Timbres Review

October 26, 2018, 8:46 AM · Here's my review of the Timbres!

I've had them on for a couple weeks, and my A snapped on me at the ball. I was told it was my fine tuners (the ones not built in to the tailpiece), and that they are not designed for synthetic or gut strings, and may have sharp edges. I've removed them (besides E) So, I currently have the Evah Gold A from the trial set (which I played for a few weeks and the A is already unraveling around the B spot).

As far as the sound, I liked the A and D string, but not a huge fan of the G. It's still a bit fuzzy and not as responsive on my instrument (which is already dark and rich) as the Brilliant Vintage. I like the Amber Forte E better as well, but the Timbre E is definitely nice. I haven't whistled once with it and it responds so well!

Aesthetically, they're gorgeous. I love the wrapping (if that matters), and they feel nice under the fingers. They're very smooth and it's easy to shift without any sort of discomfort (all steel strings or lower quality synthetics used to make my fingers sore from pressing down or sliding up or down the string [obviously I didn't gliss, but you know what I mean])

I think, however, I will be returning to my previous setup, with the Brilliant Vintage G and D, Russian A, and Amber Forte E.

Sidenote: is there any way to make the fine tuners safer for synthetic strings? My tailpiece is custom, as well as my pegs, so I don't want to replace them. My pegs were left a little fat so they don't turn super easy, which makes tuning annoying sometimes. One small turn up makes it too sharp and turning it back makes it too flat. I might ask my luthier to remove a little bit more off the pegs.

Replies (67)

October 26, 2018, 9:06 AM · The diameter of the pegs contacting the peg holes is constant (the diameter of the peg hole).
If the pegs are difficult, either the peg hole or the peg is not smooth enough. You can ask the Luthier to fix it (reaming the holes or with better pegs) or you can use peg dope.
The finetuners you mention can and will work on synthetics. Lots of people use them in all strings. Very often they have rough edges or imperfections that don't affect so much with steel, but a well finished finetuner should not have a problem with synthetics.
October 26, 2018, 9:37 AM · I use the rubber tubes from my E strings as fine tuner sleeves.
October 26, 2018, 9:51 AM · I agree with Carlos. If your pegs won't turn easily (and a round of peg dope when you change the strings doesn't fix it), it's probably time to speak with your luthier about making some adjustments. Does your tailpiece have to have the fine tuners installed?
Edited: October 26, 2018, 10:10 AM · The pegs I ordered were made a bit too big for the holes (they're also African Blackwood, if that matters) so my luthier had to profile them to fit. He said he intentionally left them a but fat so I might take them to him to have him take more off. Later, I will upload a photo so you can see.

The tuners look well-made, and I know my luthier well enough to know he would never give me junky parts,so maybe the string itself was a bit defective and was weak. There's no way to know the exact cause of the break.

No, I don't need fine tuners, but they do make it easier because of the fat pegs. When I changed my strings to the Timbres, I added some graphite to the pegs and it did help a little.

Edited: October 26, 2018, 10:39 AM · Unfortunately what Carlos says is not correct. Neither the pegs nor their holes are of constant diameter but are tapered (the holes reamed) at 1:30. Your pegs may stick out a bit too far but they should still fit snugly and turn smoothly. You could try "greasing" them slightly with a soft pencil. Then maybe you won't need fine tuners on the A, D and G strings
October 26, 2018, 10:48 AM · If it were me, I'd see about getting the pegs adjusted. You may find that you prefer not having the extra weight of the fine tuners on your tailpiece.
October 26, 2018, 10:52 AM · actually Kristen is right, fat diametre pegs are harder to tune because a smaller twist makes a bigger change in the tuning, so fine tuners might be needed. The expensive solution is to bush the pegholes and fit smaller diametre pegs.
October 26, 2018, 11:23 AM · I want to keep my pegs, since the set, along with the tailpiece was $500, so I'd just need the posts to be a bit skinnier. It would seem silly to bush the holes when I could get a bit more taken off the posts, wouldn't it? :) They don't turn smoothly, and even slip sometimes when I'm doing another peg. My E peg completely lost traction when I was replacing the broken Timbre A, so they're probably just too fat for the holes (which is saying something, considering standard diameter violin pegs don't even get snug in my pegholes. The ones I have are actually viola pegs).

I would definitely prefer to not use fine tuners (gotta be professional!) so my violin isn't any heavier than it already is.

October 26, 2018, 11:45 AM · This is an "easy" fix for an experienced luthier (perhaps not too affordable, however). Good, expensive pegs such as the ones you have must turn smoothly-otherwise, it all misses the point. Best wishes-hope you can work this out soon.

If you have to use fine tuners, do so at most with the A string only.

(Why hasn't anyone figured out a fine tuner like Hill's, but two pronged, for ball end strings? Is that really so difficult to achieve?!)

