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Violin C string
Viola string alternative for violin
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ELCB
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July 11, 2020 - 6:42 pm
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I wasn't altogether happy with the original strings on my Glasser AEX A/E 5-string - no surprise.

The C string was the last string I needed to deal with & I was REALLY dismayed at the lack of choice available!Not Impressed With You Smiley

My violin (Mortimer!) came supplied with the Helicore C (that I used for over 13 months).  Wasn't until recently, when I started to force my focus on lighter finger pressure, that I realized the Helicore was still a problem.

I also realize strings are a very personal choice, but I'd like to share what I found.

I discovered violas came in a size close to a 4/4 violin - called "Short Scale"!  Zyex  come in that size & I had seen the positive review Fiddlerman did on Zyex.

I've been playing it all this last week - I'm pleasantly surprised! 

At first, it was so different than the Helicore I wasn't sure what to think - seems much easier/more versatile to play & I don't know if I'm imagining it, but I think it makes ALL of my strings resonate more!The Blazing Sun SmileyWorthwhile to try if you're in the market for a C.

I've been seeing more people now playing 5-string violins than a year ago.  Maybe the "String industry" will take notice & start supplying more options for us!

 

- Emily

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GregW
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July 11, 2020 - 9:59 pm
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Ive always liked zyex.  as of now im using helicores on one fiddle I tinker with alternate tunings playing old timey stuff.  it sounds like an old timey fiddle with them.  my soloist still has obligatos and im happy there.  

I dont have a 5 string.  they seem popular in bluegrass..my impression.  anither fiddler let me play a little with one they had.  it sounded great.  the spacing took some getting used to.  dint remember the strings it had but id guess helicores.

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AndrewH
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Most people with 5-string violins seem to be aware of the availability of short scale viola strings, so I suspect manufacturers aren't going to make more strings labeled as violin C strings. Just explore the short scale viola string options. Most popular brands are available in short scale.

 

I don't think I'll ever buy a 5-string myself. I tried a 5-string viola (same strings as 5-string violin) that a luthier who plays in one of my orchestras made and was offering to sell. I didn't like it at all -- too hard to play in higher positions where fingering presses the string down more, because the string heights are too close together. I'd find it only useful for traditional fiddle music (for fiddlers the closer spacing may actually make quick string crossings easier), which I don't play often enough to justify taking the time to learn the different bowing angles on a 5-string.

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BillyG
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July 12, 2020 - 4:12 am
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Yes - I've mentioned this before.  One of my instruments (the Skylark - built like a barn door and at one point, about to be sacrificed as kindling for the fire) really doesn't like to sing above E5 - it just kind of dies.  Yes - I did all the stuff trying to get her to sing, but no, no significant change.  The instrument just does not like to resonate up there.  So, before the axe came down on her, I thought - you know - the bass-end response is actually good...  how about restringing this 4/4 fiddle as a viola?

So - I kept the G, D, A (Dominants, I think) and moved them up a notch on the nut and bridge, and sought out a C3.  First mistake (for me) was trying the short viola C (I forget which it was precisely) - it worked of course - but it had to be actively "engaged-with" on the bow.  (My bowing action is very much a "light-touch" unless specifically demanded otherwise, and without an aggressive (to me) touch, the string was slow to respond. )

Next step - get a C3 specifically for use on "normal" 5-string violins....  well - my search and ( in some measure, thanks to Mr. Jim ( @Worldfiddler ) came up with the Thomastik Vision Titanium C  - perfect (for THAT fiddle and my touch)

So, that's another possible C3 for a 5-string 4/4 fiddle.

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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Gordon Shumway
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July 12, 2020 - 7:54 am
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What's the difference between a short viola C and a 5-string violin C?

(that sounds like a joke, but it isn't!)

Andrew

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Mouse
July 12, 2020 - 9:02 am
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The tension, maybe? I would think that even a short viola is not the same dimensions, or all around construction (body, bridge, etc) as a violin. It would seem to me that a viola C is made for the viola for that size viola. I think it would be kind of floppy on a violin. I think it could be used, but you would have to find one made in a way that would work, just like different violin strings work better in different violins. I think it would require a bit more hit and miss to find a short viola C to suit your specific needs on your specific violin.

