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The best strings for fiddling
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Gordon Shumway
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July 26, 2019 - 6:07 am
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My first violin was a 60 dollar Chinese job, much like @Fiddlerman's first ever Cecilio review. I liked it and kept it and put Tonicas on it. All it needs is for me to file the nut down.

Now I want to do some fiddling to western swing at our uke club, and I thought I'd use the cheap Chinese job with suitable strings and transfer the Tonicas to my better violin when it needs a restring.

So, what are the best strings for fiddling? I've read that steel is preferred by some. Anyone here recommend that? I've got an idea that intonation on steel strings can be a bit haywire. Or should I just get some more Tonicas?

Andrew

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GregW
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July 26, 2019 - 8:19 am
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I think its gonna be a personal preference thing.  It seems like most of the students in my group have helicore..also our instructor uses them.  I switched to synthetic strings on a whim just to see what the zyex sounded like and I liked them. It seemed like they were more forgiving of my playing.  I've stayed with the vision strings that came with the fiddlerman violin I bought but think I'm gonna try out the helicores again or maybe the Kaplan amo...hmm.  But to somewhat give you an idea of what I've seen, helicores are popular in my fiddle corner of the world.

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Gordon Shumway
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July 26, 2019 - 8:39 am
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Thanks, Greg, I'll look into Helicores, partly on the grounds that they are the cheapest of the ones you mention.

Andrew

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Pete_Violin
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July 26, 2019 - 10:19 am
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I am confused...

Are you guys looking for strings that are lower quality to play fiddle music?  That does not make much sense to me.

I would think you would still want good quality strings.  If, for no other reason, to have the versatility to play a wider variety of genres of music on the same instrument.

Am I not understanding your goals here?  Please enlighten me.

- Pete -

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Gordon Shumway
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July 26, 2019 - 10:33 am
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No, mainly I'm looking for brighter strings suitable for the style of the music. I don't want to sound like a classical violinist. Of all the strings Greg mentioned, Helicores are the cheapest.

Andrew

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BillyG
Brora, North-east Scotland
July 26, 2019 - 2:21 pm
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Hmmm - I'm happy with steels on my 3/4 fiddle ( Preludes - not the super-cheap cheesewire ones - although I have used - well, tried - some - and I find I have real trouble on the E on the real cheap strings - they always want to whistle and shriek at me....   )   Take my EV out of the equation, and my other three instruments are strung with various synthetics.

For a certain genre, and indeed, playing environment (1.on your own?  2.with others on violin?  3. In a group with different instruments?) - there are things to take into account...

If it's scenario (3) - then I think (and just my opinion) the brightness and punchy sound you get on steels doesn't get swamped-out by the accordion, ukes, steel guitars etc.... and will have the presence you expect for a rip-roaring, foot-stomping set of tunes.

I'll happily play "fiddle tunes" solo on any of my stringed instruments, but if I'm playing along with someone on harmonica/accordion etc etc, I'll go for my Prelude strung 3/4 fiddle

I guess it's like someone else wrote somewhere above - was it Pete ... yeah @Pete_Violin - indeed - I would also agree on that - if you have but one instrument, then sure - you may well want to compromise in some way and choose strings that give you a much wider sound canvas to explore - or - indeed - just be happy to occasionally swap strings....  (yup, occasionally - and not over frequently - to avoid possible damage to the string as each time it is replaced it will re-seat itself in a very slightly different position on the bridge or nut groove giving rise to additional stress points on the string winding) 

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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GregW
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July 26, 2019 - 2:22 pm
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pchoppin said
I am confused...

Are you guys looking for strings that are lower quality to play fiddle music?  That does not make much sense to me.

I would think you would still want good quality strings.  If, for no other reason, to have the versatility to play a wider variety of genres of music on the same instrument.

Am I not understanding your goals here?  Please enlighten me.

  

Generally speaking for fiddling I think steel strings are a go to due to volume and possibly that alternate tunings are used a lot.  I'm guessing on that part though.  I know the helicores did seem louder under my ear. 

