Strings stretching and longevity
No, it's not another ranking of strings :-)
I hate the time that new strings take to settle. Not only on intonation but also the way that each GDAE goes its own way until they decide to work together, with the bow and with me. Until then, it is like fighting the strings instead of playing them. Yes, I am impatient.
The "breaking in" of the strings, is it produced by the stretching and re-tuning or is it mainly the vigorous shake that the bow produces?
In the same sense... What would be the life expectancy of strings that are rarely played but stretched to be in tune in an instrument? Compared to another one played regularly.
The reason I am asking it's that the only way I see changing strings without the initial akwardness is to have them "pre-stretching" in another instruments weeks before the time you transfer to the new one. Say at half way of your strings life you put a new set in the spare violin and just tune them everyday with a couple of scales. How long would it take for them to be 100% ready to be used in the main violin? and would that process reduce significantly the expected playing lifetime?
I think it's the synthetic core that needs to stretch into a certain condition. Before that you're going to get that coffee-can sound. You should change your strings very frequently, like twice a year, so that the string makers can make a lot of profit, pay taxes, and keep medicare solvent.
At least one person I know used her 2nd violin to pre-stretch strings for her main violin.
I use geared pegs. The tuning up is just part of the issue of new strings. The initial imbalance and undesired behaviour is what annoys me and I am looking for a way to not suffer it during my classes.
I once read (probably posted here) that strings can be broken in effectively by "massaging" them while under tension. The idea is that you use your fingers or a gadget to create a Z bend in the string:
Nylon (Perlon) cores can be tuned a semitone higher before going to bed, several days running; we must not do this with the newer "composites".
If you don't want strings that stretch after installation, try Vision. I doubt it's the core that "wears" but rather the windings, which become contaminated with oil and dirt.
Thank you for the tip, Han,it really seems to work (contrary to my scepticism).
It works wonders on wound gut strings too.
What's so objectionable about the sound of new strings?
1. place violin on your lap and secure it with your left hand.
Rocky, it would be a disaster if stringmakers would make strings which would be no able to undergo tension drop keeping their tone quality. Any peg can get loose anytime spontaneously. It happens quite often on some instruments (depending on humidity, peg conditions e.t.c. of course).
Thank you Mr. Warchal. Actually I have ordered recently your Avantgarde and Amber E. There were other reasons but one was looking for strings that set in faster as I thought that metal would be less finicky about that.
We only produce E and A strings in metal versions. They are almost instantly ready to play. The strings containing helix (Amber E and Avantgarde A) need about ten minutes for becoming stable.
It is not a priority, but it is a factor to ponder between two strings with similar other qualities.
I also think durability is very important. A half dozen brands sound and work well, for a month or so.
For durability (rather than "quick stretching"), gut core strings, even if we are generally told otherwise by the market (even Pirastro seems to downplay their own range of gut strings vs their synthetics). They just last longer than the average synthetic, be it Dominant or Evah Pirazzi, et. al. As far as I know and experience is, only gut Es don't last too long-the rest just retain their best qualities for a long while.
"...seems to downplay their own range of gut strings vs their synthetics".
Gut strings sound great mostly, you are right. The reason why most of players have switched to synthetic has been tuning instability issue, not the sound or durability of course.
Bohdan, since you are an expert: would you be willing to share some knowledge on what process causes the "breaking in" effect of strings?
I remember in the 60s (1960s that is) that the envelopes of my plain gut A & D viola strings were marked "true fifths" as a marketing ploy!
Bohdan, I've been a regular user of the Avantgarde A and Amber E for a few years now, and I've found that the A has a longer break-in time than the E. The E is stable almost instantly. The A seems to need a few hours to achieve tuning stability. Both seem to acquire their final sound basically immediately.
@Han, we have never recommended any massaging for synthetic core strings unless of emergence situation before a performance. You can only shorten their life by such procedure. (Gut strings are something else).
@Lydia, you might be right with the different break-in time of our helix metal strings. There is much longer helix on Avantgarde. However, since Avantgarde has metal core, tuning by fine tune is recommended. So slight adjusting should not be so annoying than retuning a syntetic core A string e.g.
I love the Warchal Amber Strings, Bohdan. Unfortunately it's not easy to find them in Canada, but my luthier Guy Harrison in Ottawa keeps a stock to please a few of his customers like me, and you can also order them on-line from Lemuel Violins, based in Mt. Elgin, Ontario (www.violins.ca). I highly recommend this site for violin supplies.
