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Trying Out Octave Violin Strings - Setup Questions

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Oct 19, 2019 - 1:09 PM
323 posts since 12/14/2010

Have any of you tried octave violin strings on your violin? I have an old $59 "VSO" used fiddle I bought a few years ago just to experiment with -- no great loss if I should happen to "ruin" it with bridge / string / cross tuning / other experimentation.

I just today put on it a set of Helicore Medium Octave violin strings. They tune just like regular GDAE strings but are a full octave lower. I have to say, I'm amazed at the sound -- like some of the YouTube videos I've viewed with these strings on a violin, these strings produce a deep, resonant cello-like sound. I didn't have to make any modifications to the violin's bridge, etc. I just put them on and tried them out.

At this point -- given that this is a pretty cheap fiddle -- I plan just to leave them on and play it as is. But I'm wondering, for those of you that have actually tried these octave medium strings, do they cause any damage over time to a bridge, the violin's top, etc.? Mainly interested in responses from those of you that have actually used them and have some experience with them rather than speculations, although any reactions are appreciated.

Edited by - hayesdt on 10/19/2019 13:39:15

Oct 19, 2019 - 2:26:12 PM
Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2410 posts since 2/3/2011

https://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/1298

Your question was so interesting that I dug this out of the archives.  Most interesting was some of the discussion on how to idealize an octave violin.  There was one comment on having enough room in the pegbox to accommodate the fatter strings.  Also wider notches at the nut and bridge.

Oct 19, 2019 - 3:27:50 PM

hayesdt

USA

323 posts since 12/14/2010

Oct 21, 2019 - 5:37:55 AM

441 posts since 9/1/2010

From my reading on these (a Q & A on Shar's website) it doesn't seem that they put any additional stress on the fiddle as far as string tension goes. I've been wanting to convert one of my fiddles to a dedicated octave fiddle, but can't decide which one. My biggest concerns would be the width of the grooves in the nut and the stoutness of the bridge. I worry about the peg holes not being large enough accommodate the larger string diameter too...the fact you were able to put them on without modification is encouraging.

Edited by - rosinhead on 10/21/2019 05:38:31

Oct 21, 2019 - 6:47:37 AM

hayesdt

USA

323 posts since 12/14/2010

quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead

I worry about the peg holes not being large enough accommodate the larger string diameter too...the fact you were able to put them on without modification is encouraging.


I didn't have any trouble with the peg holes, nor with the bridge slots either, for that matter, but it was a little difficult and took some time to get the [ball] end of the octave G string into its fine tuner slot (string thickness).

Oct 23, 2019 - 5:58:18 PM

441 posts since 9/1/2010

quote:
Originally posted by hayesdt
quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead

I worry about the peg holes not being large enough accommodate the larger string diameter too...the fact you were able to put them on without modification is encouraging.


I didn't have any trouble with the peg holes, nor with the bridge slots either, for that matter, but it was a little difficult and took some time to get the [ball] end of the octave G string into its fine tuner slot (string thickness).


Hmm..didn't even think about that.  Are you using a Wittner tailpiece?

Oct 24, 2019 - 8:39:24 AM

hayesdt

USA

323 posts since 12/14/2010

quote:

Hmm..didn't even think about that.  Are you using a Wittner tailpiece?


Yes, it's a Wittner tailpiece.  Just a bit tight on that low G string to fit in as easily as the other fine tuners, but it certainly can be done with a little patience.

Oct 24, 2019 - 1:00:04 PM
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95 posts since 8/26/2016

Reading this thread........ things that make you go Hmmmmmm.

I have a ca. WWI Nippon fiddle that I rescued from the local "Take it or Leave it" [Dump], sans any fittings. The peg holes were worn enough that bushing would have been appropriate for fitting traditional peg, but as I had a reamer (but no shaper at the time) I installed "Peghead" geared tuners. Tailpiece, Bridge, SP and rest and,,,,,,, I had a fiddle that was pretty one dimensional, loud, and BRIGHT.

AS I have two other "good" fiddles the Nippon was relegated to "taking over to the wilderness cabin" and doubled quite well as a coyote call.

I had casually wondered about the Octave thing as I also play Octave Mandolin.

Ordered Helicore Octaves after this thread started and just got finished altering bridge and nut slots and stringing it up.

Well that's pretty cool! Lots of dimensions!

If I ever tire of the octave thing I think the Nippon might enjoy a third life as a small [14"] viola!

Oct 24, 2019 - 1:39:52 PM
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95 posts since 8/26/2016

Should add that with the "Peghead" geared tuners no fine tuners required on any string, just a nice ebony tailpiece.

Oct 26, 2019 - 2:22:55 PM
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141 posts since 12/4/2011

I've been gone from the forum for a while. I've been using Sensicore octave strings for quite a few years on an old Roth student violin and a Chinese made Bellafina 5 string viola. On the Bellafina I had to chisel out the bottom of the peg box to make room for the fat windings of the octave C. I think I did have to drill out the peg holes for some of the strings.

Octave strings aren't cheap (well no decent fiddle strings are cheap) but Sensicore was very helpful and even sent me free replacement strings when mine failed for no apparent reason.

I get a good sound using a regular D string for the E, tuned up to one octave below the normal E. Likewise I've used a regular G tuned up to A and a viola C tuned to D (an octave below normal D). Then the only "octave" string you need is the G (or G and C for a 5 string). I've been doing this several years with no problems. I also have not changed bridge or nut slots.

Edited by - Mandobart on 10/26/2019 14:24:26

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