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anna_violin

Broken D String on Violin - Beginner Player

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A detail I've not seen mentioned from the advocates of using "V" grooves on nuts is the angle of the V.  I see how it can work, but if the angle is too acute, strings will certainly be pinched and break.

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16 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

This doesn’t make sense to me. A V groove has two sharp edges that can cut into the winding. The only way to avoid those sharp edges is to make the groove wide enough that the string isn’t in contact with the edges of the groove, which means the string has to be buried in the groove—a distinct disadvantage. Getting the groove to match the shape of the string is critical to proper functionality. And lubricating the surface helps to lower friction.

Another thing that often gets overlooked is the path of the string from the nut to the peg. If the string doesn’t “flow” over the nut to the peg it’ll pinch. And it’s important to make sure that the groove isn’t an uneven width. 

There is no any sharp edge in fact. There are two plain surfaces as a contact spots, nothing else in fact. If we are speaking about nut, the whole groove is expected to be bent, since the nut is expected to be rounded towards to pegs of course. If we are speaking about bridge, no any V shape groove will stay perfectly V shape, since the string always creates slightly U shaped saddle beneath due to very high pressure.

Thus, let's dissucing nut grooves. There are two plain surfaces in fact. The pressure divides between the two surfaces, (two bent lines in fact). Any string can cope with it easily. On the other hand, no any string can cope with being squeezed into a too narrow and deep groove. It would be a naive chimera if we believed there is a chance to design the U shape groove according the string's gauge.

In fact, there are no two strings having the same diamater. Such a parameter can never be standardized. Metal core strings are much thinner than synthetic ones, silver versions of synthetic D strings are much thinner then the aluminium ones, e.t.c. Your customers should keep using the very same kind of strings forever in case they should be sure matching the grooves. Many players are lucky in case their U shape grooves are at least shallow. Than, the string can sit on the two upper edges the same way as using V shape groove. If the groove is deep (as it really is with at least 80% instruments), problems are expected to come sooner or later.

Making the U shaped grooves rather a bit wider is another disaster especially on the bridge. If you make such a groove on G string, you can be sure that the string is sent to the manufacturer as a quality claim. The player will complain poor sound and even worse response. The manufacturer does not decetct any fault. However many brands do not want to annoy their customers, so the replacement is often sent back. After achieving the same result with a new string, the player decides to swith to another brand. The same happens with a second, or even third kind of G string subsequently. Then, the instrument is brought to the lutier. A very common job with moving soundpost, or making the new one beginns. New bridge or even new bassbar comes into a consideration. If the process continues with a new bridge the problem gets solved (provided the maker do not do the same mistake with grooves). Nevertheless, only one maker of 100 looks onto the string/bridge contact point with a pocket microscope before removing the string in order to diagnose the problem.

V shape grooves easily solve all of the above described problems. 

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9 minutes ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

There is no any sharp edge in fact. There are two plain surfaces as a contact spots, nothing else in fact. If we are speaking about nut, the whole groove is expected to be bent, since the nut is expected to be rounded towards to pegs of course. If we are speaking about bridge, no any V shape groove will stay perfectly V shape, since the string always creates slightly U shaped saddle beneath due to very high pressure.

Thus, let's dissucing nut grooves. There are two plain surfaces in fact. The pressure divides between the two surfaces, (two bent lines in fact). Any string can cope with it easily. On the other hand, no any string can cope with being squeezed into a too narrow and deep groove. It would be a naive chimera if we believed there is a chance to design the U shape groove according the string's gauge.

In fact, there are no two strings having the same diamater. Such a parameter can never be standardized. Metal core strings are much thinner than synthetic ones, silver versions of synthetic D strings are much thinner then the aluminium ones, e.t.c. Your customers should keep using the very same kind of strings forever in case they should be sure matching the grooves. Many players are lucky in case their U shape grooves are at least shallow. Than, the string can sit on the two upper edges the same way as using V shape groove. If the groove is deep (as it really is with at least 80% instruments), problems are expected to come sooner or later.

