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Strings for the Viola that give a Darker Sound
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Elwin
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April 3, 2021 - 6:28 pm
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I currently play on a 16.5" Artist Viola that was built in 2016. For some reason, my viola is kind of bright, which I don't like. Even after improving bow-speed and tone production, the sound is still annoyingly bright. 

Right now, I have Pro Arte C-G-D and a Helicore A, and My Viola still sounds pretty bright.

What string set could I use to darken the sound? It takes a lot of good tone production to keep the D and A string sounding like a viola. If I don't bow right, the A can sound like a violin string which I don't like. Does anyone have recommendations?

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AndrewH
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April 3, 2021 - 8:10 pm
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Obligato is considered the gold standard in very dark strings, but it's expensive.

For strings that won't break the bank: I'm using Kaplan Amo, which I find to be an excellent alternative: warm-sounding without sacrificing quick response. I've heard Warchal Amber is also a good option.

I'm surprised you're using a Helicore A with an already bright-sounding viola; it's a very bright string. The A strings that come with Kaplan Amo and Warchal Amber are good so there's no real need to substitute them, but if you want to use something different, consider Larsen or Jargar. I used Vision C-G-D and Larsen A for a long time.

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Elwin
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April 3, 2021 - 8:47 pm
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The only violin shop in my area is Lisle Violin Shop, which has a partnership with D'Addario. They can offer their strings under their own brand name. For Viola, it's a Pro Arte C-G-D and a Helicore A. I do not like Helicore strings, as they are too bright and thin. 

I'm wondering if there's a way to get my viola to sound darker.

The hard part for me is that Viola is a quarnery skill, and I might not be able to afford the Warchal Amber, Kaplan Amo, or Obligato. With the Lisle Violin Shop set, I can get all strings for a little over $20. 

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Mouse
April 3, 2021 - 10:08 pm
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Dominant and Zyex are supposed to lean warm, but they are not way over in the warm side. On a bright viola, I am not sure what they would do. They are not the high end in price.

Corelli Crystal are supposed to on the warm side, more so than the Dominant and Zyex. They are supposed to be less money, also. Never used them, but the price might make them worth a try. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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AndrewH
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April 3, 2021 - 10:10 pm
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Maybe consider Corelli Crystal or D'Addario Ascente as budget options. You're not going to find warm strings for $20, that's an extraordinarily low price for viola strings. Anywhere else, the set you're currently using would run about $50.

I'm from Houston, by the way. Lisle is definitely not the only violin shop in town. Amati Violin Shop is also highly reputable.

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Elwin
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April 3, 2021 - 11:03 pm
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AndrewH said
Maybe consider Corelli Crystal or D'Addario Ascente as budget options. You're not going to find warm strings for $20, that's an extraordinarily low price for viola strings. Anywhere else, the set you're currently using would run about $50.

I'm from Houston, by the way. Lisle is definitely not the only violin shop in town. Amati Violin Shop is also highly reputable.

  

Even though my profile probably says Houston, I'm actually in the outskirts of Houston. Amati Violin Shop is a good drive away.

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ELCBK
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April 6, 2021 - 12:41 am
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@Elwin -

I love warmth and good response - maybe a contradiction of terms, oh well. 😊

I do not like Helicore. 

Obigato are good, but I've found inconsistencies - love a good Chrome A when I can find one. 

Love using Larsen Virtuoso for my G and D strings.

I can vouch for the D'Addario Ascente.  Using the C and the A right now - even though I don't normally like aluminum-wound strings, this A is good. 

My choices are based on my instrument.  Helicore C, regular Larsen G, D, and A were originally supplied with mine - none warm or complex.

If cost is an issue maybe order just one string, like the D'Addario Ascente online (good price), to see if you like their properties?  If you don't like it, you won't be out the cost of a whole set.

https://clipartart.com/images/emoji-music-clipart.png

 

- Emily

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Elwin
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April 6, 2021 - 1:46 am
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Well, I don't think the Ascente Cost is an Issue. 

I also have to get the Wittner Fine Tuner Pegs, because I think the fine Tuners on my viola are kind of wearing out the string

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AndrewH
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What makes you think the fine tuners are wearing out the string? I've never heard of that. What part of the string is being damaged?

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ELCBK
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April 6, 2021 - 4:50 am
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@Elwin -

Confused Head Scratching EmoticonsSounds fishy... I have planetary pegs and Glasser tailpiece w/fine tuners, which I think is a bit redundant - but that's what came with & like Andrew, I can't imagine what you are finding... seen different ways of attaching strings to different types of fine tuners.

Maybe a photo would help. 

More than likely there's quite a few other reasons strings wear out - unless you are seeing damage right where your strings attach to the fine tuners.

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_zmzLNEDA1s/hqdefault.jpg?sqp=-oaymwEXCNACELwBSFryq4qpAwkIARUAAIhCGAE=&rs=AOn4CLCQC4YKxsbqtePyseWQlfeADPRotA

You give me the impression you practice a lot - think it's feasible you just may need to change your strings more often. 😊

- Emily

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wtw
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I used to have the Vision / Vision solo set on my viola, I liked them well enough. Now last time, the luthier absolutely wanted to sell me a mixed set, so this is what I have : spirocore C, Helicore G and D, and Larsen A. I rather disliked the helicores from the start. Now I've gotten somewhat used to them, but I don't know how they get called 'warm'… or maybe they just don't get on well with my instrument. Or with my ears.

