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How do you experiment with strings?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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ves
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September 11, 2013 - 9:59 pm
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How do you experiment with strings? Do you first play a set until you need a new one which by then, you replace it with a new set and compare or do you play a set for a few weeks so it can break in then replace it with another and play a few weeks and compare or do you replace them 'immediately' and compare?

This is my second post for the day but I don't think there's a rule I'm breaking here. If I do, however, feel free to inform me and I'll amend my posts.

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Kevin M.
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September 11, 2013 - 10:08 pm
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I play the strings for awhile and if I hate the sound I buy a new set. If only one string sounds bad as say an E string I will replace that string.

 

There is only one rule here, Keep your shirt on, this isn't pizza hut.

Welcome to the forum.

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1stimestar
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September 12, 2013 - 2:46 am
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Are there places where you can buy just one string or do you always have to buy a whole set?  Such as, I've broken my E string twice now....

 

Opportunity is often missed because it wears suspenders and looks like hard work.

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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Fiddlestix
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September 12, 2013 - 5:07 am
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@ ves: Welcome to the forum.

As I stated in another thread, experimenting with various brand's and combination's of string's can get mighty costly, especially when you're buying good quality single string's seperately to test with a set, unless you have money to burn.

 Approaching two year's playing, (this time) I think I've purchased 5 set's of string's, (4 set's and single's from Fiddlershop) one set a different brand Fiddlershop doesn't carry. I try to replace string's about every 3-4 month's if possible.

@ 1stimestar: Sure, you can buy single / individual string's at most any violin shop and of course, "Fiddlershop", sell's single string's.

I'm curious as to why you're breaking your E string. Are you using your tuning peg only or your fine tuner. Your tuning peg is for getting close to in tune, your fine tuner is for what it say's, "fine tuning". Get close then finish with the fine tuner. Don't tune higher on your E string, they break easily.

 

Ken.

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HatefulPain
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September 12, 2013 - 8:49 am
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I've experimented a lot with strings. It's a expensive hobby. I don't even want to calculate how much money I've spent on strings and violin parts.

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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screeeech
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September 12, 2013 - 1:18 pm
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I run 1 set completely through till its time to replace.

 

! have only tried 3 sets, but I have years of playing to figure it out.

No strings have sounded really BAD. I have had some quiet or stings that like a bow better than other bows.

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DanielB
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September 12, 2013 - 5:19 pm
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Well, how a string or set of strings sounds "immediately" may not be much of an indicator of how they will actually sound after a few days or a week of getting played and "broken in".  You don't know what they sound or play like until you've given them a fair try, say at least a week?

I have heard people talk about some strings that take longer than a week to break in, but I'm kind of sceptical as to whether a string needing that long of a time to get to where it can deliver it's best sound is actually worth it.  But maybe to some folks it is, I don't know.

The problem with swapping strings out and back to compare is that every time you take a string off and then later put it on another violin or even the same violin, that is a form of wear/damage.  The very noticeable angle the string makes where it crosses the bridge may be in a slightly different place or the string may end up twisting a little bit, since you may not get it on the peg exactly the same.  That can damage the strings and shorten their lifespan, which is why I suggest you don't trust strings you've taken off a violin except maybe as emergency backups that you'll want to replace soon. 

So what I do is when I put on a set of strings, I play it until I judge it is at least beginning to be played out and are no longer good/reliable strings.  Then I know what that set sounds like, how long it took to break in, how long it lasts for me and had time to figure out how much pressure and etc it needs when playing to get all the different sounds it can give.

Then it can be time to try another set.

It is not impossible that after a few years, I might have tried enough different strings to see the possibility of a great set coming from customizing a set by mixing brands and gauges. But at only playing less than 2 yrs, I know I haven't heard enough yet to really know what I'm doing with that sort of thing.

An exception to that, though, could be the E string.  They always seem to get "tired out" before the rest of the set, so I'd think there is little harm in trying a different E string every month or 2, if you can manage it.  New single E strings are one of the least expensive, though, so that isn't a sort of experimenting that would be likely to get expensive as fast.

