October 30, 2017 at 9:30 PM #54898
It’s crazy how much we want to (and yet dread) another string conversation. But, here goes…
I have two fiddles…a better fiddle that was my grandmother’s. This is Thelma.
And my Goodwill DIY fiddle…..Louise. The veterans here at BGD will remember my rescue story and Gu’s help in my rehab of Louise.
I use Louise and a cheap CF bow for outdoor playing. I like the gritty, husky sound of Louise. I have had Helicore’s on her.
I had Thelma at the Violin Shoppe in Nashville and they recommended Vision Heavy’s for her. So…she’s had them for a couple of years. I really like their sound on her.
But, back to Louise and the Helicores. I know Helicores are the Holy Grail and this might sound blasphemous….but I’m falling out of love with them. One, they don’t last long…I mean like maybe 6 months. I use this fiddle outside, mostly in heat, so that could be part of it. Two, compared to the Vision’s on Thelma, they feel like I have to work a lot harder to play them. That may be what people call “unresponsive” in some of the string discussions. And three, it feels like the sweet spot for intonation changes on them. They are very unforgiving, so you have to absolutely nail the placement of your finger. But on top of that, it feels like it gets harder to find the in tune spot on the fingered notes…not so much on the open strings. Although, as they get closer to 6 months old, they don’t ring as true on the open strings.
So, tonight I ordered a set of Prim Orchestra gauge (basically their version of heavy, as I understand it) and a Jarger Forte e. We’ll see how this goes.
Thanks….that was therapeutic. :^)October 30, 2017 at 9:59 PM #54901
Ha , Good luck I hope it works out Some sources say to change them every 250-300 hours of any kind of playing . 2 hours a day for six months is 360 hours . I play/practice about three hours a day every day, I am very motivated so if that’s the case then every 3 months for me but I don’t change then that soon , my current strings are about 5 months . I would probably hear a difference if I changed then out , I am also using Helicores . I have a set of ZYEX for my next set , I may wait for the A string to give up to make the change .October 30, 2017 at 10:23 PM #54903
Good Luck with the new set!
I just had the A sinding break on my helicores…they were about a year old and I was still happy with the sound…but the new ones do sound better.
Every fiddle has a “best” set of strings for the players ear…just have to be willing to experiment I suppose.
October 30, 2017 at 10:42 PM #54905
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by fiddlewood.
Steve, that’s interesting info on the hours. That probably explains a lot.
Thanks Dave. I’ve heard that it can be unique to each fiddle and ear.October 30, 2017 at 11:58 PM #54906
The time a set of strings lasts is affected by the acidity of the person’s perspiration, care of the strings, environment, force of playing…I’ve found perspiration to be the biggest factor of any…some people just destroy a set of guitar strings within an hour or two of playing, I mean from new to totally dead…October 31, 2017 at 12:11 AM #54907
Angela, 6 months isn’t bad for synthetic core strings if you play every day. My A string only lasts about 2 months, & the D not much longer. They unravel…completely come apart. You just have to have the same mentality with strings as people do with an addiction. You find a way to pay the price & enjoy that much more…We only have one life here to buy strings..
Try to make sure they are genuine. A lot of fake strings… imitiations of high price strings are on the market. Shar has a hologram of authenticity on theirs now. I guess it’s really a big problem.October 31, 2017 at 7:03 AM #54908
I started using Helicores ( I’m not good at remembering names of stuff, so, to me, they were always “Helicopters”) back before the BGDaddy days, after hearinglits of people recommend them on Fiddle Hangout. Well…I was kinda thinking they must really be good, then. But gradually, I began to notice the things you’ve told about, Angela…and my worst nightmare was my A string breaking on me…I was in a little band at the time and had to carry an extra A string in my case. I finally switched over Prims, once again, because people on FHO recommended them for everybody burned out with helicopters! I do hate it when a string rings untrue to the initial strike…it’s usually not the same issue as with a plucked or picked instrument, but it’s annoying, because then you have to tune so it’s slightly off both ways, struck and ringing…that’s just annoying. I find a lot of guitar strings seem to have that issue and I’m forever messin with my guitar tunings, because once I get it sounding just slightly off while playing in one key, so the ring sounds true, then if I play in a different key which has different strings ringing against others stopped, there we go again. Anyway…I’ve noticed with the helicopter strings on the fiddle my E would ring out wrong at times, my A would break, and I’m not good enough to know if I just couldn’t find the sweet spots for the notes, or if they were moving around on me too, but…well that might just be an ongoing issue because of my playing…lol. But so far, I like the Prims better.October 31, 2017 at 7:57 AM #54911
I’m glad to hear a vote for the Prims. I really notice the tuning issue when playing the octaves. When you absolutely cannot get the 4th finger a to match the open a, etc. I guess that’s the sign to replace the strings. Maybe I just shouldn’t be surprised to replace them that often. I like Roger’s advice…only one life to buy strings.
