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String tension
Variation of tension with string core material
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (3 votes) 
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Peter
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February 11, 2020 - 3:35 pm
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This is an interesting thread on the use of a sprung E string, and although it is of great technical interest, I fear it's a little out of my league until I can at least move away from first position. Forgive me if I put it aside for now.

I fitted the two new strings earlier, and it's too early to form an opinion on them; they feel as if they'll take a while to settle. This is the first time I've ever used synthetic strings, since all my forty-three years of guitar playing have been on solid electric guitars (and all that implies). As predicted, the violin didn't pull itself to pieces, the bridge didn't pull to one side, and I have two spare steel strings.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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cid
February 11, 2020 - 4:49 pm
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@Peter I would not be concerned about mixing steel a d synthetic or gut. It is done all the time. Even the instruments I bought came with mixed strings. The ones from the shop 1 1/2 to 2 hours away always seem to put Spirocore C and G and Larsen D and A strings on cellos. I detest Larsen D and A and always change them out for whatever I have on hand. 

You can Google to find the most common strong mixes snd they mix steel with synthetic a lot. Since they have recommendations of mixes, I would not be concerned.

I would pay more attention to if the strings work for you. Are they clear enough for you to hear your intonation clearly? I tried Obligatos on my violin because I did not want that violin sounding bright. I loved them, bit the darker sound made it hard for me to actually hear if my intonation happened to be right. The clearer more bright sound was better. I took them off and I think the ones I put on were Tonicas that I had. They were a little more clear. 

That is when I found put why some strings are rated for beginners, advanced, professional, etc. It is the sound and how they bow (response), how often they have to be tuned, etc. That is what I suggest you concern yourself with. Mixing strings made of different material, as far as I know, is not really an issue. 

Also, glad to hear you are finding the forum helpful.

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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February 11, 2020 - 9:34 pm
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Peter said

AndrewH said

Here's a string tension chart covering multiple manufacturers.

https://www.violinstringreview.....201409.png

There are seven steel string sets listed here: the six highest-tension sets, and Spirocore which is still relatively high tension.

  

Do you know what units the (agggregate) tension in the x-axis is in?

Great chart, BTW.

  

It appears all tensions are listed in pounds. Also, if multiple gauges of a string are available, medium gauge is used.

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AndrewH
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February 11, 2020 - 9:59 pm
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@Peter and @cid, I'm not sure synthetic violin E strings even exist -- at least I'm not aware of any brand where the E string is synthetic. For that matter, only a few brands use a synthetic core for the viola A string. The vast majority of classical violinists use synthetic string sets, so you can effectively say they are all using mixed synthetic/steel sets even when they are using a single brand for all four strings. (By the way, I have the opposite experience from Peter: I've never used steel strings for anything except violin E and viola A. In my experience, synthetic strings take 2-3 days to stretch to the point where they will stay in tune, and take up to a week for their tone quality to settle.)

It's quite common for Russian and other Eastern European violinists to use steel A strings as well. Many buy A and E strings from a steel set and G and D strings from a synthetic set. (Warchal also makes a high-quality "Russian" steel A string that is sold on its own and designed for mixing.)

I have been using mixed sets on my viola for years; I always use a Larsen A string no matter what my other strings are. I'm currently using Vision Solo CGD, Larsen A. Mixing strings is very common on viola. A majority of professional violists use either Larsen or Jargar A strings, and some use Larsen D strings, but almost none use Larsen or Jargar C and G strings. I've also seen some people use a different C string; I know one violist who uses a gut C string, synthetic G and D strings, and a steel A string. I understand that the majority of professional cellists use the Spirocore CG, Larsen DA combo; in my semipro orchestra, 6 of the 8 cellists use that.

String tension can affect how the other strings vibrate, but structural integrity is really not an issue, so go ahead and mix and match without worrying about the violin itself or the bridge.

@Irv, in case you're not aware: many sellers will sell at least mixed sets at the full-set discount as long as you buy a set of four strings. Some sell only the popular mixed sets that way, some will let you mix and match any four. Cost shouldn't be an issue when trying mixed sets.

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Irv
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@AndrewH and others.  The original poster reported that he purchases string sets by the string.  I pointed out to him that economic advantage is possible by the purchase as a set.  As it turns out, he was aware of that but was unable from a budgeting standpoint.  This is a rational constraint that was previously unknown to me.

