I'm looking for a fiddle to put octave strings on, to use alongside my primary one, but...I don't really know what to look for, beyond the usual "better materials and workmanship." They're engineered to go on regular violins, so maybe that's all there is to it?
I do have a viola, but it's too big to play for long. I'd considered a 14" viola.
Anybody been down this road and learned some stuff?
Welcome to the forum musicking . I know nothing about octave strings, but could I suggest you give some more details about what you're looking for, how you intend to use it, etc? Your question is pretty general. You can go a general search about octave strings on the forum for a start, but someone is bound to come out of the woodwork and help you out.
Edited by - Earworm on 06/20/2021 09:20:31
I have a customer who plays octave strings on a fairly normal fiddle with a bridge pickup. I opened up the nut to fit the strings, and set the action on the bridge high enough to allow for the wider excursion of the strings, and added a bit of scoop to the fingerboard. The fiddle doesn't have a lot of volume, but works fine plugged in. Helicore octave strings work pretty well. If I were going to use one acoustically, I would at least start with a 14" viola, or a violin with really good low-end response. It's still not going put out much volume.
Thank you! That's helpful. The use right now is just for me to have fun and maybe record some stuff; if I find myself performing–I'll be more surprised than anyone–I'll figure something out. =)
Just by chance, the one pro customer I have who plays an octave violin for gigs was in this morning for some adjustments. Because of your question, I was listening to his fiddle particularly closely. Also because he had recently switched to Helicore octave strings, and I wanted to hear how they had settled in. His fiddle put out a lot more sound than I expected, so I asked him whether he remembered what it had sounded like before I set it up for him several years ago. He said "Loud and Brassy". I was familiar with the maker of his fiddle who was a local maker in Kansas City who died 30 years ago. Customer also said Darol Anger had made the same recommendation ("loud and brassy") regarding choosing an instrument for an octave fiddle. So that's another vote for Loud and Brassy, since this one certainly works well.
Another setup note: I just ended up switching his string heights to about the same I do with a normal fiddle. 4.5mm under the G and 3.5 under the E. Minimal Scoop on the Fingerboard. We took a look at bowing those strings as loud as possible, and string excursion (swing) is about half of what I have observed with synthetic strings. WE couldn't make anything buzz, anywhere.
BTW- IIRC, the SuperSensitive octave strings were a lot stretchier than the Helicores, and that's why customer was in to lower his action.
Edited by - KCFiddles on 06/22/2021 14:56:07
Nice! That is interesting and very helpful.
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