October 26, 2018, 11:47 AM · $500 should have covered bushing and smaller diametre pegs, I charge $120 to fit a set of pegs, doesn't matter if they're viola or violin pegs. the diametre of the pegs is governed by the size of the pegholes, unless he's going to route down the area of the pegs between the pegbox walls.
October 26, 2018, 11:59 AM · Ah, no, I ordered them from Hansell Violins, in the UK (I'm in NY). It was $500 to make and ship them. Installation was extra (he gives me good prices so it was nominal). The pegs themselves are extremely well made, smooth, and my luthier profiled them well. He just didn't take enough off, which I'm going to go to him for.

Also, isn't it the E string than usually has the tuner? I've never seen an instrument with the only tuner on the A.

October 26, 2018, 1:28 PM · Guess you've never seen a viola.
October 26, 2018, 1:39 PM · It's not a viola, and frankly, I don't appreciate your comment, joking or not. I've taken it to several luthiers and all agree it is a violin.
October 26, 2018, 1:47 PM · taking wood off the pegs just makes them stick further into the pegbox, the diametre showed to the the strings remains identical, because the pegholes haven't changed in diametre, only bushing would reduce the diametre shown to the strings
October 26, 2018, 2:06 PM · The pegs barely stick out the other side of the pegbox, does that make a difference with things? I really hope I don't have to bush them. That's so expensive...
October 26, 2018, 3:33 PM · no that does not make a difference, its the size of the holes that matters, the pegs are just made to fit the holes, to change the size of the holes requires bushing, or just keep using fine tuners like you are.
October 26, 2018, 3:37 PM · Oh, nuts. Hm I'll have to see what's the better option.
October 26, 2018, 5:20 PM · Now may be the time to lose the $500 pegs and install geared pegs. They will solve your problems.

Maybe you can sell the fancy pegs.

October 26, 2018, 6:38 PM · Why did you order $500 pegs, just out of curiosity?
October 26, 2018, 10:57 PM · I didn't want Chinese or Indian pegs, so I went the european route. The pegs, combined with the tailpiece, were around £450 (I think?) and with shipping and the upgrade to non-animal ivory and African Blackwood (the same wood as my oboe and English horn), plus the upcharge for larger diameter, it ended up being around $500 total. I take pride in my violin, as it's an heirloom and means more to me than almost anything, I want to give it the best gear. The outfit is absolutely gorgeous, and I don't regret spending that much on it.
October 27, 2018, 12:58 AM · you dont have to give up the fancy pegs if you bush the pegholes, you just have to get the pegs shaved down in diametre by a competent luthier.
Edited: October 27, 2018, 3:58 AM · Kristen, would you mind sharing the dealer that you got the pegs from ? I'm interested in buying some carved boxwood pegs.
October 27, 2018, 7:47 AM · "my A snapped on me at the ball" has nothing to do with the fine tuners - if a string is new it is manufacturing defect, period. Loop-end strings do snap because of sharp tuners, but it is typically E string.
October 27, 2018, 8:10 AM · I'm still curious about these pegs. If they haven't been trimmed to fit the holes, the heads must be sticking out a lot. If that's the case, I am surprised that the Luthier left them like that. I think there's a normal distance from the pegheads to the peg box. For aesthetics but also for tuning comfort.
But if the heads are at the regular distance, trimming them will put the heads awkwardly close to the peg box.
October 27, 2018, 8:56 AM · Mr. Nguyen, I believe Hansell violins is what she used. https://www.hansellviolins.com/fittings-2-c.asp

There are others as well, more and less expensive. Mr. Meyer, Bogaro & Clemente, the ones that make the fancy, expensive tailpieces with integrated fine tuners (forgot their name), etc. I use the more humble Tempel rosewood fittings on my Dear Instrument.

No need to question "why"-there are some violins we feel deserve "the best", even when a more affordable solution would "suffice". The ones I have weren't as pricey, but they were worth it-to me at least-and made a big, practical difference beyond the fine aesthetics.

October 27, 2018, 9:35 AM · I'm also curious why you ordered larger-diameter pegs (apparently for an upcharge) rather than standard diameter.
October 27, 2018, 10:04 AM · Lyndon, I said that exact thing before, and everyone refuted me... *Sigh* I just need my luthier to take some more off my pegs...

Lydia, standard diameter pegs are way too small for my peg holes. They don't even get snug. My violin is a complete oddity; I've never seen one like it. It's big and the peg holes are huge, but it's been verified many times that it's not a viola. It's just fat. The woman at Hansell was seriously questioning me because the diameter I needed was so incredibly absurd, but she eventually agreed and said viola pegs would look better. So, that's what I got.

Carlos, I'm not sure why he left them a little bit fat, maybe because he put tuners on.

Hansell has really great stuff, and a lot of great options for materials. I got African Blackwood because I'm overly sentimental about my instruments and I wanted my violin to have the same material on it that my oboe and English horn are made out of. Plus, it looks a bit different than ebony; the grain is a bit different. Very pretty!

Edited: October 27, 2018, 11:48 AM · This case has a lot to do with fine tuners I am sorry to oppose you Rocky. Recently I have found this quote on a US retailer website https://www.lashofviolins.com/why-strings-break.htm I do not have any relation to Lashof violins, neither they write about Warchal strings.

