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Which has the greater effect on "smoothness", tailpiece or strings?
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DanielB
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January 19, 2013 - 6:34 am
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Since I changed tailpieces and strings on my two violins, I noticed something.  An exercise I had been doing with playing one octave scales has become easier on the acoustic, so far as being able to get it sounding smooth on the transitions and string crossings.  Since I changed both strings and tailpiece on that instrument, I'm not sure which is more responsible for that.  But even doing two octave scales in  a single bow stroke is at least possible with some careful attention on that instrument now.  I went to synthetic core strings (Overture Ultras) and a simple solid ebony tailpiece with no fine tuners on that instrument.

On my electric, which also got new strings (synthetic core with silver plated copper wrap on the G and D,  unwrapped steel on the A and E) and the carbon fibre tailpiece I took off the acoustic, it isn't noticeably easier to get smooth transitions on that sort of exercise, it still take a bit more attention to bowing pressure.  The carbon fibre tailpiece has built in tuners rather than the sort of outboard ones one tightens onto the tailpiece with a nut that have a sort of metal arm that extends past the end of the bridge.

What I am looking for are thoughts on how much of that sort of playing is helped by what strings one uses or if it is more a characteristic that is due to the tailpiece.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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ozmous
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January 19, 2013 - 8:21 am
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for me, i think it's on the strings...since I've been experimenting with a lot of strings, i think last last month i have bought at least 3-4 different brand of steel strings for just the month and there are some different effects, specially on "smoothness" dynamics and etc.....and until i got the overture ultra synthetic core, everything became different! the sound, the playing, it's very very good, the response is better, it's smoother, the sound was in "total control"....

cheers! - ⁰ℨ

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DanielB
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January 19, 2013 - 9:02 am
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Ok, that is probably the answer right there, then, Oz.  Especially considering I noticed it with the same brand of strings that you did. 

Thanks.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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ftufc
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January 19, 2013 - 11:33 am
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My vote was strings as well; that seems to have the greatest impact on my sound and ease of play than any other change I make (aside from soundpost and bridge of course).

In light of this topic, but regarding a cello instead of a violin; has anyone seen any research regarding the best material for a tailpiece vis a vis sound quality???

I've read several reports discussing the various materials (ebony, CF, composite, SS, etc.) for cello end pins, but nothing on tailpieces.

I just installed my first set of Knilling Perfection Planetary pegs (more difficult than traditional pegs, but not too tough at all, especially considering the local quality luthier charges $150 just for the install), so I removed the Wittner composite tailpiece with fine tuners, and I'm trying to find the best quality tailpiece I can (I already bought a braided SS tailpiece cord which is supposed to be THE thing now for cord).

If anyone has seen any research on this I'd very much appreciate the reference.

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Mt. Fiddler
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January 19, 2013 - 11:46 am
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I bought some Pro Arte strings from FM and the sound difference was amazing compared to Helicore.  I am getting some Zyex for a violin rental we're getting, and that will tell a tale also about the sound.  I think the Overature Ultra seem comparable to Helicore (steel core?).  I put about 10 hours on the Helicore, and traded them out.  Do you want me to send you the used set of Helicore and let you try them, Daniel?  I wonder about the length of the tailpeice vs. the material of it?

 

Mr. Fiddlerviolin-student

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Barry
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January 19, 2013 - 2:13 pm
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strings without  adoubt can make a huge improvement, but dont be so quick to dismiss the tailpiece, I experimented with half a dozen tailpieces while using the same strings and each had an effect on tone and playability.. The wood tailpieces were by far the best and the metal ones sounded just that..metallic

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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DanielB
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January 19, 2013 - 7:32 pm
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I like the sound I am getting on the acoustic.  The Overture Ultras seem to work well with it, I was just surprised at the difference in playability from the cheaper Overtures it came with.  Now the thing will be to see how long they stay sounding nice.

The tailpiece definitely seems to matter on various things more than I thought it would.  The tailpiece change on both the acoustic and the electric resulted in a tailpiece where the string lengths are equal behind the bridge, and that has seemed to have an effect on doublestops being easier to get sounding right.  Particularly with the electric, I had been having to remember to angle the fingertip a little differently from one pair of strings to the next, and that seems fixed, since now it plays more like the acoustic in that regard.

 

@Mt. Fiddler: The Ultras are synthetic core and are sounding pretty good, so I'll probably keep them on my acoustic.  At least until they need replaced.  I'd be interested in trying Helicores after that, or seeing what they sound like on my electric.  Drop me a PM to let me know how much you'd want for them?

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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January 20, 2013 - 3:16 pm
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No question in my mind that the strings make an incredible difference in sound. However, bare in mind that the perfect strings for one instrument may not be the perfect strings for another. I'm not referring to style of music either. That is a whole different ballgame. :-)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cdennyb
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January 20, 2013 - 9:41 pm
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I have to pick the third choice...

you say there isn't one?

 

Well, regardless of the strings chosen for any one the 5 violins I've had the pleasure of playing here at home, I'd have to say "smoothness" is more a function of the rosin and bow control than either tailpiece or strings.

Yes, the strings DO make a difference in tone quality and sound from any instrument and as pierre has stated, every instrument will sound better with it's own preferred strings and it's pretty much up to you as the player to find those by trial and error, but...

Position of the tailpiece regardless whether it's ebony or rosewood or carbon fiber, placed perfectly for the setup will sound better than one not setup correctly.

And... changing the strings will change the tone and quality of sound but the bow and rosin used will bring about a change in sound quality regardless of the string type or brand used.

That's just what I've personally learned from testing and doing sound analysis on many different kinds of strings and rosin.

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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DanielB
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January 20, 2013 - 9:58 pm
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Can't argue with bow and rosin, and it's a good point.  In this particular case, bow and rosin were the same.  But agreed that the rosin and bow used will be one of the major factors.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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January 21, 2013 - 6:41 am
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All the discussion about tailpiece's got me thinking, so last night I ordered a new ebony tailpiece & tailgut from Fiddlershop, but it won't be shipped until tomorrow as today is a Federal National holiday and I'm sure the Postal Dept. isn't working today.

The tailpiece that's on the Concert Master is equipped with a composit tp.

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Fiddlerman
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January 21, 2013 - 7:12 am
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Thanks Fiddlestix,

Did you order a tuner for the E string too? Just saying. :-)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fiddlestix
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January 21, 2013 - 7:26 am
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No, Pierre, I have several tuner's that were taken off my Chinese violin that were on it when I bought it.

I there was something else I wanted to order also, but can't remember what it was right now.

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Fiddlestix
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January 27, 2013 - 12:48 am
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I just got out of the hospital today (Saturday) and in the mail was a package containing and new ebony tailpiece and tail gut adjuster. I installed the tailpiece so I would have approx. 1/6 the distance from the bridge to where the string's rest on the raised ridge on the tailpiece, 54.6mm, but due to the tail gut stretching, i'll have to move it again.

My point being, is that I noticed a conciderable difference in sound. The G string isn't quite so dull, It's a smoother non scratchy sound now.

The tailpiece that was on it was the composite tailpiece with the built-in fine tuner's that come's standard on the FM, Concert Master.

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