Strings for Yamaha Silent Violin
The same like most non-retired hobbyists, my amount of practice time between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. is rather limited through my bread-and-butter job which consumes approximately 65 hours of my lifetime per week. And since I'm living (in a flat) together with my wife and kids with whom I also want to spend some time (and as I strongly hope this desire is based on reciprocity), it often happens that there's only one chance left for me to practice - when everyone else is in bed.
I tried about all mutes available on the market, and maybe even a few more. You all know what I mean... So, recently I decided to give it a try and purchased a second-hand Yamaha Silent Violin SV250. I use the signal as it is through my headphones, keep it simple without any further amplification. It's not like "the real thing", but it's good enough for practicing, far better than with a heavy mute, and especially good even during the daytime when studying a new piece before things happen to come together.
Differently than Allan's SV255 from 2010 -
- mine seems to be an absolute Sunday model - thank goodness. G string on 6 mm, vibrating string length 32,5 cm, couldn't make out any constructive mistake yet. The original Zyex strings were still on, a couple of years old. I put on a set of used but still good Vision titanium solo GDA I still got somewhere lying around and a Kaplan golden spiral E of which I've always got a few in reserve. They're fine, but for the future I'm not sure if I'll be willing to spend €60+ for replacement.
To those who use a YSV, or an electric violin in general, which strings do you use and why? What are your experiences with other strings?
I have a NS electric (I use it for the same quiet practice and also travel). D'Addario makes a set that are specifically marketed for the NS electric violins. The NS uses a piezoelectric sensor in the bridge, but I don't know if the principle is the same for Yamaha. The websites for Yamaha and NS may also have useful info. They seem to work just fine, and the tone seems to be far more dependent on the electronics than the string itself. The whole arrangement is much more forgiving than trying to get a good tone out of my "real" 1939 violin.
I've seen musicians use, D'Addarrio Helicore, Infeld Vision(regular), what might also be good to try is the Infeld Alphayue. They all sound good, the Vision and Alphayue will probably last longer and sound good longer for an electric violin. I wouldn't waste money on something like Pirastro or higher end Infeld, you won't really notice enough of difference to warrant the price. Just a good string that is stable will work well for most electric violins.
Charles, you're right, it's really forgiving - almost impossible to sound really bad. But I guess you also need some equipment and knowledge to sound really good... I'm really looking forward to bring it with me for traveling, especially if not on vacation but on conferences and congress trips. Just gotta find a flight case with accessory compartments large enough to store all the cables etc.
I have a Yamaha YEV.
Whoa, Tom... The G indeed sounds like cottage cheese. So no chance to make it sound like a real one through the earphones, huh?
I use D'Addario Helicore or Zyex on all of my Yamaha YEV-4 and YEV-5 instruments. They work well and don't break the bank.
Nuuska, when on business trips I take my Yamaha along. Although I am not convinced that hotel room neighbors do not hear anything. It travels in a Bam cabin case of dark color. The bow has its own protection and travels in my suitcase along with all necessary cables.
I use an YEV at times and a Artino mute on a real violin more often, and I've never used headphones. My thinking is - why bother? I can hear the sound well enough without headphones, and it's probably better as such than through the headphones, as that would introduce other distortions going through the pickup and electronics, and I'm practising to improve technique, not to make great sound on an obviously sound-compromised instrument.
When you output an electric violin to headphones, I think we all have to accept that 20% tone quality is probably the best you'll get. Headphone amps are designed to amplify signals from an MP3 player, not violins. They do poor jobs of amplifying lower strings. E-strings have uncomplicated sounds, so the cheapest amps are good enough.
And regarding the tailpiece, cheap plastic wittners don't have the mass required to stabilize the strings. End result is a fuzzy sound. Ebony tailpieces are heavier and stiffer. Resists string movement for a better sound. Plus, it's just $10 shipped from ebay.
And need a good amp? Just take your electric violin to your local Guitar Center. Take headphones with you. They have plenty of guitar cables. Good brands are Marshall, Fender, Mesa Boogie, Orange.
I too use my NS electric for travel - If the chin and shoulder rest come off, it fits in my roller-board suitcase. I carry a bow in a separate single bow case, and just march onto the plane. Nobody has challenged me re the bow as a carry on. It fits between the seat and the side of the plane, or overhead very easily.
Eva, I share your experience. The YSV is so forgiving, if you're playing it too long exclusively it will spoil your technique and give you a hard time when returning to the acoustic violin. I play it with a good but inexpensive wooden bow (not sure if Pernambucco or Brazil) maybe from the 70ies or 80ies, from my "funny bows collection" - bows I adopted from attics, flea markets etc. for next to nothing. In the meantime it consists out of about a dozen bows (for a total of less than €500 including smaller repairs and a bit of rehair I mostly did myself), nothing great but playable and each one good enough for a student in his first few years. Not that I needed a dozen bows besides the two "better" bows I own (one for me and one for my son), but they all have very different characteristics in playing behaviour and sound and I think I learned a lot from them, also technically and which characteristics can help you with which problem. When a certain passage/technique does not work on my "main bow", I practice it with an other one, be it stiffer and more likely to bounce, or more stable, or one that has more bite, or whatever, and as soon as it works I try to implement it on my "good" bow, which usually works. But this would be for another thread... But what I've observed is, that soundwise the bow doesn't matter that much on the YSV.