Thinness of the e string

Edited: November 14, 2021, 8:41 AM · I recently tried out the vision solo strings(PI with the plat e were burning my wallet up), and immediately I felt that the string felt thin(not in terms of the sound, but physically). I felt like I needed to press a lot harder than normal on the string to make a good sound or else it would come out cracked. So I have to ask, do different strings have varying thickness, or am I deluding myself? When I mention strings, I’m only referring to the e string.

Replies (35)

Edited: November 14, 2021, 8:59 AM · Different strings do have different thicknesses.
The Goldbrokat E strings are sold in a variety of gauges - check them out.

1. You should have the height of your strings above the fingerboard checked to be sure they are not too high.

2. Find a source of information on E-string thicknesses. Thickness definitely makes a difference in what you feel on your fingers, but for the same string material a thicker string has to be at higher tension to produce the same pitch (all other things being equal.

I recently started using a Pirastro Perpetual Cadenza (PC) string set and found the E string uncomfortably thin. So for the past 6 months I switched back to PI Pt E, which I have been favoring for years. But the PC E was definitely better for pizz and responsiveness so I switched back to the PC E last week.

November 14, 2021, 9:21 AM · Platinum is heavier than steel, so they MAY reduce the size of the steel core to compensate for the platinum plating (I haven't checked).
November 14, 2021, 9:47 AM · I like the Pirastro No1: a wound E, therefore thicker. Not too tinny.
November 14, 2021, 1:21 PM · If platinum sounds tinny you're getting ripped off.
Edited: November 14, 2021, 3:05 PM · Save your wallet the pain and buy guitar E strings. They're like 50c each and come in your choice of gauge (diametre) and material. Why people are willing to fork over 20, 30, or even 40 dollars for a 60cm long piece of freakin steel wire continues to elude me.

November 14, 2021, 3:43 PM · Mr. Victor, have you tried the Perpetual E 26.7 gauge?
I’m curious as to how a higher tension E string performs with a lower tension string set.
November 14, 2021, 4:19 PM · John, I have not - at least not on purpose - as far as I know.

My problem with higher-tension E strings is that they don't pizz easily for me and I want to hear my pizz with ripping the string off. If it were mad of a lower density material that could work.

I have tried the Perpetual as well as the Perpetual Cadenza strings - they definitely are not the same.

November 14, 2021, 6:58 PM · I wonder if the string is defective; if so, perhaps the manufacturer could provide a replacement. I think it’s worth checking with the retailer. I don’t think you should press at all for the E string; the weight of the finger should be enough to stop the string.
November 15, 2021, 12:34 AM · Greetings,
raymond, I think Tam’s perception is correct. I had a similar experience when I first tried that string and I opted not to use the e although I liked them overall.
November 15, 2021, 6:27 AM · Can you really use a guitar E string on a violin ? That is the first time I have heard of anybody doing that !
November 15, 2021, 8:22 AM · Yes, half a guitar high E works. I tried half a nylon (unwound) E as a substitute for a plain gut E. It stretched a lot , and flattened where the fingers pressed, but sounded sweet enough for a while. This was before the advent of Perlon...
I'm not sure a steel E would be safe.
Edited: November 15, 2021, 7:33 PM · Cotton IS RIGHT!!

The tension of a steel e1-string on a guitar is quite the same as the tension of the e2-string on the violin, provided that you use the same kind of wire - that means a wire with the same diameter and the same density of mass.
The technical reason for that is, that
a) the vibrating string length on the guitar is twice of that on the violin. That makes for a factor of 2.
b) the guitar e1 is one octave lower than the e2 on the violin - that means the frequency on the guitar is half of that of the e2 on the violin. That makes for a factor of 1/2.

=> Because you have the product (frequency x (vibrating string length)) in Taylor's formula for the string tension, the two factors 2 x 1/2 cancel away and you get exactly the same tension for the same kind of wire, either using it for the e1 on the guitar or for the e2 on the violin.
Since the wire has always the tension it is meant for, it's perfectly safe! No risks at all!

