Viola string help?
I am a senior in high school and have a 16 inch Otto Benjamin viola. I am looking for new A and D viola strings - I would do C and G as well, but those are still relatively new strings and we are only trying to spend $60-70 this Christmas rather than $120+ haha.
On my A and D I have Obligato strings. I’ve had them for about 9 months and I think it is time to retire them soon. On my G and C, I have Kaplan Forzas... I used to use the Obligatos there as well but the Forzas sound a little darker on those strings in my opinion (but not on the A and D). The Forzas are 6 months old.
The issue with my viola is that it’s too small to get a really dark, rich, sound that a lot of larger violas have. I have always struggled with fourth finger as it is, so moving up a size is definitely out of the question until I grow again. My viola is not super tinny or anything, but it is just a bit too bright for my taste. I love the overtones from my Obligato A and D, but it seems that when I got a new chinrest a few weeks back it made my viola even brighter sounding, so I am looking to get some darker A and D strings to hopefully enhance the sound as much as possible.
Do you guys have any ideas? I know I can’t be certain unless I try them myself, but I want to know where to start. Once my Forzas wear out, i will probably be looking for a darker, G and C as well, as the chinrest has really made the sound a lot brighter.
I heartily recommend the Kaplan AMO set.
The first set I would try is Warchal Karneol, which sounds lovely on many violas. It will tame an overly bright instrument and add some texture and color. Only $42 for a set!
If you find that the viola is too bright, go with OBLIGATOS.
Your new chin rest didn't change the sound of your viola. It changed the position of your ear relative to your f-holes.
Buy the warchal karneol on eBay should get them even cheaper . I have used their long scale strings on 18"viola they are not bad for a cheaper set . I personally like zyex strings really good and reasonable price . I think it is more likely that the set up of your viola is preventing it from making the sound that you require . Have you got an old fashioned practice mute . I have quite a few in deferent weights and materials . If you put different mutes onto the bridge and listen carefully to the effects they give other than volume. This can be a good clue as to whether you need a different bridge . Move them about about as well i.e. treble side base side . If you want to be really adventurous try attaching a small weight like very small coin to the back of the bridge with blue tack . If you come up with the sound you want take your viola to an experienced set up person and tell them this the sound that you require . People often give up on an instrument that has an arbitrary set up with out really exploring the possibilities.
Have any of you tried the Larsen A? My A string gives the “whiniest” sound of all my strings with the exception of 3rd finger D. The A and C# sound very tinny compared to the rest my viola, but I’m sure thats just how my viola is set up (A on the D string is also pretty horrible).
Setting up a violin or viola is a very skilled job requiring special training and experience . If your viola sounds good on all strings except the A my personal opinion is that it is quite likely that you need a heavier bridge . This will probably make your A less winey and will bring more resonance in the bass. From what you say it's possible that this kind of tweaking is too sophisticated for your local shop . Have you tried googling to see if you've got a luthier working near by
I'm interested that many of you describe the sound that you want from a viola as dark . I always think of it as round . Has anyone else got a good adjective ?
Thomas - check out this paper, if you can find it: Catgut Acoustical Society Journal Vol. 3, No. 4 (Series II), Pg. 52, November 1997 -"Tuning the A0 Mode Without Changing the Body or f-hold Size" by J.L. Miles .***
Andrew how interesting . Thank you I will look up the paper .
If you want a less tinny sound, try synthetic A strings (e.g Tonica). In your particular case, a new instrument may be in order. Violas really vary, so try a variety of affordable violas of various sizes and pick your fave for both playing comfort and sound.
Pirastro's Aricore-Eudoxa A (polyester core with aluminium winding) has a sweet, singing tone on my violas, right up the fingerboard.
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