Strings for louder(more noticeable) sympathetic vibrations

Edited: November 8, 2018, 3:30 PM · Hi violinist.com

I'm a novice, been playing for almost a year. Since I discovered sympathetic vibration, I've relied on it to check my intonation with a great success and some nice compliments from my teacher on my intonation improvement.

Now, I've been using Warchal Timbre for a few months now. And something about these strings make the sympathetic vibration really noticeable, really loud and easy to hear, which I like a lot.

What I am asking is: what characteristic of strings that can bring out more sympathetic vibration (low/high tension, material ?). Can you recommend a set of string for loud/noticeable sympathetic vibration?

Replies (9)

Edited: November 8, 2018, 3:41 PM · Daniel,

While some strings may be more responsive the generation of sympathetic vibration, the process has more to do with your bowing and the vibrational characteristics of your instrument than just the strings.

I noticed a huge change a long time ago when I spent way too much money on my instrument having the plates tuned. After that was done the instrument was much more resonant and responsive and the sympathetic vibrations increased.

Looking back, it would have cost a whole lot less money to simply find a violin that was more resonant from the start. However, I have to say it was interesting albeit expensive to upgrade the "Family Fiddle" which came from my wife's great-grandfather.

Good stings will resonate - I prefer Dominants but they all will ring when you hit the notes right and the instrument vibrates just right.

Edited: November 8, 2018, 5:52 PM · "Sympathetic resonance or sympathetic vibration is a harmonic phenomenon wherein a formerly passive string or vibratory body responds to external vibrations to which it has a harmonic likeness. The classic example is demonstrated with two similar tuning-forks of which one is mounted on a wooden box."
In other words, an instrument present in the same room and tuned to the same pitch will resonate if you play the same frequency as one of its open strings. That is why some dealers casually place 6 cellos in the room where you try a violin 20% above your budget.
So, if the violin can not have purely sympathetic resonance with itself, except for 4 open strings ( viola d amore can), your questions boils down to: Louder, meaning more power = more air pushed toward the listener.
Edited: November 8, 2018, 6:17 PM · I think George has it when he says to work on your tone production. I know that when my tone gets rough, my intonation suffers, and when I spent a lot of time with one of my teachers working on my bowing technique, my intonation improved dramatically.

There's a sort of madness that descends upon many beginners who want to immediately sound better than they do, and they begin to ask about changing their instrument setup. "My violin/bow/strings sound harsh/nasal/trebly, what should I replace them with?" The answer, I think in almost every case, is to leave the fiddle/bow/strings alone and practice more to get better. To be patient and improve and keep working on technique, that is. You probably don't need better (whatever that means, given your particular instrument) strings, you probably need better technique, which will come in time.

Yes, a better instrument will make a better sound, but a year in, you should save your money and work on your bowing. That is not the answer most people want, I admit.

November 8, 2018, 6:48 PM · Treat the strings real nice. Buy them gifts and tell funny stories. That's sure to do the trick.
November 8, 2018, 8:38 PM · @Scott: that is totally alright. I'm not asking for strings recommendation so that I sound better though. I'm simply curious what characteristic of strings that would bring out more sympathetic vibrations? Is that tension, gauge, material ? Of course, bad intonation will not bring out any sympathetic vibration no matter how fancy your strings are.

November 8, 2018, 9:41 PM · This doesn't sound like the desire for sympathetic vibrations, but rather the desire for more resonance and overtones.

I find gut to be unmatched in overtones, personally.

November 9, 2018, 6:35 AM · Daniel, I am also a novice, I've also been using Warchal Timbres recently and I'm also as curious as you about equipment tweaks. My ears still need much training but the overtones generated with Timbres were an eye opener, even on my intermediate level violin (a Sima Traian.) I thought I was going to be an Obligato addict forever but happy that my curiosity got the better of me. I have a set of Warchal Brilliant Vintage on deck to see what a relatively lower tension string from the same manufacturer sounds like. Now time to get back to bowing practice for me!
November 9, 2018, 6:43 AM · I find sympathetic resonance a bit annoying.
On a guitar it's transient and adds colour. On a violin it just sounds like ringing. I think I'm using Tonicas - they came ready supplied.
It's useful for intonating some notes, but I wonder about those higher overtones such as the "major third" and the "minor 7th". They are both flat and not true notes.
November 9, 2018, 11:01 AM · Daniel, yes I clearly misread your post, sorry. I think Lydia might be right that you're looking for overtones more than sympathetic vibrations.


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