Trying to warm up my A string (and E at some point), and string life.

Edited: July 14, 2019, 9:43 AM · I have a set of Vision Titanium Solos on my violin. I changed out the E string ($21!!!!) because it was so prone to whistling. Put a Warchal pigtail string (I forget the string name) on there to handle that. But I'd like something warmer on the A and E strings to match my low strings.

My G and D strings sound pretty good. My A string sounds a bit bright in comparison, and not as much resonance.

I put a Tzigane A on there this morning to see what happens. I'm waiting for it to settle in. Lots of stretching going on.

I'm looking at the Shar string chart, and on the warm side of the field, they list Obligato, Tzigane, and Oliv. Also a Vision Solo, which is only a slight bit brighter than the others, per the chart.

I've read on here that Obligatos don't last long. What about the Tziganes, Vision Solo, and Olivs?

What are my nonwhistling warm options for the E?

Replies (29)

July 14, 2019, 9:54 AM · Try low tension unwound gut for the middle strings if you're looking for warmth. As for the E string, you could try a wound option.
July 14, 2019, 10:06 AM · A? Pirastro Aricore. Sweet and warm and long lasting.
E? Pirastro No.1, or Tonica wound E.
July 14, 2019, 10:13 AM · Not sure I'm ready to take on trying to tune gut strings yet, though I've been thinking about it.

What happens with the Aricore if you don't use Pirastro Tonica Rosin?

Edited: July 14, 2019, 1:18 PM · Vision Ti Solo A takes longer time to break in, e.g., 1 month based on my experience, then settles down to exhibit a pleasantly bright and sweet tone. However, it is always on the bright side of the spectrum.

Vision Solo A (not the Ti version) could be a good match to pair with Vision Ti Solo D & G (that combo is currently on one of my violins). Vision Solo A would be considered neutral than dark to me. It is the No.1 A in my book as it is pleasant, mellow, noble, and with a lot of color. On the other side of tonal spectrum, I wound think Obligato is chocolate-like dark (might not be the best match to pair with Ti Solo D & G). Warchal Amber A and Infeld Red A are also on the dark side, but not so extreme. However, Warchal A requires very long breaking in time too (>25 hrs) as it is somewhat metallic and brash initially, gradually rounds out to become smooth, full, noble and mellow.

I noticed that you are trying Tzigane A. I have used the stark version of such A on two of the violins, and the result was not really impressive. On the contrary, the stark Tzigane E is very nice: ringing, pleasant, warm, and sweet. The tension of that stark E in fact is comparable to many other medium Es. The stark Tzigane E is the default for me. The medium Tzigane E is somewhat average, similar to the Pirastro Es (e.g., Evah Pirazzi E or Wondertone Solo silvery E), pleasant but vanilla.

As Adrian recommended, Wound Es, such as Pirastro No. 1 E, are warmer, I would also add Eudoxa wound E (No.1 and Eudoxa E might be the same Pirastro wound E). Both sound pleasant and round, besides warm. Moreover, I would think Jarger E (forte) might also work for you; it sounds round, beefy, full, and projecting on some of, but not all violins.

All the strings I mentioned here are considerably long lasting, at least compared to the average of the others, especially the majority short-lived synthetic A strings.

July 14, 2019, 12:38 PM · E string gauge can have a big affect on not only the E, but the rest of the violin.

Have you tried heavy-gauge e strings before? That might help.

I agree that Vision Solo A might be more what you’re looking for and should blend well with Vision Titanium Solo D and G.

July 14, 2019, 12:40 PM · Zhi-Yi, No. 1 and Eudoxa have different composition (Eudoxa is aluminum wound, and Pirastro told me that the Tonica wound E, which is also wound with aluminum, is a different string from the Eudoxa E. They do sound different).
Edited: July 14, 2019, 3:09 PM · I found that the Eudoxa wound E is the brightest, then the Tonica, and last of all the No.1 (which may be chromium wound, I'm not sure)

There is also the wound Dominant E which I seem to be alone in the world in liking..

Also I have solved whistling by putting a thin square of leather (e.g. chamois) in the E groove of the nut; the open E then sounds more like fingered note.

July 14, 2019, 4:18 PM · Adrian, I agree that Eudoxa E is brighter (and more powerful) than No. 1.

Again, the stark Eudoxa E is slightly darker than the medium. More importantly, after 20 hrs for breaking-in, it (the heavy gauge) sounds very pleasant, brilliant, sweet, yet still rich.

