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Brighter G string


H.R.Fisher

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   What can be done in the construction of the violin to brighten the G string. I have played violins that have a very clear/bright G string but have not been able to accomplish it to my satisfaction. Is there something I'm missing? I would appreciate your input.

                                                     Thanks  Henry

 

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8 hours ago, H.R.Fisher said:

   What can be done in the construction of the violin to brighten the G string. I have played violins that have a very clear/bright G string but have not been able to accomplish it to my satisfaction. Is there something I'm missing? I would appreciate your input.

                                                     Thanks  Henry

 

That's a tough one, since definitions of "bright" can vary so much.

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Hello Henry,

Has a nice ring to it!

There are so many things to this, it is next to impossible to accurately pinpoint the problem without more info. Lots of things to guess about. Since it is always there, there is something that you are consistently doing, with graduation thickness, edge work, bass bar, your bridges, sound post, something in the way you execute the arching,, could be the wood you are using. What is your vibrating string length?

What kind of varnish do you use? A biggie could be what do you use for a ground? What model of violins do you build?

How tall are your arches, what is the bass bar made of, how big is it, and it's position. What kind of strings do you use, that should not be such an issue though.

How much do your bridges weigh?

What do your graduation patterns look like?

Have you tried a soundpost further toward the centerline?

Experimented with soundpost tension?

Have you successfully set up other violins that resulted with the desired G string outcome?

Light and stiff is good, as a general Idea. Weight is necessary in the right places.

If I had it in hand, I could say,, But?

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 Oh wow!  I was hoping there would be some specifics that would effect the brightness/ openness. I find that some are more so than others, just thot I might be missing something. I'll keep on messing around perhaps I'll figure it out by and by.

                                                                              Thanks

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On 2/20/2024 at 8:11 AM, David Burgess said:

That's a tough one, since definitions of "bright" can vary so much.

It's objective, some people just confuse. Bright has more treble, like a soprano. Dark has more bass, like a contralto. With a bright violin you hear less low frequencies, a very dark violin can sound closer to a viola.

Some people, because they are simply not informed, will say a violin is too bright just because it's loud, that's not what it is about.

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30 minutes ago, D27 said:

It's objective, some people just confuse. Bright has more treble, like a soprano. Dark has more bass, like a contralto. With a bright violin you hear less low frequencies, a very dark violin can sound closer to a viola.

Some people will say a violin is too bright just because it's loud, that's not what it is about.

What about a violin that has a powerful and dark G and a silvery brilliant E string?

My experience (pretty extensive) of violins and violin buyers is that people are never objective, but judge every aspect of violin sound by relating it to other aspects, or to another violin. 

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37 minutes ago, D27 said:

It's objective, some people just confuse. Bright has more treble, like a soprano. Dark has more bass, like a contralto. With a bright violin you hear less low frequencies, a very dark violin can sound closer to a viola.

Thank you for your personal, subjective opinion. :)

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

What about a violin that has a powerful and dark G and a silvery brilliant E string?

What about it? It's a hybrid :lol:

Show me a violin with a powerful dark G and D and and silvery brilliant A and E, that would be amazing. But I'm not sure if you would want such unbalance.

 

1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Thank you for your personal, subjective opinion. :)

It's not subjective. Not everything is an opinion, like many people seem to think nowadays. There's no other definition.

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17 minutes ago, D27 said:

It's not subjective. Not everything is an opinion, like many people seem to think nowadays. There's no other definition.

Are you one who believes that everything is totally "black or white"? Totally right or wrong? If so, I am not like that. I see most things in colors, (or varying shade of gray, when it comes to "black or white").

Anybody who has done lots and lots of sound adjustments, for lots and lots of musicians, will probably acknowledge that musicians can describe what they are hearing and feeling in lots of different ways. Trying to proclaim one "correct" way is more an impediment to communication, than an asset.

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You sound a bit like one of my 12 year old students, once I told her she played out of tune, she replied: "Professor, that's your opinion. In my opinion it was in tune".

Some things are abstract and open to interpretation. Bright and dark also aren't one of those cases.

You have sound graphs, after analyzing recordings showing how a brighter sound has stronger high frequencies and a dark sound has stronger low frequencies. It's just science.

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16 minutes ago, D27 said:

You sound a bit like one of my 12 year old students, once I told her she played out of tune, she replied: "Professor, that's your opinion. In my opinion it was in tune".

In fact, intonation is open to interpretation and context. For example, intonation which is chosen when playing in one key might be less than ideal when playing in another key.

 

16 minutes ago, D27 said:

It's just science. 

