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D string woes (cello)


oldcellow

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Hi everyone,

Didnt really want to bother this esteemed site with this and I've searched t'internt all over...so ur my last resort.

I play a semi laminate cello and the D string has never been strong with Preludes, so tried a Jargar Classic and now its even worse..so quiet and dull. Thing is, the Prelude D sounded thin and shrill and the Jargar is the polar apposite. Is this instrument toast?

Thanks

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One needs to have the cello in ones hand to answer this definitively. The d string on cellos is often the most difficult string to get to sound well (with steel strings), because that is usually where the wolf is most pronounced. D strings, compared to a string and g string (which are often rope core) are often softer and weaker in sound. The first thing that should be asked is if the rest of your setup is good. Have you been to a lutier and have you ever had the sound post and bridge adjusted? If not, it makes no sense to talk about strings. If well adjusted, these difficulties regarding unevenness of strings usually disappears. A ConCarbo tail piece will help a lot with getting rid of unevenness and wolf tones, if they persist after proper setup work, but it will set you back 200 Euros or so.

If the setup is well done, chances are (nowadays, this used to be different) you are best served with a whole set of one particular brand. For amateurs, I'd recommend a Larsen Aurora set if you are on a budget. I've yet to come across a well-setup cello on which this set didn't work at all. If you prefer something with a bit more power on the lower strings, something like a set of Helicore might work (maybe replace the a string, which often is somewhat rough sounding, with for instance a Jargar or a Larsen). A set of Eva Pirazzi gives you some lighter bowing possibilities, whereas the combination of c and g spirocore, and a and d larsen or Jargar (classic combo) is a bit more tough on the bow but gives more power. A good overall choice is the new Dominant Pro, or if you have the cash a set of Rondo will give you the maximum possible on your cello. Good luck!

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19 hours ago, baroquecello said:

One needs to have the cello in ones hand to answer this definitively.

Yes of course I agree...but as you can imagine its not an instrument of great quality and it suits me at the moment as an adult learner. Just seems odd as the other three strings are sounding very nice and full and its so noticeable the D string sounding so thin and nasal..

Anyway thanks for your considererd reply its much appreciated. We all have to play on something. 

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9 hours ago, oldcellow said:

Yes of course I agree...but as you can imagine its not an instrument of great quality and it suits me at the moment as an adult learner.  (....) We all have to play on something. 

I was not being dismissive of your instrument at all! I've actually played a plywood cello with a solid top a couple of weeks, and it was quite an ok cello. But it had an impeccable setup. Even celli of not great quality benefit from a good setup. With a good setup I mean optimising the removable/adjustable parts of the cello, such as the bridge, the sound post, the fingerboard, the end pin, strings, saddles and tail piece. I also own a cheap cello that is my work horse for dangerous environments, and the setup costed as much as the cello itself. It was worth it nonetheless and it plays well. So I'm not at all dismissive of cheap instruments. They are fine and can perform their function well. I am very dismissive of bad setups. bad setups ruin your fun, your technique and your chance of succes. It makes or breaks an instrument. Theoretically even a Stradivarius with a bad setup will be worse than your cello with a good setup. (theoretically because I've yet to see a Strad with a bad setup)

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On 10/2/2023 at 5:23 AM, oldcellow said:

the D string has never been strong with Preludes, so tried a Jargar Classic and now its even worse..so quiet and dull. Thing is, the Prelude D sounded thin and shrill and the Jargar is the polar apposite. Is this instrument toast?

Thanks

Prelude D string Medium tension is 30lbs, Jargar Medium Classic is 30.8lbs -->You increased the tension.
If your set up is checked ok and you prefer the Prelude then come back to a lower tension.

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23 hours ago, Mike_Danielson said:

Getting the instrument examined at a luthier's shop might fix the problem.  Problematic wolfs start on the G-string, not the D-string.

 ( ... )

For some beginners, they spend most time practicing in the lower positions and with difficulty in engaging a particular note, the wolf ( activation ) becomes frustratingly frustrating when every other note is doing well. Fairly capable students question why one or two notes have engagement or tonal difficulties after repeated attempts. As a by product, the student who starts to dig in attempts to make the note sound is often one who improves faster.

These frustrations occur for many who have fairly fine control of their left hand work as they can repeatedly find or locate a pitch while their right hand/ arm/ back/ belly are still developing how to grace and engage the surface of the string.

And though perhaps the basic wolf not being "problematic," I have known fairly adept beginners, especially those who play piano, quit.

Yes, getting to someone who knows stuff helps in discussing and perhaps solving frustrating issues.

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On 10/4/2023 at 1:55 PM, Michael Darnton said:

So frustrating to see players over and over again approaching simple adjustment issues by spending a fortune on different strings when a five minute visit to a good shop for a post adjustment would fix a problem.

Thank you sir. I'm nowhere near any shops but I've built a couple of acoustic guitars, a lifetime woodworker etc so am familiar with manipulating instrumental wooden components.

Ive had a look at the post and it actually appears to be practically outside the treble foot of the bridge which seems odd.  What would be ur suggestion re the optimum position for the sound post with a view to improving the D tone.

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You often find beginner cellos set up with the post far east and/or south.

This gives s broader, warmer, less focused sound that appeals to the majority of beginners. A weak d string can be a consequence of this approach.

My first reaction would have been to move the post closer to the bridge. But as you describe it you may need s new, longer, post as well, that sits within the bridge foot.

Before you move the post forward, you can check your bridge position and maybe there is some wiggle room to move the bridge towards the post instead of the post towards the bridge. It’s easier but is only useful within narrow parameters or if your bridge doesn’t sit in the right place to start with.

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A standard starting position is to attempt to have the sound post at the mirror position of the bass bar. Half a sound post distance below the bridge is an ok distance. One could go slightly further south, or north practically until the sound post edge is aligned with the bridge foot, everything in between is a potentially good spot and will give you room to experiment. The sound post should remain put also when there is no string pressure, but not be very tightly wedged between the top and back. Too loose, and you'll lose focus on the a string and possibly get a lot of wolf, too wedged and you'll get a very thin harsh sound. There is a ot of room for experimentation. But there is also quite some possibility for mistakes. The fit needs to be perfect both for preventing cracks and for the acoustic result. A dentists mirror is a good tool. You can also take out the end pin and gaze through the end pin hole.

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