Strings

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This topic contains 25 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  DianeG 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #7144

    poetmom
    Participant

    I know, the topic of fiddle strings stirs up more controversy than political candidates.

    But still. . .what do YOU like?

    I’ve been using Helicores for awhile. But before hitting the “order” button for a $45 set of strings, are there any other lovely sets you’d recommend?

  • #7147

    Casey Willis
    Keymaster

    I’ve had success with Prim mediums. I use those on G, D, and A strings. I use a wound thomastik dominant E string (#129 or #130). Give’em a try….

  • #7148

    poetmom
    Participant

    Tanks, folks! Casey, I just ordered them. Why do you recommend the other E string?

    • #7149

      Casey Willis
      Keymaster

      I like the tone of the thomastik better for E…but only the E. The wound E also helps to reduce whistling/wolf tones…let us know what you think. Each instrument is different, but that’s what I use on my axes.

  • #7297

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi….I’m new on the site. just joined today. I have a strings luthier husband and together we have a violin shop in North San Diego county. For a wonderful fiddle setup…try this E string. Lenzner (German) Goldbrokat E string. A solid E, no wrappings. Two gauges to consider, med. 0.26 and heavy 0.27. Inexpensive but awesome. Any of the on-line sites carry them…about $2. We match this E string up with synthetic core strings…Zyex med.or Tonicas mediums for a nice tone…totally depending on the construction of your violin.
    Strings can make a difference but can not turn an inexpensive sounding fiddle into a wonderful sounding one…that has all to do with the archings of the violin during construction….the better quality violin (not the more expensive) with good woods and proper construction…the more likely a good set of strings will help.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #7298

    poetmom
    Participant

    Welcome, Diane! Thanks for the tips! I will keep this in mind for my next string change. I’m grateful to have had a wonderful fiddle all the way from. . .SoCal. Yep, I grew up in Orange County and bought my “for life” fiddle at Morey’s music in Long Beach back in 89 or 90!

  • #7299

    Roland White
    Moderator

    HI DianeG and Poetmom, Thanks for the info on your string research. I try to experiment as much as I can within my budget and always like to hear what others use for stringing up their fiddles. I lean toward the Synthetic Perlon strings for my best fiddle and I do like the Tonicas for student set ups. Currently I’m using a very expensive set up but they sound so good on my fiddle and they last nearly a year with 1-3 hours a day practice. They are the Peter Infields string. The G & D last forever and I change out the A and E with Vision Titaniums at about 6 months. Thanks for joining the site DIaneG and Poetmom thank you for joining the discussion. Fiddle on.

  • #7314

    ulla_petersen
    Participant

    Hi DianeG, do you have recommendations for violas as well? I have 2 instruments: a 42 cm (16.5 inches) Gewa Ideale, a really good beginner’s instrument, fitted with Thomastik Dominant strings, and a carbonfibre Mezzoforte of the same size with D’Addario Kaplan medium tension.

    Best regards, Ulla

  • #7315

    Roland White
    Moderator

    Hi Diane and Ulla, while we are talking string choices for Viola I have a student 3/4 which is about the same size as a 4/4 violin, but with a deeper body. I have wanted to put on Octave Violin strings but I’ve found only 2 choices either cheap and worthless or very expensive, $100+. Since this Viola isn’t very expensive I hate to spend more on strings than its worth. Do you have any suggestions for moderate priced but good strings that would work for making an Octave Violin setup. Or possibly a good bulk string vendor where I can try out making a custom set. Thanks for posting, I find strings an interesting topic. Have you heard of the Japanese scientist that made a silk core string from silk worms? I think there will always be a quest for a better sounding string. I haven’t heard about the Carbon Fiber String you mention, are they making sets now in Carbon Fiber? Thanks for posting a good topic.

  • #7316

    ulla_petersen
    Participant

    Hi Roland, I have never personally met an octave violin player, but it seems that here in Denmark there are only 2 brands of octave violin strings for sale: Thomastik Superflex that cost 1025 Danish kroner which is about $155, and Sensicore http://www.supersensitive.com/octave.html which cost 645 Danisk kroner or about $98.

    The luthier that sold me my carbonfibre viola (it’s the instrument that is made of carbonfibre, not the strings 🙂 ) also sells the Sensicore strings; his shop is one of biggest string specialist shops in Denmark (not that it says a lot in comparison with the US, I guess) and he sells only products of good quality, so if you haven’t tried Sensicore it might worht a try.

