Nicolas Temino

G string bad sound in the upper positions.

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A friend of mine has asked me to take a look at one of her violins. Not very valuable one but nice tone and good projection. She says that when she plays in the upper positions, G string sounds like suffocated or asphyxiated (don't know the appropiate word in English).

The first thing I am goint to check once she gives me the violin is the bridge, as she says she has put one she had on another violin (guess the feet won't fit properly). Hope it is not a bass bar issue.

Any other thing I might take a look at?

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It's difficult to get good sound on high positions on the G string... .... try the 7th position on a violin: in most of the cases you will get a rasped sound (suffocated is ok also) or many wolves... that's why many top players (Zukerman included) will start a violin test drive playing fortissimo on the 7th position on the G string. Most players will notice that just when they start learning some solo pieces, that explores this difficult region.

I think a new bridge will not work.... perhaps a stronger bar.

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My take on it is that this is usually a combination of bad arching and thick grads: you can make it better by thinning the top if it isn't too thin already (or making the arching better the next time).

I would not thin someone else's top just in the hope that it would fix this, because it might not!

On the Simple Solution list, try moving the post inwards a bit.

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Could be a wolf, what note high on the G string is affected most ?

Might just be her perception of the sound, takes a while for players to get used to violins.

Could be a host of things.

She will bring me the violin next wednesday. Then I will be able to tell exactly what the heck is going on. Hope it is a wolf (or a pack :) ). I will check the tailpiece to see if it is in the right place.

It's difficult to get good sound on high positions on the G string... .... try the 7th position on a violin: in most of the cases you will get a rasped sound (suffocated is ok also) or many wolves... that's why many top players (Zukerman included) will start a violin test drive playing fortissimo on the 7th position on the G string. Most players will notice that just when they start learning some solo pieces, that explores this difficult region.

I think a new bridge will not work.... perhaps a stronger bar.

Well, she is not Zukerman, but she is a very good player and a reputed teacher. I will have the violin played by her on wednesday and hear.

I will fit a new bridge anyway, it is nonsense to keep the bridge of another violin on. See if it helps.

It is a nice strad Hellier copy, with real bone purfling and inlaid ebony powder decorations, not painted. If it doesn't work she can allways put the violin on a shelf. It decorates a lot. :)

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A friend of mine has asked me to take a look at one of her violins. Not very valuable one but nice tone and good projection. She says that when she plays in the upper positions, G string sounds like suffocated or asphyxiated (don't know the appropiate word in English).

The first thing I am goint to check once she gives me the violin is the bridge, as she says she has put one she had on another violin (guess the feet won't fit properly). Hope it is not a bass bar issue.

Any other thing I might take a look at?

A thinner gauge string often works for me. A thinner and less rigid string in the upper positions, when the string is short, will go into vibration more easily and vibrate more regularly than a thicker and/or stiffer string. Before doing anything radical it's worthwhile to try this; given that the rest of the violin is functioning as the musician wishes.

Salvatore Accardo uses the thinnest strings he can find. He plays a lot of Paganini and pyrotechnic pieces.

Measurements for gut (Pirastro units, 1/20th of a millimeter): A 13 , D 13 1/2 (silver wound), G 15 1/2. The E is a normal .26 mm

Bruce

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A thinner gauge string often works for me. A thinner and less rigid string in the upper positions, when the string is short, will go into vibration more easily and vibrate more regularly than a thicker and/or stiffer string. Before doing anything radical it's worthwhile to try this; given that the rest of the violin is functioning as the musician wishes.

Salvatore Accardo uses the thinnest strings he can find. He plays a lot of Paganini and pyrotechnic pieces.

Measurements for gut (Pirastro units, 1/20th of a millimeter): A 13 , D 13 1/2 (silver wound), G 15 1/2. The E is a normal .26 mm

Bruce

Thank you, maestro, I'll check the strings. She is probably playing Dominants with a Hill e on this instrument. I don't use dominants on my violin (he behaves better with vision solos), but I can remember G was not very thin.

