Lowest Tension/Quietest Strings for Viola

October 3, 2017, 10:57 AM · Hi All, I am just wondering if anyone has any recommendations for the quietest (which I presume also means the lowest tension) strings for a viola. I currently use Obbligatos, which are nice, but they're still not quite soft enough for me. I'm thinking of trying Eudoxas next, but wanted to see if there is a better option out there.

I know what I'm asking for is the opposite of what people generally want, but I don't play for anyone, so I don't need projection. I also realize that violin family instruments are not quiet, so I know I'm asking in a sense for the impossible (short of getting an electric instrument), but I'd nonetheless really value any input anyone has.

Thanks!

Replies (11)

October 3, 2017, 11:39 AM · Obligatos will knock down a bit the sound.

If you want to calm down the instrument, perhaps your luthier could do some adjustments, such as moving the tailpiece towards the bridge, a new bridge and/or soundpost with that in mind.

October 3, 2017, 11:14 PM · Pirastro's Aricore are warm-toned, with a tension similar to Eudoxas. I even use the Aricore A with the higher-tension Obligato D, G, & C as I want a string, not a trumpet!
Edited: October 4, 2017, 3:54 AM · Andrew,

Keep in mind that vibrating string length is an important factor in string tension.
In other words, if you put the same (medium) gauge strings on 2 violas, one with vsl of 365mm, the other 380mm, and tune to 440 Hz, which one will be under more tension?
Not all string producers offer viola string for long and short "mensure".
It is therefore pointless to recommend any brand not knowing this fact.

I never met a viola player looking for a more quiet instrument.

October 4, 2017, 4:29 AM · What is it you dislike now? The volume or a specific sound characteristic?
October 4, 2017, 4:33 AM · Lower tension strings can, with some instruments, enable it vibrate more freely with a bigger dynamic range and hence sound louder when required. The choice of bow is also equally important for tone production.
October 4, 2017, 4:37 AM · How about use a bow with new hair with little rosin?
October 4, 2017, 4:36 PM · Thanks all for the advice. Getting my bow rehaired soon so I'll pay attention to my rosin usage.

Great points about string length, Rocky, I hadn't considered that. I just measured and it's about 14 and 5/8 inches from nut to bridge (on a 16 inch viola).

Marc, my issue is the volume: I love my instrument's tone/timbre. I'm just a fairly quiet person and don't like being loud in general, and as a result I often find myself playing at lower dynamics than I should. It's not a huge problem, but it's time for new strings and I thought I'd experiment to see if there is something that's generally quieter than obligatos.

Right now I'm split between Eudoxas, Corelli Crystals, and now Aricores.

October 9, 2017, 3:11 PM · Eudoxas, Aricores and "Medium-light" Crytals have a similar low tension.
Crystals feel thicker (ans stiffer) under the fingers.
Eudoxas a perfect but need frequent retuning.
Aricores are lovely, and forgive occasional clumsy bowing!
October 9, 2017, 8:31 PM · aricore, but too low tension often leads to a rolling, flacid feel
under the bow.
October 9, 2017, 8:34 PM · I had no idea that playing too loud was ever a problem on a viola. Learn something new every day.
October 13, 2017, 2:12 AM · Low tension simply entails playing nearer the bridge....


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