    Or if all else fails, how about putting on viola strings and learning to play viola? Some of the tunes sound really great on viola! 🙂

  • #7317

    Roland White
    Moderator

    HI Ulla, Thanks for the reply. I will consider those just for the fun of a experimenting with a different sound. I’ve thought about the Viola and if the Octave sound isn’t pleasant I might fool around with it. Thanks for your suggestions.
    Best regards, Roland, Forum Moderator

  • #7319

    ulla_petersen
    Participant

    I found a small scientific (!) study of viola strings “A Comparison of Viola Strings with Harmonic
    Frequency Analysis” from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; perhaps it is interesting to violinists, too.

    It compares (using spectrograms!) the sound properties of the following strings:

    1. D’Addario Helicore
    2. D’Addario Zyex
    3. Jargar
    4. Larsen
    5. Pirastro Eudoxa (gut core)
    6. Pirastro Evah Pirazzi
    7. Pirastro Obligato
    8. Pirastro Tonica
    9. Super Sensitive Red Label
    10. Thomastik Dominant
    11. Thomastik Spirocore
    12. Thomastik Vision

    It can be found here: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&context=musicstudent

    • #7391

      Casey Willis
      Keymaster

      Wow, Ulla. I finally had a chance to check your link…that’s outstanding! Thank you for sharing this information with everyone. That’s an in-depth look at string characteristics.

      -C

  • #7937

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi Roland….sorry I have not answered your post. Boy,have I missed out on some good “stuff” here. Ulla, thanks for that link too…we are going to explore that one! To answer your questions regarding strings for a 14 inch viola (I play a 15 inch one) that poses a good question. You mention two Violin Octave string sets..one cheap and one expensive…which ones (brand) are you referring to??? Your aware that Octave strings are very thick and had to move? Your going to need a heavy/stiff bow and a lot of arm weight…maybe both..LOL to get those strings to vibrate. Then to, be careful of the integrity of the small viola top and bridge. My husband Bob, suggests using Stark (heavy violin strings) to bring out some more tone and possibly projection. You might try a set of Zyex. I would think a set of heavy viola strings for a 15 inch might also work…as they would be thicker.
    Let us know what you find out. I will be sure to tune in more often here. : >) Setups with strings, bridges, sound posts and after length and then added good bow weight can be a challenge and finding someone to set up a fiddle or viola can be an equal challenge. Fire away if anyone has questions regarding setups…my husband Bob is awesome on setups both for violin and viola. Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #7938

    Roland White
    Moderator

    Hi Diane G, Thanks for the additional info for Octave Violin setups. Once I get it strung up I will let you know what it sounds like. I didn’t realize one would need a heavier bow with extra arm weight & pressure to play them but now that I think about it it makes sense. The 3/4 Viola I acquired looks to have a good set up on it with a nicely fitting bridge and playability, so it will be interesting to see how that changes with the different string set up. Thanks for posting on the forum and keep checking in we love participation from the members. Best regards, Roland Moderator

  • #7939

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi Roland…glad to help. What Octave strings….brands where the expensive and cheap? I’m curious. Thanks.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #7950

    Pat Willey
    Participant

    Roland, this may belong under the “Bow” forum heading, but since bow weight was brought up here, I thought it might be okay to address bow differences in bow weights, heavy vs. light bows.

    Diane G is right about the viola needing a heavier bow. It may help some folks to put some numbers with what is considered ‘heavy’ and ‘light’. For bows with hair on them, generally accepted weights to keep in mind are:

    4/4 Violin bows (4/4) 60 grams with balance point at 9.5 inches.

    4/4 Viola bows 70 grams, balance point 9.5 inches

    3/4 Viola bow 65 grams, balance point 9″

    Typical weights can vary plus or minus 5 grams or more from the above (there are some violin bows between 50 and 55 grams). If a violin bow is over 65 grams, it might better be referred to as a viola bow rather than a heavy violin bow.

    Preferable balance points are often within 0.5 inches of the above values. The balance point may be more important to the player than differences in weight of a couple of grams. A violin shop may be able to adjust your bow’s balance point if it feels too heavy at the tip or the frog.

  • #7955

    DianeG
    Participant

    A COUPLE OF SUGGESTIONS TO PAT WILEY’S REPLY.

