Strings to improve clarity on G string

July 22, 2012 at 03:25 PM · How can one improve clarity on their violin?

My violin sounds clear all the way up the fingerboard on the E and A. Same on the D, except it sounds a bit hard higher up the D string.

The G is giving me problems. It sounds fuzzy and unfocused past 3rd.

Besides the usual stuff like having it checked, are there any strings (specifically G) known for producing a clearer and focused sound?

Replies (29)

July 21, 2012 at 05:22 PM · Also, I'm currently using a full set of Tonicas, and I have an Infeld Red G, Tonica D & A, Golden Spiral E on hand (spares) and a full set of Obligato.

July 21, 2012 at 05:25 PM · Some suggested Larsen Tziganes and also either Zyex or Helicore?

July 22, 2012 at 03:44 PM · YOu could try a steel string. Also worth having a luthier check your soundpost and bridge height.

July 22, 2012 at 03:45 PM · One of my teachers had always used Dominant strings (with the aluminum D, and a jargar forte E string), but when switching to his current violin, he realized that the G string of his violin, especially the upper positions, were hard to focus - the string he found to work well as a solution was the Peter Infeld G string, which greatly improved the clarity of the G string while not sacrificing too much of the fullness of sound that is characteristic of Dominants.

July 22, 2012 at 04:09 PM · Experiment with different strings and setup. If all still does not reach to your satisfaction, perhaps get a different violin. Clarity on the G string is sometimes an inherent quality of a particular violin that is hard to change.

July 22, 2012 at 04:50 PM · The upper reaches of the G are the most likely to lack clarity on any violin. Sometimes the murkiness is inherent, and sometimes the violin just hasn't been played regularly and aggressively. The string I've always gone to to solve clarity or response issues has been the Dominant weich G. Everything else has been muddier or harder to play.

July 22, 2012 at 05:08 PM · Ill try PI G and a weich Dominant then.

It sounds fine up to 4th position. I dont play higher than 5th yet and by then I'll be getting a better violin anyways.

5th pos. and up sound wooly and unfocused, and fuzzy. :k

July 22, 2012 at 05:29 PM · Hmm.

I was meaning to put on a new higher chinrest, and I just did that (I need a higher chinrest for my long neck), and it's center mounted, now the g string sounds clearer.

Is that supposed to happen? (Maybe the chinrest acted as a mute? I'm not sure lol!)

July 22, 2012 at 05:35 PM · Re: center-mounted chin rest and clarity -- my experience was increased volume and resonance. I noticed this when I switched to these models 7 years ago.

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More on Dominant G: I tried the mittel, or medium, on one fiddle about 7 years ago. In general, I found the overall sound very resonant and well focused. Although there was some of the fuzzy, unfocused response you mentioned in your initial post, this was a problem only in the high positions, starting around VII.

The Infeld Red G, which you also have in your collection, gave me more pleasing and reliable tones -- and quicker response on the same instrument at VII+. I am very pleased with it. The main drawback, for me, is that the Reds come in only one gauge.

On my two other fiddles, I normally use gut-core A-D-G. The stiff versions of D-G -- e.g., with Oliv or Eudoxa -- work better for me than the regular ones do -- a more resonant, robust tone on these instruments that's less apt to break or crush. I won't use regular D-G versions of these strings.

Just some of my own personal experiences after some lengthy tryouts. Don't know how these strings might work on your instrument.

July 22, 2012 at 05:46 PM · I put on the Infeld Red G to try it out, going to give it 2 weeks to settle.

I've had it for a while, never used it. I heard they tend to be warm and darker but fuzzy/unclear?

The clarity problem is solved for now.

Clarity is not an issue on the E/A - I've tried going to 7th position and its perfectly clear. a little on the D, except the sound higher up on the D sounds 'hard and brittle' if that makes sense? or gritty maybe.

G sounds good up to 6th now. :D

July 22, 2012 at 05:51 PM · I see you live in Salt Lake City - a city with many great violin makers. My suggestion for problems like this (if you have any in the future) is to take your violin to a luthier of repute (Peter Prier, for instance) and describe your problem to them, and ask for their professional opinion. They'd be able to set you in the right direction, and in most cases, they'd be able to fix the problem for you on the spot.

July 22, 2012 at 08:30 PM · With most chinrest users the business part of the chinrest - i.e. that part which the left jaw contacts - lies more or less in line between the bass side of the violin's top plate and the player's left ear. That bass side is a good emitter of sound, more so than the treble side. I wonder if the point about a chinrest modifying the sound as heard by the player is due to the chinrest obstructing the passage of sound from the bass side to the player's left ear.

My second hypothesis is that the very fitting of a chinrest will modify the sound, firstly on the general principle that the more weight you attach to a vibrating structure (i.e. the the body of the violin in this instance) the more you are likely to dampen, however little, its vibration; and secondly on the particular issue that a chinrest, unless very carefully fitted, will directly dampen the vibrations of the bass side to a noticeable extent.

It may be difficult for the player to verify these hypotheses properly without external assistance, such as microphones and recording equipment to examine the acoustic wave forms. However, a simple way to get an idea of what may be happening is to place an acoustic plug (cotton wool) in the left ear so that you will be hearing little with the left, but with the right ear you will likely be hearing pretty well what your audience will hear.

I can say that one of my violins, now assigned to baroque duties (plain gut, baroque tailpiece and bow, and no chinrest), is all the better for the changes.

It is interesting to contemplate why the chinrest came into general use on the violin at a late stage in its history (Louis Spohr seems to have been responsible, for whatever reason), and the shoulder rest even later, within the lifetimes of many of us today.

July 22, 2012 at 08:42 PM · On the question of a G that is muddy sounding in the upper reaches (second octave), I had that problem with my old German violin, and it was exacerbated by a pack of wolves lurking in the lower 3 or 4 notes of the second octave. Over a period of years a series of different G strings had little or no effect. For what it's worth, I've now found that a Chorda G (wound gut) solves the problem in my case, including sending off the wolves, although an Eudoxa G was making useful inroads. I suggest the reason why these strings, especially the Chorda, work is because of their low tension. The Chorda G is now my preferred string on both violins, including the modern one which is set up for baroque playing.

July 22, 2012 at 08:47 PM · Trevor: Though my problem was apparently solved, I'll try the Chorda G instead of PI or Dominant Gs. Thanks!

July 23, 2012 at 12:09 AM · Yes I can agree with the lower tension theory. But I just used PI and Larsen Tzigane, wich both are very low tension. PI is more on the warmer side, for me it was too muddy. The Larsen Tzigane G has a lot of fuzz and power despite its very low tension. On my new violin its the only string wich makes the wolf note go away.

I can imagine that wound gut strings, like the mentioned chorda or eudoxa/oliv can have the same effect.

The chinrest definetely plays into the sound at a higher rate as one sometimes think. also the wrong (too heavy) shoulder rest can ruin the sound. Thats why I use a regular kun and not a good looking but too heavy wooden one. I once tried this from a friend and my violin sounded like a shoebox. regarning chinrests I think that they are best attached in the middle as the first models of carl flesch were. Some really prevent the violin from vibrating because they have too much cork and surface on the violin top (and maybe back). Violins are very sensitive to those kind of attachements.

July 23, 2012 at 01:20 AM · The PI G is not a low tension string - it is 10.3 lbs, whereas a mittel Dominant G is 9.9 lbs.

July 23, 2012 at 01:35 AM · Brian: I will. :) My mom's sick, and I'm not old enough to drive, so no one to take me.

I'll go to Peter Prier, or Charles Liu (in Midvale, UT) whom I heard is a good luthier.

I think Prier is in downtown SLC, correct?

July 23, 2012 at 02:44 AM · No one has mentioned Evah pirazzi gold yet. They are simply amazing. Also, when ever I feel I'm starting to have issues such as yours, I go in for a sound post adj. Terry Carlin works with me quite well. Her moving the post and I playing back and forth and with some time my violin sings. If you're happy about how you're other strings sound but are not happy with the G, try getting things adjusted. You may be surprised with what it can accomplish.

July 23, 2012 at 08:27 AM · Brian: I thought that too, but I also heard different things about that. What sources you have about that? It definetely doesn't feel high tension.

July 23, 2012 at 08:36 AM · Maybe your fingerboard needs to be planed....a worn fingerboard will cause the fuzzy sound.

July 23, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Simon, the tensions of all Thomastik strings are printed on the backs of their envelopes.

