How does string gauge affect the sound? How can I reduce the overall volume of my instrument?
How does string gauge affect the sound? That's something I have never understood.
I've been playing for a while with Dominants + Wondertone/Gold E on my cheap Yamaha student violin. At first I didn't exaclty like its sound, but with a new bow and better technique, its getting better. It's open and clear, but I still find it too loud and a bit "shouty".
Would a different gauge help me tame a bit the overall volume of the instrument? If affirmative, which one? A full set? Just the G/D/A/E string?
Thicker strings are less responsive but give a fatter, stronger, bigger sound (that is less piercing). Strings that are too heavy sound clogged.
Get a sliding wire mute and experiment with putting it close to the bridge rather than on it as intended. You can use it somewhat like an acoustic tone control. Certainly you can take the edge off by have the mute close to the bridge.
Sorry, but the headline reminded me of this approach parts of which could be used to mute a violin :-)
Thick strings are tuned to higher tension than thin strings of the same brand, therefore creating larger force vectors downward through the bridge onto the top of the instrument. While some instruments' sound output is greater with higher tension strings, some are dampened by this greater force and actually sound louder (and better overall) with thinner, lower tension strings strings.
Op: How does string gauge affect the sound? If you really want to delve into how tension, diameter, density and length are related to the natural frequency of a vibrating wire use this formula. String gauge is the wire diameter in the formula.
You answered yourself: bowing technique.
A wire mute, used as Christopher described is being used as wolf-tone eliminator. Wolf-tone eliminators are sold for violins and violas as well as for cellos (on which they are nearly ubiquitous). The best (most effective) wolf eliminator (and tone modifier) I have ever used is made and sold by Krentz who makes them for violins, violas and cellos. They work in a completely different way than those that are mounted on the string afterlengths (as the wire mute is).
The tension of the strings is only part of the equation. The total force of the bridge to the top plate is also inversely proportional to the angle of the string to the bridge. It should be standardized (79o?) but the luthier will custom fit the bridge to the clearance angles on the fingerboard, so it is variable in practice. There is probably an optimum level of total force on the top plate of the violin. Like tuning the tension on a drum head; too much tension can dampen/crush the sound, while too little tension soaks up/kills the signal energy coming from the string. There can be surprises. I discovered by trial and error that one of my violins, that is modern and looks very solid, actually prefers low tension gut strings. Another reason to try a thin gauge E string is that the very high notes can be clearer, more responsive. If you are using medium tension strings, you can do an inexpensive experiment; tune all the strings 1/2 step lower and see how it responds (ignoring the changed resonances). The opposite experiment, tuning 1/2 step higher, might be dangerous on some instruments.
Maybe some luthiers can weigh in, but my understanding is that a longer tailgut will tame the instrument, making it softer, less punchy. You may need a shorter tailpiece if you want to maintain the afterlength. Not too sure about the following, but if you don't need to tune the afterlength, shorter is softer, and longer is more punchy. Also, heavier tailpiece, especially where strings attach, will dampen.
To reduce the volume of a violin, put on a HUGE shoulder rest. Everest shoulder rests have HUGE rubber feet. Dampens a ton out of a violin. On the other end of the spectrum, the Mach One and the Korfker rest dampen the LEAST.
weich, light, soft, dolce, thin
@Tom, when I switched from Kun to Everest there was no change in my violin's sound.
People sometimes try Obligatos in an attempt to tame an overly bright violin...but, caveat emptor, results will vary!
Paul, I thought that the mass, attachment, and materials of the everest was similar to the kun, so that doesn’t surprise me.
There's a very easy solution to damping a violin without the drastic consequences of an actual mute: