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Question About Strings and Playing Ease
Do all strings play the same or are some harder to play on? I noticed something about my Obligatos, love the sound, but my playing has deteriorated since putting them on.
Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 Topic Rating: 4.7 (3 votes) 
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cid
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February 12, 2019 - 2:48 pm
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I have a question about strings. Are some strings harder to play on than other strings, even among material makeup? Are some synthetic strings harder to play on than other synthetics? 

One of my problems with the steel core is that the E strings are so harsh and shrill. I like a not so shrill E string. If there is a solution, please let me know how steel strings can be considered. Also, aren’t all steel strings bright and loud with a lot of projection? I play in my house, no audience.

I have Obligatos on my violin. I love the sound, but it seems like my playing has deteriorated since I have put them on. I was noticing that and thinking back, via songs that I started before the Obligatos, that I felt comfortable with and how it is when playing them now. They are not coming out so well.

Is there another synthetic string that would play easier and is not bright, similar in tone (although relative to the instrument and player), that I could try? 

These are what I was looking at in Fiddleshop’s site:

Infeld Red - On the Shar string chart site they appear almost as far left (the warm side of the chart) as the Obligatos. So I am assuming these should be warm. They are less than Obligatos, too.

D’Addario Kaplan Ammo - I heard they have an issue with hissing E strings.

D’Addario Zyex

D’Addario Pro-Arte

Larsen Tzigane - I am not sure what any of this refers to. These are the ordering options. TZIGANE - SET, WITH BALL E TZI10-B, or TZIGANE - SET, WITH BALL E, STARK TZI10-BS. I do use a ball end E on my violin, but I have no idea what the difference is between Ball E TXI10-B and the Stark TXZI10-BS is. I am going to ask Fiddlershop. These are closer to the Obligatos on the Shar string chart than the Infeld Reds are.

Infeld is made in the USA, so is a plus for me, but can’t be the deciding factor because I need to be able to play on them.

Does a different set of strings play better for some people than others? If so, is there a particular string set that is better for a learner, but not with the hollow sound that I have found in so-called student recommended strings? As I have stated in other posts, I am a newer student, but sound quality affects me greatly. Not a prima dona, just very picky about sound quality. It really bothers me.

Are all steel cored bright with loud projection. I know Spirocore are.

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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DennisS
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February 12, 2019 - 3:49 pm
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Cid - My #2 fiddle has a tendency to be a bit harsh playing the e-string.  My solution was Dominants for the G and D, Obligato for the A, and a Warchal Amber-E .  The Amber-E has a spiral coil at the end which seemed to significantly tame down (warm up) the steel e-string.

Dennis

If I don't have time for a short post, I'll write a long post - (adapted from Mark Twain)

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cid
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Thanks @DennisS So you buy individual strings? Is that an expensive way to do it? I never did that. Hmm. I have the Dominants that came on my violin. So the G and D are taken care of. Obligatos are on it already, so the Warchal E is all that would be needed. That still leaves the Obligato A on my instrument and I am not sure if the Obligatos are just too difficult for me to play right now, if some strings play easier. Is that what is being referred to as “respond”? If that is the case, I would prefer to remove the Obligatos before I wear them out until I get more experienced. 

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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cid
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February 12, 2019 - 6:50 pm
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AN ADDITION TO MY ORIGINAL POST:

I have Zyex as a possibility in the list. I am removing it. I have read about too many issue with the windings on them. So not taking the chance. So far, the others are still on, and any you all can recommend based on my questions in the original post.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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AndrewH
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cid said
Thanks @DennisS So you buy individual strings? Is that an expensive way to do it? I never did that. Hmm. I have the Dominants that came on my violin. So the G and D are taken care of. Obligatos are on it already, so the Warchal E is all that would be needed. That still leaves the Obligato A on my instrument and I am not sure if the Obligatos are just too difficult for me to play right now, if some strings play easier. Is that what is being referred to as “respond”? If that is the case, I would prefer to remove the Obligatos before I wear them out until I get more experienced.   