Because of where I live, I need to order everything by international orders by different sellers. Service is always great but shipping varies. For South East Asia, the fastest postage is, for some reason, UK sellers. Then, German and last USPS.
Thanks, Bohdan. Potter's Violins, near me, is both a busy physical shop as well as an online dealer. They stock Warchal strings but have inconsistent availability, and it seems that their shipments are unpredictable.
David, you can remove abd reinstall Amber E and Avanrgarde A as many times you want. Be careful with winding the end on the peg. Used metal strings are prone to kinks. Bending the wire at very sharp angle (when a kink occurs) may break it easily.
Lydia, you are right Avantgarde A is the only metal A string which is so elastic that may be tuned by peg. (The pitch incerase by common steel strings used to be too steep to be tuned by peg).
If you're worried about effecting the balance of the tailpiece, I would use a Hill style fine tuner which weighs a fraction of the standard protruding type of fine tuner, and allows the afterlength to start on the saddle of the tail piece just as if there were no fine tuner. I've never tried them but I haven't heard good reviews of this "smart tuner"
Re Bohdan (February 2, 2018, 1:17 PM)
I have used the Hill style tuner in the past, and yes, they are an attractive design, light and provide the maximum afterlength, but I found that they tended to loosen on the tailpiece rather too quickly for my liking. I think this is an unintended consequence of the design. The design is such that the central threaded pillar, which is threaded externally for the threaded fixing ring and internally for the tuning screw, is also divided on diametrically opposite sides by axially extending slots that accommodate that part of the tuning lever that is within the pillar and in contact with the tuning screw. This means that using the tuning screw over a period of time will tend to slightly alter the diameter of the pillar and hence loosen the fixing ring. I found that if I tightened the fixing ring sufficiently to avoid this effect then the tuning screw became less easy to turn. This system may be satisfactory if you're prepared to check the fixing ring for tightness after every few hours of play, but this, regretfully, I wasn't prepared to do and reverted to a short-arm Wittner lever tuner which doesn't alter the afterlength too much and doesn't loosen with use.
@Lyndon. I tried a “smart tuner” on a metal E several years ago but it immediately became obvious to me that the device was likely to damage the surface of the metal in the region where the device is used, so weakening the string and probably leading to a catastrophic break. You don't want defects in the surface of any string, particularly metal where a defect will rapidly become a break.
@Trevor, the "smart tuner" has never been meant for tuning violin E strings. There would be not enough space for it in the pegbox.
David, I just read that and thank you for posting the information. However, I have been cleaning my strings with alcohol for 55 years and have not noticed degradation in sound, etc. When I have cleaned with alcohol - which I tend to do less than once a month, I have used a pharmacutical-bought alcohol pad and immediately wipe the strings dry with an absorbent cotton cloth to avoid trapping dissolved rosin in the string windings. In addition I always wipe rosin off my strings with a microfiber cloth after every playing session. The reason I alcohol-clean is my "belief" that very fine rosin particles or melted rosin can get trapped in string's metal windings and affect their vibratory behavior. I have no experimental proof for that believe, other than my sound improves after alcohol cleaning.
I just read Warchals cleaning test. Very interesting and thorough as usual. I wonder about the method used for alcohol cleaning. I occasionally clean with alcohol (pure ethanol) and do it by slightly wetting a part of a cotton cloth by holding it against the opening of the bottle and inverting the bottle. I wipe the string with the wet part of the cloth and immediately after with the dry. I find it hard to believe that any significant amount of alcohol is able to penetrate to the core of the string in as Warchal showed using colored ethanol. I suspect that the string in the test was soaked for some time? Like Andrew I have not had any problems with occasional alcohol cleaning of string and intend to continue doing it. And off course dry wipe after every playing session.
Interesting. What about the old-fashinoned, tried and true, method of cleaning the rosin off the strings with a cork? A clean cork from a wine bottle will do the job; champagne corks have the best shape for getting in and around the strings. Seems to me a lot easier on the string windings than a fingernail or -- yikes! -- a credit card edge. I always keep a cork in my case, and it works extremely well. I have also, in the past, used alcohol sometimes, but after reading Bohdan's blog I won't be doing that again. . .
Mr. Warchall responded in a previous discussion not too long ago that he did not recommend using a cork to clean strings but to use our fingernail or a credit card instead.
You are right, I have never liked the cork method. But I can try it again and make some microscopic pictures showing the result. Maybe by using Champagne cork you could aim for sparkling tone, who knows...:-)
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