E strings

June 8, 2019, 9:02 AM · Do you replace your E strings more frequently than the rest of the set? It seems mine start to sound bad before the A, D, and G. More whistling and more difficult to find the pitch. Tone that is kind of dull rather than silvery. But maybe it is my imagination? Fatigue?

Replies (29)

June 8, 2019, 9:35 AM · I think an E loses its crispness after a month or so and as they are not that expensive I change if monthly. Not much of a whistling guy. I think my intonation always seems better on new strings.
June 8, 2019, 9:51 AM · I started using Peter Infeld (PI) (Thomastik) platinum-plated E strings 9 years ago (almost to the day). I found them marvelous. I continued using them for at least 8 years, first with the rest of the PI set, then with Vision Solos, and finally with Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold. I used these combinations on 4 different violins. Not only were the E strings great (never whistled) in every way but the two of those violins that had had some roughness in the upper octaves of the G string worked perfectly up there with the PI E strings.

Only the platinum-plated PI strings worked this way. The dealer later (mistakenly, I presume) sent me some nickel-plated PI E strings and they just did not to the job in any way.

For the past year I have been using Warchal Timbre sets on 3 violins and that is is wonderful too - and does not whistle.

The 4th violin is not happy with the Timbres and I have a set of Tricolore gut strings on it with a Goldbrokat E - and no whistle there either.

The best of my violins that is now wearing the Timbres was as incompatible with the Tricolores as the one now wearing them was with the Timbres.

Edited: June 8, 2019, 10:08 AM · Lisa E strings last literally forever unless you're like me and take all your strings off often.

They sound great, too. But I would not recommend the heavy gauge.

Edited: June 11, 2019, 3:28 PM · I'm neither a metallurgist or a mechanical engineer but I thought fatigue was associated with repetitive stress (cyclic load). I would love to know what someone qualified in these areas thinks of the likely reasons behind the degradation of a steel E string -- why it would start whistling or why its tone would change or why it would become harder to play in tune. Is the material changing in some way? Are there initial (even small) defects in the material of the original string that are amplified under stress?
June 10, 2019, 5:40 AM · I am changing the E string more often. I am in a process of exploring the strings, so I don't have a candidate yet. I put the set on and after a month or month an a half I change E string (usually gold brokat E). It helps me to keep the sound.
June 10, 2019, 6:39 AM · Huh. I notice the opposite with my viola A string. (I use a Larsen A and Vision for my other strings.) It consistently stays good for the longest time; in fact the clearest sign that I need to change my strings is when I can easily tell the A string rings more than the D string.
June 10, 2019, 7:34 AM · Maybe I should analyze my PI platinum E string to see whether it's platinum or nickel because my experience is opposite to Andy's. This string whistles terribly. Goldbrokat E hardly ever whistled on my violin. I'm going to have to change out a $35 string for a $5 string!
June 10, 2019, 8:52 AM · Many E strings tarnish quickly if your sweat is acidic. When I was using a Jarger E, for instance, my local violin shop (Ifshin's at the time) recommended that I change it every 2 weeks; it would go false quickly due to the tarnish.

The PI platinum E did not tarnish, which made the cost worthwhlie for me, but it whistled on the violin I was using it on. And it's overkill on my current violin, which does fine with Warchal's Amber E. I don't have the tarnish problem with the Warchal E, either.

June 10, 2019, 9:06 AM · I guess I just don't have acidic hands. I realize some folks do. You'd think I'd have chemicals leaching out of my hands because I'm a chemist ...

I also don't understand why tarnish can't just be rubbed off. Sure if you are using a plated string then you have to worry about removing the plating, but on a plain steel E, a quick wipe with something like crocus cloth (the type with essentially jeweler's rouge) should take off tarnish. I'd also have to think about what the thickness of the tarnish would have to be on the surface of the string before it went false.

Changing E strings every two weeks would drive me mad. You've got a pretty high duty cycle of where it's hard to keep your violin in tune. I guess you could have a VSO whose only purpose is to pre-stretch your next E string. :)

June 10, 2019, 9:12 AM · CONCORDMUSIC.COM is selling Goldbrokat E strings for $1.65 each. They have 5 different gauges. I just ordered some of all 5 gauges to see what works best on what violin.

Can't beat that price!

June 10, 2019, 9:42 AM · Paul - the PI platinum E whistles TERRIBLY on my violin. You are not the only one...
June 10, 2019, 10:23 AM · I find that E strings are basically instantly stable. The steel doesn't have to stretch the way that a synthetic or gut core string does.

I wish I had an old E string around that I could take a photo of. You can really see the discoloration in patches.

June 10, 2019, 11:38 AM · Ideally, a string starts out with the same mass and thickness all along its length. A little wear, corrosion or dirt accumulation (contaminant accumulation is not as much of a problem on mono-wire E strings as it is on strings with multiple layers of windings), and performance deteriorates. An E string with a platinum coating is likely to be more wear and corrosion resistant than plain steel, depending on the thickness of the coating, and the formulation of the platinum alloy.
June 10, 2019, 12:58 PM · I don't like the Goldbrokat E strings, even though they're cheap. The plain steel ones turn black in about two days and the brassed ones turn silver AND THEN black in three.

Sound is just ok.

I admit that the Goldbrokat strings are the only ones on the market that are actually fairly priced. Everything else is marked up by an insane margin.

June 10, 2019, 10:27 PM · Andrew do please update us on your findings. I've been thinking about trying a heavy gauge e string for a while and want to know how each e string effects each of your violins.
June 10, 2019, 11:08 PM · I love the Goldbrokat strings, they last forever for me.

I always have a dozen or so of the regular $1.65 ones in both ball and loop ends available in the studio for students who have not quite noticed that their E strings have worn out completely, and I do like the feel under the fingers and the clean resonance of their "premium steel" version for ~$2.65.

June 11, 2019, 3:50 AM · I used the Evah gold E string without any whistling for years but for some reason this string whistles just in one note sequence - the 16th passage in MozartV (Ist A. aperto) at F, with the rapid string crossings. Its not a false string as I've tested two of them and I don't think its me either.

Anyone else noted whistling on just a particular region of the string or passage?

June 11, 2019, 10:30 AM · The whistling occurs because you fail to get the string to vibrate the right way. It is twisting rather than vibrating and typically it happens in rapid slurred passages going from A to E. The surface characteristics of the string play a role in how easily this happens (and the players technique as well). The spiral on the Amber E helps avoiding whistling either because it helps the bow grab the string or because it makes it harder for the string to twist.

I have "amberized" other brands of E strings. It is quite easy to make a short spiral on the wire. So if you prefer the sound of a gold or platinum coated string but have problems with whistling try that out....

I think part of the reason E strings go bad is strain hardening of the metal. It starts to behave more and more like a stiff rod rather than a flexible string and so the overtones go false.

June 11, 2019, 12:24 PM · --metal fatique. Carbon steel is stronger, and cheaper than chrome "stainless" steel, but it corrodes quicker. I tried a gold-plated E only once, and the gold layer wore off in fingering spots after only a few days.
Edited: June 11, 2019, 3:28 PM · I have to think about the metal fatigue issue. Normally fatigue is associated with cyclic (repetitive) stress. My ignorance of metallurgy is surely obvious here but I wonder if steel undergoes anything akin to the strain crystallization that affects many plastics.
June 12, 2019, 3:53 AM · I do not have acidic sweat, so my strings do not tarnish.
I use Westminster, but will try Goldbrokat because of price in the future.

- E string goes funky in about 3 weeks for me, but I can use it for about 1 more month before it becomes unplayable.
Funky: starts to whistle more.
Seriously funky: Starts to create edgy and unholy sounds
Funked out: Can not play in tune any more.

I tried "amberizing" strings in hopes of reducing the whistling and the result was as winy the string itself: the sound was rolling around in an unpleasant way.

I admire people who say E string lasts forever. How on earth do you do it?

I also have a peculiar observation. A more resonant instrument (which I have now) will make strings go bad faster. Or - perhaps - the change in timbre will be noticeable earlier.

June 12, 2019, 12:34 PM · I find that replacing strings *before* they start to show signs of wear and start to sound strange is the best way to keep playing optimal.

Life is too short to screw around with false sounding, dead sounding, or otherwise worn out strings. Schedule it like car maintenance, every month, or ever 3 months, or ever 6 months -- depending on the amount you play.

And for those who mentioned the PI Platinum E, it whistles like a steamboat.

June 12, 2019, 1:14 PM · The Evah Pirazzi Platinum E does not whistle for me (only "normally", as even a Goldbrokat could on occasion.)

Though I agree skimping out on strings is even a bit disrespectful towards your instrument. One doesn't need to spend a ton of cash to keep strings fresh.

June 14, 2019, 12:58 PM · A related question: Do you replace all the strings when you replace your e string? Or just the false string?
June 17, 2019, 12:44 PM · These days i bought a pirastro gold label heavy E with GDA Peter infeld. I think it suits very well with the GDA and gives extra clarity. I have the silver D but i ordered an aluminum D to try. I think silver D is extra warm and darkens all the set.

Goldbrokat heavy is a nice E but i think with the GDA peter infeld the gold label heavy suits better.

June 17, 2019, 2:04 PM · I'm trying Timbres on one of my violins now...but not sure about the E. Andrew Victor, do you use the whole set? Or with a PI platinum E?
June 17, 2019, 2:10 PM · Peter Moore--yes, the problem I'm noticing now is with the Timbre E string. I can't seem to find pitches, it's whistling, and it's dull. I don't want to knock the Timbre E, because this could be due to other causes, including my left hand, the weather, etc. I've had the Timbre on my violin for about 2 1/2 months. The G is the best I've ever had, the D is a little mushy-sounding in fourth position and above, the A is good; but the E?!?
June 17, 2019, 4:14 PM · Hey Jocelyn, I'm experimenting with different Es now too...at the moment I'm using Jargar medium which i found to be a slight improvement. For my violin, the G and D seem strong...not completely sold on the A...and am gonna try a jargar Forte E next.
June 17, 2019, 5:41 PM · Peter - I'm using the Timbre E on the 3 violins that now have the rest of the Timbre set. I have no problem with any of them.

But violins are different from each other. One of mine just did not work with the Timbre strings, but that violin did work well with a Goldbrokat E and a medium Tricolore set. BUT my most responsive violin was awful with the Goldbrokat-Tricolore setup. And finally, on that latter violin a Peter Infeld platinum E totally overwhelmed the rest of the Tricolore set. I suspect Chuck Traeger could say something about that if he were still around.

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