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.

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One response to “What kind of strings should I use on my fiddle?

  1. Check what appears when you Google ‘string violin chart’. There is a diagram recapitulating the qualities of different strings. When the strings do not resonate after you have been playing them, you can start thinking about changing them (dead sound tone referred to by Jason).