I noticed a comment on the A-string typically being alumin(i)um-wound and therefore quick to unwind, and had noticed this myself (but it must also be the most played wound string on any violin). Also I'm not happy with the sound open A strings make on my Breton, although this may be to do with its natural resonances. It sounds thin, although it's also perhaps partly bowing technique. Stopped and vibrato'd they sound fine.
Until now I had planned just to use ootp sets, but I feel I may be ready to customise my A string choice. I know some people do that. Oistrakh used a steel A. Presumably unwound. I wonder how that would sound. No idea where to get one yet. It appeals because I'm happy with solid steel E-strings.
Anyone fancy a general discussion of A strings - which ones you like, which ones you hate. Which ones are problematic? Any other comments? I've gone off Dominants. I'm currently using Visions.
I've recently switched to Tricolore plain gut A. I am very happy with the result. It is very unlike synthetic and probably steel (though I've never tried steel A). The gut has great texture and depth which I have not experienced with any synthetic. I recommend trying it.
Steel A strings are popular with players who studied in Moscow. I have several customers who use a steel A and E and a synthetic G and D. There are several options on the market.
I always assumed Prim were Russian. Turns out they are Swedish.
The Tricolore plain (varnished) A is very nice, but their wrapped A is also very fine.
The Oistrakh steel A was probably Thomatik. A steel A can work well for some violins, some players, some repertoire. In addition to the Warchal "Russian" A, Thomastik makes the Spirocore and Flex-core steel A. Daddario makes the Helicore A, a titanium wound A, and the Electric NS strings set, which are steel wound on steel. Some steel core strings are wound with aluminum, which might not last any longer than aluminum on nylon. For students, having a fine tuner on the A makes tuning a lot easier.
Not only students - I have seen 2 fine-tuners on Anne Sophie Mutter's violin.
Wow, what a pleasant surprise and coincidence to find this post, and at the top of the heap nonetheless!
I seem to recall that d'Addario sells an adapter to link a ball--end string to a standard type Hill fine tuner.
@ Mark, I'm not sure if any gut A strings are available with loop ends. Hill tuners may not have enough range for tuning gut strings. I have found it much easier to tune my A string by "clocking" the peg to about 90 degrees of the fingerboard. For me the peg feels far more ergonomic and easy to turn.
Warchal Timbre steel A strings are the bomb. Great strings, huge sound
Thanks John and Andrew.
The construction of wound A strings is a compromise. You want the core to be as thick as possible for strength, but must reduce the thickness to allow for the winding while keeping the same mass per length. At the same time you want the winding to be as thick as possible - again for strength - but still keep the core strong enough. Aluminium is often used because it is light, but it is also softer than steel and in the wound gut A strings we see the effect of using very thin aluminium winding; it is very fragile. I have received gut A strings with the winding already damaged right out of the envelope.
@ Mark, If your violin is going to be sitting un-played for an extended time you may want to detune a half step to reduce the tension. I'm curious what brand of gut string are you using and how old are they?
Thanks Bo, John and Rich!
Mark, I would not torture my brain about the pattern of breaking strings. Strings break at random and a pattern like this generally means nothing.
Windings can be damaged by
Thanks Albrecht and Adrian!
"Random events cluster" = Poisson distribution
The chocolate-chip cookie mystery?
I've had issues with A strings unwinding, even with a good coat of graphite on the nut and bridge. I also used to have that problem with aluminum D strings, but I've come to prefer the sound of silver-wound Ds, and I use those instead.
I'm using Peter Infeld Pi strings all the way across. (G, D, A, E.) They are really terrific. These are wound synthetic strings.
Gordon, on the matter of the open string sounding "thin", have you compared it to the same note on the D-string, and the notes either side of this.
Well I just had an unfortunate experience that I feel I must reveal.
Cutting open the very tough plastic bubble on a USB wifi thingie, I found I had cut the little installation CD....
After giving this a lot of thought, I think both the company and I must share the blame.
I buy Eudoxa strings from SHAR. They have been shipped in the factory envelopes and straight in tubes. I agree it’s a bit strange to ship them loose in a random envelope with no labeling or warning. I think most reputable retailers would be happy to send a new string given the situation.
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