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Helicore Strings
D'Addario Strings
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John Bracone
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October 5, 2020 - 3:34 pm
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Hi everyone,

I purchased some Helicore strings yesterday. They came in today. Have had them on for about 30 min on the Soloist. Here's how they sound. I think I am in love with them. I recorded Lovely by Billy Elliish. I also used my Tore mute.

 

I also have some Pro-Arte strings coming tomorrow. I string them up and test drive those as well. Unless they sound really warm and sweet I'll probably stick with the Helicore..Stay tuned hahaha 🙂

 

Lovely--Billy Eilish

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GregW
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October 5, 2020 - 8:54 pm
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I went through a spell where I hated helicores but decided to give them another go a few months back and will have to agree with you except on my "other" fiddle.  I havent pulled the obligatos off yet on the soloist but when that time comes Ill probably see how mine likes them again.  I think there was some operator error the last time i put them on. 🙂

As far as your track...I got to wondering while I was listening how long youve been playing because your sounding really great!  I didnt hear any off notes or squeeks or anything like that and your vibrato sounded right to me.  On a DAW front since you said somewhere you use presonus...have you checked out the plugins from spitfire audio?  theyve got some really good free stuff under the "labs" section and then some more spiffy ones for around 49.00   of course you can get into the hundreds but honestly those free ones are great.  The felt piano one and dulcimer are my favorites there.

keep it up..your sounding great!  inspired me to practice more.  Ive been slipping lately.

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John Bracone
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October 5, 2020 - 9:39 pm
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Hi Greg, thanks for the compliments, very much appreciated. 

So, I haven’t been playing long. Roughly 6 or 7 months ago is when I picked it back up again. I played for something like 5 or 6 years when I was a child and started at 10 years old I think....5th grade around about. Quit for multiple reasons and ended up leaving home at 18 for the military. So it’s been something like 35 years since then. I was pretty good back then. Won multiple awards with the NY State Music Association. I was also chosen to play with the NY State all county music ensemble and had a record album recorded with them. 

In hindsight, just like many of us about decisions we make out of either stupidity or pride, I should have stuck with it. 

I did practice a lot back then because my mother forced me, one of the few reasons I grew to hate it, but it did come rather easy for me to learn quickly for some reason. 

So like I stated before I picked it backup 6 or 7 months ago. I never really forgot how to play it, and never forgot how to read music. After deploying two tours in Iraq back in 2004, I ended up not coming back as the same person. I went in a very dark place. I almost became an alcoholic. I was getting drunk on a regular basis and I found I had no direction. I would pray to God asking him why it is he kept me alive. Then one night while I was out at a bar getting obliterated, this live 2 person group started playing. One of them was a female who was playing the violin. Something in me clicked or snapped, whatever  you want to call it. I could literally remember smelling how the instrument smelled, and the sent of rosin. It was a pretty emotional moment. I woke up the next day hungover like hell with it still on my mind. Ever since that night I kept seeing violins everywhere, and hearing them everywhere. I took it as a sign from God so I picked it back up. It literally saved my life.

I definitely started rusty again, but I dedicated at least two hours a day, and 4 or 5 hours on sat and Sunday’s to practicing for 4 months. I wanted to get back to the level I thought I remembered I was able to play back then. I’m pretty close to that now, but it wasn’t easy, and I am still improving...The violin is one of those things that get better with time and dedication no matter how good you are or how long you’ve been playing. I still practice a bunch, but probably not as much as I was before. 

Yes I use personus studio one 5 pro. I don’t go to crazy with plug-ins. I stick with the basics. You can really get caught spending a ton of money on those. 

hahah  I bet you got a lot more than you bargained for there huh? LOL

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ELCB
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October 6, 2020 - 6:33 am
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John Bracone -

Wow!  I would have never thought of Helicores for "warm" sound!  Did you purchase all aluminum wound?

Thank you for sharing your story - I'm always thrilled when a story ends better than it started! 

While with my "Better Half" (now of 41 years) he was deployed twice to Turkey, once to Kuwait, twice to Iraq (Balad & Kirkuk) w/F-16's.  He had deployments all over the World before he retired, but Iraq was hardest because he came home with terrible neurological problems (similar to MS) that were blamed on multiple vaccines (mostly smallpox & anthrax, but burn pits and other possibilities exist).  He eventually (2yrs later) regained his health well enough to be one of the few with these problems to return to work. 

I was never deployed outside CONUS, but seems during my earlier time in the Military I was always having to pull myself up by my bootstraps, just to get hit hard enough to be thrown for another loop.  The shock of tragic deaths at times sunk me the worst - one was my husband, just 8 months after we were married. 

Of all the help offered me over the years for depression or anxiety, I truly wish learning to play the violin/fiddle (or any instrument) would have been among them.  I mention this in twenty, twenty hindsight because who knows how much easier my life could have been had I'd looked to this as therapy. 

My fiddle "Mortimer" is definitely my current go-to, every day therapy!

Looking forward to hearing more beautiful music from you, John (and I might have to rethink Helicores)! 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c0/a4/6f/c0a46f4a2d6370d2ed9512536ce19823.jpg- Emily

Too bad my BH prefers just tinkering with old (and more obscure) instruments when he finds them, instead of learning to play them!  I stay hopeful...

