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Fiddle Girl

Fine tuners or no?

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Hey all. On my main fiddle, I currently have a tailpiece that only has a fine tuner on the E string. I'm thinking about changing to a tailpiece with all fine tuners just to make tuning easy. Even though my pegs are good, it's hard to get it completely right without some work, and I figure fine tuners would make my life easier. However, some people have said they might adversely affect tone. Is this true? Anyone have any experience switching to fine tuners or getting rid of them? Any info appreciated.

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I don't know about tuners affecting tone, but I did notice something strange in this month's Strad Magazine. There was a picture of Anne Sophie-Mutter's Strad in the magazine, and she had fine tuners on the A and E strings.

So there's at least one vote for adding a tuner to the A string.

[This message has been edited by DeepBlue (edited 02-19-2002).]

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I talked to a luthier about this subject. He stated that on a properly setup violin, the strings on the tailpiece side of the bridge will ring an octave higher than the finger board side of the strings, so perhaps that is a reason fine tuners could affect the sound(?).

How well the pegs work seems to mandate the use of fine tuners for me.

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quote:

Originally posted by Fiddle Girl:

Hey all. On my main fiddle, I currently have a tailpiece that only has a fine tuner on the E string. I'm thinking about changing to a tailpiece with all fine tuners just to make tuning easy. Even though my pegs are good, it's hard to get it completely right without some work, and I figure fine tuners would make my life easier. However, some people have said they might adversely affect tone. Is this true? Anyone have any experience switching to fine tuners or getting rid of them? Any info appreciated.

If you get one of the tailpieces (Wittner, Thomastik...) with built-in tuners, you'll have the best of both worlds; easy tuning and proper setup.

They work especially well for fiddlers using steel strings.

Len

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It depends a lot on what strings you use. Thomastik advises NOT to use tuners on Dominants because it can damage the string, but on all-steel strings it's almost imperative. On gut strings they don't have enough effect to be worth having, and can also damage the string. It would be interesting to know what Anne Sophie-Mutter's other strings were--a common old Russian string setup was steel E and A (thus the tuner on the A) and Gut D and G.

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On the tailpiece with the built in tuners that are set low into the tailpiece itself so as to mimic the string setting in one without tuners I can't see much harm there since afterstring length is not affected and the angles, etc are preserved.

I would like to offer one more advantage, namely less wear and tear on the pegbox holes since the pegs will not have to be turned as much during tuning.

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I have found with the instruments I own that having good pegs set well cures this. The only string I use a fine tuner on is my E. The fine tuner really makes that steel E more manageable.

The rest of the strings are simple enough to tweak with good well fit pegs. I usually loosen them then bring them up to pitch when tuning so that I don't risk breaking them. So far this method has worked reliably for me.

If your pegs are worn out and you don't wish to have the instrument repegged then fine tuners would be a cheap easy solution.

Regards,

Don Crandall

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Hey Girl! I replaced the tail pieces on my old fiddles with the thomastik tp.I recently purchased a new scott cao and ordered it with the thomastik tp. I love em. Maintaining correct after length is important. The first retrofit was on a decent fiddle with a great setup, I was hesitant and posted on the pegbox my concerns. Michael D responded and noted the fiddle could be a bit wilder/ not as forgiving after the change over. He was right,however it only took a bit to get use to the subtle change. Now I would not have it any other way. By the way I use Med gauge Helicores on all my fiddles and life is much eaiser in the tuning department! My $0.02 Lane

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quote:

a common old Russian string setup was steel E and A (thus the tuner on the A) and Gut D and G.
[/b]

I had wondered why my teacher, who is Russian, uses a fine tuner of both the A and E. He told me that Russian strings were incredibly cheap and was shocked when I told him an Infeld Red E was $8.

Anyway, now I know.

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The fine tuner used to be known as an "E string tuner" in the days when nobody would use anything other than gut for the A. Its purpose is simply to aid tuning on a purely metal string and can damage gut and synthetic strings.

Mutter uses a steel A hence the tuner. She has recently used Dominant G&D. Oistrakh, Grumiaux, Flesch, Kaufman, Mischakoff et al also used a steel A with tuner. Kremer and many others of the Soviet school do also. This is perhaps more of an "old Soviet" trait than an "old Russian" one as the "old Russian" school of violin playing moved to America; to places such as Curtis, Yale, Indiana, Peabody - oh yes and Juilliard - in the early 20th century when many players were still using plain (or "open") gut e strings, .

Without tuners the A between bridge and tailpiece should sound two octaves above open E; the D two octaves above open A etc.

A tuner on a gut or synthetic string will result in an appreciable loss of tonal volume whilst a tailpiece with built-in tuners may very well cause a loss of tonal quality (particularly on stage). I do hope this is helpful.

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I've used fine tuners on synthetic strings without any damage occuring to the string.

I find fine tuners to be especially useful in orchestral situations when a string goes out of tune just a wee bit. Being able to surreptitiously tune up during a 10 measure rest is handy at times.