I am aware that composite brand string sets are available.  At my current level of performance, I would derive scant benefit from this practice.  My vendors are one level up from dumpster diving (which is the likely source of their wares).

Man has no special rights because he belongs to a particular race.  The soul emanates equal and eternal from bodies different in shape and color.  It is sufficient to say ‘Man’ to comprehend therein all rights.                                                    — Jose Marti 

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

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cid
February 12, 2020 - 9:51 am
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Irv said
@AndrewH and others.  The original poster reported that he purchases string sets by the string.  I pointed out to him that economic advantage is possible by the purchase as a set.  As it turns out, he was aware of that but was unable from a budgeting standpoint.  This is a rational constraint that was previously unknown to me.

I am aware that composite brand string sets are available.  At my current level of performance, I would derive scant benefit from this practice.  My vendors are one level up from dumpster diving (which is the likely source of their wares).

  

@Irv and others,

I wonder if maybe there could be a thread started where people can volunteer/sell their used sets that still have life to other members of the forum, I am talking giving them away, personally, but others could do whatever they want. I think if I tried a set and really hated them, I would probably srll them at a good discount. You know, Irv, like I sent the used Perpetual(?) cello strings to you that I was not going to use again. It did not cost much at all to send in the lower 48. I am not sure how much it would be to share overseas. But, that would be up to each one’s abilities. 

I am going to take inventory of all my sets after the Traveler is sent on her way. Then I will do thread and offer them up to members in the lower 48. I am working on my little history of her right now. I want it ready when I get the address of the next host and the conditions are good for walking the parking lot.

Oh, there is a For Sale section. 

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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starise
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February 12, 2020 - 10:17 am
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Changing things too much might affect technique, so lately I have attempted to keep things fairly constant. Even though the changes are small, adjustments could be necessary to compensate.

I sort of landed on Pirastro Tonica as a very reasonably priced tonally matched set. They play well and seem to last quite awhile. For someone else that might be Dominants or another brand. I'm sure there are others. For me consistency helps.I think most go through a period of experimentation, likely largely due to us all asking the gnawing question- Would it help me play just a little bit better? In most cases no. In some cases yes.If you are still using the strings on that 49.96 Chinese violin, then yes....exaggeration implied. The only direction to go is up in that case.

Not sure where you guys are from that has a lack of suppliers. UK Amazon maybe? Amazon seems to market differently in different countries. Fiddlerman has a nice selection if you live over here or can get them posted to you reasonable.

Tonica can be bought for around 30.00 US here. There are lower on ebay but watch out they are probably imitations.

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starise
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cid said

Irv said

@AndrewH and others.  The original poster reported that he purchases string sets by the string.  I pointed out to him that economic advantage is possible by the purchase as a set.  As it turns out, he was aware of that but was unable from a budgeting standpoint.  This is a rational constraint that was previously unknown to me.

I am aware that composite brand string sets are available.  At my current level of performance, I would derive scant benefit from this practice.  My vendors are one level up from dumpster diving (which is the likely source of their wares).

  

@Irv and others,

I wonder if maybe there could be a thread started where people can volunteer/sell their used sets that still have life to other members of the forum, I am talking giving them away, personally, but others could do whatever they want. I think if I tried a set and really hated them, I would probably srll them at a good discount. You know, Irv, like I sent the used Perpetual(?) cello strings to you that I was not going to use again. It did not cost much at all to send in the lower 48. I am not sure how much it would be to share overseas. But, that would be up to each one’s abilities. 

I am going to take inventory of all my sets after the Traveler is sent on her way. Then I will do thread and offer them up to members in the lower 48. I am working on my little history of her right now. I want it ready when I get the address of the next host and the conditions are good for walking the parking lot.

Oh, there is a For Sale section. 

  

I dunno cid while I like the concept of it I don't think I would have much confidence in used strings. When I take mine off they are usually not good enough to be used again except maybe only in an emergency. Maybe I underestimate the life left in those?

While I don't think it should be advertised that some might give away free strings, maybe shooting a few PMs around from and to the right people could work wonders. If you buy a set of basic player strings like Tonica, buy two and send one out to someone. Just a thought. If you bought like 10 set of something and changed brands maybe consider sending them out to someone. Just sayin'. The main thing is postage from here to there wherever there is. Like how much to send a small item like that from say Texas to Manchester? Just curious.