Short violas and violins really are more different than just the size. I think, and this is just thinking, they are built for specific pressure or whatever, as are their respective strings. The bow for a viola is different for a reason, you need the wider surface to make those viola strings play (same for a cello bow for a cello).

You also let gravity play more a part in your bowing of a viola than a violin. I am not sure if that is the correct way of saying it. I thought they were bowed the same way, When I purchased my current viola, the luthier watched me play and he gave me a little lesson. I was bowing it like a violin, too light. I had to drop my elbow and let gravity play more of a part so the hairs grabbed the strings. 

I have tried my viola bow on my violin and it works quite well, actually a bolder sound. On my cello, it was weaker. The cello needs the wider bow. My violin bow on my viola is really weak. 

So, I think the tension designed into a violin C is different than in a small viola C. I think that is what makes it hard to find a short viola C string that works on a violin, it is designed to be played on a completely differently shaped instrument, although the same appearance, that has different qualities, and is played with a wider bow, 

I think the small viola, or any size viola, C string, or any string, is made for different tensions than the violin. I read that this is why the viola C string will often times become out of tune more quickly than other strings on your violin.

Put it this way, would you get the same sound with the viola A string on your violin? I doubt it, won’t sound like a violin. Might find a brand that is pretty good, but I think you will lose some quality. Why would a C string be any different? Might find one that is good enough, but I think the C string designed for you 5 string violin will always sound better.

I know some people have out viola strings on a violin, but it won’t sound exactly like a viola. The instruments are structurally different. That is just a guess.

These are just guesses based on what very little I know. There has to be a reason a small viola is not a violin. And there has to be a difference, why there is a violin A and viola A, Violin D and Viola D, etc.

Viola Time! 

(Former Username - cid)

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BillyG
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July 12, 2020 - 9:47 am
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🙂 I have NO idea !!!  I use the terminology just because when I was doing this the "short viola" term was hinted at by others as to what I would require (and on reflection, maybe because they thought I wanted to actually create a "small viola" i.e. like all viola-strings on a 4/4 fiddle - which is not of course what I was doing!  I was really making a 5-string fiddle with the top E missing LOL) .  So, on the basis of the advice, that's what I initially sought out.  [ and because I referred to it as a "fake viola" ( just because of the tuning ), that may have been a source of confusion to others ???? ]

My experience of the string (which I no longer have) was as described two posts back.

I can really only compare it to the Vision (which I ended up using) in terms of "playability and feel" - the "small viola string" was "sloppier" (less "stiff", perhaps?).  It definitely was thicker than the Vision I ended up using.  The Vision was, yes, "stiff" compared to the small viola.  And it really feels much the same as playing on the G - yes - it needs attention - but not overly so, and easy (for me) to play.

As I say - I really have no concrete idea about their fundamental (like that? LOL) differences, a violist may have a better comparison to make than I.   But equally, it may just be the string type and manufacture.

I dunno, that really doesn't help, does it ?  dunno

*** EDIT *** I forgot - I meant to say, I have a fiddle strung with D'Addario Octave violin strings G2, D3, A3, E4 - and the low G ( oh and the other strings - but the G especially ) behaves like the "short viola C".  This is not an issue on that instrument - because ALL strings are looser/lower tension and the bowing approach to the entire instrument is naturally different.  All of the octave strings are less responsive than their normal violin equivalents, and indeed demand attention to bow weight, pressure, angle, and lane to get them to respond as fast as possible.  The playable repertoire on these strings ( for me ) favours the slower melodies.  Faster pieces are of course possible, but, you need to be accurate with the fingering (little opportunity to rapidly pull-in a slightly badly intoned note)

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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ELCB
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July 12, 2020 - 6:56 pm
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GregW, AndrewH, BillyG, Gordon Shumway and cid -

I really value your viewpoints - thank you!  You've all given me cause to research more.What What What Smiley

I found that the VSL (vibrating string length) on a 4/4 violin can vary between 325mm and 330mm. 

