What kind of strings should I use on my fiddle?
Asked by Tom in from Oliver, BC, Canada
I’ve asked this a couple of time before, but Q&A time seems to run out. I double-checked on past answers page and found nothing there. It’s all about strings: – The Fiddlehed site lists Dominant and Helicore strings on the “Gear” page. I’ve read that Dominants, with a synthetic core, provide a more mellow sound, while Helicore’s have a faster response and are favored by many fiddlers as opposed to classical players. Is this correct? Is it obvious or quite subtle? Does it depend on the instrument? – Why are Dominant strings typically used only for G, D and A strings along with a Pirastro Gold string for E? Why not 4 Dominants? – Do you suggest or do you use any other strings than these two? Are all your fiddles strung the same? Why or why not? – Are some fiddles more conducive to sound better with certain types of strings? – How often should strings be changed? Is this based on elapsed time in tension on the instrument or based on hours played? For example, if I have two fiddles that I alternate between, will the strings on each last twice as long?
- First off, I prefer dominants, though I experiment with Helicores.
- I did some research and it seems that people strongly prefer Pirastros. So I’m ordering some. Thanks Tom!
- I recently used Obligatos on this fiddle. They have a darker sound which I like.
- It’s a bit personal. Experiment.
- I don’t obsess too much about which is the correct string. I focus on improving my tone through practice.
- How often to change strings?
- My favorite answer: change the strings when you are in need of a new outlook upon life.
- They are definitely too old if they start to unravel.
- If the sound is dull or dead, then it’s also time.
- I’ve also heard 120 hours of playing. So it depends on how much you play on the strings. Unlike milk, they won’t spoil after a certain length of time.
- I’m a bit lazy about changing strings. But I probably do it roughly every 9 months or so. Usually when I start to notice the sound quality getting worse.
This micro-lesson is an excerpt from an office hours webinar I gave on September 16, 2020. View the entire live-stream with indexed questions here.
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