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Strings for crosstuning a bright ringing fiddle?

Apr 15, 2017 - 8:37:06 AM
73 posts
Joined Aug 26, 2016

.After reading some of the "crosstuning threads" I'm interested in experimenting a bit with one of my fiddles.

It's a hundred year old "Made in Nippon / Trade Mark" fiddle and pretty bright and ringy with Helicore Mediums. Maybe too bright? [even in GDgd]

I have ordered some Perfection Pegs for it as it is time for a peg change anyway.

Any one use synthetic strings for cross tuning? [I have a set of Dominants and a set of ProArts on hand]

Would Heavy  Helicores be any darker or mellow it out a bit?  Other suggestion for a bit mellower steel string maybe Jagar's?


Edited by - michaeljennings on 04/15/2017 08:38:07

Apr 15, 2017 - 10:07:20 AM
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721 posts
Joined Aug 11, 2009

I also have a Nippon fiddle from the late teens.  It is also very bright and powerful, and I've been through exactly what you are asking.  Here are some things I've tried.   I had a shop install a viola sound post(a lttle thicker), this helped only marginally, but did help.  I did a different bridge on my own and left it thicker, this also helped a bit.  I made sure the after length(of the strings behind the bridge, was in the 57 mm range), only marginal difference but still moving in the right direction.  I've had Dominants on it.  man are they loud and bright, and they won't take the retuning very well, unless you're just going to leave it cross tuned.  I've had  Pro Artes on it, they were flat out awful.  I had Helicore mediums on it, the tone was better, then I tried Helicore Heavies, even better.  The last time I changed strings on it, I tried Prim Orchestra, with a Lisa E(also from Prim).  They're hard to find, look at Southwest Strings or Shar Music.  The Prim Orchestra's sound the best of anything and will last well and take the retuning.  I also still always have a roll up mute on the thing, and almost always it's just barely touching the backside of the bridge.   It has plenty of volume this way and balanced good tone.  It's still not necessarily my favorite instrument to play, but when I play it people tell me they like the sound out in front of it.  Maybe it's just a thing where they sound the way they do, right under your ear for some reason.   

I hope a few of these suggestions might help, but definitely synthetic core strings do not hold up nearly as well to retuning as steel strings do.   Good Luck, let us know if you find a good combination for it.  One of the great things about the fiddle is there is always more to learn.  

Apr 15, 2017 - 10:44:14 AM

carlb Players Union Member


2004 posts
Joined Feb 2, 2008

Infeld Reds might work for you.

Apr 17, 2017 - 2:58:48 PM
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343 posts
Joined Jun 26, 2007


Heavier bridge, and stouter (and maybe longer?) soundpost are worth trying.

I'm not familiar with the more recent developments in synthetic strings, but can state from experience that Dominants and Pro-Arte's, which are wound on nylon cores, do not hold up well to repeated retuning. 

These days I don't use much except Prim or Helicore, but I remember Thomastik "Superflexible" (multi-strand steel core) as being a good string for taming an overly-bright fiddle.

D'Addario's Prelude (their low-priced solid-core "student" brand) is well worth a try. I'd say they're similar in feel to Prims, but a bit duller in sound and just a little less responsive to the bow, which might be just what you are looking for. 

Apr 17, 2017 - 5:43:49 PM

73 posts
Joined Aug 26, 2016


I will be cutting a new bridge when the Perfection Pegs get here and I can go through it all at once.... the existing bridge [on it when I got is] is very light especially the feet [well fitted to the top but incredibly thinned tapered to almost nothing at the ends]. I will play around with the sound post as well [one that I cut and installed as it was missing when I got the fiddle.

I've ordered a set of Jagar's to give a try.


Apr 18, 2017 - 11:09:37 AM
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3337 posts
Joined Sep 26, 2008

That bridge sounds like it is very well fitted. All my best playing fiddles are like that - very thin feet where they contact.

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