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A Question About Steel-Core Strings
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HeadCheese
Plano, Texas
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October 21, 2011 - 8:04 am
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In your review of the CVA-600 Viola, you mention the strings in the "Cons" list with:

  • Steel core strings hinder richer sound and make it difficult to play in-tune.
Do you think that the strings that came with my Cecilio viola, which are surely the same ones, are an impediment to learning to play in tune?
Would changing strings make a noticeable difference this early in my education, or should I stick with the ones I have for now?
Question also posted on Violaman.com. Y'all come visit, y'hear? violin
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 21, 2011 - 1:28 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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You should not change strings now. Strings often need to be changed after 4-600 hours of playing to sound good and you have an extra set as well. I don't think that you would notice that much of a difference at this stage. When the time comes for you to purchase strings I think you should buy synthetic core, preferably perlon. They are more flexible and therefore easier to play in tune with when playing strong and hard. To illustrate what I am talking about pull an open string with your bow as fast and hard as you can and you will here it go up and down in pitch. This does not happen much on flexible strings. They shouldn't bee too flexible though for strength.

dazed

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Late bloomer
Dallas Texas
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October 21, 2011 - 3:39 pm
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Question FM, not about strings but about my violin drying out. I heard they need moisture. Does this effect the sound? I had always thought that water was the mortal enemy of a violin.  As always your insight is greatly appreciated.  

No matter where you go, there you are!

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myguitarnow
Laguna Beach
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October 21, 2011 - 7:19 pm
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I'm going to chime in here late bloomer. I do know Dallas, I have been there many times and you don't have to worry about string instruments drying out there. There is a lot of weather changes there but ya don't have to worry about drying out your violin. I really don't understand why people use humidity controlled cases, that's almost a gimmick to me. I have guitars that are 50 years old that sound better then some of my new ones. Ya just have to play them. If they sit in a closet or something for many years then that's where the problems start. And steel strings should work just fine but they take longer to tune in cause they do stretch and shrink a lot and you do have to change them more often. 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 21, 2011 - 7:50 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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The place to use a humidifier or snake (see illustration) as they call them are in the cold climates areas where the air can get real dry. Our orchestra in Malmo had to install humidifiers in the giant concert hall to protect our instruments because we had a few expensive instruments crack because of it.

 

If the area that you live in is known for having dry air then you could consider using a snake at least in the winter.

I don't need one here in Florida and I imagine like MGN said that Dallas is similar.

dancinbunny

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Late bloomer
Dallas Texas
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October 21, 2011 - 8:40 pm
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Pretty dry here , we have been in drought conditions for more than half the year. You might have seen the news about all the fires we have had. 

serenade Maybe  I am looking for anything that will make me sound better.  Yea, I know PRACTICE! 

No matter where you go, there you are!

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Kevin M.
Nicholson, Pa
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October 21, 2011 - 11:37 pm
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Here in Northeastern Pa. it's pretty wet around here,  we have had floods a couple of times this year alone but in the winter we heat with wood and it can get pretty dry in the house.  Still I wouldn't use a snake unless you check out the instrument with a hygrometer.  You can get them fairly cheap and some cases have them in them.  The main thing that will destroy a violin is extreme changes in temperature.  Thing like having the violin in the trunk of your car in winter and then bringing it into a warm house and playing it or in baggage on an airline. It gets extremely cold in the baggage hold.  Carry the violin on the plan with you.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 22, 2011 - 7:45 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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This is exactly right. Thanks Kevin. In Sweden I had a violin at home for practicing and my main one at work to avoid this.

I forgot to mention that if you use a snake make sure to squeeze all excess water from it and wipe it with a paper towel before placing it inside the fiddle.

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

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Mad_Wed
Russia, Tatarstan rep. Kazan city
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October 22, 2011 - 3:53 pm
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We have winter for 4-5 months a year. Once i suddenly find a crack on my violin.. Thanks for post , FiddlerMan! And to Late bloomer for question. I probably have to order one of that snakes =)party

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pky
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October 23, 2011 - 5:19 pm
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Fiddlerman said:

You should not change strings now. Strings often need to be changed after 4-600 hours of playing to sound good and you have an extra set as well.

Somewhere I read: one should change the strings that came with the violin as soon as he/she received the violin, is this true?

Somewhere I read: strings like those came with the cecilio violins (or other brand like helicore) do not last as long as Dominant strings, so should we change them sooner than 4-600 hours of playing or should we just change them when they began to sound bad? If they are in fact has shorter life, how much shorter? and thus, how much sooner should we change them?

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myguitarnow
Laguna Beach
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October 23, 2011 - 6:18 pm
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Yah Late bloomer you got me there... I go to Dallas area 2 to 3 times a year. I couldn't believe all the rain when I was there about 8 months ago and then was there a few months ago and the heat was unbelievable. I think it was or felt like 120 plus degrees everyday. I have never used any types of protection for my guitars and never had any crack or anything but I'm not experienced with violins (yet).

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 23, 2011 - 10:53 pm
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pky said:

Somewhere I read: one should change the strings that came with the violin as soon as he/she received the violin, is this true?

Somewhere I read: strings like those came with the cecilio violins (or other brand like helicore) do not last as long as Dominant strings, so should we change them sooner than 4-600 hours of playing or should we just change them when they began to sound bad? If they are in fact has shorter life, how much shorter? and thus, how much sooner should we change them?

I don't see the point for beginners to change the strings the first thing they do when the strings on the fiddle are new anyway. Of course when it is time to change you should change them to high quality synthetic core strings.

It's not necessarily true that synthetic core strings last longer but they sound warmer and play more in tune with strong and hard playing.

I'm all for saving people money.santa3

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

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Gail
29 Palms, CA
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December 11, 2011 - 5:27 pm
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My 45 year old violin, which I recently donated, lived in a simple cheap case in my closet on the Mojave Desert for many years.  I never took any particular steps to protect it from the low humidity here (or high humidity from the swamp coolers) and it suffered no bad effects.  I worry more about excessive heat or direct sunlight for long periods.  I would never keep a violin in a car in the summertime (or in a place that isn't suitable for storing Hershey bars. tongue) After 45 years in its case it was still in mint condition.  The strings were fine.  The horsehair on the bows was a different story.   

I've learned so much from my mistakes that I've decided to make some more.

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wco1968
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December 11, 2011 - 6:22 pm
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sorry to high jack your tread Head cheese.. but was just goggling the  diff strings. what is the diff between soft, medium and strong gauges. in strings. is it the sound they produce..

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 12, 2011 - 12:26 am
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The thicker the string the more tension. So if your violin needs more tension it will sound better with thicker strings.

I've played on instruments that are more powerful with lighter tensions but most are more powerful with higher tension strings.

One thing that we haven't discussed here is that if your sound-post is adjusted long and tight you need strings with less tension to keep from choking the sound. Vice versa if you have the sound-post in loose, you need more tension to produce a powerful sound and get a good vibration on your instrument.

Some people have sensitive finger tips and prefer lighter tension strings.

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

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