Just need to be aware, the tension of the heavy gauge Eudoxa E is relatively high.

Edited: July 15, 2019, 10:36 AM · --"what if you don't use Pirastro Tonica Rosin"? I smile whenever I see that long list of Pirastro rosins that match all of their string brands. Is this a marketing ploy to sell more rosin? Ideally, the optimum grade of rosin would be different for each one of the 4 strings; E-A-D-G. A real chemist might know: how important is the electrical/mechanical adhesion between rosin and the different metals: steel, aluminum, platinum, silver,etc.
July 20, 2019, 9:05 AM · Put the Vision Solo A string on, replacing the Tzigane A I had on there. More resonance. Nice darkish tone. Now to experiment with the E string.
July 20, 2019, 9:24 AM · James Beament's book "The Violin Explained" has the best explanation of how rosin works that I have seen. Unfortunately the book has become horribly expensive so now even the Kindle version costs $54.

Basically, rosin works because the rosin that is stuck to the bow hairs interacts with the rosin that is stuck to the strings. So it is the coefficient of static friction (while the string is moving with the bow) and the sliding friction (while the string is in the phase of the vibration while released from the hair and moving in the opposite direction to the hair) and the difference between these two levels of friction at the ambient conditions that determine how a particular rosin works.

My experience with dozens of rosins on many strings on violins, violas and cellos over the past 70 years I have been a "conscious" player tells me that the rosin "brand" seems to make a (much) bigger difference than the string surface material - indicating the rosin/rosin interface is more important than the rosin/string or rosin/hair interface.

July 20, 2019, 10:56 AM · Thank you, Andrew V., I did not know that. So maybe we should not aggressively wipe off the rosin that is on the strings ?
Edited: July 20, 2019, 11:50 AM · Glad the Vision Solo A worked for you David! I just put my first set of Vision Solos on my violin (silver D). I still have the Piastro Gold E and I want to wait to try out the VS E until after my other strings settle down so I can decide if I like that combination. It sounds rather different with the VS Solo strings than it did with my Dominants - I suspect it won't be sticking around - the PGE seems a little more harsh than before but that may only be because the other strings haven't yet fully settled. Really like the VS G/D though - warmer/a bit richer/rings a bit more than the Dominants. The A hasn't yet settled enough for me to really hear the difference yet.

Looking forward to hearing what you decide with your E string.

Very interesting Andrew - wondering the same thing as Joel. I carefully clean my strings every time I play...

July 20, 2019, 7:18 PM · Another set of adjustment problems patched with strings...... both the whistle E and the A.
July 20, 2019, 7:34 PM · Clue me in as to how you know that for sure.
July 21, 2019, 8:25 PM · The E string being a Dominant already discourages people from trying, Adrian! Haha
July 22, 2019, 10:54 AM · Joel - I wipe of my strings after every playing - it's just part of putting the instrument back in its case. The rosin on the bow seems to re-coat them instantly. I get the feeling that leaving the rosin on builds up too much rosin on the strings.
Edited: July 22, 2019, 12:53 PM · " Clue me in as to how you know that for sure."
Because I have been doing this professionally for almost 40 years, working on very fine instruments in very fine shops for very fine and fussy players, unlike all of the other people who are commenting in this thread, and I am very familiar with the causes of both of these problems. You are certainly welcome to stop in.
July 23, 2019, 3:21 AM · I asked because you didn't know the history of the instrument, how many luthiers I'd been to, what they said, what adjustments had been done, etc. Putting different strings on was not my first line of attack.

Now, whether they all had your level of expertise, I don't know for sure.

As far as dropping in, I think we are in different parts of the country. Otherwise I'd consider it.

