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Violin String Tale for a Quiet Sunday
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Oliver
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May 20, 2012 - 9:18 am
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Once upon a time I managed to swap e-mails with the technical director of PIrastro.  I was asking about how they test string characteristics.  He avoided the question.  Then I asked about strings stretching ( their Obligatos ) and how long it should take to settle down ?  He said dazed, NOT AS LONG AS THE VIOLIN surprised  He explained that the magnitude(s) of the 4 string(s) tension profile sets up different stress patterns in the violin itself.  No two string brands are identical in tension specs which may contribute as much to sound control as string material selection. 

coffee2

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Kevin M.
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May 20, 2012 - 10:11 am
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Thanks Oliver. I never really thought of it that way.  But it does make sense that it would change the characteristics of the violin.

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NoirVelours
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May 20, 2012 - 10:15 am
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So when we read that each violin has it's favorite set of strings it's not a gut thing but actually scientific? That's why brand X maybe sound wonderful on violin A and meh on B? Can it be said that the strings will change how the violin age also? If using only the same brand over the years?

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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Oliver
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May 20, 2012 - 12:32 pm
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I could only speculate on long term effects but I would not be surprised if a violin eventually took a "set" to a given brand of string.

I can tell you that lower tension sets of any brand will typically make a violin more mellow and higher tension vice versa, and different violins can respond in much different fashion to tension. 

The critical differences among string tension specs is not as much as usually imagined.   A few pounds range in maybe 12 lbs would be a lot.

A TEST ....... tune all your strings flat by 10 or 15 cents.    Any difference ?

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NoirVelours
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May 20, 2012 - 12:42 pm
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I will try this today after recording my he's a pirate audio. It's an interesting experience and might fix my "E string sounds too bright" problem hehe. I probably should have went with a viola tongue instead of a violin but that thing looks big!

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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Oliver
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May 20, 2012 - 1:30 pm
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More .......... you may be able to make big difference with only a 5 cent "detuning" of the strings.  You would of course be slightly flat but the effect on sound can be dramatic.  Possible to solo however !

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Mad_Wed
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May 21, 2012 - 6:11 pm
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Yep! Tried this. My violin sounds much better if tuned a bit higher (lower is horrible, despite of the fact that i like mellow sound more). Though it happends with Pro Arte (perlon core) strings. With Thomastic spirocore everything was opposit. And both of the sets are "medium tension". This medium is really different.

So i just wonder if i should try high tension strings duncecap... just curious how much lower will i have to tune them =) 

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Oliver
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May 21, 2012 - 6:14 pm
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Hard to tell about higher tension on your violin.  The violin I had for the most years was TERRIBLE with high tension but that was not true for everyone.

coffee2

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NoirVelours
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May 21, 2012 - 6:39 pm
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heartheartheart HUGheartheartheart

Ok I am a happy woman? I tuned my violin to 430 instead of the usual 440 and... I ADORE ITcheerleader Omg the sound is mellow and dark and the stupid E string stopped being shrilled. I play on the E without cringing, heck I even like it now! Crazy what a different tuning can do! Thank you so much for suggesting this hats_off I might even try it lower but for now it's perfect. Looks like Monsieur le Marquis wanted a more masculine voice after all!

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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Fiddlestix
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May 21, 2012 - 6:48 pm
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Only problem with that, NV, is now you're totally out of tune if you want to play from sheet music.   note

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NoirVelours
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May 21, 2012 - 6:54 pm
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Well I play all alone not in an orchestra so it doesn't matter much. I read my music sheet and place my fingers at same position and the song sounds the same, just a bit lower.

My birds love it by the way, Vivi (for Vivaldi) and Kami were chirping loudly and jumping towards me in their cage trying to get out! Never saw them do that before when I was playing. Even my cat simply stayed spawled on the couch watching me calmly instead of running away to hide somewhere like he usually do. I dunno maybe they disliked the brightness of the 440 sound? Might be coincidence but with 3 different animals at same time?

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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Oliver
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May 21, 2012 - 7:07 pm
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3 animals = "beyond a reasonable doubt".

It also occurred to me ..... on a serious note ....... that these little experiments might help in deciding on which was to go for purchase of the next set of strings.   String tensions for almost all popular strings are published somewhere .... often by manufacturer.

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Fiddlerman
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May 24, 2012 - 2:46 pm
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That is a sign that your violin probably needs low tension strings. Keep it like this but buy low tension strings next time and tune them up to the correct pitch. You'll want to have it that way for many reasons.

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but the one who needs the least."

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