Strings/violin - finger problems!

July 31, 2014 at 10:41 PM · Well, my violin was recently repaired for cracks but they put a new bridge on and may have done other things I do not know of.

I have also had my strings changed to Corelli Crystal with a Golden spiral E for a brighter sound as old dominants were sounding gritty, dull and raspy on my violin. I think I have also tried a mixture of Helicore with the Dominants during my high school years (with very little string knowledge at the time).

The point - Recently my fingertips have been getting shredded from playing and practising. It's not like I don't practise very often and I've recently been playing lots of youth theatre shows with around 5 hours of playing a day.

I'm wondering if there is maybe something about the Corelli Crystal strings or perhaps the set up of my violin??

If the strings, any suggestions on a new string to try out?

(also I am a student so value for money suggestions would be appreciated!)

Replies (21)

August 1, 2014 at 02:08 AM · Just wondering if it's possible your strings are farther away from the fingerboard than the were with your previous setup. Was a new or newly fitted nut part of the work you had done?

The idea that the luthier may have done "other things you're not aware of" seems horrifying to me.

August 1, 2014 at 03:06 AM · I concur that string clearance is the most likely culprit.

It is also possible that Corelli strings are harder on your fingers. Hope that Corelli users will provide some input.

August 1, 2014 at 04:41 AM · Last year, somebody posted a link to a chart of string tensions on this site but I am not sure how to bring it up. Does anybody remember it ? I remember that Dominants and Tonicas had very low string tensions ; some other brands had surprisingly high tension but I cannot remember where Corellis came into it.

Try Tonicas as you can buy them for about $30 for a full set. They sound quite nice too.

August 1, 2014 at 05:06 AM · I recently had new bridges on my fiddles. They are now at the standard height i.e. 6mm and 4mm. Before this the strings were quite low so the fingers could press the string right to the finger board with very light pressure. But now that the strings are very much higher I still press with the same light pressure and the strings are not pressed to the finger board. I would imagine if I did use enough pressure to press the strings to the finger board...the fingers would be 'shredded'....

August 1, 2014 at 05:31 AM · it is most likely the bridge height I agree (string clearance).

I have a new violin and compared to my old one my fingers do hurt now :(

I am getting quite a tough callous on my index finger. At first I thought I must be more tense when playing and I paid attention to how much pressure I apply, but if I lessen the pressure the notes do not play clean, so I slowly add pressure til I get a clean sound and then 'bang' my fingertips hurt. The E string is like cheese wire slicing my fingers when I play on it especially above 5th position.

I am waiting to see if I get used to it, if I don't when I visit the maker in december I'll ask her to lower it slightly for me (my previous violin did have a low string height).

August 1, 2014 at 07:59 AM · Your fingers do not need to press the string to the finger board to achieve a clear sound. The flesh of your finger may touch the FB but not the string. If you play in this manner you will notice much improvement in many aspects of technique i.e. articulation, vibrato, bowing etc, this is the reason for the 'standard heights' of 6mm and 4mm. The unclear sounds maybe improved with a new set of strings and a bow re-hair....

August 1, 2014 at 12:17 PM · Do you know which strings were on there before the Corelli (its not clear if it was the hellicore/Dominants).

Did you get the old bridge back? You could compare its height with the new one. Also, are you perhaps playing music with more high-fingerboard fingering? The other possibility is that the new e string is a 'heavy' guage - these are put on to give you more volume and a brighter sound - but they are MUCH harder on the fingers.

else see above ...

August 1, 2014 at 02:10 PM · I am using Tonicas now and I like the sound a lot. But I found them very annoying to break in.

Initially, I had to retune them about every 15 minutes for the first couple of days. They kept going flat. Overnight, they would relax and go flat by a quarter to a semitone. It took a week of hard play before I could get through an hour practice session without a retune.

Did anybody else have this problem with their Tonicas?

Back on topic, definitely check the string height. One millimeter is a small distance but definitely noticeable if you are used to pushing the strings right to the fingerboard. I like my strings set a little high so I don't have to push them to the fingerboard to get a clear sound. I like the feedback I get from the strings this way.

August 1, 2014 at 07:20 PM · The story with the repairs - my violin had two large open crack under the chin rest along the grain and I sent it into Stringers of Edinburgh in Scotland for the face to be removed and the cracks to be glued.

Dealing with these people was horrific, no one could tell me anything and I had to speak to a different person on the phone and explain the full story to them every time.

They took about 2 months to give me my violin back and my mother had to pick it up for me as I was 150 miles away. The people in the shop were unable to tell me what had happened in repairs but from what I noticed they had repaired the cracks, cleaned the violin, and replaced the bridge.

From what I see, I do not believe the nut has been replaced.

I do not have the original bridge back and I am unsure if it is slightly larger or not.

I have had the corelli strings on the violin for the past 6 months and only for a week or two before it was sent for repair so I am unsure if it is the strings or the set up causing the problems.

By "shredding" I mean, it's mainly my 3rd and 4th fingers where the skin is peeling off and doesn't seem to get any better.