Violin strings (especially gut and synthetic ones) are not a tank, they are quite fragile product. If they would be more robust, it would affect their sound and response, there is no doubt. We do get claims from time to time. If we ask the customers to send us the „defective“ strings, we almost always find out the same: Strings squeezed in too narrow and deep notches, strings with cut winding (hit by hard sharp objects), strings with balls cut by improper fine tuner, E string loop breakage caused by missing loop protector, “died” strings cleaned by alcohol…

The “additionally mounted metal adjusters” have never been intended for gut, neither synthetic core strings. They came to the market in the 20s of the 20th century after metal strings became spread among the players. They have always been intended for tuning of metal strings and they saved violin players from torture. Metal strings have been extremely hard to tune by pegs due to their double tension and poor elasticity.

We try to educate customers. We try our best but it is still not enough. We try to educate viola players to refer vibrating length instead of body size. We have published some articles with detailed pictures recently,

https://shop.warchal.com/blogs/the-lifespan-of-strings-wear-and-corrosion

and https://shop.warchal.com/blogs/what-s-the-best-way-to-care-for-our-strings e.g.

We have already done some microscopic images of the metal fine tuners that have mostly edges sharp as razor. I was bout to create another article, than being involved into exciting Timbre development, I have neglected our blog I admit. However, using such adjusters for synthetic core strings is a Russian roulette. You can succeed many times, whilst the other day you may snap the strings even before reaching the pitch. It very much depends how the the ball get positioned and every 1/10 of millimeter counts in that case.

Violin players still have several options (mentioned just briefly here).

1. Getting their pegs to good condition and right (upwards) position and tune strings as professionals do – by pegs. (Note to this particular discussion thread: keeping the peg diameter as small as possible for comfortable tuning is a must)

2. Using integrated fine tuners tailpiece. Such “tuning forks” used to be much gentler to strings.

3. Installing geared pegs.

4. Since A string is mostly endangered (no surprise), switching to warm sounding metal core A string helped many of our customers to solve the problem (they can keep using any type of adjuster than).

Edited: October 27, 2018, 12:17 PM · Kristen, you had mentioned putting graphite on the pegs. I don’t think that is the proper solution. Graphite is an excellent lubricant, but pegs don’t just need lube (or they won’t hold tuning), they also need a certain degree of sticking.

I recommend getting some Hill’s peg dope.

It must be made of eye of newt and wing of bat, or other such mysterious substance, as it helps slipping pegs to hold better, while at the same time making sticking pegs turn easier. It’s pretty much magic of some sort.

It comes in a crayon or lipstick type applicator. You smudge a bit onto the pegs where they contact the pegbox. Twirl the pegs around in there a bit to get it nice and spread out, and to allow time for the ancient mysteries of the Hill Druids of Old to work their stuff. Then thread in your string and tune it up (OK, you should graphite/pencil your string grooves while you’re at it).

October 27, 2018, 12:18 PM · Thanks Bohdan, your posts are pure gold !!
Edited: October 27, 2018, 5:35 PM · Thank you for your input, Mr Warchal! I was told the same thing by one of your customer service representatives, who was very kind!

Craig, I will definitely get some of that stuff (it sounds pretty /dope/ ;) lol!), but I would probably not apply it until I get my pegs fixed up. They're already pretty snug and sticky from being so big which is why I used the pencil.. I'm not particularly strong, so sometimes turning the G and D pegs just a teeny bit takes a lot of effort.

Edit: I must have skipped part of your post; I didn't see that it makes them easier to turn! Well, it's almost Halloween, so bring on the magic peg dope!

October 27, 2018, 10:08 PM · Hill compound alone will make most pegs slip, you need a sticking agent like chalk to stop slipping as well
October 27, 2018, 10:10 PM · Kristen I told you you can't reduce the diametre of the pegs unless you bush the pegholes. The fattness of the pegs is because of the fattness of the holes in the pegbox.
October 28, 2018, 12:36 AM · Kristen, another thing you should consider is that when pegholes are excessively large, that correlates with pegbox walls having a smaller distance from the pegholes to the top edge of the pegbox. And that, unfortunately, correlates with a higher probability that the pegbox wall might crack. It would be far better to bush the pegholes before that happens than to wait, and be confronted with a more complicated repair later. Sorry if this is alarming to you, but if it were my violin I'd be concerned about it.
October 28, 2018, 1:25 AM · I think that a picture of that pegbox would be necessary to advice without speculation.
Edited: October 28, 2018, 12:59 PM · Back to the original subject: I received my TIMBRES a couple of weeks ago and installed them that weekend. They are now stably in tune and sound wonderful, rich, clean and clear. I might have thought that with that clean sound the instrument might lose some "liveliness" but with a good vibrato you can hear that all the overtones are still sounding. I have them on my Strad copy and get a cleaner 2-octave scale on the G string than ever before (I've played this violin for 67 years through countless string families).


Originally I kept my PI-Pt E string on with the A-D-G of the Timbre set but replaced it with the Timbre E after one week. The Timbre definitely plays with more power than the PI and there is no deleterious effect on the other strings, which it balances with very well. This violin always has been sounding a little weaker under the chin (just weaker, not weak - I only play violins I can hear in orchestra) than my other major violin, but not with these Timbre strings.

