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Help: Fiddle Strings

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Mbo 03 Jul 00 - 09:27 PM
Chanteyranger 03 Jul 00 - 09:40 PM
JenEllen 04 Jul 00 - 12:36 AM
Mark Clark 04 Jul 00 - 02:32 AM
Willie-O 04 Jul 00 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 04 Jul 00 - 09:53 PM
Jim Krause 05 Jul 00 - 02:57 PM
Hardiman the Fiddler 05 Jul 00 - 03:10 PM
Kim C 05 Jul 00 - 04:54 PM
Chanteyranger 06 Jul 00 - 01:36 AM
Marion 16 May 01 - 02:36 PM
Jenny the T 16 May 01 - 03:36 PM
Marion 17 May 01 - 12:33 PM
Jenny the T 17 May 01 - 03:11 PM
Sorcha 17 May 01 - 03:22 PM
Jenny the T 17 May 01 - 03:30 PM
Sorcha 17 May 01 - 03:34 PM
Mark Clark 17 May 01 - 11:47 PM
Mark Clark 17 May 01 - 11:53 PM
Mark Clark 18 May 01 - 12:09 AM
Marion 20 May 01 - 04:41 PM
Mark Clark 20 May 01 - 11:15 PM
Marion 20 May 01 - 11:33 PM
GUEST,Rex on the work 'puter 12 Nov 02 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Dwightm 01 Dec 11 - 04:59 PM
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Subject: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Mbo
Date: 03 Jul 00 - 09:27 PM

Well, it's about time my fiddle got a restringing. I have 15 year old Black Diamond strings that I put on 3 years ago, on it now, and I can tell you it's not a very nice sound! Can anyone suggest some quality violin strings that are relatively inexpensive and not to hard to locate?

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 03 Jul 00 - 09:40 PM

Thomastik "Dominant" steel strings are widely used, but it has been recommended to me not to use their E strings, which are weak and quickly lose their sound quality. I use dominants, and for the E, I started using Pirastro, on the recommendation of a fiddler/violin maker I bought a fiddle from. They sound brighter and stronger than dominant E's, and I'm told they're sturdier. That's what I do (I play Irish and Scottish fiddle music) but it also depends on what kind of playing you do - what kind of sound you're after.

chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 Jul 00 - 12:36 AM

Thanks chanteyranger!
I'd had some difficulty with the E's. I'll try the Pirastros...
~Elle


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Mark Clark
Date: 04 Jul 00 - 02:32 AM

Try Thomastik Spiro-Core (I think that's what they're called). They have light blue silk wound around the ball end of the string and the E string is also wound.

These string have a wonderful sound and feel. You'll never be sorry. Many fiddlers I know play them and, if it makes any difference, I think they are the strings Kenny Baker plays.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Willie-O
Date: 04 Jul 00 - 09:18 AM

Unfortunately I have always found that there is a direct correlation between price and quality in fiddle strings.

The ones that have been far and away the best are...what the hell are they called? With the crude psychedelic graphic design, and different coloured wrappings--they cost $40-50 Cdn but sound good for a couple of years. Right now I'm using D'Addario Preludes, about 5 months old, for $30 I really don't recommend them. Never sounded as good as the other ones.

Thomastiks are acceptable, but they're about like the D'Addarios.

Considering the cost of fiddles these days, using inferior strings to save a few bucks is liking driving a new car on bald tires. The good strings, you can replace them after a year or two and give them away to someone for whom they'll be a big improvement if they are used to cheap crappy ones.

Just my 3 cents Canadian (2 cents US)

W-O


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 04 Jul 00 - 09:53 PM

My late wife was a violinist and she preferred Kaplan and Dominant strings. They are extremely expensive compared to guitar strings; but violin strings last a lot longer.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Jim Krause
Date: 05 Jul 00 - 02:57 PM

I prefer Prim for steel strings. Elderly Instruments sells 'em for about $30 US per set, I think. I also like the genuine gut strings I get from the Boulder Early Music Shoppe, Boulder CO. They run about $35.00 US per set.


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Hardiman the Fiddler
Date: 05 Jul 00 - 03:10 PM

Hey, Everyone! I thought I would add my two cents. The worst strings I ever tried were Super Sensitive. The use of these strings makes shrieking your fingernails on the blackboard at the school house sound like beautiful music. For awhile, I used the D'Addario Preludes, which are ok for practice strings, provided you change them often. But more recently I've stuck with the Thomastic Dominants and a Pirastro E; they have become my preferred set of strings.

There is a violin maker in Williamsport PA, J.R. Judd who has these strings at an attractive price---I think I spent about $30 for the set of strings, together with an extra E string. He is listed in the MSN Yellow pages, and tells me that he will be having a Web site up later in August---when I get the web address, I'll post it for you.

Mr. Judd does repairs on violins also. He recently did a new peg job on my favorite violin while I chatted with him. He's a real craftsman!

Gotta go fiddle around.

Hardiman


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Kim C
Date: 05 Jul 00 - 04:54 PM

I like Helicores. They cost about $25 depending on where you go. I tried a Dominant G once when I busted a Helicore, and I DID NOT LIKE the way it sounded on my instrument. But every instrument is different! My teacher did say she used Dominants (except the E) before D'Addario came out with Helicores.

I found out early on that it's difficult to experiment with different violin strings because they do tend to cost a bit.


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 06 Jul 00 - 01:36 AM

The moral is: variety is the price of life.


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Marion
Date: 16 May 01 - 02:36 PM

1. Do fiddle strings come in a choice of light and medium guage like guitar strings? If so, what do you think of mediums (or is medium the standard choice rather than light)? I want to do some busking this summer and I think that a little extra volume would be useful - and the fiddle's action is so soft that I think I could deal with a heavier guage.

2. Mark mentioned that in a certain brand, the E strings are wound. I sometimes get a unique, very high squeaking sound playing my E string open, especially after I've just come to it from another string (I get the usual squeaking sounds on other notes, but there's a different kind of squeak that's unique to open E). Do you know what I'm talking about? My theory is that this happens on only the E because only the E is unwound - would a wound E take care of it? (And Mark, did you mean Helicore, or is Spirocore the correct name?)

3. What I sometimes do with my fiddle (and guitar) to practice tuning by ear is detune all the strings by several tones, so I'm "starting from scratch" when attempting to tune by ear. But is it bad for the strings to be frequently loosened and retightened by significant amounts (say a fifth below what they should be)?

Thanks, Marion


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Jenny the T
Date: 16 May 01 - 03:36 PM

The strings that'll sound best on your fiddle won't necessarily sound best on my fiddle, nor vice versa. Fiddles are individualistic little gadgets--I've had seven so far, all but one built or repaired by yours truly, and no one was quite like another.

With that in mind, I'll put in my own consumer report:

I've mostly used Preludes and Prims, though I tried the Dominant/Pirastro E combo as well. The Dominant/Pirastro didn't do much for that particular fiddle; just made it sound mushy. I should point out, though, that that one had quite a low neck angle, which tends to reduce the fiddle's ability to project sound: low angle = low volume. Preludes sounded very good on that instrument.

A different fiddle also had a relatively low angle, but its voice had different characteristics--on that one, Preludes were too bright; they sounded harsh. Prims took the edge off and gave a nice sound.

My current fiddle has a fine neck angle and volume galore. I have Prims on it, and they sound good, but I'm thinking of giving the Dominant/Pirastro combo another try--this might be the fiddle to do them justice.

All these were medium gauge strings. If you have a low neck angle, heavy strings will increase the downforce on the bridge, increasing the volume a bit. However, most of the (greatly increased) tension runs longitudinally; only a fraction is diverted into downforce. Such strings will be working hard to tear the neck out of your fiddle, so use a lot of care, and shun non-standard (higher) tunings with them. I would be inclined to just reset the neck on such a fiddle and solve the problem that way--my opinion (ymmv) is that heavies only invite repair bills down the road.

If you have a medium-to-high neck angle, stay away from heavy gauge strings--you'd likely be seeing a warped bridge or a cracked top, or both, sooner than you might expect. But if you have that kind of angle, you probably wouldn't be complaining about the volume.