If you say so. :rolleyes: :blink:

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17 minutes ago, D27 said:

You sound a bit like one of my 12 year old students,

I dunno - why not let me decide?  Wouldn't it be worth a couple century notes a pop to know definitively whether your violin strings sound dark or bright, powerful or wimpy?  Finer differentiation will cost more.  I use only the latest psychoacoustical tools...and I rest each instrument on my well-tempered clavicle for consistency.

 

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13 hours ago, David Burgess said:

In fact, intonation is open to interpretation and context. For example, intonation which is chosen when playing in one key might be less than ideal when playing in another key.

But not half a semitone wrong several notes in a row.

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2 hours ago, H.R.Fisher said:

 Oh wow!  I was hoping there would be some specifics that would effect the brightness/ openness. I find that some are more so than others, just thot I might be missing something. I'll keep on messing around perhaps I'll figure it out by and by.

                                                                              Thanks

Henry, wish you were closer, if you come out west you're welcome to stop by.

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There's a million things but one thing I am confident about is a wider, stronger bass bar (in an instrument where it is deficient).

Besides of course the obvious surface level adjustments, such as a sound post move or a lighter bridge. I would say about half the instruments I have come across in my life have had bridges that are too thick, sometimes even ones set up in professional shops.

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As a player, G string is a tricky one to judge, instead of bright or dark I find it's more about focused or fuzzy. More often than not, many violins had bright and clear G string at the expense of less bottom end. It's rare to come by a violin with both rich and deep G string yet sounding bright and clear.

To stir the pot further, a Del Gesu I tried last year had pretty gentle and rounded tone under the ear (even at chest level), yet listening to the recorded sound during the test session, the G sounded clear and rich - both bright and deep at the same time.

Last but not least, unless the instrument is particularly weak, G string is relatively easy to tighten up with bowing technique, more so than the D.

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12 hours ago, D27 said:

What about it? It's a hybrid :lol:

Show me a violin with a powerful dark G and D and and silvery brilliant A and E, that would be amazing. But I'm not sure if you would want such unbalance.

It's called a del Gesu ...

The idea that tonal judgments are "objective" is only sustainable if you don't ask anyone else what they are hearing. The entire universe is objective for a solipsist.

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6 hours ago, Deo Lawson said:

There's a million things but one thing I am confident about is a wider, stronger bass bar (in an instrument where it is deficient).

Besides of course the obvious surface level adjustments, such as a sound post move or a lighter bridge. I would say about half the instruments I have come across in my life have had bridges that are too thick, sometimes even ones set up in professional shops.

"Brigter G string" has a lot to do with:

- G string quality
-tailpiece and tailgut
- bridge quality
- soundpost
- neck angle
- bass bar
- the thickness of the top plate  around the bass bar
-  top plate quality overall
- the volume of air inside the instrument
- Shape and area of F holes

The answer is that boosting of the G string always sacrifices other qualities of the violin.
The best possible violin for the G string would be a viola :D


So what can you actually do on the violin? The answer is - many things, but don't expect too much if the violin is poorly made. I tried to sort things from the easiest ones to the ones that you "don't want to try at home".


- G string in "forte" with more tension will give you a stronger tone, but it will have a darker timbre and less sustain and will sound "different" from the rest of the instrument. The G string in the "light" edition gives you a weaker tone but a brighter timbre with more overtones and can work well on instruments that have thinner plates and cannot withstand too much pressure. So, in reality, the light strings can be louder than the "forte" strings on that particular instrument. The quality of the bow plays a significant role as well as good quality pernambuco resonates on lower frequencies then cheap brazilwood bow.

-tailpiece and tailgut.  Heavier tailpiece made of dense material (ebony) on a longer tailgut can make your G string darker and more resonant, but also make your upper register weaker and "dull".

- The bridge. Height, material and weight are key factors. If you want a rich bass register, you will need a thicker, less dense, not too height and lightweight bridge with large "kidneys" cutouts inside, but this will probably kill your E string and even the G tone will be "strong" but "empty" and without any "rich texture" .

- The soundpost. You can place the sound post far from the center towards the f hole. It will increase the sound from the G and E strings, but the strength of the D, A will suffer and your instrument will be less playable (slow responding) and the sustain will be shorter. Thicker, low weight and not too dense soundpost can filter out high frequencies and make G string stronger.

- neck angle. If you have the wrong neck angle, the bridge is too high or too low, the pressure on the top plate is too much or too little, and the first string that will be seriously affected is the G string. Don't ask me why, it's a fact. You can compensate it a bit with high/low tension strings but it is only a workaround. Neck angle reset is an expensive professional job. Don't try it at home.