I wanted another set of Timbres for my other major violin, but Warchal would not send a 2nd set. So I installed a set of Warchal Amber strings (replacing EP Gold A-D-G and a PI-Pt-E. This violin has always had a very rich G string and a lot of power - especially under the chin. It still has plenty of power, but now it sounds more like the one with the Timbre strings instead of like "itself" (I've played this violin for 44 years through almost as many string genres as the other one). The violin now sounds brighter than ever, not that that is a bad thing, and the E is more powerful than ever.

I really wish I could get another 1 or 3 sets of Timbres.

I've contacted the two luthiers (still living) whom I have worked with for years, to acquire Timbre strings for me. Ifshin said they plan to talk with Warchal at the VSA convention. My other violin maker (I've bought 3 of his) said he will try through his supplier.

Anyhow this has me wondering how the Timbre and Amber strings compare (string by string and overall). I also wonder how the Brilliant strings compare with them - I've got an unused set of Brilliants in my string drawer.

BOHDAN - HELP ME, Please!!

October 28, 2018, 9:28 AM · Strings available only through a luthier will be ridiculous and frustrating for violinists everywhere. If Warchal would make all of their strings available only via luthier, the sales would drop dramatically.

This is 2018, not 1988. The string business is digital.

October 28, 2018, 9:41 AM · I didn't even order them because I knew that I would not be able to get any more if I liked them.
However, I applaud the move even if it doesn't benefit me. B&M shops need this kind of support from suppliers.
Warchal makes good strings. As good as the best. And it's a pity that it is not more readily distributed, so I wish that this marketing strategy gains him shelf space. Even if means that my (our) access to Timbre is more limited.
October 28, 2018, 9:45 AM · See, this is why I don't believe this distribution plan helps the "common" player too much.

While I am still in the minority I believe, I prefer to go to a violin shop, and I have no interest in Rondo strings (I am very hard to convince by hype alone). I only buy online when necessary, though it is often than what I would like when luthiers do not have the gauges or even brands I need. So I don't need to be "forced" to go to a violin shop to get a "special" set of strings, much like I am not compelled to even ask about Rondo "super strings" when I do go.

This works out like these "exclusive fragrances" that can only be found in certain capitals of the world. How? In that the common player who has little access to luthiers (unlike me-I am quite privileged in this way) is not able to obtain the strings at all. I am not even certain that many of the "famous" violin shops even carry the "normal" Warchal lines even today (Pirastro, and especially Thomastik, are "too Dominant".)

I believe Mr. Warchal has a good company that cares about their products, so I have zero reasons to attack him or his choices-this is not meant to dissuade any of you from buying Warchal strings in any way or fashion. I can always recommend Brilliant Vintage without hesitation to many players that need synthetics that are not too tense. Those are very good, and their nylon core string is probably a much better value than Dominant just as well.

My apologies to those who may be offended, as that is far from my intention. I am merely standing up for the player that may find these distribution plan cumbersome, or even impossible to actually use the strings in question. In a way, I may be trying to help Warchal, though I admit I do not know all the facts, and he may have already made an economical bet over this peculiar, Thomastik-like endeavor.

Edited: October 28, 2018, 10:38 AM · Hi Kristen,

You keep mentioning that your peg holes were huge. They likely were not reamed that diameter originally, but have worn-out over time. Ebony is harder than maple, and gradually wears out the maple peg holes.

Fat pegs are harder to tune and harder to make stick. Also, the A and D strings can touch the G and E string pegs in the peg box, further complicating tuning. Finally, as was mentioned, the peg box is getting weaker and can break because the wood is getting thinner.

You should probably get the peg holes bushed and the pegs shaved to fit the bushed peg holes to preserve the violin peg box. Peg box cracks can happen in an instant, during tuning and/or from humidity and temperature changes.

I also would kindly and respectfully suggest that you get second opinions before spending money on that violin. You could have done equally well with a set of ebony pegs and a tailpiece for under $100, and then had money to spend for the bushings.

I don't believe that whomever advised you to buy that set of pegs and tailpiece gave you very sound advice.

October 28, 2018, 12:01 PM · I think she loved the violin and wanted the best pegs she could get, but still bushing the pegholes would be a good idea and would still preserve the same pegs she loves so much.
Edited: October 28, 2018, 3:16 PM · @Douglas: Not only string business became digital. The same is wood carving (CNC machines). In spite of this, the very best instruments and bows are still shaped by plane:-). You can purchase food in vending machine, but the best food is available in good restaurants only :-)

Moreover, we are not going to change the distribution way of our standard product range. The previously developed products will remain available on-line.

@Carlos: Aren't there any makers or repairers in Vietnam? I would like to establish a mutually beneficial cooperation with Vietnamese luthiers. Could you help me please?

@Andrew: Thank you for your encouraging words. We have invested a lot of funds and effort into the recent development, so I am glad it has been worth it. We got unusually many positive feedback during recent couple of weeks. Many of our customers fell in love with Timbres and now they are complaining its limited availability.