I believe before the Corelli strings I had a full set of dominants, and then the A and E were changed to helicores. The dominant's sounded gritty - I have since changed to better rosin and a new bow but the Corelli strings brightened up my violin lots.

August 1, 2014 at 07:50 PM · Also some photos of my violin if this helps anyone -

August 2, 2014 at 04:16 AM · I never have problems tuning Tonicas, even when they are new.

ALWAYS keep your old bridge ! It does not matter who worked on your violin or how skilled they are ; you may not like the result and will want to put your old bridge back on.

August 2, 2014 at 04:32 AM · It is difficult to tell about the clearance from the photos, but the strings appear to be too distant from the fingerboard.

G string clearance should be about 5.5 mm

E string clearance should be about 3.5 mm


August 2, 2014 at 04:46 AM · Brian - unfortunately I had no choice in the matter as it was not possible for myself to see my violin on pick up from the shop - it was just a relief to finally get it back after so long.

In future I will never deal with anyone that can't tell me such basic information - eugh! :(

August 2, 2014 at 10:30 AM · >> I never have problems tuning Tonicas, even when they are new.

Thanks for the feedback. I wonder if they are defective or were exposed to some unusual heat conditions between the factory and the store. Now I am not sure if I should buy another set from the same store.

August 2, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Where exactly do you recommend attempting to measure the string clearance?

Because from my attempts, I'm pretty sure they are a bit too high

August 2, 2014 at 11:33 AM · At the very end of the fingerboard (bridge end, mind you) string clearance under the G should be 5.5-ish mm, and 3.5-ish under the E string. At the nut, clearance should be really small. If you can easily slide a business card under the strings there, it's probably too high.

Corelli Crystals are definitely firm under the fingers, regardless of whatever tension charts reveal numbers-wise. I personally don't like the way they feel.

As a Tonica user, I concur with whoever said they take awhile to settle in. I really like the way they sound and feel, and you can't beat the price. However, if you didn't like the sound of Dominants, you may not like the sound of Tonicas. They are quite similar to each other. At their price point, they are, however, worth a try.

Might I suggest Obligatos as another option? If you can afford them, they feel great under the fingers, and the sound is mellow/warm and dark. They're not super loud, and aren't as "in your face" as something like the Corellis.

August 2, 2014 at 12:03 PM · Right yes...

So my G string is about 6.5/7mm and E about 4.5mm.

Think we've found a definite problem then! - still annoying I don't have my old bridge to compare though.

My teacher did recommend obbligatos, as well as the corelli crystal and alliance. Although the shop recommended the corelli crystal after hearing my violin at the time. Will be willing to try out some obbligatos though.

Also with obbligatos - would you personally use a different E string or keep to the set?

August 2, 2014 at 06:53 PM · I think the E string depends on your instrument....I liked the Obligato Gold E because it is brighter and more penetrating, but it's up to you.

Have you tried Kaplan E? Many moons ago when I started playing I tried a wound E and didn't like it a bit, but it is definitely easier on the ears if that is your concern.

I'm going to give some thoughts here,but please take them with a grain of salt: No string in the world will fix the sound of a harsh instrument. If the instrument has an intrinsically undesirable voice, you need to look elsewhere for answers. At worst, a better-voiced instrument. At the very least, a good luthier skilled in setup work will need to do some soundpost/bridge work. If you're using that mute because you cannot get the sound to your liking, that is a red flag to me.

I won't tell you what to do, but if it were me, I'd avoid the last in my part of the US, padding a repair bill with not-agreed-upon repairs is illegal. It is, in essence, bullying the customer, and is considered immoral.

August 2, 2014 at 07:56 PM · You definitely need to find a shop you can work with. No shop with competent help would have sent out a bridge like that AND the old bridge would have been in the case without asking. I would call them and insist that they mail you the old one. If they say they can't find it, they should refund the cost of the bridge. I would. Lowering the new one is a simple job, but if it is that far off there may be other problems.

August 2, 2014 at 11:32 PM · The repairs were all covered by insurance so it appears they did everything they thought would be helpful at the time as well - so fortunately I haven't paid for any of this bridge set up! I'd try calling up but because of how the people are and the fact these repairs happened about 2 months ago I doubt they'd still have the original bridge :( (it was a bridge by them when I had the violin restored but it's obviously a different bridge to before)

I do however know another violin shop who I do trust with their judgement so I shall hopefully avoid this shop from now on.

Also the violin I have had since I was about 11 as it was a family obtained instrument - my grandmother found it in the attic kind of situation and it turned out to be not too bad! (it's not worth the most as it is quite damaged, scratched, chipped etc but it sounds very good considering this and the value given)

Although I am considering upgrading at this point (within the next year or two) to an instrument of my personal liking rather than being given an instrument because it's there.

August 2, 2014 at 11:34 PM · Also the violin has no label and I have no information on it so it's quite annoying not to know any of it's history or maker!

All I know from a valuation made about 10 years ago is that it is french and around 19th century.

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