I had no idea there were fake strings so prevalent. But I usually buy from Shar. Their prices seem to be the best. And free shipping.
I may have told this story before but I had gone about 20 years without playing. When I decided to pick it back up (about 6 years ago now) I needed new strings. None of the music stores had any. I finally asked a friend where in the world she found strings. Online, of course. Haha. I hadn’t even thought of that even though I shopped online all the time. But online shopping wasn’t a thing back the last time I had bought strings.
Dave that makes sense about the perspiration. I also wonder if lotion can mess with them. I usually wash lotion off my hands if I’m playing a lot. But I do a lot of walk by practicing and don’t think about it then.October 31, 2017 at 9:11 AM #54912
I haven’t found any local stores that carry strings either…except for the really bad red label strings that are just about unplayable…made that mistake one time…thank goodness they were cheap. Our music stores around here, from what I’ve been able to find, are big on guitars and drums, that’s about it. I’ve bought many guitars living up here these past 30 years…but mainly because I’d already played guitar and they were just so available…there was no online back then…lol. I had my first steady job ever that paid over minimum wage and would give you a full work week, and I just bought a guitar every so often …lol. I got ripped off on those deals, but I guess it just became a mindless habit…I didn’t have time to play them very much because I was actually working around 90 hours a week, although they only pad for 37.5, yes they saw a sucker coming when I got hired. They said use the extra hours as “comp time,” which was supposed to have been vacation time, but the very fact I was there 90 hours a week was indicative I had no time to take comp time before it expired…etc. Viscious cycle…but I had a lot of guitars. They knew we were extra gung ho about getting real jobs and really took advantage of both of us….we began to realize later…lol. Oh well…they replaced me with five people, so…yeah…I gave them my life and decided to retire early before my life ran out on me…lol. But I did find my Presonus, about that time, by going into the biggest music store, filled with all kinds of fancy guitars, trying to ignore the guitars, and asking the kid in there about what I would need as a goid hone recording studio…his advice was tremendously helpful and I’m glad I listened to him and bought what I did. But over recent years just because of space, keeping strings onthem, etc., I’ve had to sell, trade, and just give away a bunch if guitars because it was ridiculous…I kept four…my engagement guitar…the old fender Mike gave me as an engagement “ring,” because he knew I’m not into dressing up, etc., but wanted a guitar and didn’t have one…it was cheap back in the 70s, but it has aged very nicely…I never play it because it does need some work now…I kept another fender, the first one I bought when after living up here it dawned on me we had our bills paid up and bought a Nintendo for our daughter and I still had 150 bucks in my hand…lol…yipppeeee…buy a fender. Then I kept my Garrison because I just like it…and the takamine, my most recent purchase. The others now have new homes…oops…I believe I’m going off topic….by a long shot. But what I meant to say is I can buy any kind of guitar accessories I want here in the stores, but fiddle or banjo…nope…gotta go online!October 31, 2017 at 1:15 PM #54915
It’s interesting about the comments of these synthetic core strings being harder to play in tune?? What I’m wondering is if it has something to do with these strings being more responsive to harmonics by the open strings reacting more and producing more harmonics. This would fit in with the difficulty of matching an octave. If the open strings are producing more harmonics (maybe?) then you would need a much more accurate note to sound good??October 31, 2017 at 1:19 PM #54916
Roger. I thought the helicores had a steel coreOctober 31, 2017 at 2:29 PM #54917
I don’t know how they’re made but I depend on my open strings ringing out like I think they should….lol.October 31, 2017 at 7:39 PM #54932
Prims on my fiddles are very bright. If you have a dark sounding fiddle they will brighten it up. I have one fiddle that “likes” Helicores and one that sounds terrible with them. Sound is so subjective but I’ve settled on Zyex on all my fiddles because tone and longevity. I have had several Helicore A strings just break. Fiddlershop has a new string that is not expensive and reviews say it is as good as Dominants. If anyone has tried them I’d like to know.
