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low tension strings vs: same brand medium gauge
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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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September 4, 2018 - 9:28 am
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Hi All,

It seems I've manhandled my Obligato strings by obsessively rubbing off rosin with a cloth and even my fingernail. They were rectangular instead of round in many spots. My bad. Lesson learned.

So now I'm shopping for a new set. As a beginner, I'm always looking for something mellow and less loud (but hopefully without loosing too much in the way of overtones.)

I liked the Obligatos and was wondering if anyone had a take on what difference I might expect if I switched from medium to low tension (light gauge.)

Also considering Larson Tziganes (also low tension.)

Anyone have a take on this?

Thanks,

Holly

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 4, 2018 - 3:40 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Most of the Larsen strings are great so I imagine that the Tzigane strings are no exception. I've never tried them but know of one great violinist friend of mine who does.

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

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Irv
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September 4, 2018 - 4:56 pm
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Hi bocaholly (and others).  Light gauge strings should be easier to bow and require less force on the fingers to obtain a note on the fingerboard, but will produce less sound for a given amount of bow pressure.  I often find them more expensive than medium.  

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

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

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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bocaholly
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September 4, 2018 - 5:12 pm
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Thanks, @Irv . That's exactly the effect I'm looking for.

I think the Larsen's are less expensive than the Obligatos (which is nice.) However, you're correct that the "soft" version will be a bit more expensive since I think they don't come as a set. I've got to buy the individual strings. Hmmm. The up side is that this will give me the opportunity to try the Warchal E string with the funny little coil near the bridge (it straightens out when tightened up.)

9pAAAA9kAAMBxbW1vZAAAAAAAAAYQAACgLgAAAADQ5e4AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA==

In the meantime, my violin is "wearing" the Evah Pirazzi greens it came with. They seemed so bright and shrill when I started. Now they just sound bright and sweet (when I get my bow moving correctly 🙂

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Irv
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September 4, 2018 - 5:53 pm
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Hi bocaholly.  I purchased one of those e strings but have not put it on a violin since I want to use it as a model when I try to make “copies” on a lathe.  

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

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

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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September 4, 2018 - 7:06 pm
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@Irv 
Bet I'm not the only one who wants to see a pic of that when you've tried!

In the meantime, best of luck restoring that gorgeous old violin with the inlays.

EDIT: Ooops, just realized, that's @steveduf 's project... my bad.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 5, 2018 - 8:36 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Just my two cents on light and heavy tension strings.
My experience has shown me that medium tension strings suit the instruments best 99% of the time. It's better to play away from the bridge, close to the fingerboard with light pressure to get a soft sound. It teaches you more technique and to do dynamics and color.
Now, there are also other ways to make a violin softer, including moving the soundpost back towards the end button. Even lowering the bridge provided the scoop on the fingerboard is enough to keep it from touching when playing hard on the lower strings.
Some very old instruments that are fragile and in poor condition can benefit from light tension strings and heavy, thick, poor vibrating instruments might benefit from heavy tension strings. Also, some people (soloists) that want to be able to play over the orchestra attempt heavy tension strings and high bridges.

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

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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September 5, 2018 - 8:54 am
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Thanks, Pierre. 

As always, lots of merit to your pitch for working on technique.

Especially since y'all at Fiddlershop set up the my violin with pretty low action to make it easier on my beginner fingers, sound's like you're saying I don't need low tension strings to boot. Point taken.

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Irv
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September 5, 2018 - 11:00 am
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Hi bocaholly.  I spent a good part of last evening learning more about Larson strings.  It appears that there is no industry standard regarding tension ranges constituting a “medium” setting, and Larson is lower than others.  So it would appear that using a medium of the Larson is like using a “light” of other brands.  The light would be really light.

Since your violin instructor regards your violin as very loud, I think that your reasoning is sound.  And the cost premium for the strings is not extreme (I would regard it as two packs of cigarettes not smoked, since I do not smoke).

We seem to be arriving at optimum string choice from opposite ends of the cost spectrum.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

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

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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bocaholly
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September 5, 2018 - 11:58 am
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Thanks for the research. Yup, @Irv, you definitely agree with Pierre about me not needing low tension strings, especially in a brand that already has a relatively low tension medium string set like Larsen.

In the end, I ordered G-D-A Violino (Pirastro) which has a similarly low tension medium string and is said to be more quiet than most other strings. I hope my cats appreciate the sacrifice 🙂 

If they're anything as smooth and melodious as the recycled Evah Pirazzis I put on when I destroyed my Obligatos (and quieter than both) I will be a very happy camper.

P.S. I also ordered the curly Warchal Amber E. 