Some players and luthiers in my area used to use the stark gauge Dominant G (which has 10.8 lbs of tension) instead of the mittel gauge in order to help reinforce or clear up a weak low end on a violin; it is now common to use the PI G for this purpose because of its greater clarity.

Of course, your violin may very well need an adjustment after making changes in your string setup.

Trying all sorts of different strings isn't much of a permanent solution to problems like this, though - in my opinion, this only postpones the need for an adjustment by a (good) luthier.

Also, out of a set of synthetic strings, you tend to notice the G string dying first.

July 23, 2012 at 02:18 PM · Maybe the PI are higher in tension than the dominant, but certainly not so far away from the larsen and comparing to pirazzi or zyex the PI are definetely low tension, right?

Maybe its also the flexibility of the string material, wich makes the PI very easy under the hands and the string very sensitive to bow pressure. Anyway, the effect on my wolf note C" on the g-string with the PI G was similar to the Larsen Tzigane G. So I assume, they are quite similar. Probably wound gut and Dominants tension is less. But I never play dominants. And wound gut is for those, who are not afraid of tuning 3 times a concert. Thats why I would recomend Larsen Tsigane-G or PI-G for a (more or less) low tension G-String.

Keep in mind that the E string tension effects the lower strings also very much. In wich way is hard to say, but generally I think a lower tension E will give some more balance of the entire string tension to the lower strings, wich maybe results in more focus. I am not so much a friend of heavy gauge E strings, because they scream on my violin. But at the Moment I am looking for a good E string between westminster-medium and Eudoxa-E. Any suggestions wich middle tension E-string is a little less screaming then the westminster and with a little more bite then the Eudoxa?

July 23, 2012 at 02:26 PM · I was gonna mention the E string as well. You could try de-tuning the E (to simulate lower tension) and see how it affects your G string. If it helps then maybe a lighter tension E is your solution. But as Brian says, take it to a luthier. They should be able to give you a better suggestion.

As a last check, I'm assuming you dont have fine tuners on all 4 strings?

July 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM · Nope, I only have one tuner on the E string.

I'm taking it in today because it's been rainy and humid lately, plus it was time for a soundpost check.

July 23, 2012 at 02:51 PM · I don't know if it would work with you, but the Kaplan Golden Spiral E has that effect on my violin.

July 23, 2012 at 04:16 PM · Sets of Peter Infeld strings (with the Platinum E - specifically) work well on the 4 violins I have mounted them on. Two of these violins previously had troublesome sound going up the G string (higher than about 5th position) except with Larsen Tzigane strings (which were pretty useless on the other two violins).

So, I am now pretty much committed to the PI string sets with Pt E string. The dealer mistakenly sent me the 2nd and 3rd sets with Tin Es and they were definitely not the same (on all the strings) a problem that the Pt E strings completely resolved - including the sound of the G


July 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM · I actually prefer the PI tin E string, which has found some popularity amongst top professionals; Jaime Laredo is one who uses the platinum E (with Dominants on the lower 3 strings).

I am not a fan of the Peter Infeld A and D strings, especially the A string, which sound pale on my violin in comparison to Dominant strings; using the platinum E seems to thicken the sound of the middle strings a bit, though (and the Jargar forte E also works well). When I use a PI G, I either use a Dominant A and aluminum D, or a Vision Solo A and the PI aluminum D.

Simon, try the Jargar medium E string (the Jargar forte E is my favorite). The Goldbrokat or Golden Spiral E strings might also work, depending on your violin.

July 24, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Just sharing my limited experience on string changing (I very rarely change different brands)

On dominant strings (medium), the G response is fantastic. It 'speaks' easily on all positions.

I recently changed to Pirastro violino strings as I needed to tame the overall sound of my violin to blend in orchestra and be kinder to my ears (have been wearing etymotic ear plugs for a while now).

The G is still good....untill I changed the E string from a plain steel (violino) to Pirastro Universal E string. The response is slower and a bit tubby. But then, the string dosen't rust...anything for a peace of mind.

July 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM · The G string is the most problematic one in the violin, mainly in upper positions (try the C in the 7th position) when in general you will get wolves and rasped notes.

Many players will get aware of this problem only when they start studing virtuoso pieces.

The G string responds less to the set up, problems with the E string are easier to cure with a different string or a sound post adjustment.

So, in many cases, it is better moving to a better violin.

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