I have to admit we were a bit naive when we expected to be able to spread the product among all makers workshops overnight. Moreover, we do supply only European makers directly. Overseas we distribute strings via importers, which slows down the process even a bit. In order to ensure the availability until Timbre reaches luthier's shops, we have decided to release two additional sets for our customers. If you became our customer (by purchasing your first Timbre set), you will get a newsletter soon.

Edited: October 28, 2018, 4:00 PM · @Bohdan -- String purchasing is largely done digitally via the internet. I don't think most folks would argue with that statement. I wouldn't go so far as to equate the method of purchasing strings to making violins with CNC machines (which would be more like me saying that your stings should be MADE by machine). And the vending machine versus restaurant thing is a real stretch :-)

What I am saying: Your company makes great strings, unfurl them upon the world without restrictions. If Timbre are your best strings, get them out there so everyone can enjoy them without restriction. The USA is very big, not like Europe -- some don't have a luthier they prefer to visit within close distance.

October 28, 2018, 4:06 PM · Hi

Andrew - how do they compare to the Evah Golds - I have a set which I will put on this week.

Thanks

Gurdip

October 28, 2018, 4:18 PM · I'm surprised by how many string players don't know about peg dope. Think of it like adding oil to a car engine. If you use it regularly, your peg issues really will disappear and you'll be kinder to your pegs because you won't need as much force to turn them.

A really good brand is Hidersine Hiderpaste. It's basically just a little puck of graphite mixed with wax.

Every time you have a peg out (i.e. changing strings), just run the puck like a crayon along the peg (the part that goes inside the peg box). If you have a very sticky peg, slather it on liberally; otherwise, 3 or 4 lines evenly spaced around the peg is sufficient.

Peg dope isn't supposed to make pegs more sticky or more slippery. Its job is to basically even out the friction so it's more consistent around the full turn of the peg. You regulate the friction already by pushing in the peg harder or pulling it out slightly. The peg dope just evens out the highs and lows so that the turns are smooth.

Geared pegs are a great product, especially for older people losing strength in their hands. But without geared pegs, you should be able to get excellent tuning performance without fine tuners (except for the E) if your pegs are properly installed and you use peg dope regularly.


Edited: October 28, 2018, 6:34 PM · Gurdip, The Timbres are more different to the Evah Golds than any strings I have had on that violin for at least 10 years (losing my long-term memory???). They are cleaner sounding, maybe more powerful to player's ears (on this fiddle), play cleaner fingered harmonics and good strong sound up the E string and clean sound way up the G string.

Over the years I would say all the strings I have tried (perhaps a dozen brands plus mixtures) have driven on a track toward the Evah Golds (the last three brands: Peter Infeld, Vision Solo and Evah Gold with the PI-Pt-E). The Warchal Timbres seem to take a detour from that track and I like it. I have not played violin in an ensemble for a while (been playing mostly viola the past few years) so I can't make a comparison for ensemble playing. I expect to play them with a very bright piano accompanying and in a very reflective room next week (it was supposed to be this past week but my car broke down). If I have any relative negative impressions of the Timbres I'll let you know - I'll be comparing with a previous sonata session in the same environment 2 months ago.

October 28, 2018, 6:32 PM · Boyer covered the peg dope pretty well. You can see the marks from the peg box on your pegs when you remove them and that is the only place the dope has any effect (obviously).

There is also a liquid peg dope that can be "eased" in while the strings are still on the instrument - not as effective, but but work if your need is great.

If all else fails Chuck Herrin of Pegheds will create a set of Pegheds that use your old ritzy peg handles so they will look prety much the same - and he can anodize the aluminum shaft so it can look like rosewood or boxwood to nosy observers - or there is the standard black ebony look. I have had one set from him that refitted my wood peg handes and simulated the boxwood shafts. When I had this done the wood-mounted Pegheds cost about twice as much as "Knilling Planetary Pegs" with plastic handles that are of the same design or Wittner Fast tune pegs of a different design. These might come in a size that fits Kristen's over-size peg holes.

I had my 1877 cello's pegholes re-bushed some years ago when they had gotten so large that the peg shoulder's were touching them and would no longer hold string tension. My luthier charged me $500 for the re-bushing plus a set of ebony pegs that look like they cost about $10. If only I had known about geared pegs then I could have saved that cost plus the later geared peg cost plus the interim cost of of a bois d'Harmonie tailpiece with integral fine tuners (about $900 all told for a result that could have been accomplished effectively for about $70 for a set of geared pegs - from ebay or maybe $150 from Pegheds with my old ebony peg handles).

October 28, 2018, 7:38 PM · Bohdan, I'm someone who deliberately tries to support my local shops by buying my equipment at the shop rather than online, but the way that Warchal strings are sold in the US makes this pretty tough.

I have multiple good violin shops in my area. Warchal strings are carried by just one of them -- Potter's. And Potter's often doesn't have my strings in stock. I can usually get the Amber E, but one of the reasons that I keep switching string brands or mixing/matching is because I cannot get my preferred strings (Brilliant Vintage, Avantgarde A, Amber E) on a consistent basis from Potter's. They are often on order, but they usually can't tell me when the particular strings that I'm looking for will be in. I did request that Potter's start carrying the Timbres, and they promised they'd look into it.

