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Violin/Zyex vs. Helicore Violin E String

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QUESTION: Hello Mr. Fisher. Thank you for answering my previous questions; I now understand the concepts you talked about. But I have two more questions if you don't mind (2nd question, I'll ask later).

My violin is a Guarneri Del Gesu model and sounds warm. So I'm wondering if a warm E string from Zyex will sound dull or not. I'm also considering Helicore aluminum-wound E string. I listened to a violinist playing with both Helicore and Zyex E strings. Listening to Helicore was a tiny bit painful but Zyex was ok. I'm thinking of getting Zyex. But what do you think (will Zyex sound dull on del Gesu type violin)? Is there any other brands for aluminum-wound E strings I should consider?

Last time you talked about gold-plated, aluminum-wound and tinned E strings. But I think I will settle for aluminum since you said they sound warm.

Thank you for assisting me, Mr. Fisher.

ANSWER: Hi again Ridwan,

My pleasure.  Well, generally speaking, if you have a darker (warmer) sounding instrument, then brighter strings would be appropriate.  But, there are many factors to consider, other than the instrument's brightness.  In this case, you're comparing Helicore strings to Zyex.  The two are very different, and in more ways than just bright vs. dark.  Helicores are rope core - that is to say, the center of the string has thin wires of steel that are braided together to form a sort of rope.  And, the helicore strings are then wound around the outside of that core with steel.  Steel does tend to sound brighter than other materials, though rope core strings are warmer than solid steel.  But, steel core strings also have a different timbre than composite or other better quality strings.  They tend to be more "metalic" sounding, not surprisingly, and more "edgy".  Zyex strings are composite, though at a budget price.  Composite strings, like perlon/synthetic/nylon core strings, tend to be warmer, more yielding under the finger, and richer in tone quality, compared to steel.

Ok, there's lots more I could say about strings.  I'd recommend that you Google "violin strings forum" and read some of the many, many comments from players about different types of strings.  You can also find information on my website . . . www.fisherviolins.com.  In this case, I'd personally go with the Zyex over the Helicores, though there are plenty of Helicore fans out there.  The Helicores would last longer, but in my opinion the Zyex strings would sound better.  Still, it does depend on your instrument and your tastes.  If your instrument is VERY dark, then the Hilicore's could sound better.  But, from your previous questions, I'm predicting that you're going to like a composite or other synthetic core sting better than steel.  Violino or Obligato would also be a good fit for your ear, I believe.  But, again it depends on your fiddle.  The best thing to do is to just start trying as many strings as you can afford, to see for yourself.

Hope that helps.  Looking forward to your other question.

Regards,
Jim Fisher

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Mr. Fisher. I am really considering Violino E Strings. But I have a follow up question.

Is the Violino E string composed of a synthetic core just like the G, D and A strings?

Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi Ridwan,

No, the E string is always the exception.  It is typically steel, sometimes with a winding of steel or aluminum, sometimes with a plating of tin, gold or other metals.  The quality of the steel is also a consideration.  So, on a set of synthetic core strings, for example, the E string will NOT have a synthetic core.  You'll have to check the individual set to see the composition of the E.  In the case of Violino, the E string is tin-plated carbon steel.  Folks often mix and match E strings from one set with the G, D, and A from another.  There are even a few "Solo" E strings that are sold by themselves, without being part of a set at all, for this very purpose.

I recommended the Violino set as a good possibility for you because the entire set will produce a warm, mellow tone, and they're not too expensive, comparatively.  You might be happiest purchasing a Violino set (or one of the others that I mentioned), but replacing the E with an aluminum-wound or gold-plated E from a different set.  The Violino E is warmer than Pirastro's "Silvery Steel" E (also tin-plated), but it's still brighter than many other E string options, such as the ones I just mentioned.  From the little bit I've learned about your ear and tastes, I'd recommend starting with a Violino G, D, and A, and an Obligato Gold-Plated E.  That's about as warm/dark as you're going to get.  Or, if you're worried about whistling on the E, perhaps the Violino G, D, and A with a Kaplan Solutions non-whistling E, or any of the other aluminum-wound Es on the market.  If this combination sounds too dull to your ears, you could then try switching out the E or moving to a less dark set, such as Dominant, to find the right tone balance for you and your instrument.  What is "warm" and "Mellow" to some sounds "dull" and lifeless to others.  What sounds "Brilliant" and "Alive" to some sounds "Bright" and "Piercing" to others.  It's just a matter of finding out what you and your violin like.

Best,
Jim Fisher

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Mr. Fisher. I have one more question before my final question.

Remember when you said the E-string may be giving me a headache because the violin may be badly set up? What does set up mean?

Thanks.

Answer
Hi Ridwan,

The "setup" of the violin refers to the selection, installation, and adjustment of the bridge, strings, tailpiece, tailgut, soundpost, and nut.  A full adjustment and setup will also include checks on a few other items, such as the projection and carving of the fingerboard.  

In particular, I was referring to the work typically done by the dealer - i.e. the carving and fitting of the bridge, selection of tailpiece, installation of tailgut, fitting and placement of soundpost, and selection and installation of strings. Taken together, this adjustment, if badly done, can make an instrument absolutely terrible.  Done well, a good adjustment can make even a very cheap instrument quite playable.

Best Regards,
Jim Fisher

Violin

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James S. Fisher

Expertise

Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.

Experience

I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins, www.fisherviolins.com.

Organizations
NAAM, ASTA

Education/Credentials
I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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