My 1895 German violin and I disagree on string tension- thoughts?

Edited: October 31, 2020, 12:36 PM · I’ll preface this by saying that I love my violin, but recently got into a bit of a difference in preference with it. I like medium tension Larsen’s and it seems to love stark Larsen Virtuosos. It is a huskier sounding instrument that sits perfectly in the second parts of orchestral and chamber works between the violists and firsts. I had them on in rehearsal of a scaled down Mahler 4 and Ruckert Lieder last Wednesday and it is really singing and ringing noticeably better.
As of now, I’m thinking just let it be happy and adjust. I do have to work harder on playing ppp which is not necessarily a bad thing. Getting ppp more with coloration and more deliberate bowing choices.

Replies (5)

October 31, 2020, 12:49 PM · You might need a bit of an adjustment to the fiddle in general when you change string tensions. Bring it to your luthier.
Edited: October 31, 2020, 1:44 PM · Everything works together. So if you change strings, be prepared to change your rosin also. And your bridge, the location of your sound post, the material from which your tail piece is made, and ... well, while you're at it, just get a whole damned new violin. Then start over.

No, seriously now: First of all Lydia makes a good point. There are adjustments that can be made to your string tension that are less dramatic than the foregoing. But if you've got a cannon in your hands and your orchestral part is calling for PPP then I think you just go full-bore sul tasto but keep a cloth handy because if there's a lot of pizzicato in your part, the rosin on your strings can make it kind of dirty (sounding).

Edited: October 31, 2020, 4:47 PM · I don't understand the problem here.

I would not recommend getting a violin that plays well with one set of strings adjusted simply because you changed to a different set of strings when you were already happy with the sound of the original strings, and you're also happy with the new set.

Play with the set of strings that you like. If you like the new louder strings, learn to play ppp with them. If you start adjusting the violin to a new set of strings, and you're not happy with the results, you may not be able to get back to the original tone you had if you go back to the original strings.

Also, "really singing and ringing noticeably better" is what new strings should do anyway, right?

October 31, 2020, 5:29 PM · Thanks for the input so far. Nothing on my side is more than kvetching about what I’m noticing. Curious as to the experiences of others. Mostly, I had expected the instrument to cringe with more tension, but it is doing the opposite. I love the pizz on it now, much more round, full, and ringy. +1 on the ppp sul tasto and with more bow speed. Just my fingers and bow that need some habit adjusting, but will take it to my trusted luthier after I get used to it. Sitting principal for this one, so not really trying to bury myself in the section.
Also find that I’m going through rosins again. Starting with Larsen and Larica as reference points.
November 1, 2020, 2:09 PM · I do miss being able to play several hours before I start feeling my left arm muscles start to fatigue. I can now play longer on viola and double bass before fatigue sets in than on violin! My second violin is still set up with medium Larsen Tziganes, so I still can practice longer on that. My old German violin still sounds much better with the stark tension - more than the normal new string zing.

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