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BillyG
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February 12, 2020 - 10:46 am
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Good point made Tim @starise

I appreciate what you mean by "consistency" - although - depending on the individual, sure, I believe there are indeed pluses-and-minuses about experimenting with changes - the minus-side especially when done too early in the learning process.  From the outset of my playing, I already "knew / understood / recognised" that a good player can damn near get a tune out of anything - even a shovel strung with a tensioned fence-wire..... (as a plucked bass)

So - of course - me being me - I experimented with strings, even in the early days, which I would NOT advise to everyone, but it's just the sort of thing I do, being curious... (don't respond to that!)

And yes - at 5 years on - I can now really appreciate the difference ( in mean in the playing, the "touch under the bow", the response - I'm not referring to the tonal quality ) between strings of different tension and weight.

I have not spent sufficient time to specifically separate out individual synthetics - but -the most obvious difference between feel-and-touch during bowing, for me, is really really evident between steels, synthetics and octave strings.  My experiments with the relatively heavy octaves really brought the aspects of "touch" ( and just how much "touch" they needed to make them ring properly ) right home to me.

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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AndrewH
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I didn't experiment with strings early on. As I mentioned, I've never used steel strings. I started in 1999 on my late great-uncle's violin, which needed some minor restoration, and so I got a set of Dominants in the process. When I took up the viola a year later, it was on a borrowed viola also strung with Dominants. I stuck with all Dominants on both until 2008 when I was a solidly upper-intermediate player.

The impetus for trying something new was Thomastik-Infeld launching the Vision string; it was new and on sale at a deep discount at my then-local shop, so I gave it a try on violin and liked it enough to stick with it. I didn't try Vision strings on viola at the time, but the good experience on violin got me interested in looking into viola string options too. I think I started using a Larsen A string the following year.

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Gordon Shumway
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February 12, 2020 - 11:53 am
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AndrewH said
I didn't experiment with strings early on. 

Quite right.

a) it is an expensive thing to do.

b) beginners really do need to learn that there is no magic formula for success.

If you sound bad, it's not because your violin needs that Evah Pirazzi G and a gut D and a Russian steel A and a gold E, it's because you are a beginner. Don't change your strings: practise.

Work hard for 5 years, then you can experiment with strings. My first violin still has its original as-supplied Tonicas: my second violin still has its original as-supplied Dominants. The E strings are probably both unwound solid steel. I get along fine with both.

Sorry, I'm taking out my annoyance at every string thread I've ever read on every guitar and violin forum.

Andrew

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BillyG
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February 12, 2020 - 12:23 pm
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ROFL roflroflroflroflrofl

You Sir, @Gordon Shumway - are "on point" - LOL Alf !!! 

If you sound bad, it's not because your violin needs etc....., it's because you are a beginner. Don't change your strings: practise.

And NO NEED for the apology ( the "sorry" bit although I well understand that ) -

Sorry, I'm taking out my annoyance at every string thread I've ever read on every guitar and violin forum.

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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Irv
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Back when I first started learning the violin and found this forum, I did a free gear swap with @MrYikes and discovered through him the cheap pleasure of what is available using off brand strings.  I admittedly get a kick out of extending the limit of inexpensive gear.

I strongly encourage the use of the pm feature available here and help out other forum users when possible.  

Man has no special rights because he belongs to a particular race.  The soul emanates equal and eternal from bodies different in shape and color.  It is sufficient to say ‘Man’ to comprehend therein all rights.                                                    — Jose Marti 

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

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starise
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You guys are a hoot! LOL. I get the same feeling coming here as I do when I'm asking myself if I should eat one more piece of fried chicken while trying to push myself away from the table! Should I be here? Probably not. Am I here? Yes. Am I eating fried chicken? I might be.. I see my arm coming toward my mouth from the corner of my eye. 🙂

If you can afford to try a few different types I think it's educational to a point. It's a shame they can't throw in a 10 pak sample as a promotion  when buying a new violin. I understand I would still be buying the strings but maybe at a promotional discount. This is probably something that would need to happen from the string makers. Just a thought....that will go NOWHERE....look its going....going.....GONE!

