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Bernd Muesing

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About Bernd Muesing

  • Birthday 11/07/1963

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    Research in violins and bows, making music (violin, viola, guitar, singing), cycling, swimming, hiking with the kids, chess, history, sience fiction,...

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  1. Sure, pure gut E-strings are available for a "true" baroque setup. As they are almost under breaking tension, they usually do not last very long. Metal wound gut E-strings do not exist. If you add a metal winding, the higher mass would require a higher tension of the string to acchieve the right tuning, but the gut core would break before you would get even close.
  2. The question of material for fingerboards will become increasingly important over the next years. The species is endangered in many parts, but especially in Ceylon, which was the source of the best qualities. What is very nice about a solid ebony fingerboard is the fact that you can reshape it several times, which is a lot faster and cheaper than replacing a veneered one. In the search for alternate materials it will become necessary to also look into the setup of the violin. You can not change one important component like the fingerboard without an effect on the entire instrument.
  3. I know Elfi Rautmann from my days in Brauschweig. She make very nice instruments, but as far as I remembered her varnish looked differently that this one. Also, she did not have much time for making, beeing occupied with repairs as the only shop in town. Third, she was always very proud on the family history of making and of her own work. I can not imagine her not to put a label in. Besides, the value of the instrument would be a lot more than what you paid for. But, you like the instrument - so be happy with it and enjoy the music. Somebody sure has put in a lot of effort and hard work to make a nice fiddle. I would not worry too much if that person was an elderly German lady or maybe a younger enthusiastic Chinese maker.
  4. Sounds like this particular D-string has a problem. Maybe you want to change it and see what happens. Alternatively, why not try different strings, most players nowadys prefer "plastic" strings over metal core strings, as they offer a more beautiful sound on most instruments.
  5. We are a little late with upgrading our website to all the new models... The Vega has been replaced by a new model, the ~E4~, the weight is reduced a bit further and is now around 54 grams, the stick is strong enough even for a 6-string violin (with a low F-string).
  6. This is a bit strange, as the Helicore is normally a string with an easy response. So I would guess the trouble is rather on the side of the instrument. Was the violin strung with other strings before that worked better?
  7. A lot of ground has been covered on this very interesting topic. Still I'd like to make some additions: 1) The best bow hair is very smooth. For our bows we actually pull out all hairs from the bundles that are rough or uneven, as these rough patches will actuate "white noise" and might also break early. 2) We have made several experiments with nylon an other plastic fibers: The sound is very clean and clear, and I am sure that the reason for this is the absolute smoothness. Trouble is that the "glue" (rosin) sticks better to the metal strings than to the nylon, so in only a few minutes of playing you have a mighty build-up on the string and all playing comes to an end. 3) Most plastics are very hard to glue. Normal "glueing" is an electro-chemical process that needs open ends of molecules, but plastic provides very few ends, due to the "endless" polymeres. To make a plastic fiber work as "bow hair" you would have to coat it with something that holds the rosin better than the strings. I think the Incredihair (by Incredibow) is such a coated fiber. A customer of mine asked me to put it on one of his Arcus bows. The effect was a very warm, round sound, but missing in the higher range of overtones, which is probably due to the high frequency damping of most plastics. 4) According to our measurements the elasticity (Young Modulus) of bow hair is surprisingly consistent and does not change with treatments. In my experience bleached hair simply breaks too easy, which is why we try to get them as natural as possible.
  8. A very good question. I always meant to look into this... Fractional bows are much less flexible due to their shorter stick. A "1/2" size student bow (Chinese) that I have here is as stiff as a typical pernambuco viola bow. But then also the hair is shorter and thus less flexible, with 5/6 of a full size bow. The two facts combined I would rehair this bow with a similar amount of hair as a standard violin bow. The 1/4 Glasser bow that I have here has extremely little flexibility; quite like a regular cello bow in fact. With a hair length of 3/5 of a full size bow it would still need a full sized rehair for good playing properties. Most 1/4 wooden bows will probably also be kind of stiff, even if they are made from rather flexible wood. Talking about all this, I would propose lighter and more flexible bows for fractional instruments. I would expect that such bows should provide the kids with a much better playing.
  9. Hi Andy, whenever you are ready for an update of your great review, we will be happy to provide you with a couple of our new bows. Over these years we have redesigned out bows entirely (new moulds!), introduced new materials, changed the workshop (from Austria to Germany) and developed a completely new product line. Bernd Müsing