Hope this doesn't muddy the waters too much for you,

JtT


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Marion
Date: 17 May 01 - 12:33 PM

Thanks Jenny. I want to take it in to a luthier soon for setup adjustment, so I'll ask him how he would describe my neck angle.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Jenny the T
Date: 17 May 01 - 03:11 PM

That's a good plan. It's amazing what a bit of setup tweaking can do to improve the sound.

Good luck with the busking!

JtT


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Sorcha
Date: 17 May 01 - 03:22 PM

LOL! Horses for courses! I used Red Label Super Sensitives on my Maggie fiddle for years, $12 a set, and loved them. Right now I have Helicores on, and they are OK, but take forever to "break in".....Dominants are a perlon (fake gut) core, and have a mellower sound and I use them on The Lady (orchestra violin) I don't like Prims, they don't make any noise, and I play with 2 banjos! Never have found an E that suits me. I think I am going to try a "stark wound medium" if I can find one. I also buy strings at Southwest Strings......www.southweststrings I think. Great buys and free shipping on strings only!


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Jenny the T
Date: 17 May 01 - 03:30 PM

On my current fiddle 9the one with the high bridge), Prims are screamers. String characteristics depend quite a bit on the fiddle, seemingly. They always seemed much mellower on other instruments.

Trying to be heard over _two_ banjos, though? Pretty large job, that! (Maybe instead of getting different strings, you should just stuff some rags inside the banjos) ;>


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Sorcha
Date: 17 May 01 - 03:34 PM

I've thought about doing something drastic, believe me! The one guy is not so bad, he usually plays tenor, but the 5 string Ome guy is really really loud!


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 May 01 - 11:47 PM

Marion,

Your question motivated me to do some research on the Dr. Thomastik line of strings. I was wrong in my post above. The correct strings are the Dr. Thomastik Superflexible model. These have the "rope core" that I distinctly remember being advertised on the package. These are wonderful strings to play. If you can find a set in a shop, ask to see one of the strings. It should have a shiny light blue thread wrapping at the ball end of each string. Thomastik strings are color coded to identify model.

They seem to be available in both aluminium and chrome winding. The aluminium tends to wear more quickly so I'd go with the chrome. Here is one Web source for the strings, here is a description and Thomastik tailpiece with the built in fine tuners.

You'll want to have someone very skilled in the art "make" (shape) a bridge with fiddling in mind. The standard classical bridge will be too arched for most fiddling and probably too tall for your new Thomastik strings. Don't take all the strings off at the same time as this may relieve pressure on the belly and cause the sound post to fall down.

Good luck,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 May 01 - 11:53 PM

Well, I blew the HTML above. Help! Joe Clone! Please delete my post above or make it look like the following one.

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 May 01 - 12:09 AM

Marion,

Your question motivated me to do some research on the Dr. Thomastik line of strings. I was wrong in my post above. The correct strings are the Dr. Thomastik Superflexible model. These have the "rope core" that I distinctly remember being advertised on the package. These are wonderful strings to play. If you can find a set in a shop, ask to see one of the strings. It should have a shiny light blue thread wrapping at the ball end of each string. Thomastik strings are color coded to identify model.

They seem to be available in both aluminium and chrome winding. The aluminium tends to wear more quickly so I'd go with the chrome. Here is one Web source for the strings, here is the Thomastik-Infeld site. Click on Superflexible to read the description and see the unique packaging for this model. You will also find a color chart which verifies for me that the Superflexible strings are the ones I intended to recommend.

As long as you're setting up your fiddle, be sure that you are using a chin rest that has the molded arch going completely over the tail piece. This prevents your pressing on the tail piece with your chin and also uses the end block of your instrument to support the chin rest. On the Thomastik site, you'll also see a graphical link referencing Thomastik's patented tailpiece. Many fiddlers prefer using the Thomastik tailpiece because of the built in fine tuners.

You'll want to have someone very skilled in the art "make" (shape) a bridge with fiddling in mind. The standard classical bridge will be too arched for most fiddling and probably too tall for your new Thomastik strings. Don't take all the strings off at the same time as this may relieve pressure on the belly and cause the sound post to fall down.