Finally, Shar runs specials fairly often with 20% off on all their strings and free shipping over $25. Makes it affordable to try different strings.October 31, 2017 at 8:02 PM #54933
Angela, you are right…my mistake. I had them confused with the new Zyex which are also made by D’Addario. Here’s what the specs say about Helicores.
“Helicore’s multi-strand, twisted steel core strings have a small string diameter, providing a quick bow response. Thanks to special manufacturing techniques, Helicore strings have a warm, clear sound with excellent pitch stability and longevity.”
So, maybe the smaller diameter has something to do with what you were saying about it taking more precision to nail a note.(?)October 31, 2017 at 8:30 PM #54935
That might be, Rodger…it’s funny how different the strings start to feel.
Bruce, the fiddle I’m going to put the Prims on is husky and kind of deep. I’m hoping the Prims will perk it up a bit. I’ve seen lots of talk about Zyex…might try them next.
And, maybe the Helicores are OK and I just need to change them more often ????.
I used Dominants for a long time, but they are too “classical” sounding for bluegrass, I think..whatever that means! ha.
I haven’t had any strings break. But, I bought a brand new set of Visions and the A was frayed right where you would put your first finger. I took a picture and sent it back to Shar and they sent me a whole new set. I only needed the A, but they said they couldn’t just replace the A.October 31, 2017 at 10:57 PM #54945
I used Dominants for a long time, but they are too “classical” sounding for bluegrass
I won’t ask you to explain that Angela. Probably something that can’t be put in words. Funny though how all this gets mixed up in our hearts more than our minds. I don’t know where I belong in the different fiddle pigeon holes. Probably off in some Gypsy camp…I grew up pretty isolated from our mountain music…we were isolated from everything & just trying to survive. When my Grandad got shot & Dad almost got killed, & him & his brothers had to fight to survive, the world looked like a pretty hostile place to be & Dad just withdrew from everything. So music wise, I just play whatever touches me, & it’s quite a Heinz 57 variety of stuff…November 1, 2017 at 2:17 AM #54979
Angela, I hope the Prims work for you! I do recommend that you try various strings until you land on something you love. I was excited about a set of Zyex a while ago but then switched back to helicores. One thing I’ve noticed through the years; there’s just no “preferred” brand of strings, so reviews will vary. You just have to be true to your own ear!November 1, 2017 at 10:14 AM #54983
Rodger, I’ve been thinking about what I meant by that. I think maybe I don’t hear the bite or the grit in the Dominants. I sort of feel the same about the Visions. It could just be completely in my mind!!
i play a lot of different music too. I play for church often. That can run the gamut of music type. I have played more classical in the past but find it’s a very limited audience who appreciates it.
I would really love to play on a street corner downtown. Haha. My husband thinks that’s too much like panhandling.November 1, 2017 at 2:01 PM #54991
I’m kinda feeling like I wish I could play in public again, somewhere too…although not really in the kinda band like I was in before. If I ever learn to fiddle and sing at the same time, I’ll just go out on my own…lol. Sure not there yet. One of these days, though!November 1, 2017 at 2:35 PM #54994
My husband thinks that’s too much like panhandling.