It sometimes seems like such a hit and miss proposition to me. I think we would all prefer an experience not an opinion. If we can't have the experience we then parse opinions. What REALLY drives me ape nuts is when one person likes brand A, then two posts later another person comes along saying they HATED brand A. Then it becomes about a battle of wits over brand A. Now if everyone loved brand A and hated all other brands...wouldn't you think that would narrow our choices some? NO, because there is also PERSON A and PERSON B. There will be the person who wants to be a trail blazer just to be different popping up out of nowhere to say they liked brand Z just because.......LOL. I have spent literally hours researching something someone asked a question about so I could give them a good answer for their dilemma. Then Bubba comes out of the woodwork with an alternative sexier solution.Praises be to Bubba.............I should have spent my time practicing the violin instead 🙂violin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentviolin-studentdevil-violindevil-violinviolin_girlviolin-student

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BillyG
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February 12, 2020 - 3:06 pm
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You guys are a hoot! LOL. I get the same feeling coming here as I do when I'm asking myself if I should eat one more piece of fried chicken while trying to push myself away from the table! Should I be here? Probably not. Am I here? Yes. Am I eating fried chicken? I might be.. I see my arm coming toward my mouth from the corner of my eye. 

Brother - I hesitate ( but only slightly ) to say this - you are insane (in the humorous sense)!  And I feel quite justified in saying that because, quite simply, I'm there already and recognise it for what it is !

WELCOME TO THE CLUB !!!

You are a truly worthy member of the forum.  Credentials accepted !

yaaaa_gif

LOL @starise - fiddle-on regardless....

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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Irv
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@starise and others.  A confession.  About a year ago, I began to wonder if I was missing out by using off-brand Chinese and the “fiddlerman” store brand.  I read the reviews and tried a set of Dominant perlon core strings.  What a mistake.  The “e” string was unplayable (I typically use a modified $1.65 Goldbrokat) and the others were disappointing.

@cid and @bocaholly often score free string sets from manufactures by calling their customer service departments (especially when a new brand name is marketed).  Perhaps a thread should be created here to catalog attempts and successes in this regard.  

I have been known to score high(er) end strings by haunting amazon warehouse, but I examine the contents immediately upon receipt.  Inadequate packaging often results in the ball end of one string causing damage to another during shipment (I recently noticed that d’Addario rotates successive string ball ends in a set to avoid this damage, which is clever of them).  I have also found bass strings (obviously the most expensive) missing from sets.   No big deal if you always shop in advance of need, since free return is offered.

Man has no special rights because he belongs to a particular race.  The soul emanates equal and eternal from bodies different in shape and color.  It is sufficient to say ‘Man’ to comprehend therein all rights.                                                    — Jose Marti 

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

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AndrewH
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Irv said
@starise and others.  A confession.  About a year ago, I began to wonder if I was missing out by using off-brand Chinese and the “fiddlerman” store brand.  I read the reviews and tried a set of Dominant perlon core strings.  What a mistake.  The “e” string was unplayable (I typically use a modified $1.65 Goldbrokat) and the others were disappointing.

  

 

Sometimes it's the individual instrument. Dominant is often recommended mostly because it's a neutral string that rarely sounds terrible, but there's the occasional violin that hates Dominants.

 

One interesting thing: a few years ago, on a trip to China, Bohdan Warchal experimented with strings (both his own company's and other popular brands) on cheap Chinese violins. He discovered that, as a general rule, any synthetic strings sounded worse on sub-$50 violins than the Chinese steel strings that came with them. With the very cheapest violins ($30 or so), none of the synthetic strings he tried would even make a functional sound. It seems the heavier construction of cheap factory violins often requires high-tension steel strings.

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starise
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BillyG  I prefer to call it alternate ways of seeing things 🙂 If I am insane so be it. I'm enjoying the ride 🙂 

Andrew H that example reminds me of an old joke about redneck cars. It costs more to fill the tank than the value of the car itself.

Irv I didn't like the Dominants either. 

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Irv
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@starise and others.  I have a severely limited number of “new” instruments; a carbon fiber violin made by Glasser, a Chinese Tertis style viola (my favorite by a wide margin), and a “take down” cello that I made for myself.  Everything else is second hand and frequently broken in some way upon receipt.  It is not unusual that the strings for them cost more than the instrument.  In that way, I am in a redneck violinist dream.

The odd thing about the Dominant example is that the fiddlerman store brand is often said to equate with them, and I am frankly fond of them (on the same instrument).  

Man has no special rights because he belongs to a particular race.  The soul emanates equal and eternal from bodies different in shape and color.  It is sufficient to say ‘Man’ to comprehend therein all rights.                                                    — Jose Marti 

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

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Peter
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Thank you for the extended insights and information, everyone; I'll leave you all to continue the discussion.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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