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Could you tune a violin a 5th higher?


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On 10/21/2013 at 9:40 AM, Barry J. Griffiths said:

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

Also w/ advanced Technology we now have Helicore strings which are thinner to help w/ bowing on the strings.

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  • 3 months later...
10 minutes ago, Swing Monkey 1 said:

I can't imagine this higher tuning would be good for the instrument.

They're working on special strings for that. Magma makes Transpositor Guitar strings & their 5ths Tuned Set (GCT-Cello) has a super strong High B4 string (Bridge beads as ball ends help) which is made from a specially formulated Nylon, so maybe those might work.

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The other day I tuned a 6 string Electric Yinfente Fretted Violin (aka Fadolin & it has Machine Head Tuners) C, G, D, A, E, B by using these stringsAmazon.com: Magma Classical Guitar Strings TRANSPOSITOR LA-A CELLO - Silver  Plated Copper (GCT-CELLO) (1 Set) : Musical InstrumentsAnd since the scale length is half as long as a Guitar, they'll sound an Octave higher than the notation on the package. Because they're nylon, I added ball ends to help keep them anchored in the tailpiece (I also removed the fine tuners because it has mechanical pegs) & I also lubricated the bridge & nut w/ pencil graphite. I bowed on Nylon strings & they created an interesting sound that's very akin to Natural Gut strings.

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46 minutes ago, Swing Monkey 1 said:

I can't imagine this higher tuning would be good for the instrument.

I'm not sure that it would make much difference, if you are worried about increased tension.

It seems to me that the tension of the lowest three strings would be the same as for normal tuning.  The lowest string, normally G, would simply be a standard D string tuned to its normal tension, and, similarly, the two next higher strings would be standard A and E strings tuned to their normal tensions.

Only the highest string, tuned to B, would be something different.  I don't know enough about string design to know what its composition, thickness or tension would be.  Except that, obviously, it wouldn't be a standard E string tuned to B, because it would break before it got that high.  But I'm guessing that it would be thinner than a standard E and have a tension not terribly different from normal E string tension.

Am I missing something?

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7 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

I'm not sure that it would make much difference, if you are worried about increased tension.

It seems to me that the tension of the lowest three strings would be the same as for normal tuning.  The lowest string, normally G, would simply be a standard D string tuned to its normal tension, and, similarly, the two next higher strings would be standard A and E strings tuned to their normal tensions.

Only the highest string, tuned to B, would be something different.  I don't know enough about string design to know what its composition, thickness or tension would be.  Except that, obviously, it wouldn't be a standard E string tuned to B, because it would break before it got that high.  But I'm guessing that it would be thinner than a standard E and have a tension not terribly different from normal E string tension.

Am I missing something?

What we need to add is a Special string made for that pitch that has a lower tension.

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  • 4 months later...
55 minutes ago, Oscar Stern said:

Actually they should make special high b5 strings for extended range violins.

A 5 string violin with a B string would  reduce the finger reach to real high notes and make it much easier to play them.

The fingering spacings between those high notes would also be wider which would make accurate intonation easier too.

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I do not understand what it means to tune the instrument to a high B. But I did experiment with high tuning on two hardangerfiddles (HF) with violin bodies, seven years ago. The HF will usually be tuned a bit higher than the violin, usually the A string is at B, C or C#, using lighter and shorter strings. The strings on a HF are shorter by 2 cm, or so. The older instruments had even shorter strings and smaller bodies. 

On the west cost of Norway some may use regular A tuning and heavier strings. The HF is usually played in one position. Scordatura is usual, so there exists more than 20 different tuning schemes, while less than 10 is in regular use, I guess. Only the best players are likely to have the larger variability. Most good players have a quad case at a gig, more seldom, an extra double case or so.

I managed to get my instruments up to about D-D# for the A string and the E-string broke several times. I used 0,20-0,26mm strings and they all seemed to go in the peg position, possibly where strings crossed on the peg. I never figured out the real reason, and did not find a permanent solution. But the instruments were fun to play!

I made a couple videos about it. It was from a time where I was at home from my daytime job a bit out of balance. A bit much details in the movies, but I play the instrument in the shorter video. The second longer one is in english.
I enclose pictures of the "string graveyard", a microscope picture of one of the broken string ends. The thread "saftey fixture" I used is shown in a picture as well.

The post-it paper bit says 587 Hz for the Guarneri model which is a high D. I can't find the other. They were tuned to between D and D#. The string gauge is 10,5 for those of you that areinto HF's. I think it is related to weight. The G, D and A string is usually gut or overwound gut. The E is steel with a inticorrosive material outside. Some use a overwound steel E string from Pirastro I think as the A string. My fiddles have that solution, I think it was introduced by my late uncle Hauk Buen.

