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Fiddle: Issue with G-string

Kim C 15 Aug 13 - 03:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,Skivee, guesting in 15 Aug 13 - 03:55 PM
Bonzo3legs 15 Aug 13 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,Kim C 15 Aug 13 - 05:21 PM
Leadfingers 15 Aug 13 - 06:54 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Aug 13 - 08:24 PM
Pete Jennings 16 Aug 13 - 07:18 AM
Pete Jennings 16 Aug 13 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 16 Aug 13 - 03:34 PM
Backwoodsman 16 Aug 13 - 03:56 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Aug 13 - 03:58 PM
JohnInKansas 16 Aug 13 - 06:54 PM
Bert 17 Aug 13 - 01:24 AM
Backwoodsman 17 Aug 13 - 01:33 AM
Richard Bridge 17 Aug 13 - 02:35 AM
Backwoodsman 17 Aug 13 - 04:20 AM
JohnInKansas 17 Aug 13 - 06:10 AM
Backwoodsman 17 Aug 13 - 12:52 PM
Backwoodsman 17 Aug 13 - 12:54 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Aug 13 - 02:32 PM
Backwoodsman 17 Aug 13 - 03:54 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 18 Aug 13 - 01:58 AM
Backwoodsman 18 Aug 13 - 08:54 AM
Kim C 26 Aug 13 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,gillymor 26 Aug 13 - 11:11 AM
JohnInKansas 26 Aug 13 - 07:11 PM
Kim C 28 Aug 13 - 04:42 PM
Backwoodsman 29 Aug 13 - 07:30 AM
Jack Campin 29 Aug 13 - 08:09 AM
Backwoodsman 29 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM
JohnInKansas 29 Aug 13 - 09:36 AM
Kim C 29 Aug 13 - 03:45 PM
Backwoodsman 29 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM
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Subject: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Kim C
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:37 PM

On my FIDDLE, you pervs. ;-)

I just changed strings about a week ago, and there's a weird thing going on with the G. If I tune it to where Mr. Snark the Tuner says it's in tune, and I double-stop it with the D, which is also in tune, the G is obviously NOT in tune, even though the tuner says it is. If I tune it slightly flat, then it sounds fine with the in-tune D.

If I isolate the G, it sounds fine in the beginning, but the tone clearly goes slightly flat as it resonates. I've never had this happen before and I'm flummoxed.

Any ideas? Thanks. :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM

Sounding fine and going flat sounds like the string needs stretching. Or it might be slipping. I generally tune a new string a semitone or even a tone high, and then pull it a few times to see if I can get it down to the right pitch. When it's stopped going down under that treatment I tune it down, and then up to pitch.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: GUEST,Skivee, guesting in
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:55 PM

Bridge bumped and moved, or not replaced exactly when you changed strings?
If the bridge is now at a slight angle, then the string would effectively have different lengths, blowing up the intonation.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 04:13 PM

But surely that's good enough for folk music!!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: GUEST,Kim C
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:21 PM

The bridge is where it's supposed to be. I also noticed the fine tuner seems to be really touchy so I'm wondering if that's a factor.

I guess I could just have a bum string.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 06:54 PM

Bum Strings DO happen .


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 08:24 PM

Is Mr Snark in need of a new battery? Most tuners get a bit iffy as the battery fades.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 07:18 AM


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 07:20 AM

?????????????? what happened there?

Anyway: McGrath, LF and Richard's points, or a combination of all, sound right to me...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 03:34 PM

What happens if you bow it well up the neck? If it improves it's the string.

However, Snarks are only accurate to +/- 3 cents or so. Add that to the 2 cents for the difference between just and equal temperament and you've got an easily audible difference.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 03:56 PM

Duff string? I'm not a fiddler, but guitar strings are occasionally duff right out of the packet. The first thing I'd do is try another string (or set).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 03:58 PM

I don't see how bowing up the neck will help since a violin is not a fixed-pitch instrument and the stopped string can easily be slid into tune. It's the open string that's the problem.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 06:54 PM

Some tuners can tune to a dozen or more different scales, only two of which are the common Just tuning or Equal Temperament tuning. With one of these, the tuner might be set to a wrong scale, which would make intervals (as when bowing G and D strings together) sound "out of tune." I once thought I wanted one of those tuners, but abandoned the idea when I found out one of that kind cost more than both of my mandolins, so I doubt if that's the problem here.

The "wound" violin strings typically have a "soft core" with metal wire wound around them. If the string was "coiled" in the package it may need significant stretching just to straighten it out so that it will hold the pitch you tune it to. Tuning up one note, playing (bowing) the string some, and then tuning back down may give a better "hold" on the note you tune to. This effect is more noticeable if the string was coiled up "on the shelf" (or in the fiddle case) for a long time before being installed. While the traditional "gut" core was fairly elastic, some core materials used now (plastic) are "creepy" and will continue to stretch for quite a while even after you get them "apparently straight."

