tube on the violin E string can cause

“You don’t HAVE TO, and there are some people who would say it should be removed completely before you put the E string on.
Because:

  1. by placing the plastic tube, the string will be raised ever so slightly. Once you become very sensitive about your playing, this type of minor change may cause some adjustment of your playing.
  2. Also, it is possible that adding something may prevent the full vibration of the string as well as the bridge. In that event, the violin may not fully resonate.
  3. I’ve heard that the tube may cause some noise.

You are still in the 3rd grade and just starting to learn how to play the violin, so in order to learn the purpose of the plastic tube on the E string, I recommend putting it on. As I mentioned, it prevents damage to the bridge. I’m sure you want to take good care of your violin, too, right? If your bridge gets damaged by E string digging into it, you have to replace the bridge. It can cost a lot.

What can be a substitute for the tube?

My bridge already has a plastic patch, so I do not need to use the plastic tube. However, I’m using it anyway, just to experiment how it is going to be on my bridge. Is it going to be a double protection? Or is it going to bring any problem? So far, I do not have any problem with it. No noise, no problem with the sound, either.

a plastic tube on violin E string and a patch on the bridge

3 ways to remove the plastic tube from the E string

If one has a bridge with a patch, like mine, and one feels there is no need for the plastic tube on the E string, it is best to remove it before one puts the E string on the violin.

  1. After taking the string  out of the package, slide the plastic tube toward the end of the string where it touches the peg and pull it out before putting the string on the violin. The part that touches the peg has the winding and it is thicker, so one has to slide the tube strongly with some force.
  2. If the wrap on the string is too thick for the tube to slide through, one can cut it with a sharp knife. Take the tube close to the wrap of the string and cut it very very carefully. Never damage the string itself.
  3. If you can’t cut it well, you can push the tube around the winding of the tailpiece side so that it never moves.

The important thing is to never let the tube hang loose. That is the cause of noise.

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