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I thought I would make a quick video comparison between the two string sets I have for my violin. Here is a video of what they sound like. Sorry I have a case of the squeakies on the second video.
To me, the Fiddlerman strings sound much warmer, but have less presence whereas the helicores are very bright, but they are loud.
Hopefully this will help me decide what string set to try next. I think I would like something warm like the Fiddlermans, but present and loud like the Helicores.
I have a feeling that the volume has a lot to do with string tension. If I'm correct, Fiddlerman Strings seem to have a very low string tension compared to other strings which may lead to less volume, but a more complex, warmer sound. Although from what I've read, higher tension doesn't necessarily make the strings brighter and vice versa. What do you guys think?
This video should show you a good sample of what a low tension set of strings sounds like vs. a high tension set. Fiddlerman is one of the lowest, and Helicores are one of the highest with Dominant and Zyex somewhere in the middle.
What would you suggest I try next? I want a warm string like the Fiddlerman, but with more volume. I was thinking of trying Zyex next. I don't really want to spend a ton of money on strings right now, since I'm just experimenting, so no Obligatos or Evah Pirazzis
From looking at this chart on Shar's website, it looks like Zyex should be a good choice. I've also heard of some violinists using a Zyex set with a Helicore E, so that would be interesting to try since I already have the Helicore.
What do you folks think?
Also, while I have you here, what do you think of the overall sound of my violin? Does it sound warm or bright to you? I can't really tell. I thought it sounded bright to me, but now I just don't know. I'm talking about despite the strings. I can choose some strings to bring out the warm or bright sounds. But what would you say the overall tone of the violin is? I know it's hard to tell with a crappy recording.
I think of those 2 your first sounded better. I tried helicores and didnt like them but it was about a month in learning and I havent went back and tried them again. My newest violin has vision strings I think. Before that I was using zyex. I Think alot use helicore with a kaplan e string or something...theres a whole long thread about that a few weeks back. Ill probably be sticking with either the vision strings or zyex. Or maybe kaplan amo's....hmmmm. anyway I liked the sound of your first set the best.
Almost everyone who's reviewed Fiddlerman strings says they're virtually identical in sound and playing characteristics to Dominant, though maybe the difference in tension is enough to make a big difference on your particular violin. It seems different violins resonate best with different string tensions. Some violins project better with high tension, whereas in other violins high-tension strings may choke the upper plate's vibrations. (Soundpost placement may affect the violin's ideal tension as well.)
I haven't used Zyex myself, so take this with a grain of salt, but among violinists and violists I know, Zyex seems very hit-or-miss. Dominant strings sound at least OK on almost every instrument; instruments seem to either love or hate Zyex strings with almost nothing in between. Two violists in my semi-pro orchestra currently use Zyex strings and love them, and viola virtuoso Gerard Causse currently uses them; but other people have found Zyex strings one-dimensional or lacking in warmth on their instruments. I think the price point makes them worth trying anyway, because your violin may be one of those that loves them.
Two other warm sets that may be worth trying: Infeld Red and Corelli Cantiga.
Infeld Red is more expensive than average, but doesn't break the bank, and might be considered the poor man's Obligato. Cantiga is a fairly new budget line; while some of Corelli's other strings have gotten a bad rap, Cantiga has gotten good reviews that place it slightly warmer-sounding than Dominant with better projection on most violins.
I use Vision strings myself, but they're brighter than average so probably not what you're looking for.
Now that I've played both sets for awhile, I think I want something in between the two sets. The helicores actually feel better to play on (I should really redo that video, I played the second take badly) but I think that's because the have a higher tension and the strings are thinner.
The Fiddlerman strings feel beefy to me, but I like the sound, but like I said, I'd like a little more volume and clarity out of them. I think I will go with the Zyex set and maybe keep the helicore E. The helicore and zyex E both have the same tension so they should work well together.
When I put the Helicore E on with the Fiddlerman Strings I could definitely tell the difference with string thickness. They didnt work well together.
A loose soundpost can't transfer enough vibrations to the back of the instrument whereas a soundpost which is too tight deadens the vibrations.
Bunch of questions here... How does one detect a loose soundpost ? (Because my viola is new (1 year old), mine is « supposed » to get too short at some point. I’d like to be able to recognize it when it happens - if it hasn’t already.)
Can the lack of back vibration be actually felt ? (when used to playing without shoulder rest) Or rather heard : Is there a telltale sign with the sound ?
Also, could a soundpost that is too short move somewhat ; or it can only fall ?
To be fair to the "tension" aspect, I found the E string of the Helicore set to be quite a bit tighter than the E from the Fiddlerman sets, which is a more apt comparison. Otherwise on the remainder of the sets I found tension differences not to be as noticeable.
Flexibility differences were of course more stark, as we would expect. I didn't like the Helicore sets as much even though they're quality strings. They do have the brashness of steel but as advertised are more complex and warm than your typical "solid cores". I can see the appeal to these strings but they're not my preference.
(Because my viola is new (1 year old), mine is « supposed » to get too short at some point. I’d like to be able to recognize it when it happens - if it hasn’t already.)
An experienced luthier would be able to tell by moving it. You are right that new instruments usually need new posts after the top settles and rises.
@Fiddlerman Thanks for the reply. Just to close the subject : the after-1-year check-up (slightly higher sound post, new strings, bridge readjustment, … even re-varnishing the back ) made a world of difference. Never been happier with my viola's sound !