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francoisdenis

Sweating problems

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Typically , a young man (between 17 and 20) playing several hours a day  who breaks the strings after a few days only.

I have encountered this case several times in my career with the only response "it will pass with age".

Does anyone have a more immediate proposal to solve this problem?

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5 minutes ago, francoisdenis said:

Typically , a young man (between 17 and 20) playing several hours a day  who breaks the strings after a few days only.

I have encountered this case several times in my career with the only response "it will pass with age".

Does anyone have a more immediate proposal to solve this problem?

Buy Warchals?  :)

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I have students that corrode strings very quickly due to sweaty fingers/hands. Tungsten strings are somewhat less prone to this problem. I have seen students corrode plated E strings in a very short time.

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The first thing I would do is check the nut,pegs,tailpeice holes/slots and bridge for sharp edges that could break the string, if thats not an issue, I would suggest his teacher observe his playing in order to make corrections in his playing. I find it very hard to believe that someone is breaking strings from playing too hard, as it's something I've tried to do and never really been able to make happen , even when playing with ridiculous pressure and speed, excluding the e maybe.

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34 minutes ago, jezzupe said:

The first thing I would do is check the nut,pegs,tailpeice holes/slots and bridge for sharp edges that could break the string,

Exactly. And I also wonder if the string is snapping or just unraveling due to corroded wrapping. Sweat would not dissolve a polymer core.

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11 hours ago, jezzupe said:

The first thing I would do is check the nut,pegs,tailpeice holes/slots and bridge for sharp edges that could break the string, if thats not an issue, I would suggest his teacher observe his playing in order to make corrections in his playing. I find it very hard to believe that someone is breaking strings from playing too hard, as it's something I've tried to do and never really been able to make happen , even when playing with ridiculous pressure and speed, excluding the e maybe.

The strings break between the nut and the bridge so the pb is not related to theses points. Right now, I have the pb with a viola player which can break C wolfram in two (often under the annular finger) only the D string (often in aluminum) seems to escape. It's a reason why I 'm thinking to a kind of chimical reaction with the sweat and seeking a way to thwart the effect. I thought that an ointment could help but it should to not make the playing more difficult. 
It's not a commun pb but a real handicap for the player.

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1 hour ago, francoisdenis said:

so the pb

What is "pb"? Breaking Point?

Does the string winding start to unravel before it breaks? What brand/kind of strings is he using? Does he keep his fingernails clipped back?

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7 hours ago, francoisdenis said:

The strings break between the nut and the bridge so the pb is not related to theses points. Right now, I have the pb with a viola player which can break C wolfram in two (often under the annular finger) only the D string (often in aluminum) seems to escape. It's a reason why I 'm thinking to a kind of chimical reaction with the sweat and seeking a way to thwart the effect. I thought that an ointment could help but it should to not make the playing more difficult. 
It's not a commun pb but a real handicap for the player.

The use of Wolfram ( Tungsten ) in strings, i would guess is because of the mass. It is not necessarily a sound I like especially through double stop passages on viola, at times, but once the string hits peak amplitude it produces quite a bit of sound. I have silver wounds on my cello and they sounds silky. I think Thomastik is experimenting with tungsten-silver hybrids.

Prof Denis, could it be that a viola student who comes to see you is a fine powerful player? Is he taller with bigger hands? on a large viola? Healthy nails with square edges?

When using tools, my annular ( Ring ) finger on the left hand is rather useless, though overtime, i have learned to use the whole hand. But when playing any instrument, the ring finger can be exceptionally powerful due to it's speed when striking the string against the fingerboard, if the thumb is anchored rather far away.

The Fa ( F ) note on the viola and many cellos - Do ( c ) on the violin - is not a ringing note and the point where the player's perception is that there is an unusual loss or intensity or quality of sound. These pitches are often played with the Annular or Secundus ( index ) finger in third position, a very popular position for it's flexibility, warmth or power.   

