Violin strings

July 30, 2018, 8:57 AM · Why are violin strings wound the way they are? How does that impact how one bows?

Replies (3)

Edited: July 30, 2018, 9:25 AM · Do you mean the thin wire windings on the strings? It is my understanding that gut strings ee originally over-wound with thin metal wire to increase their density (or mass per unit length) so thinner strings could be used for better and faster response and greater player comfort. This will make for somewhat different (heavier) bowing than with much thicker bare-gut strings

Having played on modern (past 80 years) bare gut, metal-wound gut core, metal-wound synthetic core, and metal-wound steel core strings I have not found that I have to bow differently specifically for the windings. I bow to get "my sound" whatever the string. If I can't get the sound quality I want I try different bows (among those I have) and if I still can't get my sound I try some rosin differences and if that doesn't help I never use those strings again.

Because I play viola and cello as well as violin I can tell there are certainly differences in the way I bow on the deeper toned instruments, but I never think about it. Like most experienced players my bowing adjusts to instrument, bow and strings within a small fraction of a second. There have been times when I have played all three instruments in a single session without really even thinking about it (except for adjusting my mind to the clef changes).

Edited: July 30, 2018, 9:58 AM · Thanks for your reply Andrew. I am thinking about the wire windings on the strings. Are they wound in a particular direction to accommodate the best response? What would I see under a microscope?
July 30, 2018, 11:07 AM · The choices of winding wire would be
1.the metal material (aluminum, silver and nickel are common wometimes with added plating)
2. the thickness and cross section shape of the wire (round, elliptical, "flat"),
3.amount of winding overlap (for "flat" windings)
4. direction of winding (clockwise or counterclockwise) as seen from either end of the string - obviously opposite direction depending on viewed end - and should not make a difference to player since strings are bowed in both directions across the winding.

You could probably detect and measure some of this with magnification.

Some E strings are particularly susceptible to squeaking (or whistling) when bowed. The wound E strings, such as Dominant, don't seem to have this problem. I've never had the problem with the unwound platinum-plated Peter Infeld E strings that I have been using for the few years they have been available.

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