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Does string material, either gut, synthetic or steel, affect learning bow control
I am asking this about a cello, but should be applicable to violin and viola
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cid
January 27, 2020 - 4:06 pm
Member Since: December 26, 2018
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@Irv made this statement in another thread in the making and repairing stringed instruments section, a thread about Violin Height:

AndrewH pretty much nailed the answer I would give.  To add some confusion, perlon strings need more room than steel strings and light tension strings of all types need more room than medium tension.  Heavy tension need the least amount of room.  

Fast players therefore often use steel heavy tension strings.  

I was wondering, right now on my cello, I have D’Addario Helicore strings. I really like them. I was wondering, though, after reading what Irv said, if I maybe I should change them temporarily. This is why.

The Helicore, although they are a stranded steel core, they act like synthetic core strings, and are quite warm on the cello I installed them on.

My instructor and I are trying to get my speed up. I was wondering, maybe, if I was to use something more in the line of a steel cello set, not meant to act like synthetic, temporarily, until I am not fighting to get my speed up, it might be better. Then I can put the Helicores back on after that. By what Irv said, it sounds like they respond quicker? 

Any thoughts? I read that Spirocore off better playing when trying to learn speed control of the bow. That article said something like the the response is quicker and allows better slow and fast bow speed control, but I don’t know. I would give up the warm sound if it would allow to feel the bow better and be able to learn to control my bow better. I can put the Helicores back on when I am more comfortable and then smooth the bowing out from there with the Helicores. 

I know when I removed my Obligatos from my violin and put the Fiddlerman strings on, it helped me hear the intonation better. I can always put the Obligatos back on later and save the Fiddlerman for my fiddle. They are strings that I really like and I believe they would be great on the Concert Deluxe.

Do you think that maybe the steel strings, temporarily on my cello might help? 

Viola Time! 

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GregW
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January 27, 2020 - 5:50 pm
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this is interesting.  Ive always heard helicores are fast response.  Heck try it out and see!  My gut says that at my level speed wouldn't be one thing I would expect a string type change to give me so Id be interested to hear if you think it made a difference for you.  I know youre speaking of cello but same should apply for violin I would think.

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cid
January 27, 2020 - 5:59 pm
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I will have to give it a try. I think I actually have a set of slightly used Spirocore cello strings. I will have to check. I know these Helicores feel very soft under my fingers and the Spirocore were a bit more noticeable and not warm, so they aren’t alike. I don’t want to buy a set to test with. I so believe I have a set I can try.

Well, if I don’t have a set, I will get a set of the lesser expensive strings. Resting my knee at the moment, so I can’t get up to see. That is a plan though, get a set of lesser expensive steels to test it with.

Thanks Greg. Talking things through really helps me figure things out, or decide something is worth trying.

Viola Time! 

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GregW
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January 27, 2020 - 6:33 pm
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yeah me too.  I was in a violin shop with my fiddle recently and was asking about strings. The owner didn't think mine liked obligatos.  He was suggesting helicores and one thing he mentioned was they had more bite and response.  he thought the Gatos were too dark for him on my fiddle.  I told him I liked them and leaned more toward synthetic strings.  I think it comes down to what you feel like works and gives you confidence your instrument isn't working against you.  problem with that is how do you know till you switch things up?  my only concern is that I try and switch things up TOO much instead of keeping something static which makes me commit unconscious adjustments which throw something else off.  maybe I "fret" about too much.. 🙂

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Irv
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January 27, 2020 - 7:24 pm
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@cid and others.  The speed reference was based on string height from the fingerboard.  The less distance the fingers have to travel, all things considered, the faster the fingers will be.  You would need to change bridge height to achieve this result, so it is not as easy as a string change.

I think what you want to do is related to the length of time between when you begin bowing and when you start to hear something. @BillyG has done some work on this with his octave strings (I supplied some parts for him).  Wrap metal choice and weight of tailpiece materially affect this speed.  

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.         —Frank Zappa

It is unpleasant to be thought so uncleverly unclean and capable of poisoning a whole city.—Sir Walter Scott

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cid
January 27, 2020 - 7:43 pm
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Thanks, Irv. 

Viola Time! 

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Sasha
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January 28, 2020 - 3:25 pm
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GregW said
I think it comes down to what you feel like works and gives you confidence your instrument isn't working against you.  problem with that is how do you know till you switch things up?  my only concern is that I try and switch things up TOO much instead of keeping something static which makes me commit unconscious adjustments which throw something else off.  maybe I "fret" about too much.. 🙂

  

I am going to have to agree with this right here.

There are very similar thoughts and discussions in the guitar world, and some even polarize on opinions like:  Thicker picks to play fast.  Heavier strings to play fast.

While the reality is, it all varies so much from player to player there is no real standard, from thinnest to thickest of picks and even string gauge, action and tension.

Guitar does have the advantage of being a lot cheaper to change out a set of strings on, and changing pick is magnitudes cheaper than changing a bow.

But in the end, given a well setup instrument, string types/tension is going to make a minuscule difference and the end result will come from practicing and learning.  And that minuscule difference will most likely end up from being a comfort factor rather than from an actual physics performance increase. 🙂

The real trick is, finding what is missing/needs to be corrected/changed in practice routine that gets us there.  And sometimes it can be something pretty subtle.

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Fiddlerman
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January 30, 2020 - 6:45 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Perhaps a slight bit if you are comparing learning on steel core to learning on synthetic core strings. However, not so much. 🙂

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

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Gordon Shumway
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January 30, 2020 - 12:51 pm
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I'd guess if the windings are the same for steel and nylon, then that's what really matters.

And what about gut?

I heard a gut afficionado play a few weeks ago and wasn't very impressed. I mentioned it to my teacher and she said, "gut's horrible!"

Andrew

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