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String Things

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Published: February 28, 2014 at 3:12 PM [UTC]

I’ve recently done some...experimenting with my violin. Up until this point in my time with this instrument (ten years this month, in fact), I have been utterly terrified to do anything that could change its sound; I, like most of us, am pretty attached to my instrument and have been afraid to do anything that could “ruin” it, or its sound. However, I had to get my bridge replaced over the summer as it had warped to the point of ridiculousness, and when I took it to my shop they informed me that my sound post was a little too small for the violin, and asked if I would like it to be replaced.

This gave me pause. A lot of it.

I’ve heard horror stories in the past of collapsed- and subsequently replaced-sound posts that completely altered the sound of the violin, and they were never able to really get “their” sound back – and while these were maybe just hyperbole, or the violin equivalent of urban legends, I still wasn’t sure I wanted to take that gamble. But, much like a relationship that had been steadily heading south for a while, at that point I was starting to have…doubts about my violin’s sound unrelated to the bridge issue, doubts that I would never admit to anyone because I love my instrument dearly and wouldn’t want anyone to think otherwise (violinists are kinda weird, aren’t we?).

For reference, I play on an 1838 Roussel Bernardel, and at that point the sound had started to feel dull, or muted; when I had first purchased it, it had a full, warm, rich, vibrant tone with lots of overtones, and a powerful low register that was the primary reason I selected it. More recently though, it just didn’t feel or sound quite right: the bridge issue made it uncomfortable to play (which killed me, as I already had enough discomfort while playing), and it didn’t project at all – the sound just fell flat. So, much like going to couples therapy (this analogy is getting weird…sorry), I took the risk and told them to go for it and give me a new sound post.

Holy moly – I am SO glad I did!

The difference was really, truly amazing. The new bridge brought the string placement right back to where it was comfortable for my hand, and the sound It was like travelling back in time to when I bought the instrument, but yet it was better (so maybe like travelling even further back in time to when it was newer? I don’t know, I think my analogies are broken this morning). Along with the new set of strings – I use regular Evahs currently – everything just sounded so crisp and clean; every note spoke, there were no dry notes, and it was so LOUD, which I did have to work with once I started back with an orchestra. However, I had so much more control of my dynamics, and that was what I think was one of the best improvements: pianos sounded much cleaner, which up until that point had been a difficult feat to achieve, as felt like I had to work against the weight of my bow to play cleanly on my old setup, and even then it still had a scratchy quality. A more recent change in rosin and a rehair probably contributed too, but even before those fixes it was a massive improvement.

Now that I’ve taken one risk, however, I’m ready to take a few more in terms of strings. I’ve been playing on the regular Evahs for a few years now after starting off with the Thomastik Infeld Reds – I didn’t dislike them necessarily, but they didn’t really do a whole lot for my instrument. I’m really debating giving the Evah Golds a try, and that’s part of the whole reason I wrote this post: has anyone else tried them, and what did they think? Obviously they’re pretty pricy, but I’ve had success with the regular Evah gold E (less harmonic squeaking on sharp up bows, which is nice) and figured maybe this gold thing was worth a shot.

So, fellow violinists: have you tried the Evah Pirazzi Golds, and what did you think? What kind of instrument do you play on, and how did it change/improve your sound, if it did at all?

Posted on March 4, 2014 at 12:48 AM
First off, I am so pleased for you with your violin gamble of the new sound post and bridge, and the much improved performance!! Secondly I know a YouTube channel where you can find reviews on several (one of them being evah golds) violin strings.... on YouTube has a review where he strings several different kinds on the same violin and then through the magic of editing you hear them one after the other.... By the way even if you don't check it out .... The review of the evah golds were phenomenal!! I would definitely give them a try if you can!!

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