As a technique, some players might tap a note hard onto the fingerboard, just at the initiation of the attack of the bow, to make sure the sound is immediate. Often the pre-vibration ( moving ) string at pitch activates faster than a non-moving string. In the older sweeter playing days of cello, one might quietly pre-pluck a lower open string to start a soft passage on an up bow, so the bow starts vibrating at the necessary time.

If i may guess, not the piece ( could be Hindemith, Bartok ) but that this young man is working on a work in D major or minor. During his practice this area of the string could be stressed repeatedly. The repeated striking of the Annular finger distorts the windings and the core, then the windings are agitated by the vibrato of the index finger. The distortion on the surface of the strings allows sweat and other contaminants in between the windings and further into the damping materials/ core.

Also, if he is practicing 5 hours a day... Practice is usually non-stop playing unless they are my students. I have been experiencing practice-inflation for the past decade. ... that is 15 to 20 hours of possible abuse. 

My performance strings have optimal sound for only about 20 to 30 hours of constant playing, say in a piano trio or a duo sonata. By 40 hours the sound is warmer but has lost a lot of edge and brilliance where the musical passages are not as clear. I notice the added effort. Dominant strings lose their shimmer at about 8 - 10 hours. When these changes occur in the sound, i do attack the strings harder with the bow and the touch.   

I know you have a fine stereo microscope. I would take a look at the broken ends to see how the core is being damaged. Through my teens and into my 20s, i remember having to get the fingerboard planed and replaced many times because i would strike the strings with so much force. Aluminum a - strings would rarely last three weeks and e - strings would be changed around every 2 - 3 weeks as they would start the perfect 5ths would start to drift in the upper octaves. When passionate players are young, we can practice all day and night ( sometimes badly ) and with incredible energy.

Would it be possible the string height/ gap at the nut is also a bit high to avoid string rattle with the fingerboard when playing open strings? The student might consider practicing on a less expensive c - string and switch to the Wolfram before lessons.  

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9 hours ago, francoisdenis said:

The strings break between the nut and the bridge so the pb is not related to theses points. Right now, I have the pb with a viola player which can break C wolfram in two (often under the annular finger) only the D string (often in aluminum) seems to escape. It's a reason why I 'm thinking to a kind of chimical reaction with the sweat and seeking a way to thwart the effect. I thought that an ointment could help but it should to not make the playing more difficult. 
It's not a commun pb but a real handicap for the player.

 

I would suggest switching brands to see if there is an improvement as well as using a rented or borrowed instrument for awhile with both brands of strings to see what happens. To try to determine if it is the strings or the instrument.

If the strings still break with different brands,and they also break on a different instrument, at that point I would say there is something unique about this person, but something tells me its a string or instrument issue. 

There certainly are people who have more acidic ph levels than others, and there definitely certain strings that are much more prone to deterioration than others.

If playing is a serious endeavor for this chap it probably would not hurt to have a qualified luthier look at it.

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On 12/17/2019 at 4:10 PM, francoisdenis said:

Typically , a young man (between 17 and 20) playing several hours a day  who breaks the strings after a few days only.

I have encountered this case several times in my career with the only response "it will pass with age".

Does anyone have a more immediate proposal to solve this problem?

 

 

10 hours ago, francoisdenis said:

The strings break between the nut and the bridge so the pb is not related to theses points. Right now, I have the pb with a viola player which can break C wolfram in two (often under the annular finger) only the D string (often in aluminum) seems to escape. It's a reason why I 'm thinking to a kind of chimical reaction with the sweat and seeking a way to thwart the effect. I thought that an ointment could help but it should to not make the playing more difficult. 
It's not a commun pb but a real handicap for the player.

What is the string length?

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I was away from my laptop since a couple of days and I thanks you all for your advices. I think that the answer could be connected to the pressure and time of playing and acidity. The player damaged the fingerboard very quickly (attached picture) and I had to plan it after only few month of playing. I have some femal players which don't reaches a such result after 20 years....So; wash the hands with high PH soap and less pressure on the fingerboard are my first advise. 

