How to "activate" new strings
Would playing on high registers, vibrating frequently, or other activities quicken the process of strings "stablizing" on the string?
Since I have multiple instruments and have been at this for nearly 80 years I have a variety of experience with new strings including installing new strings and:
Amongst the synthetics, the older nylon (=Perlon) cores (e.g. Dominant, Tonica, Larsen, Pro Arte, Aricore) stretch more than the more recent "composite" cores. They are also cheaper, last longer and can be safely over-stretched by a semitone before retiring to bed. I found overstretching a composte A damaged the core.
I have a related issue. I have been experimenting with certain traditional Cape Breton fiddle tunes which are normally played in scordatura. This involves tuning the G and D up a full tone, so you have an AEAE tuning. I am using my second violin with has older well-used strings on it -- in this case Tonica. Apart from a certain instability in re-tuning the instrument afterwards, I haven't noticed any marked deterioration in sound. But the strings are already past their prime. I'm guessing it wouldn't be a good idea to give this kind of punishment to fresher strings. Anybody had any experience with this, or have any opinions about strings to use for this kind of playing? ( My luthier says it's not a problem for the instrument.)
One thing I do with new strings is tune the new string up a halftone and then rub it hard with a cloth. That heats up the string. While rubbing it the string pitch goes down. When its gone down a halftone I tune it up a halftone again and rub it again. I repeat this until it hold its pitch. Then I tune it normally and it holds its tuning.
From the Thomastik Infeld website:
Some months ago, Han N. Gave me a very good advice, which worked very well for me (http://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=1101). I copy it here:
I find massaging works okay, but less well than my teacher's trick, which is to play the theme from Paganini Moses on each new string, at maximum volume, fairly nearly the bridge. This effectively is similar to the Thomastik-suggested trick.
Parker, I briefly played in an Appalachian traditional music session, where re-tuning of instruments twice in a session is common. A session might typically start in a scordatura tuning suiting G major, shift to D major after an hour, and then to A major.
I just play them really aggressively for 1/2 hour or so and they are ready to go!
If anything, emphasis on the higher registers would probably lengthen the time needed to stabilize the string, since only an upper fraction of the string will be vibrating. Playing in a lower position will exercise more of the string and hasten its play-in time.
Tuning new strings up above pitch, especially the high-tension ones (evah, ect) will shorten their useful life. Rubbing them to heat them up will have the same negative effects.