July 23, 2019, 3:53 AM · Michael, I have met many reputable luthiers claiming to be able to get rid of E string whistling. Unfortunately, their service never turned to be working much in fact. This is why we have developed non-whistling Amber E string. In my experience, there is a big difference between particular violins, from almost totally whistling resistant to entirely whistling prone. If you are out of luck possessing the latter one, you simply appreciate any kind of remedy, even if it would be a funny shaped string. As for luthiers service, I never found any working set-up in fact, as I have already mentioned. That is not to say that you are not able to solve the problem :-). I think I should visit your workshop one day...
Edited: July 23, 2019, 7:55 AM · Bohdan,
I’m currently using the Amber e and I’ve actually gotten it to whistle. It isn’t nearly as often as another e but it does everyone once in a while. But on my other violin it doesn’t whistle at all. However, at the same time it isn’t as strong on this violin as my other one in high positions. Could I perhaps need to try the amber forte?
Edited: July 23, 2019, 8:44 AM · Bohdan, to my memory, since figuring this out, no violin has come out of our shop with a whistle, including ones that came IN with that problem, if that problem was pointed out to me. So I obviously don't believe that this is an inevitable issue for some violins. I do discover, however, that the particulars leading to this are regularly ignored, even by many good shops, because of a particular errant belief about setups that I am not too eager to explain ;-)

I don't have a problem with your funny strings, except that problems with violins are usually indicative of fundamental errors that can affect more than the specific problem of the moment. So solving one thing often results in better results everywhere. Whistles are a good example of that phenomenon.

I am fortunate to have two partners who are talented and fussy professional players who simply won't put up with problems, and don't mind spending ridiculous amounts of time (and my work) solving them. Because of that I have learned a lot in the time that I have been working with them.

July 23, 2019, 8:57 AM · Christian, the answer is: no, Amber Forte would not solve the problem better than the Amber medium gauge. Amber Forte has been developed simply as a bit heavier version of Amber E string, especially for instruments requiring a bit heavier E string (to balance the set if needed). Amber Forte does offer a mit more meaty sound, not the stronger whistling protection.

As for the effect of helix E strings in general (Amber Timbre), the feedback received from our customers does correspond with our findings: It helps to prevent whistling accidents up to 90 - 95%. Guaranteeing 100% efficiency would be the same as guaranteeing skid protection with winter tires. Winter tires underwent a lot of progress and nowadays the best of them can support you a lot on snow. However, there is still a limit as it is with any other product.

As for the E string whistling, do not forget to check one of the causes that cannot be amended by any string nor any instrument set-up. I mean the touching the string by the side of your index finger unconscious (most frequently during playing chords). There is no reason to exclude it from the list even if the whistling only manifests on one of the two instruments. The distance of the E strings from the fingerboard margin (fingerboard edge) may be quite different with particular violins.

A very significant job can be done by the violinist's right hand of course. Crossing from A to E being too far from the bridge is the very common culprit.

July 23, 2019, 10:25 AM · With my last violin, a succession of luthiers were unable to address the problem via adjustment, so swapping out E strings ended up being the answer. (That was before the Amber E existed, though.)

With my current violin, the E whistled sometimes and an Amber E was the quick fix. I don't know whether or not it could be dealt with by adjustment alone now, since I like the Amber E's sound.

Michael, out of curiosity, what's your usual allotted time to do an adjustment? I've generally found that my violin will eat an hour of time in many cases, and the end result (by the time I feel guilty about how long this is taking) isn't consistently as good as I know the violin is capable of sounding.

(I got it back from a repair done by John Becker recently. The set-up when I got it back was excellent and eliminated an annoying wolf that nobody else had managed to tame, but I assume would have been casually done in a few minutes.)

July 23, 2019, 1:58 PM · Michael, I believe that an instrument is either properly set-up or worse, with all subsequences. The same applies for the helix E string invention. It not only prevent whistling, but makes the sound melower and improves the response overall. This is why many of those who never faced whistling problems do like it as well.
July 23, 2019, 4:08 PM · Lydia, I don't think I have ever gone over 15 minutes, usually much less. People tell me my adjusting is remarkably efficient.
July 23, 2019, 5:03 PM · I should have stopped by when I was In Chicago with my violin.:-)
July 23, 2019, 8:06 PM · I have mixed suspicions about this. On the one hand, if a violin starts to whistle a lot, I do take that as a sign that something is out of adjustment and it should go visit the shop. On the other hand, I've never met a violin that I couldn't get to whistle by putting a gold-plated E on it. It seems logical that if you can induce the whistle by putting one E on, it's not unreasonable to try to cure the whistle by taking another one off.

What do you think about this Michael? Have you adjusted the whistle out of an Oliv goldstahl E? I stopped using them years ago for this very reason. I'm not sure when I'll be up your way again, but I'd love to see what kind of magic you might work between my fiddle and a gold E.

July 23, 2019, 9:13 PM · I have used these strings, but not had a whistle, so I don't have a good answer for you.

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