Three additional marginal notes:
1.) I personally know some of the guys who produce that kind of wire and sell it to the string makers. They confirmed me, that they don't produce these wires in different qualities for guitar and for violin. It's indeed the same wire for both instruments.

2.) Since the last music store in town closed years ago for reasons of age and only guitar shops are left, I got the habit to swing by on one of these guitar shops when I'm in desperate need for an e-string. Until now I can't tell about side effects of any kind.

3.) For anyone interested I can give the following recommendations:
for a soft string, use a diameter of 0.0095 inch,
0.010 inch is best for a medium tension and
aim for 0.0105 inch when you want it quite hard.
(for instance D'addario names these tin coated guitar steel strings by diameter: PL0095, PL010, PL0105,.... the quality is excellent!)

I wish a nice day to all of you!

November 15, 2021, 9:47 PM · Thanks for all of the advice, I will definitely look into getting a heavy gauge string in the future.
To clarify my original post, I was originally using PI with the platinum E, but as the cost of the strings soon drove me to look for cheaper substitutes, hence me trying the vision solo strings, which were too thin for me and feel incredibly uncomfortable to play on.
Hope that cleared up any confusions!
November 15, 2021, 10:41 PM · I use the Goldbrokat E string. Definitely not $20.
November 15, 2021, 11:17 PM · Me too Paul. Excellent string. I still have about twenty dominant e strings in my underpants drawer. those are so awful Dominant was giving them away with the other strings here. Wonder if they still make those things…
Edited: November 19, 2021, 5:16 AM · When folks decry the Dominant E, do they mean the plain steel one, which I find no good, or the aluminium-wound one, which I actually like!

But then I am really a violist who hates steel A's..

November 19, 2021, 5:50 AM · It puzzles me that some people have taken such a dislike to a string brand that most of the violin world were happy with for decades. In 40-odd years I've never felt any need to switch from the Dominant wound E, or the other three for that matter.
November 19, 2021, 11:34 AM · Jose, even if all string manufacturers were to get their wire from the same place, their results after further drawing, work hardening, heat treating, and possible plating could be quite different.

When I visited the D'addario string factory, I witnessed some of these operations. It's not like they just unroll some wire off a bulk spool, cut it to length, package it and sell it.

Edited: November 23, 2021, 5:42 AM · David,you are right too,
and that's why I ask for to only compare strings with equal density of mass and equal diameter. There are lot of alloys usable to make wire for music strings. But they mostly can be disdinguished by a different density of mass due to their different ingredients. To compare strings made for different instruments for usability on a specific issue, it must be clear, what strings we compare and that these strings are comparable. This is for instance fulfilled by the demand for equal density and equal diameter (when the cross-section is a circle). The same linear density of both strings is thus guaranteed.
Can we agree on that?

When a string maker wants to produce strings for different instruments, but the strings have to be identical with respect to their physical characteristics and the used materials, it would be easiest to start with the same primary products. For a string with a steel core, this means to use the same steel wire and to process it in the same way. Every other option would be more effortful and costly.
Once I also visited the production site of a string maker (not D'Addario) and I back then asked the question about the difference between coated steel strings for plucked and bowed instruments. Part of the answer was, that they of course use the same wire for the string core, when the strings have to be identical in their physical properties.
I agree that this must not be true, when strings with similar physical properties made by different string makers are compared. But in the end the usability of a string does not depend on a specific brand of wire or string maker but on the physical properties of the string itself.

I wish a nice day to all of you.

Edited: November 23, 2021, 8:16 AM · When the last of my pre-Xmas concerts is over (this weekend, actually - no thanks to Covid) I'll experiment with a light gauge classical guitar nylon E to see how it works out with the three Eudoxas. The feel of a nylon E under my fingers should be familiar since I played classical guitar for several years in far-off times. However, if the nylon string experiment turns out to be unsuccessful then the cost will be minuscule compared with other E strings.
Edited: November 23, 2021, 1:53 PM · Jose. one thing which was explained on the D'addario factory tour is that the objectives for bowed strings, and plucked instrument strings are very different, and therefor the products are usually quite different. D'addario manufactures both.

