Steve Mason Luthiers
INSTRUMENT REPAIR - LAWRENCE, KS
 
 
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5-string violin

Q: I have a 5-string violin that I recently purchased and I agree that the C is too floppy. It is too loose to get any volume.
Is it possible to use a higher tension string?
 
 I just went to some heavy tension Dominant strings for my Wilkanowski 4 string violin, love the new sound. I also use heavy strings on my Andersen mandolin. The heavy strings really sound great.
Winfield friends,
Bluegrass PIlots

A: You can raise the pitch of a string by shortening it, tightening it, or decreasing its mass. You can lower the pitch of a string by lengthening it, loosening it, or increasing its mass. A violin scale length is just too short, and the body is too small, to produce a great C. To each his own, but I like D'Addario Zyex mediums for the top four strings and a medium scale medium Zyex viola C. Helicores sound very good but they are harder to play in tune. Somehow the PEET Core (think tougher nylon) is more forgiving. I have also been happy with medium Dominants.  I haven't tried heavys. I worry about the extra tension on a violin that already has the pull of an extra string. Heavys are louder but produce fewer overtones. Sometimes that's just the ticket. Sometimes not. The heaviest string you can buy is the Super Sensitive. They sound bad on most violins, but I have heard them bring a boxy old violin to life. I hope to see your five string at Winfield this year.
 
Steve Mason


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