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John Bracone
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October 6, 2020 - 9:14 pm
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@ELCB 

I don't know about all-aluminum wound. I just went by reviews and youtube videos.

 

These are the ones I got in addition to the pro-arte

HeliCore

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John Bracone
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October 6, 2020 - 9:17 pm
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Here's the same song recorded with the Pro-Arte strings. I did this one without the Forte Mute.

 

I think I like them? I'm not sure yet. I'll give them a couple days to break in.

 

Billie Eilish - Lovely- Pro Arte Strings

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GregW
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October 6, 2020 - 10:04 pm
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John I think I like the Pro Arte version a little more.  Its hard to out my finger on what it is..maybe a little fuller sound?  I mean theyre both great so pretty much a slight edge to the artes.  liked the little bit of slide around 1:20 to 1:24 or there abouts.  enjoyed listening.

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ELCB
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October 6, 2020 - 10:32 pm
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John Bracone - I'm agreeing with Greg. 

After listening to both of your recordings together, I can see why you'd like the Pro-Arte strings more - definitely fuller, much better without the mute! 

Out of curiosity, have you tried any other synthetic core string brands other than D'Addario? 

https://supportjdhs.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/music-notes.jpg

 

- Emily

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John Bracone
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October 7, 2020 - 7:59 am
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@ELCB 

I've used

D'Addario Kaplan Amo, and Dominant.

Kaplan Amo is pretty expensive though. If I had an 5 or 10K violin I suppose I would try those on again.

It's really hard to find the right strings, I read that it depends on what the instrument likes. You can watch youtube and read reviews, but it depends on what the player perceaves, and how the instrument will react I suppose.

Plus it's really a pain  in the butt to keep changing strings to find the right ones.

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John Bracone
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October 7, 2020 - 5:27 pm
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I added some touches to the recording.

Let me know what you guys think, before I put it to video and post it to my YouTube channel.

 

Billie Eilish / Lovely / Re-mastered

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GregW
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October 7, 2020 - 8:57 pm
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John Bracone said
I added some touches to the recording.

Let me know what you guys think, before I put it to video and post it to my YouTube channel.

 

Billie Eilish / Lovely / Re-mastered

  

I like the 2nd version the best.  I think on the 3rd one there is an instrument with an air sound thats taking away from your violin playing.  Its still a good track..but maybe you and the piano like in the 1st and the drums would be interesting.  That 2nd track was my favorite of the 3.

EDIT...

I listened on my cell phones speaker so what I heard was in mono.  That may make a difference depending on how you setup the tracks and such...how you panned the tracks or any stereo widen type effects and such.  just some feedback.  

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Gordon Shumway
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October 8, 2020 - 5:58 am
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I bought some Helicores for Western Swing and put them on my Chinese VSO, but that thing sounded like a cathedral, so, not a good way to evaluate the strings. Now that I have a new violin, the VSO is binned and those strings are residing in a string tube. One day they'll get a hearing (on the Stentor when its Tonicas wear out)!

Andrew

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John Bracone
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October 8, 2020 - 8:16 am
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GregW said

John Bracone said

I added some touches to the recording.

Let me know what you guys think, before I put it to video and post it to my YouTube channel.

 

Billie Eilish / Lovely / Re-mastered

  

I like the 2nd version the best.  I think on the 3rd one there is an instrument with an air sound thats taking away from your violin playing.  Its still a good track..but maybe you and the piano like in the 1st and the drums would be interesting.  That 2nd track was my favorite of the 3.

EDIT...

I listened on my cell phones speaker so what I heard was in mono.  That may make a difference depending on how you setup the tracks and such...how you panned the tracks or any stereo widen type effects and such.  just some feedback.  

  

I agree. I listened again today, and it sounds too busy. Sticking with the second version.

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ELCB
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October 8, 2020 - 9:42 am
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John Bracone -

I know you've made your decision about your recording (I liked the 2nd), but since we all see music differently (and you asked), I wanted to share some observations/opinions I had about this song.

So, my observation is I have seen/heard the written versions of "Lovely", the scores shown on YouTube that are supported with synthesized sound.  Personally, I see a big discrepancy between those written versions and the original - not aware of a score available that accurately represents the feeling of this Billie Eilish song. 

When I listen to her original song, much of it strikes me as extremely smooth, tempered... and comes at me in swells or waves  - the kind I'd feel while floating on a calm lake when a boat passes by.  A potentially powerful force that's kept restrained or tethered - the waves aren't really allowed to crest. 

I would never insinuate you should make an exact copy of the original song - instead, I'd try to capture or accentuate that potential energy of those swells & put my own artistic stamp on it.  The use of more slurred or sustained notes and some strategic slides could help in the absence of vocals.   Possibly "fiddle", excuse the pun (lol), with tempo and volume.  Maybe emphasize with a double stop or 2 - or layer a 2nd violin in parts. 

I apologize (up front) for probably not using correct music terminology.  You are very talented - I hope my humble observations/opinions encourage you to explore a little more and maybe you'll do the same for me some day! 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/3f/38/8d/3f388dca3c53ac602507e67b7ab50f0f.jpg

 

- Emily

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Mark
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October 10, 2020 - 12:07 am
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John Bracone

Sounding very good,

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Fiddlerman
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October 14, 2020 - 2:51 pm
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Thanks for the Billy Eilish performance. 🙂
Glad that you liked the Helicore strings.

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

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