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I was experimenting with the mandolin over the past few months and lapsed in my violin playing. I just sold the mandolin, since I missed the violin (and was having trouble with mandolin finger pain, even after building up calluses). Anyway...back to the main subject...unwound whistling E strings and the merits of wound non-whistling E strings.
To celebrate my return to the violin, I bought a Kaplan Solutions Non-Whistling E String (made by D'Addario). I had been curious about the non-whistling strings for a while. I had held off on the wound E, thinking that improved technique over time would solve this problem. However, I still wasn't quite happy with my traditional E string sounds after one-year of playing (I started learning in November 2016).
My on-line research seemed to indicate that any wound E string would likely not whistle, so if I had a Helicore or Pro-Arte or something else where a matched E string of the wound variety was available, I probably would have stayed in my current string family.
However, my one and only violin right now is a violin I picked up used, and am not sure what strings it currently has installed (I checked those online string charts for the peg and winding colors, but didn't see my current strings; still of unknown type).
I decided to get the Kaplan non-whistling E string, based on online reviews that were generally favorable. Some people said it was less-responsive and would be prone to breaking sooner that a traditional unwound string. I can't comment on the longevity since I just installed this string today. However, I can comment on the responsiveness, and can say that I didn't notice any difference. The string is still pretty thin (being an E string) even with the winding. It's not like I would have to dig into the string, like someone might do with the much heavier wound G string.
This morning I had a one-hour practice session with a set of fiddle tunes in the keys of G and D. Before dinner, I installed the new wound E string, and had another one-hour session playing the same tunes. I was pleased with my new E string, and plan to stick with the wound E strings. Hopefully, they will not prematurely break, and even if they do, the added cost seems minimal, especially when paired against the improved playing experience.
If you have experience with wound E strings, I would like to hear about it.
@newbie-Ron - started playing somewhat over 3 years ago. The E would occasionally whistle back at me. Research suggested it was entering some kind of torsional vibration rather than lateral. Commenting about it here on the forum, someone mentioned the difference between wound and plain strings, and also suggested the Kaplan E you talk about. I now have that string fitted to my now 4 playable instruments - my 5th is in a permanent state of being re-built 🙂
I have to say I have never yet had the Kaplan E break - and the instruments really do get a lot of playing. And no, I certainly do not find it unresponsive in any way. The Kaplan E is fitted on different instruments which carry variously Vision Solo, Fiddlerman, and Dominant stings - and - to my ear - is reasonably matched. The E is ALWAYS gonna sound somewhat different.....
Congrats on your return to violin !
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
I can't comment on wound E strings but I have a Warchal Amber E on my fiddle and I haven't had a problem with whistling. It is what came on my fiddle, which I purchased about 2-1/2 months ago, and the only E string I have had on it. I am waiting for this set of strings to die before I replace them. I have a Helicore set with a Kaplan Non-Whistling E waiting to go on next and I'm interested to see if that E string performs better than the Warchal E and also which mates best with the other Helicores. I practice 2 hours EVERY DAY so that Warchal E has a lot of time on it. The Kaplan E has a tough standard to match, especially since it is more expensive than the Warchal.
Have you tried a Warchal Amber E?
I purchased a Warchal Amber e string because I was interested in the spiral treatment done at the ball end. I also purchased about a dozen Optima Goldbrokat steel e strings for about $1 each and sent to China for a 2.5 mm tool steel rod for use as a mandrel. I was going to experiment with winding my own spirals on the Goldbrokat's to see if they would sound similar to the Warchal Amber e.
Perhaps a further explaination of my attempt is in order to avoid confusion.
Both the Warchal Amber e string and the Optima Goldbrokat e string are plain steel strings. I do not intend to wind any material on them.
A perusal of the Warchal Amber e string will find that there is a 2.7 mm outside diameter coil spring of 10 full loops beginning 44 mm from the ball end. Each coil has a length of 2 mm peak to peak. When the string is placed on the violin and peg tension is applied, the coils stretch until only faint artifacts remains. The artifacts interfere with some of the harmonic frequencies of the string when bowed, preventing a whistle.
I was going to experiment with a Westminster, but the Goldbrokat was cheaper. I should be able to do it with any plain steel e string (even if they are plated).
From my experience as a machinist I'm familiar with metal "spring-back". I suspect there is some heat treatment needed to fabricate those strings or maybe just winding on a smaller diameter would work. I would have gone the cheap route and wound them on the shank of a drill bit or something. Anyway, let us know how this turns out.
I purchased a 2.5 mm drill rod to allow for some spring back. I don't think that keeping the outside diameter at 2.7 mm is critical to function. The rod cost me about $2 shipped from China, so cost is minimal but it took a long time to get it. Since this is certainly not a commercial application, time is of no importance.
Heat treatment would only be necessary if the intended use was to function as a spring (and there is no characteristic heat treatment discoloration on the Warchal e string specimen that I obtained, as I checked).
My main concern is that I need to engage the wire (e string) on the lathe between the chuck and the mandrel with sufficient force to form the spiral, yet if I deform or nick the wire it will cause an area of weakness and that is where the string will break when I tighten it to pitch. I am thinking that I may use a piece of thin leather on the chuck tooth, or something similar (such as the silly tube they use on the e string to protect the bridge). The pitch of the spiral is established by the lathe feed screw. I have already created the tool holder I need (I can vary the string feed resistance by an adjustment screw over a sandwich of rubber gasket material).
If you have some spare shop time and a few e strings, please feel free to give it a go.
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