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Pete_Violin
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July 26, 2019 - 3:08 pm
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@Gordon Shumway and @GregW Thank you for clearing that up.  Makes sense.

@BillyG I am playing something soon... it's just a small thing and we are doing a couple folk songs along with a version of Row Row Row Your Boat in a round... I'll be leaving my Violinos on for that.

- Pete -

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Mimi Aysha
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July 27, 2019 - 12:15 pm
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@Gordon Shumway

The fiddle teachers here that I know use Prims, they recommend them and have them on hand as replacement and for sale.....I haven't tried them, but everyone sounded good...probably because they can play great on anything! They comment that they are priced right, last a long time, nice and loud....

I have helicores, I do love the sound, match fiddle tunes well, but also flip over nicely to classical - I've been through 2 sets in 1 year, the A and E  flattened out suddenly both times, then the D unwrapped on itself. 

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Fiddlerman
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July 28, 2019 - 10:26 am
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I agree, it seems like many fiddlers/old time, country, bluegrass.... use steel core strings. I know that there are many however who use warmer sounding strings as well. I guess it has to do with who and where you learned to play with as well as personal taste.

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

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Amateur
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August 2, 2019 - 9:56 pm
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@Gordon Shumway 

The big advantages of steel strings really don't have as much to do with brightness or even loudness as their other qualities. There are two qualities in which good steel strings will beat out even the "best" synthetics: responsiveness and directness(the directness is often what is mistaken for loudness).

The role of the violin is much different in country, folk, bluegrass, and jazz. You're usually the only one with a bow in your hand. All the other folks with strings on their instruments are going to have steel strings 9 times out of 10.  When you start the typical walkup of a classic country song, are you going to want that starting melody to be easier to hear in the loudness of a rowdy crowd in an acoustically inferior setting while surrounded by flatpickers to be easier to discern and cleaner at the sacrifice of overtones? Probably. Are you going to want your ornamentation to cut more cleanly? It helps. Do you want your percussive chops to cut more loudly? Quite likely. It's not that you can't do this on synthetics but steels certainly have their advantages here.

Most of the fiddle strings were already listed in this thread. Prims are an oft-mentioned gold standard. Helicores/Spirocores are the most versatile and have best application across broad genres. Jargars are usually noted to be a warmer though less responsive solid steel core. "Student" strings like the aforementioned D'addario Preludes but also the Super Sensitive Red Labels are known for their clarity. Super Sensitive also has their Old Fiddler Line with their unique nickel windings. Don't bother with Black Diamond, they're roundwound!  Steel strings don't get much press these days but there are several others I can't even think of right now.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
August 3, 2019 - 3:22 pm
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Another advantage of steel strings is that if you are a person who doesn't have an easy time using pegs, you can do more with the fine tuners on steel strings. Steel strings don't flex as much and minute changes affect the pitch more.

By the same token, it's harder to play in tune as playing hard stretches and changes the pitch and even brings the tension over from the tailpiece (after-length) side to the playing side.

The strings that you mention are a bit more flexible. Helicore and Spirocore strings are made of stranded steel rather than solid.

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

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GregW
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August 3, 2019 - 6:30 pm
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I bought a set of Kaplan Amo today.  Cha-Ching $.  Haven't tried 'em yet.  Couldn't bring myself to buy helicores again or steels. I think Im probably doing what Pierre described.  Im liking the 2 synthetic sets Ive had in my short time playing. Zyex and vision or whatever shipped on the soloist.  Think it was vision.  They are not steel anyway.  Over at fiddlevideo.com someone asked Casey once what he uses and he said prims.  Hanneke Cassel uses Kaplan vivo and Roland White was using...perlon?? I believe..Kevin Burke Obligatos.  Anyway..wide range among the fiddlers there.  It might be for endorsement reasons that they use a particular string but the link is on topic and seems interesting.

https://www.fiddlevideo.com/fo.....d-strings/

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