Individual strings are more expensive, but some shops (including online shops) sell custom mixed sets at a similar discount to full sets of one brand -- they just have to form a G-D-A-E set. I've ordered my preferred mixed set of viola strings (Vision CGD, Larsen A) from at least three different places, all at lower prices than buying the strings individually.

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DennisS
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cid said
Thanks @DennisS So you buy individual strings? Is that an expensive way to do it? I never did that. Hmm. I have the Dominants that came on my violin. So the G and D are taken care of. Obligatos are on it already, so the Warchal E is all that would be needed. That still leaves the Obligato A on my instrument and I am not sure if the Obligatos are just too difficult for me to play right now, if some strings play easier. Is that what is being referred to as “respond”? If that is the case, I would prefer to remove the Obligatos before I wear them out until I get more experienced.   

cid - I don't, as a rule, by individual strings.  I had purchased a combo of Dominant GDA with a Pirastro Gold E as a set.  Then I replaced the E with the Warchal Amber, and then ultimately the Dominant A with the Obligato A in order to address my perceived issues with that particular instrument.

On my #1 fiddle, which doesn't have those tonal issues, I'm simply using a set of Warchal Timbres, which I like very much.

Dennis

If I don't have time for a short post, I'll write a long post - (adapted from Mark Twain)

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cid
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Tonight I remembered I still had the Fiddlerman strings that I removed from my Mendini. They just did not sound right on that and I put the Tonicas back onto it. The Tonicas are pretty good on that, brighter than my Obligatos that are on my good Rudoulf Doetsch. Not really what I want on my Rudoulf.

I put those Fiddlerman strings onto my Rudoulf Doetsch. I like them on it, so far. They are a pleasant mellow warm sound on my Doetsch. They are not nearly as loud as the Obligatos, which in my case, is great! I only played them a little while.

I will see tomorrow if there is any difference in playability on my part. I am hoping they will be easier to play. As much as I liked the Obligato, they seemed hard to play on and are very loud. So far, with the little time I used Fiddlershop brand, they were quieter and seemed easier to bow. We will see. 

I am hoping these will do the trick because they are very reasonably priced. 

The only issue is the G string is too fat to fit easily into my tailpiece. The D string just fit without issue. When I had that issue tonight, I remembered that I had that issue on my Mendini. I squeezed it below the ball with a pair of smooth nosed pliers and kind of pushed it into the slot. 

That is going to be an issue. I don’t want to break my tailpiece or damage my violin. It is also fuzzy at the all end of the G. Pretty sure that was my doing when I forced it into the tailpiece of the Mendini.

So far, I would reorder the Fiddlerman, with a question with my order about the G string ball end issue. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I was also wondering if all steel strings are bright and loud. Spirocore strings definitely are, but do suit one of my instruments.

I was also wondering if different string brands, even of the same material makeup, are harder to play than others, explanation is in my original post. 

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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steveduf
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Strings are a baffle to me

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AndrewH
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It depends a lot on the individual player and the individual instrument, I think. I personally find darker-sounding strings much more forgiving as a general rule and would consider Obligatos to be among the easiest strings to play on. I use brighter-than-average strings in order to project more with a smaller, dark-sounding viola, even though I find them less forgiving with bowing technique and thus harder to play on. But your experience seems to be different, which may be the case with a different playing style or a different instrument.

Fiddlerman strings, from everything I've read, are comparable to Dominant, so fairly close to neutral.

In general, steel strings tend to be loud and very bright. The only exception I know of that is available in the US is the Warchal Russian A string, and even that is brighter than average. (The name comes from the fact that many Russian violinists use steel E and A strings and synthetic D and G.) For a full set, Spirocore is the darkest-sounding steel string I know of.

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AndrewH
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Consider looking at the Shar Music string chart:

https://www.sharmusic.com/Pages/How-To/Strings/Strings-Chart/Violin-String-Chart/

Darker sounding strings are to the left, brighter strings are to the right. Strings with a more clean, penetrating sound (which tend to sound louder but not always) are higher, strings with a more subtle, complex sound are lower.

Based on the chart, Kaplan Amo may be a worthwhile option to try if you end up deciding to change again.

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cid
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I did not realize the vertical placement on the Shar Chart represented anything. I thoughtbit was just left and right. I was wondering about that, though.