    A GOOD VIOLIN BOW HAS TO FIRST OFF WORK WITH YOUR PARTICULAR VIOLIN. BOWS AND VIOLINS ARE SYNERGISTIC AND NOT JUST ONE WEIGHT OF 60 GRAMS IS GOING TO WORK WITH YOUR VIOLIN AND IT’S SETUP. WE HAVE A SHOP HERE IN THE SAND DIEGO AREA OF SOCAL AND MY HUSBAND RESTORES VINTAGE BOWS. WE FIND THAT A GOOD VIOLIN BOW CAN WEIGHT BETWEEN 59.0 (LIGHT) TO OVER 63.5 GRAMS (HEAVY) AND BE CONSIDERED A GOOD WEIGHT FOR A 4/4 VIOLIN. THE REAL TEST IS IN TRYING BOWS OF DIFFERENT WEIGHTS ON YOUR VIOLIN. THAT WILL TELL YOU ALOT MORE THAN JUST PICKING A BOW WEIGHT AT RANDOM. YOU NEED TO GO TO A GOOD VIOLIN SHOP AND TRY DIFFERENT BOWS WITH DIFFERENT WEIGHTS TO SEE WHAT MAKES YOU “SMILE” AND WHAT MAKES YOUR FIDDLE “SING”. BE SURE THE STICK YOUR TRYING IS STRAIGHT AND NOT CROOKED AS YOU SIGHT DOWN THE LENGTH FROM THE SCREW END AT EYE LEVEL. STICKS ALSO COME STIFF OR SOFT…THIS MORE OR LESS DESCRIBES THE FLEXIBILITY OF THE BOW. THIS HAS TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION AND IS ABOUT AS IMPORTANT AS BOW WEIGHT. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WOOD BOWS HERE AND NOT CARBON FIBER OR FIBER GLASS. ALSO, BE CAREFUL OF ALTERING YOURS GOOD BOW’S BALANCE POINT. THAT IS BEST LEFT IN THE HANDS OF AN EXPERT LUTHIER WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH BOWS AND THE CORRECT PROCEDURE TO TO CHANGE A BOW’S BALANCE POINT…IF YOU CHANGE ONE…SAY A TIP HEAVY BOW AT THE HEAD THEN THE FROG OR BUTT END BECOMES TO HEAVY….I WOULD NOT SUGGEST THIS WITH AN EXPENSIVE BOW. VIOLA BOWS ARE A DIFFERENT BREED ALTOGETHER…SOME VIOLISTS LIKE A STIFF HEAVIER BOW TO MORE THOSE THICK STRINGS ON A 16 INCH VIOLA. VIOLA’S BTW ARE MEASURED IN INCHES AND NOT AS A 4/4 OR 3/4 SIZE…THOSE SIZES ARE FOR VIOLINS. I PLAY ON A 15 INCH VIOLA AND USE A 73.2 GRAM BOW ON ZYEX STRINGS. MY TEACHER HAS A 16.5 INCH VIOLA AND IS BUYING FROM US A GERMAN BOW FROM THE LATE 1890’S THAT WEIGHS 75.3 Grams and makes her viola really sing. The whole thing boils down to trying lots of bows in your price range at a good shop. Finding a couple that you like and then asking to take two of your favorites home for a 10 day trial period to see what really “lights” up your instrument before purchasing. Always ask to about a trade-in policy…should you ever want to up-grade the bow as you become more advanced and experienced with your genre.
    Have fun and stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #7956

    Pat Willey
    Participant

    Good points, Diane. I just did not want to get in to a real lengthy reply, I only wanted to give some idea of what ‘heavy’ could mean. I think the weights you mention fit my above caveat where I wrote, “Typical weights can vary plus or minus 5 grams or more from the above…”. There are no hard, fast numbers for bows. I never intended it to be interpreted as a good violin bow is 60 grams, or that a good viola is 70 grams. Thanks for your additional information.

  • #7957

    Casey Willis
    Keymaster

    Good thread, guys. Lots of great tips. Thanks!

  • #7965

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi Pat….thanks for your nice reply. I guess I jumped on your statement about a 60 gram bow only because we hear this alot from folks who say….I want a 6o gram bow or a bit heavier because: that is what my friend tells me or that is what my teacher told me to look for. LOL. Yes, no hard and fast rules for bow weights….the only rule to follow in choosing a bow…is: the bow I’m considering, is it a good choice for me and my violin. Is the price in my range and also important, is it a good bow for the price the shop is asking. Is it modern, bench made, factory-made or vintage German or French…the best IMHO.
    Most shops need to mark up a bow considerably to make profit. Also, what one needs to think about is re-sale value. If your paying $1,000 for a nice China made bow at a good or maybe hi end shop….can you resell it down the line for that or maybe more? Shopping around is the best thing to do. Going to good shops with good reputations is important. Buying off the net is risky, at best.
    Casey…Thanks for nice comment.
    Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #7967

