Strings for Hutchins Soprano violin

June 1, 2017, 2:23 PM · My children have since long been playing full size violins so I have a pretty good german 3/4 violin from the beginning of 20th century lying unused. I am thinking of setting it up as a soprano violin. I know that the real soprano violin is different from a 3/4, but since I have the violin, why not try.
Does anyone here know where to get a set of strings for a soprano violin? Who makes them, and who sells them?

Replies (24)

June 1, 2017, 3:48 PM · The Hutchins Consort is based in Encinitas, California. Why not contact them and ask where to purchase supplies?

701 Third St.
Encinitas, CA 92024-4413
Telephone: 760-632-0554

Mailing address
P.O. Box 914
Corona del Mar, CA 92625-5914

June 1, 2017, 5:14 PM · Damian Dlugolecki, if you want a historical pure gut version. :)
June 1, 2017, 8:02 PM · The advantage of going to Gamut or other gut suppliers is that you can customize your setup with their calculators.
I believe Super sensitive is making steel strings for octet instruments. Check with Robert Spears in New York .
The hard thing is going to be finding a high string that doesn't snap and can get the correct tension.
June 1, 2017, 8:29 PM · SuperSensitive makes sets of strings for all New Family instruments, and any store that handles the company's products can order a set for you. Many stores do not know this. You just have to tell them to look it up.

The one thing you must remember is that the soprano violin top string is tuned to A 880 Hz, and only high-tensile strength carbon rocket wire (I think it's .011 diameter for the soprano) is strong enough to withstand the tension. If you attempt to tune this high on a standard full-size violin, the string will break.

That said, the soprano violin has been tried by composers ever since J.S. Bach, but all have been hampered by the limits of string technology. This is unfortunate because the addition of the soprano instrument to the family can add wonderful new dimensions to music, and now we do have the technology!

June 1, 2017, 8:49 PM · Actually, the soprano violin existed, it's nust that it had A an octave up as the highest string, since no pure gut will survive being tuned to anything above G (extend to the top A via thin specially-made scordatura string). :)
June 2, 2017, 5:28 AM · Bach's Violino Piccolo was only tuned a minor third higher. (Brandenberg No4)
June 2, 2017, 2:38 PM · Are you sure you don't mean Brandenburg no. 1?
June 2, 2017, 3:03 PM · Regardless, piccolo violins in tunings a 3rd as well as a 4th above the standard violin both existed.

No plain gut survive going anh higher than A=880 as an open string (for the top string), only tech has made the "mosquitolins" possible to play (but I still wouldn't play one without extreme fear of a lost eye!)

June 3, 2017, 3:50 AM · I haven't tried tuning up to a soprano violin pitch, but I put low-tension, full size synthetic strings (Dominant medium) and a light full-size Goldbrokat E on a 3/4 size violin and tuned it up to violino piccolo pitch (up a minor third). It could be that there are some ultra-light tension synthetics out there, even lighter than Dominant, that could serve your purpose for the bottom three strings, with the specialised A string from Supersensitive or elsewhere. The ones that come to mind are Violino, light-tension Dominants, light-tension Obligatos and Larsen Tzigane. Or even trim down some light-tension viola strings to 3/4 size length?! They may be thinner.
June 3, 2017, 4:59 AM · Thanks for all the replies. I did come across references to strings from Supersensitive when looking for these strings before asking here, but although they have violin octet strings in the menu system on the web page there is nothing shown when I click it. So I was thinking they may have stopped making them. None of the dealers I have ordered from here in Europe seem to know about them at all.
June 3, 2017, 6:38 AM · @Bo: Damian Dlugolecki is your maaaaaaaaaannnn!!! :)
June 3, 2017, 10:05 AM · Nicky, yes.
June 5, 2017, 6:32 AM · Damian seems to have strings for tuning up one third only. And they are pure gut - I am looking for synthetic strings.
For the lower 3 strings I think long scale viola strings may be a good choice. For the top string I think even a 0.25 mm 4/4 E string may be too thick so I am looking at steel guitar strings which are available as thin as 0.20 mm.
June 5, 2017, 7:58 AM · Not viola stringss, they will not survive (thicker DOES NOT mean stronger)!

Best option is to find an instrument with tuning in a similar range and order a set...

Perhaps ask a guitarist if they know of strings for high tunings? :)

June 5, 2017, 12:08 PM · A.O.,

Adrian's point was not that viola strings are thicker, per se - but that on a violin, at a given tension, they'll be tuned to a higher pitch than they would be on a viola.

June 5, 2017, 12:10 PM · Wouldn't that still break them, though? :)
June 5, 2017, 2:15 PM · The vibrating length of my 3/4 violin is 31,5 cm. Measuring that distance from the bridge on my viola with a 36,5 cm vibrating length gives me about a C on the A string. With a string designed for a 38-40 cm vibrating length it will be about right tension tuned to D on the 3/4 violin. The highest string may present a problem - but thin steel guitar strings are cheap so I will give them a try.
June 5, 2017, 11:17 PM · What's the difference between a 3/4 violin strung with soprano strings and a real soprano?
June 6, 2017, 5:53 AM · The soprano violin has a wider neck than a 3/4 since it is ment to be played by adults. I think the body is also slightly wider and the ribs lower than the 3/4.
June 10, 2017, 8:28 AM · I went and bought a 0.20 mm guitar string yesterday, and today I set up the violin. The guitar string cost me 1 $ and is long enough to give me two strings. For the lower 3 string I used the top 3 strings from a somewhat used set of Warchal Karneol viola strings. Unfortunately they were not the long scale version, and the C string (what was originally a G string) broke at the tailpiece after playing it for about 5 minutes. It may have been a weakness there or it may be the tension was too high. I found an old Corelli gut core viola G in the string drawer (never throw away anything - it may become useful one day) and that works fine. Plus it sounds better. The top A string is really fun to play and has a nice ring. The two middle strings sound a bit "boxy". I swapped the D string with the old E string that was originally there thinking that it is only one step down and normally the lower strings will have lower tension than the highest. It sounds better, but may have to be a little thicker to really get a good ring. I will have to get back to the guitar shop and get a 0.28 mm string. That leaves only the G string to need improvement. Perhaps a gut core viola D.
Playing this little DIY soprano violin is fun, but I understand why the real soprano violin has a wider neck and fingerboard. Interestingly I can play it fine, but once I start noticing which tone I am playing my hand wants to put the wrong finger down! It would have been easier to play if it was tuned up a fifth instead of a fourth, but I am worried that the top string will be too high tension.
June 10, 2017, 8:54 AM · Yup, and historically no gut would ever sirvive being tuned above the A above the E string (even specially flexible and thin scordatura string).

Why not ask piccolo violin soloist Grigory Sedukh where he gets his (octave up) piccolo violin strings, you would be able to buy a set for tuning up a 5th as well: :)

June 11, 2017, 4:14 PM · What about using standard violin D, A and E for the lower three strings of the soprano (C, G, D, and A tuning only) and getting a special string for the top? The violin strings should be extra high tension for best results, perhaps heavy tension Evahs, I think.
June 11, 2017, 7:54 PM · @Ella: Great idea! :D

But they DO sell the set, or Grigiry would be out of some work! :D

June 12, 2017, 1:51 AM · Standard violin strings would be to low tension I think. The strings would be tuned down one step and on a shorter vibrating length - that's the reason I chose viola G, D and A strings for the lower 3. But perhaps high tension 3/4 strings if they exist.

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