String Thing IV.

June 10, 2016 at 10:54 PM · I have reported about swapping E strings in previous posts and this is mostly a repeat of more recent tests to confirm results.

The new results showed no dramatic difference for these E strings.






Pirastro Gold




This report does not claim that the above strings are inferior in any way. just not for my violin having A,D Helicore and G Dominant.

Big Deal ? I thought so until I did something radical. I tried a Tonica Weich/Soft E.

I knew just tuning up that something was happening. The other 3 strings went crazy and became out of tune by up to 20 cents! (Only Evah did that before.)

After the Tonica picked up some rosin, the sound was pure sweet.

Yes, the out of tune strings could be easily retuned BUT to a new tension pattern. Is THAT the most important difference I'm hearing and not some new (wonderful) E string vibrations?

I had to also notice that the bass had a great sound without growling at me.

Replies (20)

June 11, 2016 at 12:11 AM · With respect. Wouldn't the greatest improvement in E string tone come from more time practicing, and less time changing strings?

Cheers Carlo

June 11, 2016 at 01:14 AM · Two of my past violins have benefited strongly from an afternoon spent at violin-shops that had large numbers of "tester" E strings. A few hours spent optimizing isn't bad.

June 11, 2016 at 02:13 AM · I think that it says more about you and your violin than anything else.

June 11, 2016 at 02:57 AM · My violn comes with much better credentials than I do.

What do the test results tell us about violins without the predictable "scolding".

Why did a violin choose a Tonica weich to open up?

Practicing too much is dangerous.

June 11, 2016 at 02:59 AM · I haven't played around with the E's on my current violin as much, but years ago when I had a cheapie student model - the type of E really did make a difference. The Infeld Red E worked best. On my current violin, the Evah Pirazzi E (too much tension produced harshness), Evah Gold E (acceptable but a bit shrill), and the Vision E was a bit boring. So far the Pirastro Gold E is doing well. Again, I think it really depends on your violin, and, perhaps, your level of obsessiveness with sound.

(ok, ok, not practicing tonight as I had surgery on my shoulder yesterday and it will be a day or two before I can get back to it)

June 11, 2016 at 03:26 AM · Thanks for informative post.

I am definitely obsessed with sound. It is the only genuine violin talent I have in contrast to newbie days of bruising my noise with the bow. Don't ask about technique.

However, I see a possible future with reduced need for a luthier and, that better sound.

You have license to practice more to catch up.

June 11, 2016 at 03:28 AM ·

June 11, 2016 at 03:30 AM ·

June 11, 2016 at 12:08 PM · Thank you for the report on your work. I am curious about the length of service you will get from the light e string.

Loved your phrase "bruising my noise".

My 6 year old violin finally opened up last December. I improved the tone by switching from a 42 gr. tailpiece to one that weighed 22 gr. I mention this as a way to visualize what effects the lower tension might be having on your violin causing the changes you noticed.

June 11, 2016 at 12:56 PM · Darlene,

"Why did a violin choose a Tonica weich to open up?"

If you imagine violin's top plate as a lever, changing the tension on one side has the effect on the other. E string contributes to most of the tension, so using light (weich) gauge has a twofold effect:

1. reduce overall tension

2. re-distribution of tension toward bass side

It is also possible that other factors, such as, sound post (placement, contact points and length), bridge (position, shape and thickness) are not optimal, or simply work better with different tension. Vibrating string length; the longer the string the thinner it needs to be produce the same (average) tension. Last, but not the least, top plate graduation, together with bass-bar design and placement may favor less tension.


p.s. you could test this by different gauges of the same string; Goldbrokat (.25, .26 and .27) in order to avoid comparing apples and oranges

p.p.s. Oboe players spend hours cutting their reeds; it takes not only skills, but also certain meditative state of mind to produce a great reed. String selection is the only tangible action we can do to instantly improve violin's sound. The rest is.... always a step away.

June 11, 2016 at 03:09 PM · Hahaha. "the rest is... Only a step away."

I like this saying. That invisible line is always there I always feel like i am SO close!


June 11, 2016 at 03:51 PM · Rocky

Indeed, it is all so complex and your post covers a lot of ground.

What I loose sleep about is how to conceptualize all the information in a way that leads to useful "rules" or "tools".

The reason I am so radical here is that I have come to realize that my playing DOES partly depend on the violin. Better violin, better me. ( Been trying some different violins in last few months.)

It is simply easier for me to play a "spot-on" instrument and worth it to me to be as close to that as possible.

June 11, 2016 at 03:51 PM · Does anyone have string tensions for Goldbrokat E? I have a 0.26


June 11, 2016 at 05:11 PM · All I can find are wire gauges, no tensions.

25, 26, 27.

Also, while I'm here.

I had to rule out the Tonica light even though it was seeming to give improved results for the total instrument.

Tonica light E began to whistle.

The next candidate was Warchal Amber. Wow! Plenty of volume and nice sound all around. The Warchal E actually has some musical width unlike most struggling E strings.

This will be my setup if it lasts.

June 12, 2016 at 03:15 PM · Jessy

The violin is like my old boss. He would let someone win an argument but NEVER twice in a row. The "line" is everywhere.

June 12, 2016 at 04:08 PM · The switching of strings, chin rests, tailpieces, and shoulder rests can quickly cross the line from simple optimization to an unproductive (and expensive) festish that has no end and only detracts from practicing.

Ask me how I know.

June 12, 2016 at 06:11 PM · Whistling E string can usually be "cured" with a sound post adjustment. Moving the sound post just a tad away from the bridge seems to help in most situations I have encountered.

Of course, you run the risk of changing the timbre on the other strings.

Keep in mind that even though your other strings went way out of tune when you switched to a light tension E string, when you retuned these strings you were restoring them to their original tensions.

In other words, the tension required for a particular string to reach its tuning is independent of the tension required by the other strings. A change in pitch and tension in other strings caused by changing any one string can be traced to small changes in the deflection of the bridge and violin plate.

To give a new type of string a fair test, you almost always have to play with the sound post.

June 12, 2016 at 06:12 PM · [edit for website double posting a reply]

June 12, 2016 at 10:28 PM ·

June 12, 2016 at 10:48 PM · I have no plans for fair tests !

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