    Roland White
    Moderator

    Hi Pat and DianeG, You have added a lot of good info for fiddlers to consider about bows thank you for your comments. I’ve always gone by feel and remember when I first started playing and had no idea of what to look for, feel for or listen for in a bow. I bought a pretty nice bow at the time but over the years I realized it was a bit heavy but after several years I started being able to feel a the difference in bows when I would be able to try a different one. I think the insights you provided will create some guidelines for folks in search of the right bow for them. Look forward to hearing more as topics are brought up. Very nice to have fresh perspectives on equipment. Best regards, Roland

  • #7970

    Pat Willey
    Participant

    No harm, Diane. I just figured you read my post in a hurry, missing my mention of the weight range, because you wanted to hurry back to your FiddleVideo lesson! 🙂 .

    You mentioned the German and French as makers of good bows, and they are. How do you like the Brazilian bows? Many of them were originally trained by German makers and they can be of very reasonably priced. I think I would start there if I were looking for a new bow.

    • #7979

      DianeG
      Participant

      Hi Pat. YES, bows made in Brazil are an excellent choice for a fiddler or violinist looking for a reasonably priced bow, hand made-modern bow. But, and there is always the question of what makes up a good bow from Brazil and which name to choice from. Arcos BraZil is a great company. We carry them in our shop here in SoCal….Water Violet bows another Brazilian company had excellent bows, but unfortunately they have gone out of business. As always, buy beware. There are alot of fake bows coming out of Asia with Brazillian names on them, this also goes for German and French bows. It’s all in knowing what to look for in fakes, a trained eye so so speak and in knowing the bows weight, balance point and if it’s true Pernambuco wood. Buying from a reputable source and not just over the big, wide net can be a bit safer. I have played on two Water Violet bows and loved them, both silver mounted and weighing about 60-61.0 grams. Now I have a custom made bow by Lynne Hannings from Maine…google her and her web site..it is full of wonderful information on bows. Stay tuned. Diane in SoCal

  • #7981

    Roland White
    Moderator

    Hi DianeG, Thanks again for given us the Professional insights from owning a Violin Shop. You are doing a lot of good karma with your tips and knowledge of what, where and how to buy. Thank you for your generous spirit and for your support of FiDDLEVIDEO. While I have your attention what is your best recommendation for a Carbon Fiber Bow, with price not being an issue. I’ve been thinking of getting one for travel and general use and the fact that the better ones I play sound as good as my 1850’s Pernambuco bow. I appreciate any feedback on this question and others might benefit too. Thanks again. //;-) Roland Moderator

  • #7984

    DianeG
    Participant

    Hi Roland and other fiddlers here….thanks for the nice support Roland. We are a small, home shop here in the No.County of San Diego…my husband is a luthier and has studied with some great violin makers and violin restoration teachers and bow makers. He’s not an expert but does know something about good bows and fiddles…: >) I really like the Jon Paul bows and have played on one for about 8 years…it has been my fiddle camp bow. I recently sold it in favor of a good, pernambuco bow from Brazil that I now use for fiddle camps.
    We have a Benoit Rolland carbon fiber bow for sale, 62.3 grams. $550 plus shipping and insurance. You can contact my husband Bob for particulars. Mr. Rolland trained and worked out of Paris and now lives in Boston. The model we have is this: Spiccato® a carbon fiber bow of concert quality, in the early 1980’s.
    The bow associated two levels of innovation: a new technology in synthetic materials and a revolutionary mechanical concept that allows the musician to adjust the camber of the bow stick at will. It is the last one we have. Here is Bob’s email. bobsviolins@gmail.com
    You might like the Coda carbon fiber bows, but the ones that I played on did not suit me or my vioiln. There are different models…some of them being very expensive…I played on a $650 one…it was too heavy and too stiff. If you have a great, wood bow you will be disappointed in a carbon fiber for performance/tone output. I have not played the B. Rolland bow that we have and I can and get back to you. Email Bob and he can talk to you. BTW, what wood bow are you playing on…1850’s….French or German?
    Hope this helps. In the hi end carbon fiber bows there are many choices, most expensive such as the Coda bows…but, like I said, I was disappointed in their performance as a violinist. Take care and stay tuned. Diane in SoCal PS: hope Casy doesn’t mind us talking about bows here. If so we can always delete this. Diane

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