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Thank you, maestro, I'll check the strings. She is probably playing Dominants with a Hill e on this instrument. I don't use dominants on my violin (he behaves better with vision solos), but I can remember G was not very thin.

You may need to experiment a bit but usually it's better to start with the simple solutions; like Stradofear suggested with the soundpost.

Bruce

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My take on it is that this is usually a combination of bad arching and thick grads: you can make it better by thinning the top if it isn't too thin already (or making the arching better the next time).

... .

Strado, could you give some more detail on what you mean by a bad arch?

Mike

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I mean an arch that isn't naturally resonant. My own model for how a violin works is that the structure has to be free to respond, not tied up or erratically cooperative, a design thing, and then that the grads are used to adjust playing qualities and complexity, and arching shapes and heights to adjust overall tonal qualities. If the structure is tied up somewhere, it shows first in the areas that are delicate to get speaking, and the upper range of the G string is one of the most obvious of those, which is why players go there almost first when they're testing violins: it's one of the first ranges to have problems.

If an arch is really bad in this respect, thinning doesn't work because the violin gets wolfy before the high G range loosens up, and the C# wolf contradicts what you're trying to do with the thinning.

I suggested moving the post in because that will usually loosen up the bottom end of the instrument, which may help. It also might make the G string flabby, if it's tending in that direction at all, but a lot of violins can use to have the low end loosened up, so it's a reasonable thing to try first.

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A friend of mine has asked me to take a look at one of her violins. Not very valuable one but nice tone and good projection. She says that when she plays in the upper positions, G string sounds like suffocated or asphyxiated (don't know the appropiate word in English).

The first thing I am goint to check once she gives me the violin is the bridge, as she says she has put one she had on another violin (guess the feet won't fit properly). Hope it is not a bass bar issue.

Any other thing I might take a look at?

On two violins that have to be worked hard and carefully to play up high on the G string, I have found that using Larsen Tzigane strings (a complete set) solved the problem. However, I do not like these strings on other violins that don't need them for this problem.

Andy

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I mean an arch that isn't naturally resonant. My own model for how a violin works is that the structure has to be free to respond, not tied up or erratically cooperative, a design thing, and then that the grads are used to adjust playing qualities and complexity, and arching shapes and heights to adjust overall tonal qualities. If the structure is tied up somewhere, it shows first in the areas that are delicate to get speaking, and the upper range of the G string is one of the most obvious of those, which is why players go there almost first when they're testing violins: it's one of the first ranges to have problems.

If an arch is really bad in this respect, thinning doesn't work because the violin gets wolfy before the high G range loosens up, and the C# wolf contradicts what you're trying to do with the thinning.

I suggested moving the post in because that will usually loosen up the bottom end of the instrument, which may help. It also might make the G string flabby, if it's tending in that direction at all, but a lot of violins can use to have the low end loosened up, so it's a reasonable thing to try first.

Stradofear,

Thanks for the interesting post. I find your arching comments here are helping me to look at arching from a different perspective.

About moving the soundpost to free up the bass. Are you talking more about placement or tension? How far in do you find useful to experiment with?

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Playing with the tailpiece may help a bit too. I would try increasing the after string length and shifting the tailgut to the left or right on the saddle.

Another possibility is to move the bridge north or south, if the top permits it.

Oded

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It's the arch that chokes things here. The wolf is nearly always innevitable but the rest of the notes on the G should be fine to the end of the board. As so often with violins the set up must be tamed to limit the failures of the violin. What can we say...use thin strings push the post to a less effective zone and the violin will be balanced..crap all over......sorry...ust sounds like a bad violin to me :)

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Melving said:
It's the arch that chokes things here. The wolf is nearly always innevitable but the rest of the notes on the G should be fine to the end of the board. As so often with violins the set up must be tamed to limit the failures of the violin. What can we say...use thin strings push the post to a less effective zone and the violin will be balanced..crap all over......sorry...ust sounds like a bad violin to me :)

Melvin is right and it is also true that the violins Accardo plays on, even with four mediocre strings, would probably sound good anyway. You may be flogging a dead horse but a careful look at the setup is not costly and, if done systematically, could help (as long as you understand that the instrument will not magically be transformed into the acoustic equivalent of the "Lord Wilton"). :)

Bruce

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Thank you all so much for your wise advice. I'll get the violin tomorrow and hear for myserlf.

