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Strings!
A good way to experiment.
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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bfurman
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October 19, 2014 - 9:54 am
Member Since: August 26, 2014
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Following up from my earlier tone hunt regarding bows, I ended up changing the strings on my violin.  The violin is a new-to-me instrument that came set up with Thomastik Reds.  I assumed that because the strings were an expensive sort that they were probably optimal for the instrument.  After all, why would someone bother putting on expensive strings if they didn't make an improvement?

Well, I've now installed a set of plain ol' Tonicas (changed to the wound E, actually). This has changed the instrument's sound so radically that the wooden bow hunt is now on hold.

I could seldom afford new strings as a student, so I always stuck with Dominants until they were ruined and got a new set of the same.  I figured that the Reds were like Dominants on steroids, and perhaps they are, but there are so many other options nowadays!  

I'm glad that my instrument "likes" an inexpensive set.  The jury is still out on how long they'll last....

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ptrckmcconn
Hillman, Michigan
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October 19, 2014 - 10:04 am
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I play a 5 string Dahlia and they put Helicore strings on them, so I assumed they were a good fit. And they do sound good, mediums, except for the C string, which is a heavy. I am going to try Fiddler Man's recommendation on the Dominants and see what they are like. I'll leave the C string alone but just change the other four. I don't know much about strings so am reluctant to experiment without a testimonial from someone who's tried them. There are so many possibilities out there (and so little time and money!).

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bfurman
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October 19, 2014 - 5:04 pm
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Yeah, the downside of strings is the sheer variety, but you can learn something without going overboard.  

I found some of the YouTube comparison videos helpful.  It turns out a lot of shops default to Tonicas or Dominants on new instruments and swap only when a particular instrument doesn't come alive.  The Zyex is another good all-purpose string.  I put a set of those on my previous violin to give it more warmth.  This time, I wanted the opposite, and the Tonicas have a very clear fundamental.  What I wasn't expecting was a better bow response, but I got it!  I think it's because of the lower tension, so I won't be tempted to switch for higher-tension strings like Zyex.

Helicores are often recommended for cellos and the viola's C string.  I guess you could try a different gauge of Helicores.  What's also amazing is how different E strings can affect all of the other strings because the E sits so close to the soundpost.  I greatly prefer the Tonica wound E over the plain one.  In future, I may try different E's like the Prim stainless steel Lisa, which is supposed to be very long lasting and have a sweet voice.

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ptrckmcconn
Hillman, Michigan
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October 19, 2014 - 9:36 pm
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Thank you for your comments about the E string. That will be my next adventure, experimenting with different E's, to see what difference it makes. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

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coolpinkone
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October 20, 2014 - 1:19 pm
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On the subject of Strings.. my violin got new strings yesterday.. the same brand ... Zyex... and wow.. my violin became alive again.  I had used them over a year.... what a difference. I am a happy camper.   :)

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 21, 2014 - 7:13 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11694

This is more important than people realize. Like with all things, strings will tire after a while. They get old, dry and worn. In the same way that you bend metal back and forth and it will break after a while, the strings are vibrating and moving a lot. Humidity changes causes the strings to dry as well. I am often amazed at the difference. I'm not encouraging you guys to waste money but if it's been a year, you might be pleasantly surprised by the difference and usually it gets better for up to a week.
It's like drinking freshly roasted coffee. ;) <---- That probably doesn't make sense. LOL

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

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MrYikes
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October 21, 2014 - 8:52 am
Member Since: February 11, 2014
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It's 8:30 in the morning,,,drinking coffee makes a lot of sense to me!!!

I found these charts at another site, but thought they were worth keeping.  BTW, if it is not appropriate for them to be here,,please delete or tell me and I will.

 

string-chart-web-20141-resized-600_web.jpgImage Enlarger

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Barry
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October 21, 2014 - 10:26 am
Member Since: June 30, 2011
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Disclaimer :  this works great on violins,violas,mandolins and guitars, but my Piano has 230 strings and I wont be changing them , LOL

I am learning to tune it and care for it myself though and thats an interesting journey

coffee2

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Uzi
Georgia
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October 21, 2014 - 11:06 am
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Nice chart. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 22, 2014 - 8:31 am
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LOL, I tuned our piano a few times and it didn't turn out the way I thought it would. We don't have one anymore. Had to donate the last one when we moved from Sweden back to the states. :(

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

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bfurman
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October 22, 2014 - 8:35 pm
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I wish I had studied piano or had one around the home.  It has been difficult for me to adapt to a chordal instrument (guitar) from a melodic one (violin).

Oh, and how do you like that 5-string ptrckmcconn?  I've had my eye on Al Carruth's folk violas for about a decade but haven't mustered the courage and resources to have one made.  He is a great luthier and has given a lot to the instrument making community.

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ptrckmcconn
Hillman, Michigan
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October 24, 2014 - 11:47 pm
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I like the 5 string very much. Of course, the body is larger, and so the sound is fuller, with a deeper tone. I did find that having the strings closer together are a challenge, and take some getting used to, especially given the fact that I have short, stubby fingers. But, with practice...And I find I am able to play double stops easier. I play a lot of bluegrass (Kenny Baker) material, etc., and doubles are the thing. All in all, I have nothing but good things to say. I would like to have a 5 string made by John Silakowski, but it is not in my future. I am just an amateur and don't see myself springing for an $8,000 or more fiddle.

As I posted in another topic area, I got out my old 4 string and it just didn't do anything for me. Of course, the Dahlia is a better instrument than my 4 string, and I may be spoiled because of it's good sound. I know many people look askance at them, but I like them, and it is probably because of the (in my opinion) deeper, mellower tone.

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bfurman
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October 25, 2014 - 1:41 pm
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Hey, thanks for the comments about your Dahlia!  Maybe we should start a new thread, but since we're here....  I checked out the Dahlia website, and it is a lovely instrument.  Does yours have the electronics?

I've only ever played classical music, although I'm wanting to branch out into celtic.  For now, I'm just dusting out the ol' cobwebs and reacclimating to the instrument.

Alan uses simplified construction to keep costs down for his 5-strings.  You can view some of his instruments at his website.  They're definitely not for everyone, given the styling, but I like them.  They're unconventional but still beautiful to me.

I guess I'm worried about the string spacing too, but like so many things in music it probably just takes practice to adapt to.  There's not much that's natural or intuitive about playing an instrument!

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happyjet
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November 2, 2014 - 9:51 am
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I use Pirastro Tonica strings and they sound quite good. I have used dominant strings as well but they sound too metallic on my violin.

Playing a piece is easy... Playing it right is not...

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