E string affects G string?

June 30, 2018, 10:38 PM · I heard Giora Schmidt say that when he puts a heavy gauge E string, it improves his G string. I would have thought that lightening the E string would give the G more tension and power? Heifetz also claimed that having gut D and A improved the G an E... What are your opinions on tensions and the influence on other strings?

Replies (10)

June 30, 2018, 11:11 PM · I’ve found that a heavier tension E can improve the G - or make it worse. Each instrument is very different.
Edited: July 1, 2018, 12:08 AM · Everything affects everything. When I finally got a nice violin (long, long story), I went to a dealer to get an appraisal. He looked at my chinrest... Do you like that chinrest? Well, uh, it's OK I guess. Try this one (titanium fittings, off on the side)... Oh yeah, louder, fuller. Then he said, what are you using for a shoulder rest? Try this Kun (he preferred the folding version). OK, that opened it up. I mean, seriously, a shoulder rest and a chinrest?! He looked at my bridge and said, you know, I wouldn't cut one like that for this violin, but I had hit my limit of mind-blowing for the day. Then I went to the luthier who cut me a bridge. Whoa. Then I went to the one who said, really? You are still using Dominants on this violin? Ooh, Obligatos... So, I say try whatever inspires you, and be prepared to be amazed if your instrument is up to it.
July 1, 2018, 12:20 AM · I've found it makes a difference to the other strings - whether that's just how it feels to play or "measurable" sound I don't know. For me a slightly heavier E works better. Anyhoo, easy enough to try some other Es and see for yourself, it's the cheapest string after all :)
July 11, 2018, 9:34 AM · Every string affects everything because a new string {or anything else) can (does) create a new harmonic "space"for the WHOLE violin.
That's expected and OK. Perhaps that is one charm of the violin. Of course, the results of playing with parameters will vary with instrument.

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July 11, 2018, 4:48 PM · Personal perception is reality. Science is voodoo to most people.

But at the risk of being accused of practicing the Black Arts, here is a bit of science: the tension at which the G string is in tune is independent of whatever E string you have on the violin.

Edited: July 11, 2018, 9:51 PM · James Dong "Heifetz also claimed that having gut D and A improved the G an E... "

Carmen Tanzio "the tension at which the G string is in tune is independent of whatever E string you have on the violin."

The string resonates against each other (like, play a G in A string, and the open G string will resonates too), so they are not exactly independent against each other.

Reliability of the gut string aside and the type or level of orchestra aside, the penetrating sound of synthetic and the warm sound of gut can be a good combination, but it really depends on the violin. Just look at the violins that Heifetz owned and played :)

July 12, 2018, 6:59 AM · Be aware that the word "tension" has a very specific scientific meaning. But the word "improved" means whatever the speaker has in their mind at the time they utter it.

So it is possible for the G string "tension" to be unchanged by swapping in different E strings (unless you enjoy playing out-of-tune), but still notice an "improved" G string upon playing it.

July 12, 2018, 7:19 AM · I would guess that changing strings, swapping out strings with different tensions, affects the vibration of the bridge and response of the tail piece. My understanding is that rotational vibration or rocking motion of the bridge is a very important component in transmission to the body, as well as the rocking motion of the tailpiece.
July 12, 2018, 7:32 AM · The E string is almost directly above the sound post. Changing from light - med - heavy gauge, you are essentially giving a micro adjustment to the soundpost fit.

Generally, thicker E's work better from a playability perspective as well.

July 15, 2018, 8:17 AM · Yes I have seen (heard) this effect. When I added a higher-tension E (Westminster 27), the entire violin gained volume and responsiveness. The explanation is simple -- greater tension pushes the top of the violin down more firmly on the soundpost, making better contact.

However, as I found out later, in the case of my violin it just needed a new soundpost cut. The violin, as it aged, changed shape slightly and the sound post had a slight gap on one side. With a new soundpost the fiddle sounded vastly better -- and there was no need to have high-tension strings.

So the lesson for me is -- visit your friendly neighborhood luthier every year or two and have your soundpost inspected. Make sure soundpost and bridge adjustments are good, then you can decide what strings work best for you.


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