(I generally have a luthier change my strings these days, as my valuable violin has a pegbox crack that needs examination every time to ensure that it's remaining stable.)

October 29, 2018, 5:53 AM · Dear Bohdan,
I know of 2 luthiers in Vietnam. One in the capital Hanoi, and another one in HCMC (Saigon). They are both very old and retiring. Here in Saigon I once asked for strings and they showed me a dusty assortment in a shoebox. Like many other things, they were just brought from abroad by someone in the suitcase. Not a real import-distribution scheme.

The shops are about 20 square meters. It's this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDAsLfhMoTI...
Our league here is not worthy of any interest IMO. Dominants are treated as luxury strings.
As far as I have seen, everybody gets their strings by internet or using the network of family and friends living abroad and visiting Vietnam, who would bring strings, rosin, etc. The number of violinists in Vietnam is very small for an accesories market to develop.
This very same year a Corean Luthier opened shop. It was great to see him work... But he had to close after 6 months.

October 29, 2018, 1:05 PM · Hi Carlos, thanks for the review. It is obvious that violin has never been traditional instrument in Asia, but I expected better position of bowed instruments in Vietnam. It is curious how some of Asian nations fell in love with classical music (Japan, China, Korea) whilst other did not so much obviously... However, poor availability of strings at luthiers in general is a bit of vicious circle. They do not stock strings, since almost all customers do search for bargains on amazon or e-bay (complaining the poor quality afterwards :-)
Edited: October 29, 2018, 9:35 PM · The income level is very important in the appreciation of classic arts. Vietnam has been traditionally very poor. I guess that at the level of development speed that this country is achieving, it will be not too far that we will see the interest for bowed instruments. Now they are in the first wave, which it's interest from the more affluent for piano. I am starting to see some demand and supply (new academies opening and new teachers advertising), but even if the classical music "industry" would grow at the 8% of the country, we are starting from very low numbers. It will take some years to create critical mass for international suppliers.
Another important factor here it's the proximity to China, for good and bad. All of us who play here, we asume that all strings (Dominant mainly) available in music stores are fake (70% of everything here it's fake. From liquor to medicines or baby food). That is a reason to prefer that someone brings the strings from abroad. However, that also brings opportunities (it's my job to find them) for minor brands. As the big brands are more likely to be copies, the less recognizable are prefered for being "real".
October 30, 2018, 1:22 AM · I think the decision to sell exclusively via violin shops and luthiers is an awesome strategy to bring business back to the local communities. The violin trade thrives from shops that are small business "mom & pop" businesses that can give back to their communities. It can also spark discussion about needs of a musician during visits!

My experience with the Timbres have been good. I feel like they are certainly a projecting, while keeping a sweet colorful focus on the high end and robust juicy sound on the lower end. They may be a but much on bright instruments unless you want to max projection with some initial edge that wears off after some days use, but personally I think they are ideal for neutral or darker sounding instruments or ones that need a boost to get the plates of the violin to move. The thicker diameter of the string probably aids in that too.

Bay Fine Strings violin shop carries them and can cater to local San Francisco, East Bay, San Jose, and greater bay area customers for these strings! But they of course are not listed online. Happy to discuss any of your needs privately! www.bayfinestrings.com

November 3, 2018, 1:07 AM · I decided to put the Timbre D and G strings on my Vuillaume yesterday, but I kept my Avantgarde A and Amber E. My Brilliant Vintage D and G strings were sounding a bit dull, and my luthier suggested, post-adjustment, that my complaints about after-ring could probably be solved with new strings.

The change really woke the violin up considerably -- far more than I (or my teacher) expected. Even volume on the upper strings went up by a lot (on what is already a powerful instrument). The D is a terrific match for the upper two helical steel strings -- there's no indication whatsoever that the trio isn't part of a unified set (and interestingly, there's a smooth transition between A/D as well as A/E, rather than a larger tonal break between A and D, although that's smoothed to the point where the A vs D-upper-position shading is extremely similar, which is not ideal). The G is pretty good but just a little bit fuzzy, and I am hoping that it comes into greater focus as it settles. I am going to give it a couple of days before taking it back to my luthier for another adjustment, which may also help.

The D and G are already quite stable, after about 30 minutes of playing-in and 24 hours on the violin -- I did re-tune at the beginning of starting practicing tonight but did not need to tune during my practice session. The D sound is unchanged. The G is very slightly different but not significantly so. (If I'd trusted them to be stable, I'd have changed these a few days ago, before a recital I played, rather than after.)

To some degree, I'd like to hear more warmth and complexity out of my strings. I think these strings are more focused and less rich than, say, Evah Pirazzi Gold on my violin. My teacher loves focused strings, though, so this sound is more to his taste. Response, color, clarity and power are excellent, and I would definitely choose these over Brilliant Vintage.