Making the U shaped grooves rather a bit wider is another disaster especially on the bridge. If you make such a groove on G string, you can be sure that the string is sent to the manufacturer as a quality claim. The player will complain poor sound and even worse response. The manufacturer does not decetct any fault. However many brands do not want to annoy their customers, so the replacement is often sent back. After achieving the same result with a new string, the player decides to swith to another brand. The same happens with a second, or even third kind of G string subsequently. Then, the instrument is brought to the lutier. A very common job with moving soundpost, or making the new one beginns. New bridge or even new bassbar comes into a consideration. If the process continues with a new bridge the problem gets solved (provided the maker do not do the same mistake with grooves). Nevertheless, only one maker of 100 looks onto the string/bridge contact point with a pocket microscope before removing the string in order to diagnose the problem.

V shape grooves easily solve all of the above described problems. 

Just think about the physics involved. A V shape groove distributes all the pressure between two points, whereas a round one distributes along an infinite number. There’s less pressure on a surface that supports the shape properly, assuming friction is reduced. 
 

Also, the V shape forces the string deeper into the bridge, effectively clamping it into the nut. As one tightens the string, it catches in a V groove because it can’t slide as it should. This pinches the winding and makes it unravel.

I hate to belabor a point, but this one matters a lot to me because I’ve seen the ill effects of bad grooves so much. It’s such a pleasant surprise to find an instrument set up with attention to detail like this. 

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You can believe me that we do deal with the problem daily. 90-degrees V shape groove does not make Warchal strings unravel. You can keep your own set-up preference of course. Nevertheless, a strings quality complaints cannot be accepted in case we would be contacted by a customer and a wrong groove shape / size is detected. Customers used to be surprised, how precise could a real string failure cause could be discovered and documented in a stringmaker laboratory. We can learn, how long had been the string played, the player's hygiene habits, player's perspiration quality, groove shapes, string cleaning procedures and some other details. 

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I have stated wrong angle by mistake, sorry :-). I meant 45-degrees each side, so I have already corrected my post to 90-degrees angle preference in order to avoid any misunderstanding. 

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4 hours ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

Making the U shaped grooves rather a bit wider is another disaster especially on the bridge. If you make such a groove on G string, you can be sure that the string is sent to the manufacturer as a quality claim. The player will complain poor sound and even worse response.

My experiences have been different.

3 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

Just think about the physics involved. A V shape groove distributes all the pressure between two points, whereas a round one distributes along an infinite number. There’s less pressure on a surface that supports the shape properly, assuming friction is reduced. 
 

Agreed.

3 hours ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

You can believe me that we do deal with the problem daily. 90-degrees V shape groove does not make Warchal strings unravel.

OK, but some of us deal regularly with much more fragile strings, such as an Evah A.

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23 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

OK, but some of us deal regularly with much more fragile strings, such as an Evah A.

David, all synthetic core A string are fragile. Viola synthetic A's and cello synthetic A's are the most fragile ever.

Shalow U shape groove that do match the diameter perfectly is ideal solution of course. But it is just very rarely seen in the real word. Most of the grooves are unnecessary deep. You will probably agree, that the sides of U shape do not help to bear any load. they just squeeze the string in case it is a bit thicker. Too wide groove leads to repsonse problems of thicker strings like violin G or viola C. (Violin A string pressure is so high, that it does make its own U shape even on a perfectly plain bridge, so the phenomenon of rolling string cannot manifest here.) Thus, in order to summarize my advice, right angle V shape is much better than wrong size U shape and our strings can cope with such V shape grooves. 

 The same are other kind of advices. We try to educate public, how to clean strings, which kind of tailpieces and adjuster to use for attaching synthetic core strings, how to protect loop E strings from faliures... Some of our customers do follow our recommendations some of them not. If a damaged string is sent to us, we try to document the cause, make pictures and educate them again. Some of our customers may be surprised that they are being educated instead of being sent the replacement, but there is no much sense to send any replacement if the new string is expected to be used the same way. 

However, I did,t come to argue here. According my experience such kind of knowledge can be better discussed with the particular instrument and knife or file in our hands. This is why I sometimes hesitate to joinn such disscussion. There may be quite a lot of misunderstanding and it used to be hard to explain an effect that can be demonstrated in a minute in person. 

