Disparity in intonation between G and D strings

July 21, 2018, 8:07 PM · I recently put on a set of Pirastro Chorda (yes, I know) strings and I've noticed, much to my horror, that the D string intonates higher than the G string, and it gets worse up the fingerboard. I made my own bridge (would never let one of those pesky "luthiers" lay a finger my precious, let alone pay them a hundred Canadian pesos to do it) while I was still playing on synthetics and the intonation was perfect. Now a perfect fifth at the middle of the strings is fingered like an augmented fourth.
I did adjust my slots for the strings at the bridge (as some of you may know, the chorda D is thicker than any G string on the market... save for a bass G, of course) but the D string is still only about one fifth into the nut. Even if I did adjust it, though, the difference in intonation is unprecedented for an extra 0.3 mm in height on that side.
Anyone else have a similar experience with chorda? Also, I plan on switching to Tricolore, and would like to know if those need their own hardware adjustment.

Some pictures:

As a side question, my strings ring about 20 to 30 cents flat plucked / resonating compared to bowed. It's not a huge deal but is super annoying and I'm not sure what to do about it.

Replies (8)

July 21, 2018, 9:02 PM · When you press a string to the fingerboard, you stretch it slightly which will raise its pitch.

Some strings have a different stiffness than others,so pressing them a similar distance to the fingerboard can cause unequal changes in the pitch due to the stretching. So you may finger the two strings the same distance from the nut, but they will no longer differ by a perfect 5th.

If you have ever placed fingering tapes on a student's violin, you have probably encountered this effect. One ends up placing the tape across the fingerboard at a position that averages the differences among the strings.

High quality strings are typically engineered so that when each string is the "standard" distance from the fingerboard, then they can be intonated at the same relative positions and maintain a perfect 5th interval.

You can play a bit with the bridge to adjust a string height so that it intonates a perfect 5th with an adjacent string. You have to think a bit about which strings should be raised or lowered. If you have to correct a string too much,you run the risk of making the string to level with adjacent strings and making it very difficult to bow cleanly.

Double check the string clearances at the end of the fingerboard. Make sure they are "typical" and none are too far out of spec.

Edited: July 21, 2018, 9:33 PM · Strings always vibrate to a higher pitch when bowed compared to when plucked. That's normal and the reason why we always tune by bowing and not plucking. However the difference is closer to 2.0 to 3.0 cents, not 20 to 30 cents. I think you're misreading the decimal point. That's also why we bow lightly when tuning, because bowing heavily will make the pitch even sharper. There's a great deal of art in intonation, it's not pure science.
July 22, 2018, 10:04 AM · + Mark B,

20 to 30 cents is an exaggeration, but it's definitely more than 5. It's clearly noticeable—even to an audience member. It seems worse with chordas than any of the synthetics I've tried.

July 22, 2018, 11:49 AM · If the fifths are ok in the 1st position, then I would suspect string clearance and fingerboard shape.
Another possibility is misalignments between the nut and the bridge, or warped neck.
Should not be the string, unless it was somehow misplaced or there is a faulty batch.
Edited: July 22, 2018, 2:16 PM · Cotton Mather, I understand what you mean about the thickness of the Chorda D. Last year, I had to have a new bridge installed on one of my violins when the old bridge unexpectedly snapped in two. My luthier, at my request, set up the new bridge and the nut for the Chorda set already present. Everything has worked out well.

If you're not happy with the Chorda D for the reasons you stated then one solution, while retaining gut behaviour, would be an Eudoxa D - and perhaps an Eudoxa G, but for me the Chorda G does a good job.

Edited: August 15, 2018, 9:21 AM · You will need to get the D bridge slot lowered. When I had this problem, the luthier lowered it by exactly 0.1mm and it was enough for perfect intonation. Either that, or you have to choose a thinner gauge.
August 15, 2018, 5:29 PM · A visit at one of those pesky folks might save you some time and money? They got yearslong education to solve problems like this, and not only by trial and error. Since you adjusted the bridge by yourself, the problem might really be there. As James Dong experienced it's also the small details that matter.

By the way, your pegbox doesn't look too tidy...

August 17, 2018, 2:14 PM · ? quick and dirty way to test... Place a matchstick over 2 strings parallel to the bridge.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Metzler Violin Shop
Metzler Violin Shop

Juilliard: Starling-Delay Symposium on Violin Studies
Juilliard: Starling-Delay Symposium on Violin Studies

Gliga Violins
Gliga Violins

ARIA International Summer Academy

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pluhar Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings Ltd

Violin Lab

Violin Pros

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop