This topic has been worked over ad nauseum, but I have to report the major change that occurred when the Luthier put on different strings last week.
A few years ago I was using Infeld Red strings and a Goldbrokat E which made my 1909 Alfred Vidoudez, violin sound quite nice. I liked them a lot. Last year, the Luthier, a superb technician and superior tone expert, suggested Obligatos. He put the mid thickness grade on and the violin really sounded quite a bit better. The Luthier was proud of himself for choosing these for my instrument. While in his shop last week talking about buying a Vigneron bow from him my A string suddenly started to unravel right in front of us. Larry, the Luthier, watching this happen, and trying to suppress a laugh, said he’s been thinking seriously about changing strings anyway and making some other very minor changes to the violin and would I consent. This guy, the former Luthier to the Moscow Conservatory, is really good. I have always told him you can do whatever you want with my Vidoudez anytime you want.
Larry disappeared for awhile and gave me a Pressenda to play around with while he was changing strings. He hadn’t worked on the Pressenda yet, but said he was taking about a month to think about what he wanted to do with it. It belongs to my stand partner, by the way. He also has a gorgeous Vuillaume. We’re trying to decide which sounds better.
After having fun with the 1844 Pressenda Larry reappeared with my violin. “Here,” he said, “play for ten minutes while the strings loosen up a bit.” He disappeared again. Actually I did more retuning than playing, LOL. I must admit the violin sounded even better than before. All he did was put the thin Obligato strings on instead of the medium grade that I had before. Larry explained that the thinner strings would be more mellow and a tad softer which was fine as the absolute last thing the Vidoudez needs is more power. He said he was wandering the building listening to my playing. Larry said the violin was much improved with a definite improvement in overtones and quality of sound. And, yes, the sound carried throughout the building with no loss the farther away he went. The new strings sounded better so I paid him and drove home.
At home my wife said the violin sounded too sweet, however, she said that the sound penetrated the whole house as well, if not better than the other thicker strings. Ok, I value her opinion, but I told her I want to live with these for a week or so.
Wow! After about three days of practicing (a half hour a day, my right shoulder is really sore) with the improved sound I picked up the fiddle to practice yesterday. Holy cow. What happened? The violin sound had aged a hundred years overnight, was mellower with a lot of the icky sweetness gone and was significantly more responsive. The E string too was very impressive. Best I’ve ever had. It, too, had aged and sounded gorgeous. No, it wasn’t the weather, humidity was the same. I called Larry who said it wasn’t anything technical he did, just that new strings usually take a few days before they open up. Boy did they ever. I’m just having fun bowing one note and counting how long the ringing tone lasts before fading out. I would compare the sound now, and my wife agrees, to quite a few of the old Strads I have heard, but not a Guaneri sound. Rats. Oh, well, If I have to put up with a Strad sound I will force myself to do so.
Will these strings help you? Maybe, and maybe not. Each violin responds differently. I just wanted to report on how a simple change can make a very major difference in your sound if you get lucky and hit on the perfect combination of strings and setup for your particular instrument. Well, enough writing, have to go and practice. Ye haa.
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