Why are some strings said to be good for beginner students, others are recommended for intermediare, others for advanced and others for professionals? If it is for price only, what gives the people rating them the right to state how much a person to should spend? That is why I am wondering about playability. I read that a lot.

That is why I am wondering about playability as well as tone. I tried searching for an answer last night and found nothing to explain it.

Off to get breakfast.

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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GregW
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cid said
AN ADDITION TO MY ORIGINAL POST:

I have Zyex as a possibility in the list. I am removing it. I have read about too many issue with the windings on them. So not taking the chance. So far, the others are still on, and any you all can recommend based on my questions in the original post.

Thanks for your time and consideration.  

Greeaaat..these are what Ive been using.  Lol. 🙂

What have you heard on these? (Zyex)  I was using helicore but they didnt sound too good on my violin..well actually nothing does especially my bow pulling across it but on the "this sounds horrible scale" the zyex seemed to not be high on the chart and were like orajel on a sore tooth at that moment in time. (Drum rimshot adjust tie..but seriously folks...) 

I was gonna try the kaplan amo next. Do you have a link or anything on what youve heard on the zyex?  Youre talking about daddario zyex brand correct?

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cid
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GregW, I am not sure I should post that link where I read a few comments about the windings. If you are notmhabing that issue, I wouldn’t worry about it. Maybe the reviewers got bad apples, it happens.

Also, I don’t want to change the subject of my thread. I really want to know if some strings are easier to play on than others. What does student grade, intermediate grade, advanced grade, etc mean? Does my issue with the issue with diminished playing quality since installing the Obligatos have to do with strings being made for how advanced you are? Love the sound when I get it right.

Are the strings that state they are great for students, great for students because they are inexpensive? Are they low quality? Do they have hollow sounds (like some of the inexpensive student violins? What is it? Playability? Price? Does that make the sound quality less? As an adult student, that makes a differnce to me. Can’t stand hollow sounding instruments or strings. Is it different for younger students? So many questions. LOL

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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DennisS
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Cid - I understand what you are after, and to that I would respond that a "student" is probably best off with a middle-of-the-road set of strings (i.e., not to bright, not to dark, not high tension, not steel, etc.).  These will likely not be too expensive.  I started with Dominants + Pirastro Gold E since that was recommended by one online teacher that I was following at the time (Alison Sparrow).  Besides, this is reportedly the combo that Itzak Perlman uses and I thought it they were good enough for him, they are good enough for me.  

My last fiddle came with Evah Pirazzis which are high tension, bright, and I thought they were relatively more difficult to play and get good sound from (at least at my level of competence).

Lastly, in these kind of situations, the issue is more likely to lie with the Indian, rather than the bow-and-arrow.  I would focus on your playing, bowing, tension, etc. rather than chase the string thing down the rabbit hole.

Dennis

If I don't have time for a short post, I'll write a long post - (adapted from Mark Twain)

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Irv
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Cid and others.  I would not force a string ball end through the tail piece notch with plyers.  If a tight fit, pass the peg box end of the string through the hole and gently advance to avoid damage to wrap.  Easily done.

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

I consider any plane that I design a success if it rises high enough to crash.  —RA Heinlein

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AndrewH
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I wouldn't put too much stock in strings being referred to as student, intermediate, or advanced grade. Dominants are the most frequently recommended brand for students in the US, including beginner students -- and leading international soloists use them as well.

That said, steel strings may sometimes be considered student strings because the cheapest student violins virtually require them. I recall reading a post on another forum by Bohdan Warchal himself, describing his observations on a visit to China. He tested some cheap student violins there (on the order of $30), and tried changing out the strings for several sets that he brought, both his own brand and other leading synthetic brands. Surprisingly, he said, he was barely able to get a sound out of those cheap violins with anything other than the steel strings they came with. So it's possible that very low end violins will respond well only to "student" strings, but that may not be relevant to violins outside the very bottom of the price range 

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cid
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@Irv Thanks for the tip. thumbs-upI had that issue with other arrings, too. I was thinking of maybe removng the G string and threading the peg box end up through the tailpiece like you said. I think it will sit better than the way it is now. This would be the third stringing of that string though. Not sure if that would cause excessive wear?