As it is not a good violin (Melving is right) there are things absolutely dismissed from the start: new bass bar, thinning the top. The collar would cost more than the dog.

I will try the other things you mentioned (I feel like moving the post a little bit inwards first of all).

Thank you very much. Guys, this is for you. Let's have a (virtual) glass of this:

2000_Vega_Sicilia_Valbuena_5_ano_Reserva_big.jpg

CHEERS!!

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I had the same problem. The neck angle was too low, so check this first

Well, this is not the case, I got the violin last wednesday and the first thing I did was checking the fingerboard. Neck was fine but the bridge was too high, leaving nearly 6.5 mm below G string and 5 below E. That made the fiddle almost unplayable.

I have cut a new bridge with the proper heights. I have also moved the post a bit west to free up the top, and moved the tailpiece south about 4 mm, leaving the string afterlenght correctly tuned to two octaves and a fifth.

The overall sound has improved quite a lot. Problem with the G string is still there, but now in a much lesser way. Guess that a new bass bar and/or top thickness regraduation should work. But, again, the fiddle is't worth the expenses.

I haven't been able to identify the strings, so I guess part of the problem could come from bad strings. I'll tell her to change to a thinner G.

Thank you all for your tips. They have worked enough.

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On 10/9/2009 at 3:29 PM, Bruce Carlson said:

A thinner gauge string often works for me. A thinner and less rigid string in the upper positions, when the string is short, will go into vibration more easily and vibrate more regularly than a thicker and/or stiffer string. Before doing anything radical it's worthwhile to try this; given that the rest of the violin is functioning as the musician wishes.

Salvatore Accardo uses the thinnest strings he can find. He plays a lot of Paganini and pyrotechnic pieces.

Measurements for gut (Pirastro units, 1/20th of a millimeter): A 13 , D 13 1/2 (silver wound), G 15 1/2. The E is a normal .26 mm

Bruce

Hi Bruce:  Do you know what type Strings Salvatore Accardo uses? I’m sure it is wound gut but any info on make and type?

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On 4/2/2018 at 1:11 PM, Pat Zoffreo said:

Hi Bruce:  Do you know what type Strings Salvatore Accardo uses? I’m sure it is wound gut but any info on make and type?

E - Goldbrokat Lenzner 0,26mm

A - Pirastro Passione (the thinnest we can find when we measure a batch of them)

D - Pirastro Olive silver wound (13 1/2)

G - Pirastro Olive 15 1/2 or 15 3/4 otherwise Gamut Tricolore light

He prefers thinner strings.

Bruce

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Hi Bruce:   I know he has said previously that he uses only wound gut strings so the Oliv G and D or Tricolor G (thinnest gauge) makes sense, however, the photo below and others show a Pirastro Eudoxa D string. Perhaps he sometimes uses a Eudoxa D as well.

The Pirastro Passione A string makes sense too as it is also a wound Gut string thinnest gauge.

What is most fascinating is the Lenzner  GoldBrokat E string ( the Heifetz choice) but whereas Heifetz used the thickest version Accardo prefers thinnest gauge.

It is always interesting to learn about what great violinists use on their fabulous instruments.

86FDAFF8-AC76-4FD9-B46E-6F35A9B1D48F.jpeg

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8 hours ago, Pat Zoffreo said:

Hi Bruce:   I know he has said previously that he uses only wound gut strings so the Oliv G and D or Tricolor G (thinnest gauge) makes sense, however, the photo below and others show a Pirastro Eudoxa D string. Perhaps he sometimes uses a Eudoxa D as well.