 

 BTW, just playing on the same set of strings until they eventually start to break and replacing them one at a time to keep going is probably the easiest way to get as bad a sound as you can from just your strings.  When they start to sound dull/icky or get slower to respond and seem to need more frequent tune-ups?  They're probably dying.  At that point you deserve a fresh set of strings, since you've played the set you have been using enough that you've gotten most of the best sounds they had out of them.  It can seem frugal/sensible to hold off on replacing strings "until absolutely necessary", but you can't really expect to sound your best if you are doing that.

"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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1stimestar
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September 13, 2013 - 4:07 am
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Fiddlestix said
@ ves: Welcome to the forum.

As I stated in another thread, experimenting with various brand's and combination's of string's can get mighty costly, especially when you're buying good quality single string's seperately to test with a set, unless you have money to burn.

 Approaching two year's playing, (this time) I think I've purchased 5 set's of string's, (4 set's and single's from Fiddlershop) one set a different brand Fiddlershop doesn't carry. I try to replace string's about every 3-4 month's if possible.

@ 1stimestar: Sure, you can buy single / individual string's at most any violin shop and of course, "Fiddlershop", sell's single string's.

I'm curious as to why you're breaking your E string. Are you using your tuning peg only or your fine tuner. Your tuning peg is for getting close to in tune, your fine tuner is for what it say's, "fine tuning". Get close then finish with the fine tuner. Don't tune higher on your E string, they break easily.

 

Ken.

Thanks.  Yes, I tightened it too tight right at first.  

 

Opportunity is often missed because it wears suspenders and looks like hard work.

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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soma5
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September 13, 2013 - 10:20 am
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A set of acoustic guitar strings runs about $5 - 6.  At that price it is not any big deal to try out many different types of strings.  For my violin, a set of strings costs 10 times that or more.  I usually use them until they wear out.  At about 2 hours per day of playing, that happens after about 6 months.  Oh, violin strings seem to last a lot longer than guitar strings, possibly because of the frets.  This all makes it difficult to test out many different kinds of strings in a short period of time.  But because my violin technique is evolving quickly, I find it a good learning tool to try to figure out how to extract the best tone from each set rather than apply my existing technique to a bunch of different sets.  It is surprising how different string sets can be.

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Fiddlerman
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September 14, 2013 - 8:57 am
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Wes, I agree with the posts above.
You know how when you bend a piece of metal back and forth long enough it tires and eventually breaks? Strings tire from tension, vibrations, dryness, etc. and sound worse usually before they break. You don't really need to change them if you don't want to but most people seek the best possible sound and choose to change them.
I've heard all kind of theories as to how long you should play before changing them but that is entirely up to you and what your standards are. The most common that I've heard is to change after or around 300 hours of playing.
When I played full time in professional orchestras I put that many hours on my strings every 6 weeks and there was no way that I was going to change my strings that often, even when the orchestra was paying for the strings. LOL
Also, it depends very much on what kind of strings you use.

Welcome to the forum, and by all means, post as much as you want and have the energy to. :-)

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

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Teapot
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September 22, 2013 - 6:20 am
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I also think that the same type of string will sound different on different violins.Each instrument has its own ''personality''-bright,loud,dark,sweeter,etc and by using different types of strings you get different results,so you can adjust that according to your personal likes. Both me and my teacher have Pirastro Obligato strings on our violins and they both sound lovely,but you can tell the difference in character. You can also experiment by mixing up various sets to get the right ''blend'' for your violin- i've heard people do that often especially with the E string, and i am inclined to try it as well next time,since my E is a bit iffy in comparison to the G and D that sound just perfect to me. There are a few videos on youtube where people test string sets on the same violin to give you an idea.

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Teapot
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September 22, 2013 - 6:23 am
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Kevin M. said
I play the strings for awhile and if I hate the sound I buy a new set. If only one string sounds bad as say an E string I will replace that string.

 

There is only one rule here, Keep your shirt on, this isn't pizza hut.

Welcome to the forum.

sorry for doublepost  but i just noticed this...

Kevin, the rule says just the shirt on? does that apply to pants as well? or have i found the loophole in the system here?  hehe :P

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Kevin M.
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September 22, 2013 - 9:33 am
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I'll have to check the by-laws on that.

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