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Strings

Just a few facts to be considered:

  • It is IMPORTANT to have the correct length of string for a particular size of instrument

  • All metal strings are useful in the early days as some are relatively inexpensive and usually give long life. Some disadvantages are, that they can give a metallic tone, are hard on the bridge, and require adjusters to be fitted to the tailpiece.

  • Strings are usually available in 3 tension grades - low, medium and high. For a well made instrument a medium tension would normally be used. However if the bridge for one reason or another is low and the angle of the string over the bridge less than 157deg, or if the string length of the instrument is shorter than normal, then a high tension grade might best be used. The converse is also true. Different tensions will also affect the bow's effectiveness.

  • Choice of make of strings is very personal and somewhat subject to fashion. However perlon or other similar 'nylon' products wound over with aluminium, tungsten or silver, are very popular with everyone. Their mass is relatively high [favouring bass partials] thereby producing a rounded full tone, they are not readily affected by changes in atmospheric conditions, and they give long life. Dominant and Corelli are typical and are very reasonably priced. If one is not price sensitive, then Pirastro strings are highly commended. But not all want a full rounded tone, for instance folk fiddlers often prefer the more strident tone of metal strings.

  • All metal strings usually have a 'ball end' fitted so that they can be accommodated by tailpiece adjusters. Other types usually give the choice of 'ball -end' or 'loop-end' depending on whether tailpiece adjusters are used or not.

  • If one suffers from strings snapping, take note of where the string breaks. It is seldom the fault of the string but more the fault of the construction of the instrument and condition of the peg. Is the string being pinched between the peg and the side/bottom of the peg box? Is the string rubbing against the next as it passes over it's peg? The string nut or it's string groove may not be well shaped. Don't just keep putting on new strings, have a luthier look at it, it will save you cash in the long run.

  • Finally, there are number of players who like to demonstrate their continual use of their instrument by never removing the rosin from either the surface of the belly under the strings or from the strings themselves. Leaving the rosin on the belly not only bites into the varnish but affects the tone of the instrument itself. Likewise allowing a huge cake of rosin to build up underneath the string will also affect it's properties. Every so often clean off the rosin caked on the string by rubbing the string with forefinger and thumb until it is removed.

Happy fiddling folks!