Example video with one of them played: https://www.facebook.com/anders.buen/videos/10153695384947401

4,5mins on the instrument and experiences (in english): https://www.facebook.com/anders.buen/videos/10153656550897401
I hope they are possible to access.

String thickness.jpg

Microscope picture.jpg

 

Hyssing bedre.jpg

Graveyerd.jpg

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The "treble violin" of the Hutchins octet encountered this problem, trying to make a playable instrument tuned an octave above the normal violin E string.  I believe the player wears safety goggles when tuning or playing the thing.

 Since the string length must be at least long enough for a player to finger consecutive semitones securely, the E string (tuned to 1320 Hz) must be extremely strong and thin. A space-age material known as carbon rocket wire, with a tensile strength nearly twice that of the normal violin E string wire, is used for this purpose.

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Is it possible to figure out the tensile strength, or break limit, of a given diameter and tuned steel string? I guess the saddle and turning of the string may make the boundary conditions less favorable, giving a long and a short side of the curved string. The tension near the peg may be higher than at the free string, if the saddle is not "graphited" enough and the saddle groove is fitting "too well".

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2 hours ago, Don Noon said:

The "treble violin" of the Hutchins octet encountered this problem, trying to make a playable instrument tuned an octave above the normal violin E string.  I believe the player wears safety goggles when tuning or playing the thing.

 Since the string length must be at least long enough for a player to finger consecutive semitones securely, the E string (tuned to 1320 Hz) must be extremely strong and thin. A space-age material known as carbon rocket wire, with a tensile strength nearly twice that of the normal violin E string wire, is used for this purpose.

Bob Spear made Hutchins octet instruments and he had trouble finding strings strong enough for his trebble violin that had an E string tuned at 1320Hz which is an octive above a standard violin.   Attached is a 2007 draft report he wrote addressing the problem.  Also attached is an analysis of the problem I had wrtitten for him.  I had concluded that it was unlikely that steel would be strong enough because its density was too high.

The stress in the string's material s is:

s =4p(F^2)(L^2)

where p is density, F is tuning frequency, L is length

So if we want a steel B string tuned to 987 Hz for a standard size violin,  the stress is simply proportional (987/660)^2 or 2.25 times the normal E string's steel stress.  I don't think there are any steel strings available that strong so a B string at 987Hz will probably break.

Using lower density materials such as modern strong polymers which have a density of only around 1.4g/cc compared to steel at about 7.6g/cc might work if they can be made to survive bowing.  I don't know if any progress has been made recently.

 

 

Treble_E_Report.doc Treble e string.pdf

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6 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Bob Spear made Hutchins octet instruments and he had trouble finding strings strong enough for his trebble violin that had an E string tuned at 1320Hz which is an octive above a standard violin.   Attached is a 2007 draft report he wrote addressing the problem.  Also attached is an analysis of the problem I had wrtitten for him.  I had concluded that it was unlikely that steel would be strong enough because its density was too high.

The stress in the string's material s is:

s =4p(F^2)(L^2)

where p is density, F is tuning frequency, L is length

So if we want a steel B string tuned to 987 Hz for a standard size violin,  the stress is simply proportional (987/660)^2 or 2.25 times the normal E string's steel stress.  I don't think there are any steel strings available that strong so a B string at 987Hz will probably break.

Using lower density materials such as modern strong polymers which have a density of only around 1.4g/cc compared to steel at about 7.6g/cc might work if they can be made to survive bowing.  I don't know if any progress has been made recently.

 

 

Treble_E_Report.doc 41 kB · 0 downloads Treble e string.pdf 117.96 kB · 0 downloads

The violin's standard string length of 328mm was might have been chosen because of the strength limitations of the orginal gut E strings.

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16 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

There's no steel string that would get to B. Highest I've seen steel go is A before snapping, on a violin or guitar.

880 Hz, A is about what I reached with the Hardanger fiddles. So maybe it was the limit I reached then? 

One could test thin fishing lines or silk. The Japanese Koto uses silk strings and they are rather long. My intuition was that the thinner strings did survive better and that a thinner string than 0,2 mm could bare better. A shorter stringlength will also go with a higher pitch before break, as Marty points out.

Edited by Anders Buen
Added the silk string idea, changed tension to pitch
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As a real-world datapoint on steel strings, there's the octave G string on a 12-string guitar.  The scale length is slightly under 2x that of a violin, and from some experience, that's the string that breaks a lot.  So somewhere between G and A on a standard violin would be a practical limit.  Where it actually breaks would be an impractical limit, of engineering interest only.

So, yeah... you'd need material with a higher stress/density capability than music wire if you want to go higher pitch.

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