I think I'll just go back to the Vision next time – into safe territory ! Obligatos must be nice, but they're a bit too expensive. I'll learn to play better first.

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Fiddlerman
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April 6, 2021 - 11:15 am
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Obligato is also worth a try. They are a bit expensive but dark and powerful.

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

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Elwin
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April 6, 2021 - 12:04 pm
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I think I have Wittner-style fine tuners, the ones that hold the strings with a "v" like prong to hold the string. It is hard to fit the ball end on those, and both times a string broke, they broke right where the string was held by the fine-tuner.

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AndrewH
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April 6, 2021 - 12:23 pm
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It may be a matter of how you change your strings. Loosen the fine tuner before changing strings so that you have more space to work with between the fine tuner and the tailpiece and don't have to force the ball end in.

I broke a few strings at the ball end when I was just starting out on violin. My violin still has the same fine tuners and I haven't had problems with strings breaking on either violin or viola in almost 20 years.

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Mouse
April 6, 2021 - 12:50 pm
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@Elwin, I had issues with the beautiful fine tuners tailpiece on the viola I purchased last March. However, when I had to change the strings, I could not get the new strings, 3 different sets, to fit into the fine tuners from the ball end, or threading from the top up. As soon as the wrapping came to the fine tuner, it would not budge. I put the string I removed back on, and tried another string, same problem. I didn't change them. I tried three different sets. 

I had the fine tuner tailpiece changed out last Tuesday when I traded in my violin. 

The black fine tuner tailpiece is what I now have on my viola.

1CB16DB8-5D8D-4ABD-8DCB-C8DC16294C31.jpegImage Enlarger

This is the same kind that is in my other viola and violins;

The light brown tailpiece with the black tuners is what came on my viola and that I had issues with. There is a photo of the underside and the topside of this tailpiece.

973C3BD3-C35E-4A45-AABB-3F995E12E119.jpegImage Enlarger61F26A79-C89B-4025-86EF-45876915F02E.jpegImage Enlarger

I do not believe I will have a problem with the new black fine tuners.

The tuners were loosened when I was trying to change the strings on the light brown fine tuner tailpiece. For some reason, the light brown fine tuner tailpiece gave me issues. 

That said, one of the sets I tried to string the viola with when the light brown fine tuner tailpiece was on the viola, were Obligatos. I love Obligatos, but they would not fit any better than the other two sets. 

I am not familiar with fine tuner brands. Maybe the black fine tuner tailpiece is a Wittner. They did not charge me for it, so it is not on the receipt.

The light brown was more attractive, but the black one will work better, based on the other instruments it is on.

And, for those who noticed the strings with the black tailpiece, they are not Obligatos. They are a new viola string that the violin shop asked if I wanted to try because I asked them to put a new set of warm strings, of their choosing, on my viola when they changed out the tailpiece. I was feeling experimental. These are not easily available right now. The violin version, and I think cello, were released, maybe a year ago, if I remember correctly. I love them, and the Obligatos. About the same price range, if I recall the price of the Obligatos. 

I think if you get a tuner like the black one above, you will have better luck. Understand, I am not one who performs or beyond maybe, intermediate (if that) in my viola playing. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Elwin
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April 7, 2021 - 3:00 am
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My viola has neither of those fine tuners.

Amazon.com: Wittner Stable-style Black Fine Tuner for 3/4-4/4 Violin:  Musical Instruments

This is the kind of fine-tuner on my viola.

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ELCBK
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April 7, 2021 - 3:49 am
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@Elwin -

Thanx for the photo - helps a lot!

Hmm Thinking Here Smiley

My fine tuners are all protected with Carbon Composite material. 

So, are you planning on just doing without fine tuners? 

I think the Fiddlershop carries a protective cover/sheath for one type of fine tuner (ck their store) - you can always give them a call & explain your situation & see what they recommend.

Have you tried tuning anyone's Viola that uses Planetary pegs? 

I've read there are different kinds.  I only know mine and they can be a little fussy - just need to know they are adjusted differently. 

https://www.lanesboro.lib.mn.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/cat_fiddle.jpg

 

I'd like to know what you end up using. 😊 

- Emily

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Mark
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April 7, 2021 - 4:45 am
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This might help

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Fiddlerman
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April 13, 2021 - 9:11 am
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Elwin said
The only violin shop in my area is Lisle Violin Shop, which has a partnership with D'Addario. They can offer their strings under their own brand name. For Viola, it's a Pro Arte C-G-D and a Helicore A. I do not like Helicore strings, as they are too bright and thin. 

I'm wondering if there's a way to get my viola to sound darker.

The hard part for me is that Viola is a quarnery skill, and I might not be able to afford the Warchal Amber, Kaplan Amo, or Obligato. With the Lisle Violin Shop set, I can get all strings for a little over $20. 

It's sad but good strings are expensive. However, that might not satisfy you in any case. Steel core strings are the brightest so just make sure you find synthetic core strings if you are to be content.

Another thing that can help your viola sound darker is to have a longer soundpost installed. When the soundpost is located closer to the base side (C string side) of the bridge, it tends to bring out more of the darker tones.

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

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