Hello all. New member, first post. :)
I've been playing for a few years now on my "new to me" small 7/8 1920's Italian. I love the size of this violin after struggling for years before with my old German full size. I have always preferred a darker/warm tone so I've been using Piastro Eudoxa strings but let's be honest they're pricey & don't last long. I'd like to explore other string options for getting more volume since I've already working with less projection due to the size of my fiddle.
After reading through several posts & other online articles I'm considering trying Warchal Ambers or Helicore next.
Anyone on here have some good suggestions to try out?
People seem to like Kaplan Amo a lot, but they are pricey, too. D'Addario Zyex are a good all-around string with a warmer sound. You can get more volume by going to a heavier gauge, or better bow technique. Heavy gauge is only about 10% more tension, and can be compensated for with string height. Mark O'Connor and Michael Cleveland, for example, play Helicore heavy, which is not all that heavy, after all.
If you prefer to stay with a synthetic core string, Zyex would be a good starting choice, pretty warm tone and not too expensive. Shar Music, NFI, often has 20% off sales on strings, or you can take your chances on ebay. Good luck, sounds like you have found your fiddle.
I'll echo the suggestions of Zyex for synthetic or Helicores for metal. Those are both good strings and good value.
And for the 7/8 length, I would would definitely consider heavy tension Helicores instead of medium.
Thanks for the suggestions!
I also just realized today I told everyone wrong. My E string is an Eudoxa but I've been using the Passione on my A-D-G. And actually at the moment I've got an old Dominant G on because my Passione snapped a couple of months back.
I think I'll check out those Helicore high tensions first & play around from there.
A few questions, mrsfellman - First of all, what style of music do you play? Most members here play some knd of "fiddle" music - "Old time," Bluegrass, country, maybe a few others. They don't usually play "Sallie Goodin" on expensive gut strings. If you play classical music you might get better advice on a forum like Maestronet, although I don't know how welcoming they are to "what kind of string" questions from newcomers.
As it happens, I started out on gut strings (Pirastro gold label) and although it was a long time ago, I remember the challenge of learning on them. When you said you used Eudoxa I looked to see what might be the closest synthetic core string, and SW strings said Obligato was the "synthetic equivalent." In fact, Pirastro uses the same terms like "warm, round sound" and "comfortable left hand feel" to describe both. Trouble is they're roughly the same price as Eudoxa, although they might last longer and be more stable.
There are also Violino, which are about half the price and are also described as warm. I read some negatve reviews though, and they might be a type of string designed to tame overly bright student instruments ànd be knd of dull on yours.
To go from a low tension gut string to heavy gauge steel strings might be quite a change for both you and your instrument, so make sure its in sound condition. Also what is your current setup? Do you have a fine tuner only on the E string? If you switch to steel strings you'll probably want fine tuners on all four strings, either built into the tailpiece or with geared tuning pegs.
Lastly, I'll pass along my late luthier's opinion of Helicore. He liked them and thought the mediums were a good string, partly because of ease of playing in the left hand. He thought the heavies lost that quality and so weren't as good. I don't know - I've only used mediums, and only one set.
If you’re looking for a darker sound, you might try Dominants, Warchal Amber, or Obligato.
Although Helicore is a popular brand with fiddlers, it’s anything but dark.
Originally posted by DougD
A few questions, mrsfellman - First of all, what style of music do you play?
Also what is your current setup? Do you have a fine tuner only on the E string? If you switch to steel strings you'll probably want fine tuners on all four strings, either built into the tailpiece or with geared tuning pegs.
Great questions! My "start" into violin/fiddle playing was very unorthodox. I am a pianist that has been a student since age 5. Around age 17 I had been "messing around" with my dad's Mandolin learning a few traditional songs. A visiting friend who played fiddle told me to try playing hers. I picked it up and picked out Amazing Grace and fell in love. Bought my first violin and started taking some informal lessons from Rick Morton (my Dad's Fire Department Chief at that time). Transitioned a few years later into college and started taking from a classical teacher and playing in the orchestra. My major was piano but violin was my second instrument.
Fast foward two decades later and now I'm just a homeschool mom that takes twice yearly Fiddling with Flair classes from Jana Jae. I also recently I participated in my first ever "Fiddling Contest". Looking to do some more in that arena for fun and Jana says I need to work on my projection. Which I know is not all about the strings but I've been wondering if my "warm and mellow" strings aren't helping that situation, hence my looking to play around with other types.
I have fine tuners on all 4 strings. My G-D-A take ball ends and my E has a hook end but I know how to transition a ball end onto it. I also have a pick up bridge that Lou, my luthier in Tulsa, put on for me a few years back when I was playing for our church services.
'Hand Carved Fiddle' 2 days