If an instrument has a longer VSL it means you must have higher tension to bring it up to pitch.  Now I start to understand more differences in sound quality - manufacturer's string VSL vs actual instrument VSL.  Seems each manufacturer of violin/viola strings has their own idea of what the VSL should be, so there can be a lot of variables to consider.  "After' string length also effects sound properties, doesn't it?

Pirastro bases their 4/4 violin VSL to only be 325mm - their viola VSL is 370mm for 4/4 and only 314mm for 3/4 or 1/2 scale.  My "Mortimer" is also only 325mm.

Usually, I'm finding 4/4 violin VSL is rounded off to 13" (328-330mm). That's what Helicore info says & that was my original C string.  The Zyex Short Scale Viola C string info "says" the same. 

I did notice I had to wrap the Zyex C a few more times on the peg past the silk wrap - maybe because not all 5-string violins/violas use the same peg position (mine is the closest to the nut)?  The syn core strings are definitely fatter than metal core strings.

I just want to be able to have "Mortimer" sound warm to me in the house & let me enjoy playing some insanely brisk folk music, too - in spite of the reviews that say my carbon composite A/E sounds best plugged in (I have no doubt).  It will still be some time before I want to explore all those "electrifying" possibilities.

So, to be honest, with all the shipping problems/delays we've been experiencing because of Covid-19, I really only wanted to check Fiddlershop and Amazon for available C strings.  I know I could've widened my search, but the more I looked, the more I got discouraged.  I think most of this info will probably be even more relevant to me in the future (as I refine my tastes).

thanx_gif

- Emily

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Mouse
July 12, 2020 - 8:33 pm
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@ELCB You might want to call Fiddlershop and discuss it. They might have a great C string to recommend.

Viola Time! 

(Former Username - cid)

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Gordon Shumway
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Actually it's yet more expense, I've just realised! Violin strings can be expensive, so sets of 5 strings must be very expensive. I'd better keep that in mind before buying a Yamaha YEV5!

Thomastik do an F(6) string too.

Here's a small amount of info. I apologise that it's a competitor, Pierre.

https://www.thestringzone.co.u.....av-5-6-etc

https://www.thestringzone.co.u.....f6-strings

Actually, your website may have a bug, @Fiddlerman - the check-boxes should probably be multiple choice (e.g. C strings and F strings), but they only allow single choice.

https://fiddlershop.com/collec.....g_f-string

https://fiddlershop.com/collec.....g_c-string

Amazing - you can even get a low Bb (7) string for a violin (the website says B, so I thought it would be a high B (0), as if your dog didn't hate you enough already!)

https://fiddlershop.com/collec.....g_b-string

I'll leave readers to do any other filtering they want.

Andrew

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AndrewH
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Those really low strings have to be for electric violins, I assume? I can't imagine low F and B-flat strings sounding good on an acoustic instrument that small. The viola is already too small for its range.

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ELCB
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cid - Thank you!  Pierre mentioned (in my A String thread) he thought the Zyex Short Scale Viola string (I said I was thinking of trying) might be a good idea, otherwise back to the Helicore (I didn't like).  I hope I said (in the 1st post of this thread?) how happy I am with the Zyex compared to the Helicore - it's just so different it took me by surprise, even though they state they have the same "vibrating string length".

Gordon Shumway - Thank you!  I should have stated I had trouble looking for a warm Synthetic core C string - not metal core or octave strings. I'm matching to Virtuoso D, G & Obligato Chrome A - also the (warm) Pirastro "Gold Label" E.  Fiddlershop violin C's are all metal core.

I may change my mind about steel core strings if I decide down the road to play my A/E plugged in more than not.

I haven't had a lot of luck finding "viola" string tension let alone "Short Scale viola" string tension for individual brands (in lbs - not the vague "light, medium or heavy") to be able to compare with the "violin" C strings. "  violinstringreview.com has great info on GDAE violin string tensions (in lbs) but I have found nothing to compare for the C string.