The fiddle bridge is a "pivot" for the strings, and it's intended to equalize the tension between bridge and nut with the tension between bridge and frog. Sometimes, if two or three strings have already been installed and tuned, the last one or two strings can't "swing" the bridge to even things out. With the "playing end" tuned, bowing may shake the string enough for it to "slip" on the bridge, which generally lowers the string from the pitch you tuned to. A commonly suggested procedure is to loosen all the strings to about the minimum tension that makes a tone when you pluck them (enough to hold the bridge in place), then bring them all up to pitch together, in small steps. An alternative "quicky method" is to lift the offending string up off the bridge by grabbing it right at the bridge, lifting enough to assure that it can "slip," and letting it back down.

While bowing technique theoretically doesn't affect the "pitch" it can significantly affect the perceived pitch by altering the overtones contained in the sound. Unlike a guitar where you stretch the string and let go, the fiddle bow stays in pretty much constant contact, so the string motion is a "stick-slip" mess very similar to a piece of chalk screeching on a blackboard (for those old enough to remember blackboards/chalkboards). On a guitar, you can get an almost pure tonic by plucking at the midpoint of the string, but richer sound about 1/5 of the way up from the bridge. Where you pluck affects the "quality" of the sound. The fiddle does the same, but additionally gets "content" from the chalk-screech excitation, so that bow pressure and speed also affect the tone. A "note" perfectly at pitch can sound like it's somewhere else with sufficient screech harmonic content.

An extremely remote possibility is that when strings are changed on a fiddle, if they're all removed at the same time, the sound post may have "dropped." This makes the top plate "too flexible" to do much of anything right. The description of symptoms in this case doesn't sound "quite right" for a missing post, so it's mentioned only for the sake of completeness. The post should be visible through the sound holes to be sure whether it's still up - or just shake the fiddle and see if it's got a new rattle inside.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Bert
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 01:24 AM

Sometimes a wound string can be somewhat thicker than the one it replaced and can bind in the nut. Make sure that the slot is wide enough for the new string.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 01:33 AM

I doubt it's anything to do with sticking in the nut, Bert - it's in tune played open, but out of tune when stopped. As I said earlier, I'd suspect the integrity of the string, and I'd whack another on and see what happens.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 02:35 AM

The violin is not a fixed pitch instrument. So if the open string is actually in tune, when the string is fingered it is possible to adjust the pitch.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 04:20 AM

Correct but, if the player's fingering is accurate (which I've assumed is a given), it should remain in tune as it's fingered.

Which leads me to wonder if it's a case of 'operator-error' - poor stopping-technique?
However, the OP claims that it's only happened since he/she changed the strings, which would seem to rule out bad fingering, so it's probably down to the strings or the instrument itself.

I have fiddler-friends who tell me that they frequently have to adjust fingering to accommodate tuning-deterioration during long spells of playing.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:10 AM

While it may be mean soemthing else to the fiddlers here, the reference to "double stopped" as the term is used by the better amateurs of my acquaintance means that two strings are bowed at the same time, without regard to where the fingers go.

My guess was that the OP meant an open G and an open D bowed at the same time weren't in tune with each other (a true fifth apart).

If it was meant that the G string fingered at D isn't in tune with the open D string (one of many possibilities), we'd have to have a good photo and a micrometer to know whether the G string was just fingered in the wrong place, since on a fretless instrument the right place to finger the G string to get a D is "wherever it's in tune with the other D."

Since fiddle strings are relatively low tension, a little sideways push can "bend" the note off pitch, maybe even easier than on one of those two-by-fours they call "electric guitars."

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:52 PM

My understanding of the OP, having read and re-read it several times now, is that whilst the G string is in tune according to the tuner, when bowed along with the D (also in tune according to the tuner) the resulting interval isounds off. Also that the pitch of the bowed G string (presumably open) doesn't stay constant as you would expect, but goes flat as it's bowed.

I say it again, strings are sometimes duff straight out of the packet - DUMP THOSE STRINGS AND TRY ANOTHER SET! If that doesn't fix it, try a new battery in the tuner. If that doesn't fix it, try a different tuner.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:54 PM

If that doesn't fix it, get thee hence to a Fiddle-Fettler! :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 02:32 PM

battery a lot cheaper than a set of dominants.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 03:54 PM

Yep, agreed. Change the order to cheapest first:-

(1) try new battery,
(2) change the strings,
(3) change the tuner,
(4) get thee hence to a luthier


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 01:58 AM

It's your FINGERS that are out of tune, get a new set or a used replacement set. These are sometimes available in second hand shops.!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 08:54 AM

I've been basing my suggestions against an assumption that any half-decent fiddler should know if a problem is due to poor fingering technique. If the problem is happening when strings are fingered, then yes, poor fingering would be a likely contender. But the OP seems to read as though the problem is happening with open strings.