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16 hours ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

Shalow U shape groove that do match the diameter perfectly is ideal solution of course. But it is just very rarely seen in the real word.

Bohdan, I do this and I use your strings.

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I agree that a U shaped string groove has to be done perfectly and very shallow to work, but the V shape leaves me puzzled.

In fact, how long can it last before the pressure and sliding of the string transforms it in any case into a U shaped one?  Perhaps the case could hold up for harder materials such as bone or brass, but the wood (ebony included) I don't think is able to maintain the shape for a long time under pressure and if you start with a V you risk ending up with a channel that changes itself quickly into a U and with the strings too low.

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I do consider Davide Sora to be a very valuable partner, especially when it comes to various forms of "myth-busting".

Davide posts real stuff, rather than "used car salesman crap", in my opinion.

 

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51 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I do consider Davide Sora to be a very valuable partner, especially when it comes to various forms of "myth-busting".

Davide posts real stuff, rather than "used car salesman crap", in my opinion.

 

I agree with you about Davide Sora. But to what do refer that's "used car salesman crap"?

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5 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

I agree that a U shaped string groove has to be done perfectly and very shallow to work, but the V shape leaves me puzzled.

In fact, how long can it last before the pressure and sliding of the string transforms it in any case into a U shaped one?  Perhaps the case could hold up for harder materials such as bone or brass, but the wood (ebony included) I don't think is able to maintain the shape for a long time under pressure and if you start with a V you risk ending up with a channel that changes itself quickly into a U and with the strings too low.

Hi Davide, you may be right of course. Nevertheless, neither a fingerboard level isn't set forever. It is expected to be resurfaced from time to time. So now, the basic question is what would get wear faster, if it would be the nut, or the fingerboard.

O.K., you are right, perfect matching shallow U is the best option, there is no doubt. I advocate V shape being desperate trying to explain this matter to all kinds ald levels of customers. I mean, all kinds and levels of players, and also all kinds of repairers. As you certainly know, there are no only the best educated and meticulous makers spread over the word (as well here, on MN). There are many of them, who are not able to understand why a violin synthetic core A can be even a bit thicker that silver D (not only speaking of Warchal products, but speaking in general).

Every top brand is played by all kinds of customers, from the top soloist, up to the totall beginners. This is why we also got complains like this one e.g.: "Your strings came packeged wrongly, there was D string in A string package and vice versa. I have distinguished them correctly, nevertheless, the A strings snapped even before reaching the final pitch. The sound of the D string is awful..." So there are various levels of users and various level of violinmakers worldwide. U shape is the best if made properly.  On the other hand, U shape nut groove is the most frequent cause of breaking strings in the pegbox (and unraveling on the nut). V shape is worse, but still working. This does not mean I would like to change the mind of those, who know how to do it properly :-)

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44 minutes ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

 This does not mean I would like to change the mind of those, who know how to do it properly :-)

While they may be few and far between, there are many people who know how to do things properly., and even superbly.  I would rather encourage that, than take things to some sort of "just enough to get by"  level.

 

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24 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

While they may be few and far between, there are many people who know how to do things properly., and even superbly.  I would rather encourage that, than take things to some sort of "just enough to get by"  level.

 

You would be right if there would be chance to do perfect grooves "one size fits all" forever, but there is no any. I have spent a great part of my life as an chamber music and orchestra player travelling on tours worldwide very frequently. Musicians simple grab the first available string if they need to replace the worn one. So if I replace the silver D by an aluminium one, the perfect matching U groove turns to the same as V, since it do support the string on two spot only. Life is sometimes more complex as expected :-)

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13 hours ago, Bohdan Warchal said:

You would be right if there would be chance to do perfect grooves "one size fits all" forever, but there is no any. I have spent a great part of my life as an chamber music and orchestra player travelling on tours worldwide very frequently. Musicians simple grab the first available string if they need to replace the worn one. So if I replace the silver D by an aluminium one, the perfect matching U groove turns to the same as V, since it do support the string on two spot only. Life is sometimes more complex as expected :-)

I have a bit of experience too. ;)

Certainly, an aluminum D will require a larger nut and bridge groove radius than a silver D. Things like that ain't exactly rocket science.