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With all the very greatest respect summonable by man, being UNable to surreptitiously tune during a one measure rest using the peg is surely a topic in itself?.

Synthetic strings CAN be damaged by tuners - they are not automatically damaged by the things (only their sound).

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More and more professional violinists are adding tuners to all the strings. With the new tuners available with wider slots to accommodate synthetic strings, breakage is rarely a problem (provided you get the right tuners). The tailpieces like the Wittners with built-in tuners allow you to keep the afterlength in the proper range. Any change made to your violin can affect the tone, but you won't know if it is for the better until you try. Luckily, tailpiece replacement is completely reversible.

It's also great to know that even good violinists prefer to be in tune, sometimes!

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I was using tuners on all four with a conventional tailpiece and switched to a tailpiece with built-in tuners because of the afterlength concern. I think it mellowed my tone somewhat. I've always used tuners on all strings and never had a problem with string damage.

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Aside from the fact that fine tuners really don't do much with Dominants, I think the issue isn't with the fork, but with the enormous force that can sometimes be concentrated between the bridge and tailpiece by a fine tuner, before the string begins to slip over the top of the bridge--enough to break the string.

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quote:

Originally posted by Fiddle Girl:

Hey all. On my main fiddle, I currently have a tailpiece that only has a fine tuner on the E string. I'm thinking about changing to a tailpiece with all fine tuners just to make tuning easy. d.

And so am I, Fiddle! I play in an orchestra. Since I'm not a soloist, I'd rather sacrifice some nuance of sound for easy and more accurate tuning.

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quote:

Originally posted by Michael Darnton:

Aside from the fact that fine tuners really don't do much with Dominants, I think the issue isn't with the fork, but with the enormous force that can sometimes be concentrated between the bridge and tailpiece by a fine tuner, before the string begins to slip over the top of the bridge--enough to break the string.

I'm not following the rationale or the explanation. Can you expand a bit on it and possibly why/how fine tuners affect Dominants.

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Tuner pulls. Two-inch length of string is pulled enough distance to tune the whole length, but since the bridge is holding it from moving, the string behind the bridge stretches beyond it's limit before the friction over the top of the bridge is broken and the string breaks. This is the way strings break at both ends, beyond the bridge and above the nut. All it takes is a bridge or nut in less than perfect condition. Dominants are one of the most fragile string brands.

quote:

Originally posted by nemesis:

I'm not following the rationale or the explanation. Can you expand a bit on it and possibly why/how fine tuners affect Dominants.

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quote:

Originally posted by Ms Meowzzer:

For what it's worth, the Yamaha Silent Violin comes with Dominants and 4 tuners.

I thought the Yamaha came with Helicores? At least that's what it says on their website...I would have though Helicores a better choice for it, anyway, as they seem to be widely used on electrics.

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quote:

Originally posted by Michael Darnton:

Tuner pulls. Two-inch length of string is pulled enough distance to tune the whole length, but since the bridge is holding it from moving, the string behind the bridge stretches beyond it's limit before the friction over the top of the bridge is broken and the string breaks. This is the way strings break at both ends, beyond the bridge and above the nut. All it takes is a bridge or nut in less than perfect condition. Dominants are one of the most fragile string brands.


Thanks Mike. That's a lot clearer now. Assuming however that a more durable string is used or alternatively that breakage is not an issue (which is my case and I use Dominants) is there anything else that negatively impacts on the tone or otherwise through the use of fine tuners?

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smilinicon,

I think you may have misunderstood the luthier (I sure hope so - or change luthiers). The pitch that will sound if you play the string between the bridge and the tailpiece is the 2nd octave of the next higher string (2 octaves plus a fifth higher than the string segment on the other side of the bridge).

The way then new tailpieces with built-in fine tuners are constructed, these string "afterlengths" can be tuned just as with an ordinary bare tailpiece. I think this is a definite improvement in adding on fine tuners to a regular bridge.

As a concession to my aging fingers, I have recently changed over all my instruments to tailpieces with built-in fine tuners. I've tried Thomastik, Wittner (metal and plastic), Akusticus, and Pusch brands. As far as I can tell, there is little difference in sound among these - if anything, the Pusches may lower the "ring" of some overtones a bit more than the others. If I am corrct about this, it could be because of the way the tuner/pulley arrangement of the Pusch is suspended in the wooden tailpiece and may be isolating the string from direct force on the tailpiece wood.

The far more expensive Bois d'Harmonie (made in France and available in the US only through Johnson Strings -- other dealers can supply them, but they must get them from Johnson, so they price you pay controlled is within very tight limits) tailpieces do seem to contribute a lovely "ring" due to higher overtones of the string and instrument coming through, and to me they are thus worth the many-times-higher price. I'm in the process of switching the last of my violins to this brand. Although ball ends on all strings (including the E) are appropriate for this tailpiece, it will accomodate a loop-end E string - if you must - but one can slip a ball into the loop of just about any E string.

Andy

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