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Mendy Smith

Musical Instruments & Strings

March 7, 2007 at 5:24 AM

I was inspired to try gut strings (wound for starters) from a recent discussion. It was something that I had always wanted to try but never got around to it. Well, my first set of gut strings (Eudoxa) came in yesterday.

I debated all day today on which viola I should try them out on - the old 15" or my 16". Considering that I have a concert next week, I decided to try them on the 15". The first challenge was figuring out how to install loop ends vs. ball ends. Once I got past that hurdle, then came tuning. I expected instability but WOW - they were stretching WHILE I was tuning them! So after awhile I got them sort of in-tune and gave them a spin.

My first shock was not about the strings but how small the 15" really is in comparison to a 16" instrument. It has been about a year since I played this viola. Out comes Bach's 6th Suite... it takes soooo much more to get a sound out of these strings! OK, even MORE bow.... the tuning starts to slip, so back to a 15 minute re-tuning session. More bow, more re-tuning. After about 45 minutes, the 15" goes back into its case to stabilize for a day.

Now on to some serious practice - out comes the 16" - it is sooo much larger. More stretching/rocking is needed to play fingered octaves. But the sound.... more resonance - it echos through the room. I'm wondering if I should try moving the gut strings to my 16" after the concert.....

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on March 7, 2007 at 5:45 AM
you didn@t chnage them all at once did you? Not a good idea....
Incidentally, aside from equalizing the pressure by pressing with a finger upwards on either side of the bridge as I tighten the string I also tune them up in easy stages IE a third unde rpitch and wait a bit, then a bit more, wait and so on. Finally, if you rub pencil graphite on the bridge and and nut it may help them to slide more smoothly into pitch and preserve the winding.
From Armand All├ęgre
Posted on March 7, 2007 at 6:05 AM
Well don't try practicing on them right after putting them on; they'll go out of tune like crazy while they settle.
Give them a few days to stable and you shouldn't have to re-tune them much.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on March 7, 2007 at 6:06 AM
Buri - no I did them one at a time as usual. I did the lifting on each side of the bridge technique, and so on. I figure they are just stretching like crazy right now. With Dominants I get the same issue right after installing, but with these guts it is more pronounced. My 15" viola always had this gasping for air sort of sound that seems even more so after playing my "upgraded" 16".
From Terez Mertes
Posted on March 7, 2007 at 7:21 PM
Mendy, HI!!!!

Long time no talk. Good to see you blogging! (Okay, maybe you have been and it's me who's been living under a rock. Which I have. But... HI!)

From Natasha Marsalli
Posted on March 8, 2007 at 1:25 PM
A violist?! Here?! Pffft! ;-) Just kidding, you know we love you. :-)

I used Eudoxa gut strings for the longest time (with a Wondertone E) because "my teacher told me to." I do really like that warm, "fuzzy" sort of sound, but I've since switched back to Dominants, since the maker of the violin reccomended them (with an Eva Pirazzi or whatev E). I really like those better, but I think it's totally personal preference and instrument.

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