I would not recommend a V-groove as a catchall substitute for a properly radiused groove. But as Davide Sora has already said, a V-groove in either the bridge or upper nut would be expected to conform to the shape of the string pretty quickly, whether from wear, or from plastic deformation of the wood.

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I work mostly on mandolins and guitars and in that world v-grooves are a big NO (I've also set up and replaced nuts on quite a few basses, some celli and violins). Perhaps it's because guitar nuts are made of bone or pearl so they will not conform to shape of strings and v-shaped slots will definitely pinch the strings. Especially on unwound a- strings on mandolins, even if they initially work OK freshly lubed after some playing they will start to jump during tuning up or down - that is clear sign of pinched string. It's normal for guitar or mandolin tech to have nut files or saws in many different gauges to fit most common string sets and depth of slot is expected to be half of string diameter for wound strings and perhaps tiny bit more for unwound. No big deal to do it. It' pretty much expected standard of industry. I have covered gauges from 0.1mm up to 1mm in 0.05mm increments and above that I use tiny round files or thin sandpaper wrapped around some of the thinner files to match desired diameter.

If you use v-grove, th emost important thing is that it must be cut as close to parallel to fingerboard board at the spot where the string enters the slot and gradually direct it towards peg. The worst cases of pinched strings I've seen were where the (deep/tight) v-slot was angled down towards head right from the leading edge of nut (or very close).

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10 minutes ago, HoGo said:

I work mostly on mandolins and guitars and in that world v-grooves are a big NO

That's interesting as I have set up guitars and mandolins and fiddles for many years and never had a "pinching" problem because, in my opinion as I've said, the problem doesn't really exist with a V groove. I'm surprised how adament people are about this. A  pinching problem is far more likely to come from an improper fitting of the kind you advocate. However, you and the rest are certainly correct to do as you say, because done well it works.

I am curious if anyone has historical information on this, since gauged files are a relatively recent invention. I would imagine the old way was to cut first with a knife and perhaps finish with a string covered with abrasive of some kind?

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55 minutes ago, bkwood said:

I am curious if anyone has historical information on this, since gauged files are a relatively recent invention. 

The seven string guitar I mentioned earlier had a problem with the A string digging deeper [v groove].  This was around the year 2000.  The only people who could possibly help me then for a replacement nut was Hoshino in New York and they weren't the manufacturer of said guitar but they did have what I needed at the time for replacement or a quick fix idea.  I went the quick fix idea - to much hassle getting a new nut from them back then.

I don't advocate for the v groove and I don't have enough experience with violin string breakage.  The only good sets I've used have been Dominants and most if not all of the time breakage occurs along the fingerboard somewhere along the first and third position.  I like how I can super glue them back together and keep playing.  Couldn't do that with nut breakage though. 

I use rounded grooves for violin making thinking with a nice place for the string to rest in I can get full contact tension "pressing" inwards/downwards towards the fingerboard/neck for more possible sustain, reaction, tension, performance etc.  Not sure I typed the correct adjective there but that's what I meant to say. 

I see where Warchal is coming from too - I wouldn't want to have to be the one to keep sending out free product all of the time. 

Maybe more players could comment to help figure an average where string breakage occurs mostly. 

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10 hours ago, HoGo said:

I work mostly on mandolins and guitars and in that world v-grooves are a big NO

Guitars strings are pretty different form the violin ones. Gutar strings are wound by a round wire, which makes its surface much rougher. 

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12 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I have a bit of experience too. ;)

Certainly, an aluminum D will require a larger nut and bridge groove radius than a silver D. Things like that ain't exactly rocket science.

I would not recommend a V-groove as a catchall substitute for a properly radiused groove. But as Davided Sora has already said, a V-groove in either the bridge or upper nut would be expected to conform to the shape of the string pretty quickly, whether from wear, or from plastic deformation of the wood.

You are right, V-groove is expected to conform to a certain extent. This is what I spoke about, when I wrote that any string creates something like a saddle beneath. However, this solution is not the same as U shape. The V-shape (although with conformed string) is still ready to accept strings of a bigger gauge much better (whithout the risk of being squeezed) as well strings of thinner gauge (without a risk of rolling back and forth during its oscilation). 