 

- Emily

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BillyG
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July 13, 2020 - 11:32 am
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AndrewH said
Those really low strings have to be for electric violins, I assume? I can't imagine low F and B-flat strings sounding good on an acoustic instrument that small. The viola is already too small for its range.

Not necessarily @AndrewH - yes, absolutely, the violin (and viola on lower strings) does not have a body resonance that far down - absolutely agree.  But, my investigations with octave violin strings ( on a normal 4/4 violin ) gave me insight as to what is happening.  I made a video-report (it's not on you tube) - but - I'll go locate it and post it later.  It is interesting - in a rapid summary - it shows that the string fundamental (as part of the overtone series) is EXTREMELY LOW (and, quantifiably too low compared to the level of the harmonics to be heard - but - you do indeed hear it)  The video describes what's happening.  Can;t find it on this machine ATM - it's archived  - I'll post it later....  It's interesting....

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

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Gordon Shumway
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ELCB said
  I should have stated I had trouble looking for a warm Synthetic core C string - not metal core or octave strings.

I suspect that, unless otherwise proven, a viola string would be best. It will have to be a short one or a high tension one (the violin's shorter scale will lower the tension).

Andrew

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ELCB
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Gordon Shumway - exactlyYes, I'm suspecting that this "medium tension" Zyex Short Scale viola string has a lower tension than if it was a medium tension "violin" C string (approx same vibrating string length).  I just haven't found that info (in lbs) and "medium" is an extremely vague term, differing greatly between strings and Brands.  Makes it even harder to find a good match to my other strings.

 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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FWIW, the Vision strings are excellent. I've used them since 2017 on both violin and viola, though I don't currently have them on my viola as I'm taking advantage of the shutdown to try some different string sets. 

 

Another short scale viola string brand to look into is D'Addario's Kaplan line. There are three different Kaplan strings: Forza (steel), Vivo (bright synthetic), and Amo (warm synthetic). All three are available in short scale, though Southwest Strings is the only online shop I can find that sells short or medium scale. The tension chart for Kaplan strings was a bit hard to find on the website, but I can go look for it if you'd like.

I'm currently trying out Kaplan Amo on my viola; the tone hasn't settled yet, but I'm quite happy with the response.

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BillyG
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July 13, 2020 - 2:28 pm
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AndrewH said

FWIW, the Vision strings are excellent. I've used them since 2017 on both violin and viola, though I don't currently have them on my viola as I'm taking advantage of the shutdown to try some different string sets. 

.....

I'm currently trying out Kaplan Amo on my viola; the tone hasn't settled yet, but I'm quite happy with the response.

 I first met the Amo (violin of course) strings when I hosted The Traveler - they were new as installed by Fiddlershop before the instrument was dispatched. I played the instrument a lot, and about 4 or 5 weeks later, they were well broken in. I liked them a lot, and indeed, purchased a set for one of my own fiddles.  I found the E a tad over-bright - but - that was to my ear and probably me being a bit too choosy, and generally preferring the lower-registers LOL

Currently, they have been swapped out as it happens for some investigations on sets of various "slightly used" different string-sets I recently obtained!! ( See what we spend our time on, when we could be doing something more useful - like actually studying and learning new pieces!! Hahahaha )

  

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

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ELCB
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AndrewH - thanks_much_smiley_gifI really appreciate you sharing this!  I'm very interested in trying another synthetic core string to compare to my current Zyex C (Short Scale viola).

Just NO strings wrapped in aluminum (I have issues)!

Can't wait for your string review.

 

- Emily

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AndrewH
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None of the Kaplan C strings are aluminum wound. In the Kaplan line, the only aluminum wound strings are the violin A strings and the viola Forza D string.

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Gordon Shumway
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AndrewH said
None of the Kaplan C strings are aluminum wound.

Are they silver? I might have read somewhere that the Dominant G string is silver-wound.

Andrew

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