- The bass bar. If the bass is not strong enough or too short, poorly placed, too heavy or too long, it will kill the entire low register of the instrument. Rework is a possible but quite difficult and very expensive job as the whole instrument must be opened.

- top plate. If it is too thick or poorly graded, the instrument will refuse to resonate at low frequencies. Sometimes this is due to cheap Asian spruce and maple resonating at higher frequencies than European tonewood. If you regraduate the plates you can make the G string sound a lot stronger, but your instrument may develop deformations and lose sound after a few years or become brittle and start to crack or become unbalanced and this change cannot be undone, so unless you are a very experienced professional, don't do that. It is very costly repair with high risks and can destroy the instrument beyond repair.

-air volume..you can't change it. This is of the utmost importance because the "small violins" will never play correctly on the G string.

-f holes -- you could theoretically change it, but f holes are a "signature" of the violin maker so any attempt to reshape them destroys the violin not only as a musical instrument, but as a collector item as well.
F holes have a lot to do with the air inside the violin and the so-called "breathing" mode of the violin. You can try a viola bridge with it's feet further apart than  on a violin bridge. If you have a problem with the "breathing" mode, a viola bridge will dramatically improve the sound of the G string, because it pumps a lot more air (but it will completely kill your violin's upper registers and sustain). Nothing can be done if F holes are too big or too small.

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7 hours ago, Casey Jefferson said:

As a player, G string is a tricky one to judge, instead of bright or dark I find it's more about focused or fuzzy. More often than not, many violins had bright and clear G string at the expense of less bottom end. It's rare to come by a violin with both rich and deep G string yet sounding bright and clear.

To stir the pot further, a Del Gesu I tried last year had pretty gentle and rounded tone under the ear (even at chest level), yet listening to the recorded sound during the test session, the G sounded clear and rich - both bright and deep at the same time.

Last but not least, unless the instrument is particularly weak, G string is relatively easy to tighten up with bowing technique, more so than the D.

That's true and I can maybe explain it a bit. From the acoustic perspective, G string has 196 Hz frequency and thus it has wavelength 1,75m (BTW it is average length of human body lol).
So even if you are calculating half of this length, the proper instrument for this would have a size of the cello :) What I'm trying to say is that in violin, there is not "room for errors" as long as we are talking about 196 Hz frequency. The plates are to short, too light, the air volume inside is too low and the flexibility of the spruce top is not enough. Only the best quality materials and intricate tuning of everything inside the violin can give perfect results. In fact, that Del Gesu that was mentioned is not producing "perfect G sound"  (as it is "soft under the ear") but it produces perfectly balanced harmonics to 196 Hz frequency which can (in good acoustic room) give an impression of "clear and rich - both bright and deep at the same time" G string sound.

In reality - it is a hack. Mission impossible. 1,75m wavelength can never be optimal on violin but can be cheated with "good results" on very good and very expensive violins.

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3 hours ago, martin swan said:

The idea that tonal judgments are "objective" is only sustainable if you don't ask anyone else what they are hearing. The entire universe is objective for a solipsist.

Tonal judgments are totally subjective, in the way that someone my love it, like it, or hate it. Some may prefer bright, some may like dark more, all that is subjective. But what is bright and what is dark, that's pre-existing information, it's objective. Some people may think about different notions when referring to bright and dark sound, because they are not informed and have acquired self created ideias, confusing other aspects like for example, volume.

A bright sound has an emphasis on the high frequencies, a dar sound has emphasis on the low frequencies. That's something you can check through frequency analyzes, it's science, you can't argue with that.

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12 minutes ago, D27 said:

 

A bright sound has an emphasis on the high frequencies, a dar sound has emphasis on the low frequencies. That's science, you can't argue with that.

It's very easy to disprove this.

People judge "bright' and "dark" according to what they have just heard. Hand someone a relatively bright violin after they have played a screamingly bright violin and they will say it's dark. Give them the same violin after they've played a violin with no high end and they will say it's bright.

Just like colour casts. We may want our sense of colour to be "objective"  but it's entirely governed by what we've just been looking at and what our eyes/brain have been busy filtering out ...

So while an FFT might give objective data, the human ear never does.

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A bright sound is a bright sound, dark is dark. If someone perceives more or less after playing one or other violin, that has nothing to do with the definitions of bright and dark not being objective.

You can have a big car and a bit smaller car. The smaller car will seem much smaller after you get used to the big car, but that doesn't change its physical size.

Visual colors are also very objective and can be measured and calibrated. RGB 255-0-0 red is always RGB 255-0-0 red. After you look at other reds, It may seem lighter or darker, but it's still RGB 255-0-0.

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