I thought it was my Mendini that had issues with Fiddlerman. I forgot about my Revelle 500Qx before my Doetsch, it was the Revelle that I tried the Fiddlerman on first with. It had a completely different sound than my Doetsch has. The Fiddlerman strings, so far, are beautiful. I don’t hear any of the “scratching” I heard when using the Obligatos. 

Since, for me, the Fiddlerman strings bow easier and sound clearer, no scratching sound, on my Doestsch, using the same instrument, bow and rosin as I used with the Obligato strings, I guess there is a playability difference using different strings. These Fiddlerman strings on my Doetsch, for my bowing, are so much easier. The sound is much more to my liking. This is good to know. I guess I answered my own questions with this string swap, and all of the input from everyone. Thank you very much.

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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Irv
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Hi cid and others.  I forgot to mention that you should always have a luthier do that surgery. 

I try to buy a year’s supply of the Fiddlerman strings as my Black Friday gift to myself.  Always a bargain, the strings are too good to pass up at that time.  Too bad they don’t make a version for viola.

Another good string in the same price range is the D’Addario Ascente.

Is you Mendini a model MV 650?  I really like those.

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

I consider any plane that I design a success if it rises high enough to crash.  —RA Heinlein

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cid
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@Irv You mean that if I want to fit the Fiddlerman G string onto my tailpiece the way you stated, I have to take it on a 1 1/2 hour trip to a luthier? I can’t just change the strings myself if I use thiose because of the G string thickness being used with my tailpiece? I hope that is not the case. Maybe Fiddlerman will chime in here and help me understand this better. I can’t be going to the luthier everytime I need to change strings if I vhamge to that brand, and the more I play them on my violin, the more I absolutely love them. HEY @Fiddlerman   FIDDLERMAN! OVER HERE, YO! cheerleadercheerleader Could you please read the above 1st paragraph and the post from Irv that I am replying to, if you need more clarity as to what this conversation is about. It is regarding the “G” string being too fat at the bottom to fit my tailpiece on my Doetsch. I had stated that I squeezed it with smooth (no gripper ridges) nosed pliers. It was still too fat. So, I pushed it into place with the pliers nose. I know that is not the best thing to do, I was extremely careful and slow about it, but what else could I do? Irv said to feed the peg box end of the string up through the tailpiece. Makes sense. But then he said he recommends having the luthier do it. I can’t be driving 1 1/2 hours to the luthier to get my strings changed because the G string is too fat. Any recommendations? I am falling in love with the Fiddlerman strings on my Doetsch. Didn’t like them on the Revelle, but have been using them for 1 1/2 days on my Doetsch and love them. Going to the luthier to change strings will be a deal breaker. I don’t want to give up using these. Much better for me than the Obligatos. Will try those again when I get better. I think they are giving me bowing issues. Thanks for any input and suggestions, Fiddlerman. If feeding the peg box end requires me to go to a luthier for string changes, can you recommend an alternative? Thanks.

OK, Irv, My Mendini is the MV 300. I like it. Different sound, not as deep, but the sound is good. It is the one with the satin finish, not shiny. It looks pretty neat. I read a review on the place I bought it from. A lady was complaining because it was not shiny. It looks exactly as described. I said, “What? You have got to be kidding me.” Anyway, it was my test violin to see if I could play and hold it. And also if I really wanted to. I still play it and it is in the photo of the wall mount my husband made me. I posted a photo of it. It is is still. Will remove it at some time.

Why does my violin have so many wrong notes? 🎻 😱

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Irv
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Hi @cid and others.  I would not hesitate for an instant to thread a string through a tail piece, and routinely do this with other strings at tension.  I have no fear that you can do the same.  But others here take offense (see the hole in the heart thread) at such guidance and I, of course, wanted to be offense less.  

If the slot is so thin as to break strings, it can be easily widened with a needle file.  Harbor Freight sells a diamond imbedded set for about $10 which will do nicely.  Oh no.  Perhaps I sinned again!

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

I consider any plane that I design a success if it rises high enough to crash.  —RA Heinlein

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