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Fiddlerman
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September 6, 2018 - 2:00 pm
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Give me a call at Fiddlershop if you want us to order special Larsen strings. We stock the normal Larsen and Virtuoso. We can dropship the Tzigane to you if you like.

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

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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September 6, 2018 - 3:45 pm
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Thanks, Pierre. Done...
... with a last minute switch to Pirastro Violinos (+ Warchal Amber E)
So many string reviews on line. As so often, the best advice I read: "It depends."

I'll report back how the Violinos work for me on the Sima Traian. I really liked the Obligatos and am hoping the Violinos will be similar (dark-leaning) but quieter since I'm not planning any solo performances any time soon 🙂 

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mookje
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September 7, 2018 - 7:09 am
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I hope you get the result that you want Holly and let us know and hear how it sounds ?

 Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about dancing in the rain!!

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Irv
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September 7, 2018 - 10:17 am
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Hi bocaholly (and others).  I think that you have exceptional instincts as to the needs of your instrument and should trust them.  For example, after breaking in the new set of strings, select the most strident among them and replace it with a Larsen stark (light tension).  See the effect.  You can always go back to the original string if you like it better, and either way you have gained insight (convictions are like hardened arteries).

That being said, there is much to be gained with the skulling concept of “rowing the rig.” I read in “With Strings Attached,” the autobiography of Joseph Szigeti, his belief that one of the reasons that Soviet trained violinists excelled in the 1940 to 1950 era was that they studied with gut strings where students elsewhere used steel strings (then unavailable in Russia) to exploit their power (in terms of volume).  The career of David Oistrakh may have relied, in part, upon his ability to row the rig.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.  —Werner von Braun

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

Experience is a difficult teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson after.

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bocaholly
Boca Raton, Florida
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September 11, 2018 - 5:41 pm
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The Pirastro Violinos (G-D-A) are now strung up on my Sima Traian.

They're exactly what I hoped for:

  • Very mellow, almost quiet sound. Perfect for playing at home and lessons. I'm guessing they'll be loud enough for my back row community orchestra seat where, as a beginner, I'm happy to be unobtrusive... at least acoustically 🙂
  • On the low-tension side for a medium tension string so they're easy on my fingers.
  • Sounded lovely right out of the box (as opposed to their big sister, the Obligatos, which sounded metallic and raspy on my violin for the first 5-6 hours of play.)
  • Note: The Violinos are requiring frequent retuning the first few hours of play  but I expect they will settle in shortly.

As for the Warchal Amber E string... the jury is still out. I'll give it some time and try different strategies when crossing to the open E. The F#, G, A and B (on the E-string) were immediately nice and mellow.

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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September 12, 2018 - 7:40 am
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I've done this kind of experiment (light, medium, heavy) with guitar strings, and my conclusion is that with the violin I'm going to go right down the middle 100%. I will upgrade to Pirastro with a wound E or Dominant if I'm feeling rich, but if my sound is harsh, I'll practise more (and keep my Artino mute firmly in place, lol)

Andrew

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bocaholly
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September 12, 2018 - 9:03 am
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@andrew, 

Wound E-string. Interesting. I will look into that, thanks.

Anyone have experience with wound E-strings?

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Gordon Shumway
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September 12, 2018 - 9:08 am
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I jumped the gun - I haven't looked into them yet - I think they are wound, or they may just be solid aluminium or something.

 

No, this says aluminium wound E: -

https://www.thestringzone.co.u.....trings-set

Andrew

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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September 13, 2018 - 7:06 am
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bocaholly said
@andrew, 

Wound E-string. Interesting. I will look into that, thanks.

Anyone have experience with wound E-strings?  

I ordered some of those Pirastros yesterday. I'll let you know.

I'm only wondering how quickly one will snap.

Andrew

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
September 13, 2018 - 8:21 am
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I use the D'Addario Kaplan KS311W (aluminium wound E).   I started using them early on to stop the irritating whistling E on almost any "normal" E from several different sets of strings.   Of course, the problem was mine, but the KS311W has NEVER once whistled back at me in over 3 years of using them.

Downside ?   Hmmm - difficult to say - there is definitely "something different" in the sound - but - it's pretty marginal as as far as I can see, it blends reasonably well with other makes of G,D and A.   If anything, I suppose I feel that it doesn't sing out quite as well as a non-wound.

I've never experienced a string unwinding / or the winding being "pinched" at the nut or bridge (where the windings usually fail) but that's probably down to good nut and bridge grooves (parchment in the bridge E-groove)

By the way, having mentioned the whistling problem, I have gone back to a standard E on one of my instruments, and yes, occasionally, I'll get the whistle, but it occurs very infrequently - clearly what is now an improved bowing "attack" to the string has more or less resolved the problem, but habit keeps me using the Kaplan wound E on the other instruments now that I'm used to the sound...

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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