The same way our helix solution Amber E used to be found. I have been told quite frequently on the events: "What is the benefit of your Amber E, if the helix turns to completely straight wire after reaching the final pitch?" It does turns into a straight wire only if you observe it briefly. If you look at it properly (preferably along the strings towards the light), you can observe well noticable waves quite easily. So the helix do turn to straight wire for 98% I admit, but the remaining 2% makes a huge effect. It seems to be the same, but it is not. 

I admit, I have never shown much respect to traditions. Now I am reading a book about a healthy food and diet by Dr. Bukovsky. He is one a few guys being able to help people with serious diseases like diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's decease and even cancer. (He is an well educated doctor, not a quacksalver). In the book, he mentions an Australian guy, a microbiologist, who decided to solve the problem of lack of microbiotal transfer at a C-section birth by a painting his freshly born daughter by his wife's vaginal swab (starting from the mouth and face). According to Dr. Bukovsky experience, there are guys going even farther, advising using not only vaginal swab, but even mother's faeces for such a deliberate contamination (starting from children's mounth and face) in order to prevent serious and chronic defects in the child's development (including autism e.t.c.). Could you imagine how Dr Bukovsky has been accpted by a medical community in our country? If the other doctors could kill him legally, they would do it instantly. Even my niece, just studying medicine at the university told me: "I hope you don't ready Bukovskys books.." But the main point is, that he is making the best moeny here, since is is almost only one who is able to help effectively. One year ago, I had some problem with my stomach, so I tried to apply for a consultation. I was out of lack. He has been totally booked, not accpeting new patients. 

Thus, similarly, I have never shown enough respect to traditions. Otherwise, I would never be able to invent the helix shape E string, or other improvments, that are not so visible, since they are hidden inside our strings. When I showed our first Amber E to my friends, they told me: "You are mad, you will be never able to sell something like this". Three years later they told me: "O.K., you have succeed with Amber E, since it is shaped just in a bowing area, but nobody will be willing to play Avantgarde A, since its wavy shape will bother them at shifting"...

Similarly, I have  immediately switched into Hamberger adjustable soudpost (with alomst all of my instruments) once I tried it. I have nothing in common with Wolfgang as for a business, I have bought the posts as any other regular customer. I just don't have prejudices trying new solutions. Most of makers do obviously, since most of them reject even trying something like that. 

I have been fully aware my suggestion switching to V-shape grooves will be considered a heresy. U shape has been a tradition, it looks nicer, and every single e-mail from a customer claiming broken or unrevelled strings begins: "I would like to assure you, there are no any sharp edges on my nut, it is perfectly rounded and recently inspected by a luthier." This magical sentence seems to be a must, someting like a greeting, since we got just bery few claims not containing this (whithout asking the customer). 

I would like to leave this disscussion, since I am afraid, it is developing as in any other disscussion of such kind, taking it more and more "personal". So let me to highlight at the end: I am not going to belittle your skills or experience, or anybody else skills, experience or reputation. I just start trying to find different solutions whenever I feel the common ones are not sufficient. Many luthiers tried to solve the whistling of E strings }especially with a particular instruments that are prone to whistle) with little efect mostly. There has been also another stringmaker, who did solve the whislling even before us. They really did. Unfortunately, their E string is not only non-whislting, but pretty dull sounding at the same time. So I have looked at the problem again. The result are our Amber and Timbre E strings. Everyone can try it, everyone can judge how we have succeed in solving the problem. 

I will never resign from finding new ways in case the old one turned to be not working properly, or risky. Comming back the to main topic, there is no ideal way to avoid problems considering significant gauge diffefences of a particular strings. Thus, please do not take it personally, we are just disscussing, nothing more...

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Bohdan, I for one really value your contributions here. I think it's great that a serious professional with specialist knowledge and experience of making strings and diagnosing string problems takes the time to share on Maestronet. 