Good luck,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Marion
Date: 20 May 01 - 04:41 PM

Thanks Mark. I got your post a day too late, and I bought the Spirocore variety, so we'll see how they are (I haven't put them on yet). The violin shop guy said that they would have a similar sound to Helicores but more volume, and that the winding on the E string would be prone to unravelling. I'll try the Superflexibles in the next experimental trial. Why do Thomastiks need a shorter bridge?

Slight thread creep, but related:

I've heard here that you should take your instruments in for "setup" at least once a year. My guitar is less than a year old, but my fiddle is a little more so I decided it was time to act on this advice.

I took it back to the shop (Dawson's in Ottawa, which makes/repairs/sells violin family instruments only) and said that I had bought the fiddle there a year ago and wanted to have the setup checked. The owner looked over my fiddle, adjusted the bridge angle and the position of a string on its tuning peg, and said that all was well. This took about two minutes altogether.

Now, I've never taken any instrument in for setup before and I wasn't sure what exactly to expect, but I did expect that it would cost something and take a little more time - a more thorough examination of the soundpost, bridge placement, position of strings on bridge, the action at the nut, and the turnability of the pegs.

Was my experience typical, or do you find it a little strange? I suppose it's possible that everything was perfect in my setup, and that an expert eye can tell at a glance if anything is wrong. But I did wonder if maybe he didn't take my fiddle seriously because it's a student violin.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Mark Clark
Date: 20 May 01 - 11:15 PM

Marion, Since you took your fiddle back where you bought it, I'm guessing they had already done a setup before you picked it up. They just looked to see if anything had lost it's orignal placement. At another shop, they may have done the same thing but charged you a small fee. If you tell them you want the setup changed—different bridge, altered action or tonality—it would have taken more time and cost more.

The reason your bridge might be too high isn't the Thomastik brand necessarily, it's because a violin is normally sold for use in classical playing using gut strings. When you use metal strings, the tension is higher and the arc of vibration is smaller. This means you'd want the strings a little closer to the fingerboard. The Spirocore may be closer to gut strings in terms of tension and arc of vibration. Also, fiddling tends to employ bow crossings that are difficult to do using a bridge with a classical arch. There should be just enough arch to allow single note playing but crossing quickly between double and tripple stops should be possible. You might want to get to know some French Canadian fiddlers see how their fiddles are set up.

I'm guessing the Spirocore strings are wound with aluminium rather than the chrome used on the Superflexible model. That means your E will probably need replacement more often than the other strings.

I'll be anxious to get a report on your new Spirocores.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: Marion
Date: 20 May 01 - 11:33 PM

So who speaks German? On the D,A, and G envelopes it says "chromumspinnung", which I'm going to guess means chrome wound.

But on the corresponding place on the E envelope it says "Dural - bandumsponnen", which doesn't remind me of any English word.

(This is speaking of Spirocore strings.)

Marion


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: GUEST,Rex on the work 'puter
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 01:17 PM

I'm dusting off an old thread. I had heard good things about Prim strings and ordered two packs. Later on I put one set on my son's violin and had the others as spares for my main fiddle. Well the next day the "G" string was broke so I put another string on it. A couple weeks later I was playing somewhere and opened my case to see that the "A" on my fiddle had broke. No problem. I opened the new pack of Prims and tuned up the new "A". It immediately broke. Trouble. I tied it. It broke again. Gotta do something, I put the "E" string from the pack in it's place. It broke. I tied it. It broke again. I called my wife and she brought me another fiddle. Later I took off the Prims and replaced them with tried and true Dominants. No problems. I asked Southwest Strings where I got them if there were any reports of troubles with Prims. None and they weren't interested in taking them back. They also told me that since I had kept them almost six months
before using them, that was close to exceding their shelf life. How's that for rubbish? Anyway, I'm just posting here to see if anyone else is having trouble with them.

Rex


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Subject: RE: Help: Fiddle Strings
From: GUEST,Dwightm
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 04:59 PM

Mark,
I'm pretty sure that Kenny used Superflexible strings. If you check him out playing with Bill Monroe on youtube you will see the familiar blue winding on the ball end of his strings.


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