  10. Hi Henry, you probably need a somewhat stronger bass bar to fix that problem. But maybe it is "just" an open seam. Anyway, my best recommendation is to consult a qualified luthier. Bernd Müsing ARCUS
  11. The tuning of a stick can be easily understood when you compare it to a string. A heavier (thicker) string sounds darker (lower frequency) than a lighter. The same applies with the tension (respectively the stiffness in the stick). For example: A violin G-string weighs around 1.4 grams, the A-string 0.6 grams. When tuned correctly they have similar tension - the result is a difference of a little more than an octave. The Coda Classic bow that I have here is tuned like a traditional wooden bow. The weight of the stick and the stiffness seem to be very much like standard. The weight of an Arcus stick is almost half of that of a classical stick, while the stiffness is almost double. Both combined get the tuning up from 15-20 Hz to about 50 Hz. Regarding playing styles: There are some really good and very relaxed players that have similar problems like you, Mike. The problem is that you have to stop the low resonances of the beo with your hand (and arm), because otherwise the bow would bonce around at its basic resonance and spoil the sound. The 50 Herz resonance does not need to be stopped at all. To make an Arcus bow sound good you actually have to hold it very lightly and relaxed, which it learned automatically in a couple of days. Exept maybe from some shipment cost you risk very little when you try an Arcus bow for a week - but very probably you have a lasting solution for your problem. In case the resonance of your arm/hand is very close to the one in your bow, it might in fact be the only solution. Bernd Müsing ARCUS P.S. Tennis players with a very good technique have always had lesser problems with a "tennis-ellbow", but only the introduction of light and stiff carbon fiber rackets (with a higher "tuning") eventually reduced the problems with "tennis elbow" significantly.
  12. The potential for off-string bowing in a bow depends on the balance point only very little. But it has a lot to do with a "perfect" graduation and curve. To get this right in a wooden bow you have to work very precisely, also following the characteristics in the wood (which are often not equal along the whole length of the stick). This takes quite some time. It needs not mention that the quality of the material is also of high importance. Good wood is expensive, as is qualified workmanship. Of course all this is true for carbon bows too. Like so often, in the end the golden rule applies here too: You get what you pay for. No brain infarct, MrLucky - but very well observed! Bernd Müsing ARCUS
  13. Hi everybody, after receiving reports from musicians that an Arcus bow "healed" their tennis elbows (and hand problems) we tried to find out more about it. What I found is that the human arm has a resonance at about 15-20 Hz, and this is about the basic resonance of a classical (wood or composite) bow. Wooden tennis rackets once had the same "tuning", which created so many injuries that it made the name. In fact similar problems are known in golf clubs and in hadheld machines. With a basic resonance of about 50 Hz our bows are tuned much higher and completely avoid the dangerous frequencies. The missing dangerous low resonances also seem to play an important big part in the comfort, together with the low weight, which many Arcus players report of. To find out whether our bows can heal your tennis elbow, ask a dealer to send you some (we always recommend to try both round and octagonal) for a trial. Bernd Müsing ARCUS
  14. Ann, like the Dominant for the violin, the Helicore seems to be the standard for orchestra viola players nowadys. These rope core strings combine the easy response of steel strings with the warm sound of nylon or gut strings. On the downside I find them somewhat limited in their dynamic range and tone colors. Many chamber musicians and most soloists I know use synthetic strings. Personally I find the Obligato great for instruments that need some extra power and richness while some violas thrive on Dominants. Currently I have Zyex medium on my viola and have absolutely no problem to make myself heard in our orchestra and quartett. Regarding the differences of these three sets one could say that the Zyex produces the most round sound, quite similar to the rope core strings, while the Dominants have a certain edge. The Obligato is probably half way inbetween, so why not give them a try first and then decide in which direction you want to go? Bernd
  15. Hey Andy, sorry, but Thomastik Infeld is located in Vienna, and although they speak German there, it is the capital of Austria (which again is not to be mistaken for Australia - they have of a lot more mountains and snow there, and a lot less cangaroos and sheep). If you go for Thomastik strings I would strongly recommend the "Wiener Melange". It consists of a new (galvanized) E-string called e1, the famous Dominant A, Infeld Blue D and Infeld Red G and represents not only the selection of their best violin strings, but is an especially good working combination. Besides nylon strings, a set of steel rope core strings combined with a Wittner plastic tailpiece with 4 fine tuners can also be a good choice, not only for beginners. In my expericence D'Addario's "Helicore" and Pirastros "Flexocore-Permanent" produce a very good sound on many violins. The special advantages of such set up are a very easy response and good durability, beside easy tuning. Bernd
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