I prefer the sound of Passiones + Amber E on this violin (they give it a dark-edged brilliance with both warmth and complexity), but the Timbre G / Timbre D / Avantgarde A / Amber E is otherwise the best combo I've tried. Given its tuning stability, will probably be my choice for future summers, when gut is not a great choice here due to humidity levels.

I am curious whether putting on a full set of Timbres would be significantly different -- how much do the Timbre steel A and E differ from the Avantgarde A and Amber E?

Edited: November 3, 2018, 10:26 AM · I haven't yet got Timbres - bought a set of Ambers only last month - but the time will doubtless come. I am therefore in no position to discuss Timbres, but meanwhile would like to share my experience of transferring the Ambers from my 18th c violin to my Jay Haide, which I did yesterday.

For quite a while I've been using the Jay Haide with steel E and A and Eudoxa D and G setup for my folk music activities and for general practice. As such it has been adequate, but that's just about it. I transferred the Amber set to the Jay Haide and used it for two hours last night in a barn dance to which I was called at the last minute. The Jay Haide was transformed in tone and projection, and I certainly didn't need to share a mic.

I take Lydia's point concerning the focus of the Timbres, and I think that may well apply to the Ambers. The Jay Haide is now in a condition where I'd happy using it for symphonic work, and in fact I'll do that next Tuesday in a rehearsal of Brahms 2 (concert coming up in a fortnight).

As for my 18th c violin, which has naturally a powerful rich dark tone, I changed its strings back to all gut (steel E a possible option), and am convinced that the lower tension of gut suits that very particular old lady the best. It will continue to be my choice for chamber orchestra and other chamber music playing.

November 6, 2018, 10:57 AM · We have got several requests, especially from you, Americans asking us to reconsider our policy and release Timbre for on-line sale. At the same time, I have been (just arriving to Cleveland) contacted by our customer service, asking if we could do even more as we do for educating our customers. They do process a lot various of requests daily, let me quote the most recent string claim I have been just resent:

"I received yesterday the strings but my critisism will be unfavourable. First of all the string A was in the wrong case ( D) so i first did not notticed that and i continue like that. Fortunately the set is completed. Secondly you can find attached the string D.. It means that i have to order a new one, and in order to keep the sound balance with the three other strings i have to do it from your wedsite. But please note that definately i happy to do this any more."

Let me add, that the sting on the picture was not D, it was A. So the lady did not trust our packaging, she did not read the silk color chart printed on any packaging, she did not refer to our website or write us (in case she was not sure). She simply put the strings in a wrong order and damaged them even before being able to play the first note. Subsequently (after being explained by our customer care), she placed another order (the same string set). At the end, she wrote: "P.S. if something will go wrong i will be more strict this time."

I am quite sure it will go wrong, since the customer seems to be totally unskilled, moreover she seems to act hastily.

It happened with Karneol set bought for the half price (trial purchase). Timbre will reach its price EUR 110 soon, so try to imagine she would spend EUR 110 (or even 132 including tax in Europe) + freight costs and she would destroy the set before being able to tune it up to its pitch. Could you imagine, how such "complaint" would be formulated? :-)

If you buy Timbre at a luthier, he is expected to do the changing job properly. Of course, you do not need to use the free changing service. You can just take the strings away, or you can be even sent the strings to you, if you order by phone. But if something get wrong, you will contact him/her and he/she will help you to find answer to the question what was wrong. I sometimes by myself try to help our customer service to educate particular customers, but doing it from distance I feel like repairing ISS by radio (I have mentioned it here already). So please trust your violin maker or repairer. If any problem occurs, we are ready to discuss it with him/her, however finding the solution goes much easier if discussed with experts than trying to educate a beginner by email.

Our entire product range (except of Timbre) stay available on-line, however, trust the information stated on packaged and refer our website for more info please. :-)


Edited: November 6, 2018, 12:28 PM · Mr. Warchal, I told my luthier about your string concept of only selling the timbres directly to Luthiers so they can actually make a profit on strings. He loves the idea because he's tired of getting crushed by giant online music stores that can stock up in bulk and then sell much cheaper, and then to compete with them he has to sell strings at cost, or at very minimal profit.

Just wanted to let you know that some people definitely appreciate the effort.

Edited: November 6, 2018, 1:25 PM · Are incompetent users the real reason for your Timbre marketing policy, Bohdan? If so, I guess I can't blame you for that, and I can understand your frustration, but it would seem unfortunate. I once sold a string set that I didn't need, at a deep discount from the normal street price, and received a complaint several weeks later that "the e string broke." There was nothing wrong with it, but because I had sold it on eBay, I felt that I had no other choice than to buy a replacement and mail it to the buyer at my expense, only to protect my feedback history. (I never received positive feedback for my efforts either.) There are many unskilled and unreasonable people in the world, and sometimes we just have to deal with them as best we can.
Edited: November 6, 2018, 7:24 PM · No, it is certainly not the only reason. We would like to distribute Timbre in straight condition, and that would be not easy to keep with on-line sale. Moreover, I have to admit we are going to support makers, they deserve it. Luthiers are expected stocking strings, but it only troubles them. Many people nowadays search for bargains, mostly on Amazon or E-bay, getting either old stock or even fake products. They complain the quality afterwords of course.

