string problems for fiddlers.

string problems for fiddlers.

You’ve got a decent fiddle and you know it, but it sounds weak on the bottom end and harsh, not sweet on the top end notes.Why? Could well be your choice of strings, or string combination.
Trad.Music suits a perlon covered in steel string best, so there’s the "warmth of tomne, yet with the great "grip" of your bow. This is esentailly a fake gut string , covered in steel to get bow traction, so you get the best of both worlds. The brand "Dominant" seem popular, but I’d avoid them, as the tome can end up weak and insipid. A better one is "Ositnato’s", just a little more expensive but way better.Sound better and last longer.
Now some older violins need a strange mixture, as they need a different top E, due to harshnest and "whistling" problems. Get a Kaplan E to sort this out.

If you are a really good "lead " player, I would suggest (if your violin can take it- most can) Evah Pirrazi’s. I run on these personally, on my favourite violin. Very expensive, compared to other string sets , but cheap in the long run (don’t talk to cellists - thier lowest decent string is more than you whole set!). Evah Pirazzi’s are a fully metal string - powerful, vibrant, yet sweet, and last brilliantly. Mine have been on my favourite violin ( I have 4 others) for 3 years, played to death and still sounding and performing wonderfully. The tuning stabilises fast and they stay in tune really well too.
My flod and classical friend put them on her violin at my recommendation and absolutley loves them, byut the E string didn’t suit her violin. Kaplan E sorted it!

Pirastro make a real gut string core , with steel windings, butthey are very expensive indeed.Sound great, very soft and rich, with an incredible warm tone overall , especailly in the mid range. However, there is a lovely old aunthenticity to the sound they produce, and if your vioin sound harsh overall , this could be your answer.

In short experiment. try other people’s violins if they will let you - I would! Ask other people what has worked for them, but be aware your violin may have very different playing characteristics to thiers. That’s the joy and bane of being an owner of a fiddle - endlessly obsessing about strings, bows , rosin etc.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Times change gonzo, that was 1956…..

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Wow - those guys sound great. I love their tone. Seriously. (Am I wrong?)

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

"Trad.Music suits a perlon covered in steel string best,"
Never heard that before. Where’s that statement come from?
What’s a "Flod?"

I’m happy with Dominants. Then again my instrument cost me £85 about 25 years ago. Cheap & cheerful, OR cheap and nasty depending on yer wallet and yer point of view. I’ve got a couple of Kaplans in my fiddle case. One new, one used (slightly) found the used one to be too quiet. Took it off.
Happy fiddling,
Alex.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

"Trad.Music suits a perlon covered in steel string best"
Not a combination I’ve heard of either. The core can be steel or Perlon (or a number of other superior synthetics these days) but the winding are never steel, usually aluminium and sometimes silver for the bottom strings.

"it sounds weak on the bottom end and harsh, not sweet on the top end notes.Why?"
It could be your stings, but it’s unlikely. A particular string type might sound good or bad on a particular fiddle, but the stings within the set are normally pretty well balanced, so the good or bad-ness is consistent across the full range. If you have an imbalance between treble and bass it’s much more likely that your sound post needs a little tweek.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Truth is , we do not know what they thought about their strings, or what was available, what they could afford…. But they were not useing synthetic core strings.
steel top E probably , what were the rest of the strings? Gut? Gut wound, or steel….. who knows?
What matters is the music, and they had great rhythm, that’s for sure…….

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

@heather mcdougall - another vote for the Pirastro Evah Pirazzis! The best I’ve used to date.

Another option for avoiding the ‘whistling E’ problem is the Warchal Amber E. It is coiled like a small spring, at the tailpiece end, and the coils straighten out when the string is brought up to pitch.

It looks bizarre, but it works!

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

I have to disagree on almost everything. Brand, material, lifespan and effect. On top of that it all depends on the level of fiddle as well as player.

But it wouldn’t be fun if you didn’t get to try something new all the time.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

//I have to disagree on almost everything. Brand, material, lifespan and effect. On top of that it all depends on the level of fiddle as well as player.
//

Alpinerabbit - if I understand you correctly - do you think that Pirastro Evah Pirazzis are not good strings?

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

I have no opinion on those as I play Corellis and one Spirocore.

I simply disagree that any brand of strings is going to make everyone’s sound ‘X’. Or even that everyone faces the problem of harsh on the top and weak on the bottom, and with Z amount of bow grip that ‘Y’ brand will fix.

So the one thing I can agree is that everyone has to find what works for them….
and I‘mma have to bow out of the thread and just go play fiddle.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Move the sound post

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"the one thing I can agree is that everyone has to find what works for them…"

This could apply to most discussions on this forum.

