Lowering string tension - Violin vibrating more than usual

December 30, 2020, 6:19 AM · Hello! I hope everyone is well. I was wondering if anyone else had a similar issue and how they went about it - I just changed my strings from Eva Pirazzi high tension to medium tension. Whilst I have found them much easier to shift, vibrate and get a bit more colour, one of the downsides I noticed is that the violin feels like it's vibrating a lot more, which has been very distracting (and hence have not managed to get much practising done, recently). Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I would like to try and get used to them as I feel they also have benefits, but it feels like the vibrating of the box against my neck is all I can think about. Is this normal? Do I just deal with it or should I go back to high tension if that's what my violin seems to prefer? Many thanks!

- C

Replies (15)

Edited: December 30, 2020, 7:27 AM · I've heard over here that it's normal after lowering the tension, soon it will get less resonant, but most importantly you will get used to it.
December 30, 2020, 7:30 AM · Personally, I enjoy the vibration of my violin when I'm playing it - for me that's what it is supposed to do. If it didn't vibrate it would sound dead. My violin is an 18th century instrument currently fitted with relatively low tension Eudoxas, but sometimes plain gut. Not far off a baroque setup but nevertheless eminently playable for all eras.
December 30, 2020, 7:31 AM · I find I can get much more colour out of a violin with lower tension strings. I think the fad for putting high tension strings to get a bigger projection is such a shame when people put these strings (no names but one of the most popular brands) on high quality instruments.
December 30, 2020, 8:15 AM · Thank you all, really helpful insights. Not just me going crazy then.
December 30, 2020, 8:44 AM · Nothing wrong with regular EP, but playing them on stark must have been rough. Weich would be my choice for that brand line (EP are not bad, just the usual cons, and that I do not prefer synthetics overall ).

I believe the cons of high tension strings more than override any possible "maximum volume" benefits, though I am sure many accomplished players do use them to good effect.

Edited: December 30, 2020, 10:24 AM · You are definitely not imagining things, Claire. I've switched my medium EPs for weichs a couple of months ago and the violin has been vibrating quite a bit more since, though that's a definite plus in my books. I don't think that there's much you can do about it if it really annoys you other then go back to high tension strings. While the resonance and overall sound of the instrument adjust after the change, my violin still vibrates more than it used to after several months, so I think this aspect of the change is here to stay.

What you could do is switch out one string for a higher tension one, which would probably be the E-string? But I'd wait for other people's input on this issue; I'm very new to these kinds of experiments myself. My personal experience is this: I went from weich EPs and a Larsen E (which is very low in tension) to weich EPs with a 0.27LP Goldbrokat E (which is significantly higher tension) and that has definitely affected the sound of all the strings and reduced the buzzing I was getting from the overall low tension, as far as I can tell.

I should also note that I didn't have the instrument adjusted for the lower tension strings yet, so that might also be the simple solution. I'm sure that my violin prefers a lower tension than the full medium EP set, but perhaps a bit higher tension than the full weich set and hopefully the buzzing will stop once I finally get it back to a luthier to change the setup a bit.
Hope that helps!

December 30, 2020, 10:06 AM · If you put/wrap a small cloth over the top of the chinrest and under the violin so as to cover your collar bone you will not feel much of the vibration.

I've been using a product by "VaaGun" (and some labelled "M. E. Strings) for years that does that. Unfortunately it no lo9nger seems to be sold in the USA, but when it was I acquired enough for all my chinrests. When they start to wear out I will have to devise a replacement (which I essentially had already done before they appeared at SHAR.

December 30, 2020, 10:22 AM · Benjamin - Thank you that's an idea, I am currently using the goldbrokat 26 but 27 could be an option.

Andrew - thank you too, I am in the UK so not sure that is accessible for me, but I can experiment with cloths around the house.

Seems like it might be worth giving it a few weeks and see if new sensations become normalised which I am sure that can, as with anything. Just another day at the office for violinists!

December 30, 2020, 11:06 AM · Is the Strad Pad still being made? Not identical to the Vaagun, but might offer some of the same benefits.
Edited: January 1, 2021, 7:44 AM · Claire, WoodBrass sells it in the UK
https://www.woodbrass.com/en-gb/accessories-quartet-chin-rest-vaagun-chinrest-cover-size-l-p242650.html

Edited: December 30, 2020, 5:20 PM · Evah Pirazzi mediums are already "stark" when compared to other medium strings. The actual EP starks must be insane.

I agree with James, the more I experiment with projecting strings, at first I like how loud they are but then I always feel like wanting to comeback to Obligato or Dominant for response and easiness of play.
I still want to try EP Gold though, they are hust above the tension as Obligato.

December 31, 2020, 1:40 PM · Of all the excuses not to practise, "my violin vibrates too much" has to be the most creative I've heard so far.

You can use a washcloth as a barrier between you and the instrument, but I don't see why it's such a bother to begin with.

January 1, 2021, 7:33 AM · Sorry mum.. i'll go to my room now and practise
Edited: January 1, 2021, 10:25 AM · Now children...

Happy New Year friends!

And welcome Claire!

Edited: January 3, 2021, 12:32 PM · Yes, some violins will respond better with lower tension strings. An analogy: A snare drum (!) head needs to be "tuned" to optimum tension. Too loose sounds flabby, doesn't give the stick enough rebound. Too tight crushes the sound. The stick feels like you are drumming on stone. [Yes, I am also a drummer] The gauge is only part of the story. The angle that the strings meet with the bridge has a big effect on the total force on the top plate. I have one violin with too shallow projection angle of the fingerboard. High tension strings help compensate.
Another thing to be aware of, especially for the e-string; As you play higher on the fingerboard the string seems to get stiffer, the ratio of thickness to length of the string increases. I have a violin that prefers a light E-string (Goldbrokat #25). I sacrifice a little volume to get better clarity on the second octave.
Resonating or ringing too long could be something else; the sound-post might need adjustment. Guitars do not have sound-posts. They ring a long time.
A violin in storage, not in current use, can be lowered a 1/2 step, to help "relax".


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