Well, maybe you shouldn’t have asked him for a tin cup…November 1, 2017 at 4:31 PM #54997
Get a cardboard sign…November 1, 2017 at 4:41 PM #54998
Or a hat! 🙂November 1, 2017 at 5:44 PM #55000
haha…I’m not sure your suggestions will help!! :^D
But, I do appreciate the efforts. And ROCK!!!! great to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. I thought of you a lot this summer, because I was playing in a jam around your old sales route!November 1, 2017 at 5:56 PM #55001
Angela, I guess my thought was that for playing in church wouldn’t strings with a ‘classical’ sound be great? Well, maybe you need two fiddles…one with Bluegrass strings and another with, whatever…November 1, 2017 at 6:17 PM #55002
Doing fine, Angela. The old shoe route, I bet it has changed. I probably couldn’t make the run now! It is nice to be thought of, tho!November 1, 2017 at 6:41 PM #55003
Rodger…yes, very true. And, I sort of do that with Thelma vs Louise. I keep Thelma for indoor…she has the Visions on her. I think the Visions are a good “compromise” string. They have a little grit but not too much. I was keeping the Helicores on Louise and will put the Prims on her. Louise is ALL fiddle! Thelma is mostly violin with a little fiddle in her. Does that even make sense???
But Thelma sounds better all the way around, so I don’t want to miss the chance to use her for indoor fiddle gigs.November 1, 2017 at 6:41 PM #55004
Rock…I bet it hasn’t changed ONE BIT!!November 1, 2017 at 6:42 PM #55005
BTW…I meant the suggestions for collecting tips! My husband is not buying it.November 1, 2017 at 6:58 PM #55006
Angela I always heard if your buying it, then its a fiddle to fiddle with , and if your selling it then its a lovely fine violin to play exquisite musicNovember 1, 2017 at 9:19 PM #55014
Steve, that sounds right!November 1, 2017 at 11:53 PM #55027
LOL. Here is what you imagine vs. what your husband imagines…November 2, 2017 at 7:17 AM #55041
Lol. John I think you’re exactly right!November 8, 2017 at 1:06 PM #55272
Update on the Prims: I got them in the mail and put them on the fiddle Monday night. It took a while to get them to stay in tune…I mean a few hours that night. My thoughts in the past few days of playing on them:
1) I LOVE the sound on my beater Louise fiddle. The brightness sounds really good on the dullish fiddle.
2) I got the heavies and they are LOUD! phew….gonna have to wear my ear protection when I practice.
3) They don’t stay in tune as well as the Helicore’s did. I have to tweak them pretty much constantly….and I notice the bowing, plucking and ringing tones all have a bit different pitch…so, that could be bad. They were super sensitive to playing in the humid air outside last night.
4) They’re “rough” (??)….what I mean by that is my fingers don’t slide easily up and done on them. My calluses catch on the winding…I guess that’s what’s happening (???).
Trade off’s…we’ll see how it goes….November 8, 2017 at 2:19 PM #55273
Oh…kinda bad report. I think it was Prims I got on mine now but they seem to ring true…but…I usually have my fiddles cross tuned, one way or another. I can’t seem to do anything much in GDAE, so…I’m wondering if how a person is tuned would make a difference in how their strings ring out? Speaking of which, I never could get into the Black Mt. Rag tuning because that E string tuned to a 3rd instead of 5th or 4th, it never sounds in tune to me, that string tuned like that. Same with guitar on that B string…it never sounds right…and I’ve been playing that instrument for over half a century. Anyway…wow…I might just look into something besides a Prims next time…after your report.November 8, 2017 at 3:11 PM #55274
Thanks for the update, Angela.
I need new strings so this helps me decide!November 8, 2017 at 6:23 PM #55280
I’m holding out hope that they’ll settle in a little better. We shall see.November 8, 2017 at 8:50 PM #55281
Let us know!November 8, 2017 at 9:40 PM #55290
I’m glad you like them! Are they staying in tune better now? I had an issue a while back with heavy strings getting out more quickly than I wanted. I can’t wait to hear Louise with the new setup!
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