However, I don’t see an issue with forum members offering their opinions and relating their experiences. Some players have preferences for certain brands of strings and others not.
Of course, there may be some instruments which give different results and/or may even be badly "set up"…thus "move the sound post" *may* even be good advice in such circumstances.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Yeah, I think there’s some complex triangulation going on for most of us between our playing style, fiddle and budget.
I’m not sure there’s any best brand or material for trad, it all depends on the player and the fiddle and the sound they’re looking for.
I’d say I’ve seen very good music made with all the usual suspects, dominants, helicores etc… I’m using larsens at the moment. Infeld blues seem to work really well for me.
I’m surprised by the comment about Eva pirazzis I’ve always heard they were excellent strings but a bit short lived. Having said that I don’t think I’ve ever tried them.
Of course nothing replaces a nice relaxed bow hand and wrist, and a decent bow with good hair for that matter.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

The comment about the bow is really valid I have just
changed strings and the bow I was using on the old strings was so fingernails on blackboard sounding
That i changed bows. Now Its as sweet as

SO many variables

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outwesht, I think the lifespan of Evahs depends on when you consider a string ‘dead’. The strings themselves do last a long time before they unnravel/break, but the glorious sound they make when new doesn’t. I used to use them thinking they represented better value than Dominants because they seemed to last twice as long. Then I realized that to keep a constantly good tone I was better off using cheaper strings and changing them more often.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Mark m, I see. That makes sense.

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Well, one thing is certain - assuming all other things are equal, there’s a big difference in tone between brands and types of string. I personally think you get what you pay for.

Perhaps that is stating the obvious? 🙂

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Yeah Jim, I reckon more money gets you more tone/response/projection/whatever, at least most of the time.
Sometimes you end up buying more clarity when you were looking for more complexity or something, so it wasn’t really worth it. Of course, that’s where the personal tastes and type of fiddle etc… come in.
I will say, my experience of ‘special’ e strings hasn’t been all that great. I don’t know if it was Kaplan or warchal or what, but I bought a few ‘non whistling’ upmarket e strings before, and they whistled slightly less but the tone was a bit skreechy and they didn’t last long.
To me that whistling sound is maybe best addressed as a technical challenge, and if you want to change strings to help you with it, buy a good quality metal a string. The required bow pressure etc is much closer to a metal e, so that difference is less likely to trip you up.
Uk then again, other people swear by them, so I guess our mileage’s all vary.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

In my experience Spirocore seem to be the most common strings in the south of Ireland and Prims or Helicores further north..

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

This same string discussion keeps coming up and I wonder if different people playing different flavours of music on different fiddles can ever agree? Even if there was what seemed to be a perfect string set for everything it would lack some kind of magic for someone because this fiddling business is maybe 45% hard science and is 55% something more emotional and intangible. No part of the playing is exempt from that rule - not even the picture on the rosin box or the colour of the case - so the strings can never be judged objectively.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Yep, string choice has a noticeable effect on the sound your violin make, but more expensive doesn’t mean better for your violin for what you’re playing. I use to use Dominants on my grandfathers fiddle and it sounded glorious but it didn’t really cut it in a session (listening to others, who are good, play my fiddle). It turns out that Prim’s sound great and the fiddle cuts through nicely in a session. Even more than strings, a great setup will have a more positve impact on your sound than string choice.

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String choice is a very personal thing, but you can home in on your idea string fairly quickly and painlessly if you take a logical approach, rather than trying different makes more or less at random, or asking for recommendations from others who probably don’t have the same needs/tastes as yourself. If you start by thinking about the strings you are using at the moment and what would make your fiddle sound better in your opinion, then use a chart like this to decide which strings to try next. https://www.violinstringreview.com/quick-reference.html

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Good chart that, Mark M. Cheers!

I think it’s pretty accurate, and it bears out my experiences on the strings brands I’ve tried. I just took off a 10-hour-old set of Vision Titanium Solos, and put on a new set of Evah Pirazzis I was gifted with. The tone is just as complex on both sets, but the Evahs are brighter, which I prefer. I’m not bothered about the cost - the Visions will just be like a new set, and I can recoup about 60% of the value by selling on eBay. As a true string whore, I’ve done this several times.

The Pirastro Obligatos are warm, but quieter, which coincides with the chart again.

My personal preference is for synthetic core (and there are quite a few variations in composition these days). They are most responsive to a heavy attack, or to off-the-string bowing. Great for "the chop" too. I’ve tried the Pirastro Passione gut-core, and their tone is much superior than any synthetic core string, but I find them limited in their dynamic range and more awkward to handle.

Steel core stings are probably louder, but less flexible, in my experience. Tone is not great either (again imo).

I’ve not found a great deal of difference in the higher quality strings, but going from something like Pirastro Tonica to Pirastro Evah Pirazzi, the difference is quite marked.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

At the moment I use Preludes. I’ve tried all sorts over the years, and I’m sure I will again. Preludes are a student level string, however they sound good to me on my fiddle. They have that "fiddle sound" to them, imho, on mine anyway. They’re affordable, reliable and stay in tune. They also seem to last a fair while (sound). They settle in fairly quickly.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Evah Pirazzis have a synthetic core, not metal. They are great, but for me
the A string breaks down in 6 weeks and the other strings
get dull after 3 months. Since I don’t make money playing, I can’t afford it.

I hear that pro classical violinists change strings every two weeks or so.

Spirocores gradually degrade, but they don’t fail. Chromecores and Prims too.

Tonicas are the best bang for the buck, but they have the longevity problem.
The A fails pretty fast but they’re inexpensive.

There is also a new string called Fiddlerman that is a very inexpensive Dominant clone.

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Mark Huppert, when you say the A string breaks down / fails, what does that mean?

Does it get damaged, or just get dull?

Re: string problems for fiddlers.

Jim … the winding breaks down at the B or D position. The winding breaks. So you can keep playing in a pinch, but the sound is degraded and you can’t properly slide at those positions where it frayed.