I will say later how it works ....

PS:  I have to say that neither brand of the strings, their lenght and instrument are in cause 

3428CD86-CD58-498B-BF04-E0DDED24D664.JPG

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1 hour ago, francoisdenis said:

The player damaged the fingerboard very quickly (attached picture) and I had to plan it after only few month of playing.

Some fingerboards are harder than other. 

It would be useful to see pictures of broken strings at the breaking point. 

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38 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

 

Some fingerboards are harder than other. 

It would be useful to see pictures of broken strings at the breaking point. 

That true , this one seems to be in the average, I ask for a picture

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6 hours ago, francoisdenis said:

 

I was away from my laptop since a couple of days and I thanks you all for your advices. I think that the answer could be connected to the pressure and time of playing and acidity. The player damaged the fingerboard very quickly (attached picture) and I had to plan it after only few month of playing. I have some femal players which don't reaches a such result after 20 years....So; wash the hands with high PH soap and less pressure on the fingerboard are my first advise. 

I will say later how it works ....

PS:  I have to say that neither brand of the strings, their lenght and instrument are in cause 

3428CD86-CD58-498B-BF04-E0DDED24D664.JPG

Umm; that's the type of wear I would expect to see "old" or very used fingerboard. The scalloped areas are acting like trenches, I not sure from an engineering point how that would snap strings but they certainly indicate someone who is pressing down way harder than needed, either that or practicing 20 hours a day, or a soft material.

I wonder if this chap was starting off with the fingerboard in this condition? if so it would explain the "hulk hands" as if you try to play with a trenched out fingerboard like this the by-product of that is pushing down really hard as the "meat" of your fingertip makes contact with the board but must push down extra hard in order to get the string to make contact with the board in the "valley" of the trench.

My hope is that once this gets straightened out his ease of playing will be GREATLY improved and that hopefully any bad habits developed by using bad gear will not be too permanent or un-correctable.

The fingerboard needs to be releveled and dressed as that is surely not helping the situation and may be causing it.

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I have a guitar-playing friend whose sweat will kill a brand new set of strings in under ten minutes: I string my acoustics with brass, and the first time he played one - probably for around five minutes - I found the strings bright green and corroded the following day.

After going on a health kick which included a dramatic increase in the amount of water he was drinking, he claims that the situation has improved. That being said, I'm not sure I'll let him play a freshly strung guitar of mine again.

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On 12/19/2019 at 4:56 AM, baroquecello said:

A local lutier advises helicore strings for violinists and violists with agressive Sweat. Ofcourse, one has to see if they Sound good on that violin, but they sure are Sweat resistant.

Hm... this would be the exact opposite of my advice based on my experience. I liked Helicores on the viola I played from 1990-2015, but they often began breaking after as little as two weeks. And no, it was not the nut, nor the bridge, nor my fingernails. Often the D-string would break under the 3rd finger G (in 1st pos). I had to give up Helicores because my music director was so annoyed by the breaking strings. Dominants last better, but do begin to unravel. Evah Pirazzi Golds, although notorious for beginning to sound dull after a short time, are actually quite physically robust for me. I haven't had one unravel or break.

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The OP is François Denis, author of Traite de Lutherie, an accomplished and experienced luthier. I'm a little surprised that some of the replies have been written as though addressing a novice. 

I'm with VdA, check the Warchal strings wound with Hydronalium. As an alloy whipped up specifically for uses in corrosive environments, it's probably a safe bet for the sweaty beasts we all know and love. 

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5 hours ago, JacksonMaberry said:

The OP is François Denis, author of Traite de Lutherie, an accomplished and experienced luthier. I'm a little surprised that some of the replies have been written as though addressing a novice. 

I'm with VdA, check the Warchal strings wound with Hydronalium. As an alloy whipped up specifically for uses in corrosive environments, it's probably a safe bet for the sweaty beasts we all know and love. 

Yup.  My comment was serious.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydronalium  :)

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