It would be helpful if the original poster would come back and answer some of the questions that have been raised, and indicate whether any of the suggestions that have been made were helpful.

Otherwise I'm just inclined to bugger off and leave him/her to sort it out for themselves.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: Kim C
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 10:46 AM

Yes, it was just with the open strings. And the string does seem a little loose compared with the others. I did tighten up the fine tuner, but that didn't seem to make a whole lot of difference. Anyhow, I've got a lesson tonight, so I'll see what my teacher says. It may just be a shitty string. ;-) And a replacement can be had.

I've never taken all my strings off at once (except for the time the tailcord broke). I was always told to change them one at a time. Do some people take them all off at once?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 11:11 AM

I've used Guitar Grease on the nut of my stringed instruments for some time now and don't experience the kind of problem you've described although I'd definitely change out that string. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Issue with G-string
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 07:11 PM

Kim -

Taking all the strings off at the same time makes it somewhat likely that the relief of tension on the top plate of the fiddle will allow the sound post to drop out of place. The extent of the risk depends very much on the condition of the instrument, but it's real enough that it's advised that strings always be changed one at a time.

Resetting a sound post isn't a technically complicated task, but since you have to do it by working through the F-holes it can be tricky. Opinion varies as to just how critical exact positioning of the post is, and some luthiers employ strange incantations and mystic rituals to get it just right. Others just shove it in until it sticke somewhere near the end of the bridge.

An additional problem with taking all the strings off together is that even though you get the bridge back at exactly the same place where it was on the fiddle, the bridge is tall enough that even a slight "slant" can change the effective lengths of the strings. Some say that it doesn't matter much since you "finger where it sounds right," but changing where you flop down the fingers even slightly can affect the "feel" of the instrument until you retune your fingertips (i.e. get used to the change).

An excessive slant of the bridge can affect sound quality, although "the equations" don't really support much effect if it "looks straight." But both fiddlers, and luthiers, tend to be mystics and have a variety of beliefs about just how critical "just right" needs to be. Their rationales were fully explained in an arcane book that was lost several hundred years ago, but the beliefs persist so of course they're true.

John


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: Kim C
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 04:42 PM

Welp, the crisis was averted with a simple string replacement. Which I suppose I should have done at the outset, but having never encountered this particular issue before, it was strange enough for me to consider all the possibilities. But I reckon it was just a bad string. :-)


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 07:30 AM

Well I did suggest that in post #11 as the best first step! :-)

General RoT - when an individual string doesn't behave and the others do, it's usually the offending string that's at fault. Ignore bullshit about tuner-batteries and other such crap, and go for the string. If all of the strings appear to be misbehaving, it's probably something other than the strings.

Glad it sorted it for you.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 08:09 AM

Some tuners can tune to a dozen or more different scales, only two of which are the common Just tuning or Equal Temperament tuning. [...] I once thought I wanted one of those tuners, but abandoned the idea when I found out one of that kind cost more than both of my mandolins

ClearTune for the iPhone does that for $3.99 (I normally use quarter-comma meantone for long-tone practice on wind instruments). You must have some pretty cheap mandolins.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM

Virtually all tuners nowadays are chromatic - they will tune to any note, not just a particular set of notes (such as EADGBE for guitar). They can usually be pitch-adjusted but as long as you make sure it's set on A=440Hz you're good to go. I have a Peterson Stroboclip which is very accurate and cost £75, but I habitually use a Snark which is accurate **enough** and cost £12 - so cheap I have six, one in each guitar/mandolin case and one lying around on the coffee table for easy access at home.

I don't use tuners which rely on hearing your instrument (such as phone/iPad/computer Apps) because, in a noisy environment such as a session or a pub, they're confused by ambient noise and, as such, they're as much use as a chocolate teapot.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 09:36 AM

Some tuners can tune to a dozen or more different scales,...

It would have been more accurate had I refered to "different temperaments," which a few tuners include "for historical purposes."

The current Korg OT120 offers:

Scale:
12 equal tempered, Pythagorean, Werckmeister III, Vallotti, Mean Tone Eb, Kirnberger III, Young, Mean Tone D#, Kellner


For transposing instruments it can also be set to any "key" in semitone steps, and is sensitive and accurate (+/- 1 cent) over 8 octaves.

Not something anyone really needs, and not quite what I was looking at at the time cited since the old ones have been replaced by new (cheaper) models; but "back then" one model offered about twice that many different historical temperaments and was selling for about $495, which was not too far from what I paid for both of the two (cheap) mandolins I was playing then (about $550).

John


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: Kim C
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 03:45 PM

Yeah, I know. . . I just hate admitting that I have a bad string right out of the pack. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Fiddle: Issue with G-string
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Aug 13 - 03:47 PM

LOL! Now that I do understand!
AWTEW!


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