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Could you tune a violin a 5th higher?


Rue

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Yes...I realize this likely another really dumb question...but I've only had one coffee so far and I'm willing to risk ridicule...so what the hey! :ph34r:

 

Could you tune a violin a 5th higher?  So instead of having G, D, A and E...you'd have D, A, E and B strings.

 

If this is possible...and if I want to try on a spare violin, do I use an E string for the B and then just tighten it appropriately?  Or would it just break at that tension?  Is there some other string I could try?  Would I risk damaging anything else?

 

And for those wondering why I'm wondering...it's to help with visualization/tone of notes (steps and half-steps)  in the nose-bleed section.

 

Or I could just go and dust off my mandolin... <_<

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You could do it with the right strings.  If you used regular violin strings, I expect that they would all break.  And if they didn't break, their tension might damage the instrument.

 

Edit:  You would just need one non-standard string for the B.  I'm pretty sure that a regular E would break before it reached B.

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I have set-up a violin for Brandenburg 1, violino piccolo.  Using a standard 4/4 violin, a .007 guitar string will go up to

g  and probably a.  For the lower strings I use viola strings from my 18" viola (Super Sensitive 18" viola strings)

This set-up works very well for the Brandenburg, minor third higher.  To go a fifth, check out Carleen Hutchins work

and strings from Super Sensitive, or use a half size (12 inch body) violin.  The 20 inch viola strings from super sensitive

might work at a fifth higher, but the .007 guitar string will probably fail.

 

The hardanger fiddle uses higer tunings.  Check the hardager fiddle sites for other string options.

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Could you tune a violin a 5th higher?  So instead of having G, D, A and E...you'd have D, A, E and B strings.

 

Obviously, you could just shift the G, D, and A strings one position and tune them normally.  It's the B string that probably ain't gonna work.  Going thinner reduces the tension, but the stress on the material will be unavoidably higher going from E to B.  Looking for "better material" for the string won't get far, as music wire is about the highest tensile stuff you'll find.

 

The only way this might work is to use a shorter scale length.

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I'm 95% certain that one of the major string companies offered a B for full size violin at one time, I'm thinking it was Super Sensitive, but its not on their website now, so  I may be wrong.

 

I would try two places. Jargar, which makes great steel strings and has done custom stuff for me in the past, and Pyramid, which also makes custom strings. In both cases you should contact them and let them tell you what can be done. I'm willing to bet that they have thought about this. You would probably want to shoot for the same tension as a violin e, so it would have to be pretty thin. I think you would want a wound string, but it may be difficult to make one both thin enough and strong enough. 

 

If you can get a B made, you should be able to use the e,a,d from a standard violin set.

 

I'm also willing to bet that, even if you get the gauges/tensions worked out, you are not going to like the outcome.

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Years ago I strung up a few 1/32 size violins: G G D A and tuned the violins G G A E. The result was a very nice projection on the A and E strings. With a conventional string set-up the bow pulled the A and E strings horribly sharp. No broken strings or necks. Kids using a 1/32 don't usually play the G and D strings for quite a while. I tried the same thing on a 1/16 size and felt that the tension on the violin was too much and scrapped the idea.

 

Barry

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Thanks for all the replies.

 

I may still look for a nylon string and try it...if I can get over the fear of potentially losing an eye... :wacko:

 

I did dust off and tune my mandolin.  It's not as easy to visualize the notes 'in position' ( 5th) as it would be in 1st...but the advantage is you are seeing them where you would actually be playing them...

 

I've noticed that the double strings seem to throw people off a bit too (when comparing instruments)...I could remove one set though...I have an old mandolin that I don't actually use that might do.

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Supersensitive sells strings for the octet, including: Treble Violin 5117 e 5127 a 5137 d 5147

g Soprano Violin SET

5217 a 5227 d 5237 g 5247 c

The treble is an octave above the violin, The soprano is an octave above the viola.

I remember that the high strings were very special high strength wire.

I did not chase the scale length.

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 No...I'm not certain that I know what you mean though...

 

Whitle a piece of wood (or a pencil stub) to match the curvature of the fingerboard and strap it on with a rubber band à la a guitar capo at a fifth up (i.e. where you put your 4th finger in first position). It’ll actually help you visualize the finger spacing better because they’ll be the same instead of slightly wider as they would be lower down on the fingerboard.

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Yes but it's not really useful since all you do is play in fifth or sixth and higher (you basically only lose notes). it doesn't change what you can do with the violin (except for some chords). If on the other hand you manage to really tune your violin a fifth higher then you can get notes you will not be able to get on a normally tuned violin, even "barred" at the fifth like a guitar.

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The trebel violin e string is probably at the limit of current materials.  Contact Robert Spear; he'd know the scale length and if it could be translated into a B string on a standard violin scale length.

Yes, the treble e tuned down might be a choice using the Supersensitive string. I don't know the vibrating string length of the treble violin, I know its shorter than standard violin. So tuning it lower on a normal violin with a longer string length, it might come out to close to the same tension.

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I think it will end in tears! The E string is pretty close to the limit of tension; a thinner string has lower tension but correspondingly less tensile strength, so will most likely break just as soon. You could probably get close with a smaller violin, though - half-size would happily go up a 4th, (I've done this for violino piccolo parts), and you might be able to stretch it another tone. Would that help your experiment, or is it crucial that it's the same size?

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