My impression of this discussion, which I have followed with interest, is that it's typical of the way Maestronet is going. People just jump in with their categorical opinion, sometimes you don't know who those people are, sometimes they don't seem to have read previous posts and don't accord respect to people who have already said the same thing or even said the opposite.

I know how much effort you have put into this very specific and detailed issue of STRINGS, and I'm surprised that people aren't a bit more willing to engage with what you have to say. But I think it's just in the nature of a forum. I am as guilty as everyone else of just stating my beliefs, rather than having a well-mannered discussion.

If i could sum up your position, you are saying that in an ideal world, every nut would have u shaped grooves that perfectly fit the particular brand of strings currently on the instrument. But that string choice changes constantly, either through changes in preference or through necessity, a v shaped groove is a more pragmatic approach. In the vast majority of cases (and in particular when people are trying out a new brand of strings, which is obviously something you want them to do!), a v shaped groove is more adaptable.

I don't think anyone would argue with that. There are some serious professionals here who have expressed their preference for getting the string grooves "just right", but they must surely agree that this approach only holds true for a particular brand of strings, and that they have no control over the future choices of their clients.

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I think there may be vast difference between 90 degree and 60 degree v-slot. I don't think I've seen something like 90 degree v-slot on guitar. (I would like to see detail pic of such slot after some use).

I've always done shallow round slots as I was taught and often even polished inside (on pearl it helps as it can be gritty) for unwound strings. I start the slot with 60 degree triangular file and then round it. I just have one guitar in for a new nut so I will try v-slots just to see...

There are also flat wound strings for mandolins made by Thomastik with very fine wound a string and I've seen that bind in the slot as well. My impression is that players with agressive sweat tend to have problems with pinched strings especially if teh slots are left a bit deeper and dirt accumulates and string is sometimes as rough as tiny rasp where it sits in the slot.

I can admit that mandolin or guitar players don't change gauges of strings often, generally they settle on set that they like and only rarely change that later. And rarely skip to different gauge perhaps set from other producer (which is usually very close or same in thickness, unlike some violin sets).

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On 1/20/2020 at 8:28 PM, Bohdan Warchal said:

Hi Davide, you may be right of course. Nevertheless, neither a fingerboard level isn't set forever. It is expected to be resurfaced from time to time. So now, the basic question is what would get wear faster, if it would be the nut, or the fingerboard.

O.K., you are right, perfect matching shallow U is the best option, there is no doubt. I advocate V shape being desperate trying to explain this matter to all kinds ald levels of customers. I mean, all kinds and levels of players, and also all kinds of repairers. As you certainly know, there are no only the best educated and meticulous makers spread over the word (as well here, on MN). There are many of them, who are not able to understand why a violin synthetic core A can be even a bit thicker that silver D (not only speaking of Warchal products, but speaking in general).

Every top brand is played by all kinds of customers, from the top soloist, up to the totall beginners. This is why we also got complains like this one e.g.: "Your strings came packeged wrongly, there was D string in A string package and vice versa. I have distinguished them correctly, nevertheless, the A strings snapped even before reaching the final pitch. The sound of the D string is awful..." So there are various levels of users and various level of violinmakers worldwide. U shape is the best if made properly.  On the other hand, U shape nut groove is the most frequent cause of breaking strings in the pegbox (and unraveling on the nut). V shape is worse, but still working. This does not mean I would like to change the mind of those, who know how to do it properly :-)

Hi Bodan,

I understand your problem perfectly, it is also easily understood how a V shape can better fit different diameters of strings. I really appreciate and respect your point of view and I think it is worth thinking about it. For as I see it, perhaps the best solution would be to round the bottom of the notch and open it in the shape of a V upwards so that there is support under the string but also ensuring a certain form of adaptation in the case of subsequent use of larger diameters. This is what I actually do because once I have created a U channel I try to remove the outer edges in order not to leave them too sharp, and now that you make me think about it the result is to create a "countersink" very similar to a V with a rounded tip. I started doing this many years ago following the advice of your "competitor" Mimmo Peruffo of the Aquila Corde Armoniche company that I had met at a conference on period gut strings.

Those who make strings with passion always deserve to be taken seriously....

Your knowledge of string related problems is definitely invaluable, please keep on posting.

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