One example is that the rotational stiffness on a bowed string needs to be much higher than that of a plucked string. If the rotational stiffness is lacking, a bow direction change will initially rotate and twist the string, rather than producing sound right away. I played a prototype string once which lacked this torsional stiffness, and there was a pronounced delay in sound production with every bow change, as the string unwound from its twist in one direction and wound up in the other direction.

Another typical difference between the two is the amount of damping they target. Sustain on a guitar string is desirable. Not so desirable on a bowed string, and not needed, since the bowed string is continuously stimulated.

I'm not saying that a guitar E string won't work as a violin E string. Only that I wouldn't expect them to behave the same, because they are deliberately targeted to different applications.

November 24, 2021, 1:44 AM · Trevor - that sounds like a radical experiment! Of course the guitar E string is normally an octave below the violin E so you may be better off with a ukelele string
November 24, 2021, 5:15 AM · Steve, I have already described this higher up this page..
The guitar E has similar tension, but is twice as long and sounds an octave lower. I therefore cut it in half to make two violin E's.
I have only tried this with a plain nylon E. The bow seems to grip well enough, but the nylon is too soft. This was before Perlon appeared, never mind the newer "composites".
November 24, 2021, 6:13 AM · Another vote for Cotton.
November 24, 2021, 6:26 AM · Oh yes, sorry Adrian and Trevor. It prompts me to ask, hasn't any manufacturer exploited unwound perlon as an alternative to gut strings?
Edited: November 24, 2021, 8:21 AM · I believe that between the core and the windings, there is a layer of resins to provide the damping that was found naturally in tressed gut strings. I imagine that these resins wear down before the synthetic core or the windings, causing tonal deterioration long before breakage.

I have also read that pro tennis rackets are strung with gut so they don't "ring".

I should like to hear a HIP performance of the Beethoven and Brahms concertos played with plain gut E-strings!

November 24, 2021, 9:43 AM · Sorry I'm so thick - Adrian, please remind me what HIP stands for (I assume you don't mean Nigel Kennedy playing them in Pop Music fashion?)!
November 24, 2021, 9:52 AM · Maybe I can enlighten you - "historically informed performance"
November 24, 2021, 12:05 PM · There's hardly anything in the violin world which isn't "historically informed" to one extent or another, including dragging something across a string to get some sound out of it.

The term "historically informed" strikes me as just one more lame attempt at superiority posturing.

Edited: November 24, 2021, 5:18 PM · Following on from Adrian's last post, would it be feasible to remove the core from a perlon-cored string (presumably one that is ready for replacement) and use it as an E? Which string out of A, D and G would have a perlon core of size suitable for use as an E?
Edited: November 24, 2021, 7:09 PM · No. It's not a solid core, so it would just unravel. If you unwind a synthetic string you'll be left with a tangled mess of plastic strands.
November 24, 2021, 7:36 PM · Thank you Steve - I've not heard that phrase before, we use the word "period" for such things, but I think I can work out what it means.

When I was growing up, I asked why we didn't use nylon strings on the violin like they did on the guitar, and was told that there was a problem with getting the bow to "bite".

November 25, 2021, 7:09 AM · Right. Nylon is one of the plastics often used for "self-lubricating" applications. It hasn't been very successful as a synthetic bow hair either, for the same reason.
November 25, 2021, 11:35 AM · I purchased a cello Incredibow (concave graphite-tube stick with nylon hair) long ago - pretty soon after introduction of the product. I think they lost my order and when finally filled they included a violin incredibow as well for FREE. So I do have some experience with rosined nylon hair:

I agree with David that nylon and (many) rosins do not have much self-attraction and adding the problem of nylon strings would likely compound the problem. In any event that factor kept me from using either Incredibow for a long time. However a few years ago I added my cello Incredibow to the bow collection I carried in my violin/viola case when I found that the nylon seemed to hold Leatherwood rosin (that I have been using since they shipped it to me from Australia) reasonably well. My cello Incredibow's mass is 47.3 grams (in case anyone wondered).

Edited: November 25, 2021, 11:46 AM · "Nylon is one of the plastics often used for "self-lubricating" applications." Good point. (it has a low coefficient of friction)

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