As for the incompetent users, yes, we can deal with it of course. The pity is, that we can only do it at your expenses. When I was musician, I thought naively that manufacturers (of any kind) are rich enough to pay for free samples, all kinds of claims e.t.c. But the only money they have comes from their customers. So a manufacturer have to either cut R&D budget or to raise product prices. Our aim has been making top quality strings for affordable price and I am not going giving up this goal.

November 6, 2018, 8:16 PM · @Erik, thanks for letting me know. It is obvious that there will be some annoyed as well as some pleased people with this project. I do not like upset people of course, but I have learned to deal with is being a member of judging panel at the competitions. There was say 60 applicants and only few of them used to be rewarded by prices. You can imagine how was the ratio of happy and unhappy people :-). In spite of this nobody has banned competitions so far :-)
November 7, 2018, 7:53 AM · I really agree with your decision to limit distribution channels. But with 110€ strings you can't talk anymore about a business strategy of "affordable". Limited distribution and in the top shelf, you are going to the gourmet or luxury strategy. Which actually, I think it's wise. European manufacturers who try to compete in price are doomed to fail or move to China. The luxury market is more resiliant to price shocks.
Truth is that I am really interested (in a professional sense) to see how your project goes for Timbre.
November 7, 2018, 10:48 AM · People aren't griping so much about a 3 year waiting list for "fresh from the pine tree" Baker's rosin.

I think encouraging a trip to the luthier is a fair bargain for all.

That said, I think I'll order a couple sets now online for my son's violin...

November 7, 2018, 11:27 AM · @Carlos, the project is running well so far. Of course we were a bit naive expecting to be able to ensure worldwide availability until the end of the year or so. This is why we have now changed the number of allowed sets on-line to three. Our customers can span the time until their maker place order and get the strings.

As for the prices, we make violin string sets in SRP range EUR 30.40 up to EUR 110. Karneol is a decent professional quality set and it is available for USD 36, maybe sometimes even cheaper on-line. Considering Timbre quality, but also some competitive prices I believe Timbre is worth EUR 110. Moreover, it will be available cheaper I am quite sure. The price includes luthier's margin. We admit that the basic idea has been to support them morally as well as financially. The SRP has been set so in order to allow business in the centre of NY, London or Paris still having some profit and therefore sense selling strings in a workshop.

Luthiers in smaller towns or even on countryside are expected to charge different prices as they do with any other kind of service. If I were luthier I would also consider whether you gave me some other job (repair, set-up) or just coming for strings. As I told you before, our entire standard product range will be still available on-line, so nothing changes for you in fact.

Edited: November 7, 2018, 11:46 AM · I have tried three Warchal strings...Amber, Brilliant and Timbre. On my violin (and setup I guess), the clearest was the Brilliant, the more colourful was the Amber and the Timbre was the most 'rounded' (problems of clarity on the G string but I am not inclined to blame it on the strings). None of them was everything. And the combo player-violin-setup makes a big difference as I understand. Leaving the player and quality of instrument aside for the moment, decent but affordable strings on a an appropriately well setup violin might be much better than expensive great strings on a setup that doesn't work for them. But the overarching culture is to accept the setup from before and string the violin up with new strings until something techniqually wrong happens to the setup/violin.
Edited: November 8, 2018, 11:36 AM · I finally got to play some violin sonatas with my Warchal Timbre strings with "my" pianist in her acoustically live room. The sound was much better than it had been in either of the last two months with this violin and a different one both strung with Evah Pirazzi Gold strings below a PI-Pt E string. Main difference was this time I did not feel the piano was dominating the violin. The Timbre strings are very easy to play and very clean sounding.

Depending on what they do on my other "prime" violin it is likely I will stop trying any other strings. (I probably have more new strings around than any small-town music store, anyway).

My ARCUS bow really brings out gorgeous overtones from these strings like none other in the 20 years I've had this bow - so it has been brought out of "retirement."

November 8, 2018, 10:25 AM · "I would definitely prefer to not use fine tuners (gotta be professional!) so my violin isn't any heavier than it already is."

I met a luthier and players in Europe who advocate for fine tuners on all strings. It makes a lot of sense to me but somehow it looks ugly to me too, maybe because that's what traditionally has been on cheap violins.
There are videos on youtube where you can see violinists in ensembles fine tuning lower strings during the performance. You could never do that with the pegs. Besides fine tuners are just that: they can fine tune just a little better than pegs.
Having said that I haven't put fine tuners on the D and G yet.

November 8, 2018, 11:32 AM · There are many tailpieces with built-in fine tuners that are nearly invisible and do not shorten the string afterlengths. The French Bois d'Harmonie tailpieces are probably about the best.

Geared tuning pegs by Pegheds, Knilling and Wittner also allow for very rapid fine tuning of any string during performance.

November 9, 2018, 8:06 PM · Try the Bogaro and Clemente carbon or Stradpet titanium fine tuners, the ones with a plate under the tailpiece and a string guide that curves up and through the slot. The ball goes through the slot and under the tailpiece and is safe for all types of strings. A’s are fine.


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