The Pirastro Passione A string makes sense too as it is also a wound Gut string thinnest gauge.

What is most fascinating is the Lenzner  GoldBrokat E string ( the Heifetz choice) but whereas Heifetz used the thickest version Accardo prefers thinnest gauge.

It is always interesting to learn about what great violinists use on their fabulous instruments.

Salvatore has always experimented so it doesn't surprise me if he tried something else

The E string is a Lenzner Goldbrokat but he uses the 0,26mm which is not the thinnest. The thinnest is 0,25mm. The 0,27mm whistles more easily.

The G string is a Gamut Tricolore.

The A string here has to be a synthetic either a Larsen or Evah Pirazzi Gold. I'd have to see the color in the pegbox. He has tried a lot of different A strings ever since the time we got a batch from Pirastro that were all defective with loose winding. In addition they weren't holding the tuning. He wanted a more reliable A string.

A Eudoxa aluminum wound D doesn't surprise me as he is always experimenting. He orders a lot of strings from me but I have never sent him a Eudoxa aluminum D.

If you already knew the answer, why did you ask?

Bruce

Attached photographs is how it was in 2012. G Pirastro Olive normal (not steif), D Pirastro Olive silver wound, A Pirastro Passione 13 gauge (the thin one), E Lenzner Goldbrokat probably 0,26mm (medium gauge).

5a80c041eb6b8_SApegbox2012.thumb.jpg.b10495d9227a209babda6200d3c85112.jpg

5a80c045ce82c_SAtailpiece2012.jpg.659b95f8f4711ae3f7d52d2b272ddf4f.jpg

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Hi Bruce: Thank you for your answer. Actually looking at the closeups you produced I can readily see the D string is a Pirastro Oliv D string. In my photo it looks like a Eudoxa D. As I view your closeup near the tailpiece the G string is also a Pirastro Oliv.  The E string is the Lenzner Goldbrokat E string. I couldn’t identify the A string hence my inquiry. In your photo it is the Passione.  I too just received the Gamut Tricolor G wound gut and looking closely at the tailpiece section of the string in my uploaded photo and G Strings I just received from Gamut   it is the same the Tricolor aluminum wound gut for the G.

Actually all I knew is that Salvatore prefers wound gut strings and I have the same Pirastro Oliv G & D on my violin.  I’ve had great problems with the Pirastro Oliv A it seems the sound is flat considerably deficient compared to the magnificent and extraordinary Oliv G & D Strings.  I use the Pirastro Oliv Gold E string and it too is fantastic on my instrument. 

Therefore with my A string concerns I started to read about problems folks are having with the Pirastro Oliv A Strings. I recently saw some photos from a colleague who attended the concert Salvatore gave two weekends ago of the Bartok Violin Concerto No 2 in Naples.  When I saw the closeup photos of his Guarneri Del Gesu I immediately focused on the violin strings in an effort to identify what A string he uses. I’ll have to experiment and get some Passione A Strings.  I’ll also have to look into the Larsen and Evah Pirazzi Gold A Strings. It’s amazing how poor the Pirastro Oliv A string sounds on my instrument compared to the highly resonant sounds of the Oliv E, D, and G Strings.

A package of the Goldbrokat have just arrived at my residence and I can readily see it is indeed the same E string shown on his instrument. My Goldbrokat E strings are also .26mm. 

I want to thank you for your generous time and effort responding to my inquiry. I’m fascinated by the strings chosen by famous performers for their instruments and we can all learn a thing or to from their discerning choices.

Pat

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Hi Bruce:

               I took the photo of Salvatore’s Guarneri Del Gesù and imported it into PhotoShop then resized the photo focusing in on the area close to the tailpiece (making this section of the photo much larger) without sacrificing resolution detail.  You are right the D string is the Pirastro Oliv.

The G is the Gamut Tricolor as you stated and E string is Lenzner Goldbrokat.

Thanks again for your responses to these threads.  Pat Zoffreo

EC632A31-85D2-4517-B5EF-32E72FCA0E69.jpeg

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