String life

This topic contains 49 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by fiddlewood fiddlewood 1 week ago.

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 50 total)
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  • #71137

    Don Babb
    Participant

    Hey folks! Here’s a question for you: How long should a set of Helicore mediums last on average? I seem to average about 40-45 hours of playing time when my G string starts sounding terrible. The D, A and E sound fine, but I always change the whole set. I’ve only been fiddling for a couple of years and I’ve never tried anything but Helicore. It’s either the strings, the fiddle, the bow, or (most likely) me. I didn’t find anything in the forum so I thought I’d ask.

    Other than that, hope you  all have a blessed Easter!

    Don B.

    #71138
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Its a good question , I have used Helicore strings a lot , I practice a couple hours ever day or more and usually change them every Four to six months or sooner if I break one ! I have not had much trouble with sound , I do not like the E string so sometimes I use the Hill brand ! or the wound E string !

    #71176

    Angela
    Participant

    I’ve been using Prims. I put mine on the 2nd week of March and I’m starting to think I need new ones. I play about every day and play with a band. I play in all kinds of conditions, so I think that wears them out quicker.

    #71181
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    There must be something going on undetected at the factory of late, because I have used Helicores for many years and I’ve had all kinds of trouble with the A’s and D’s but never the G’s until this last set.

    When I bare down on the G string heavily with the bow (any of my bows), it goes sharp and then maybe flat a little and then returns to pitch. I have never ever had this problem with any of the strings Helicore makes. So now I’ve had problems with the G D and A strings. It’s probably about time to get away from D’addario’s for awhile until they can catch up with their problems.

    It’s quite upsetting because I love the tone of these strings when they’re behaving.

    #71184
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Fred , Shar music claims there is counterfeit Strings out there and guarantees theirs to be the real thing !

    Angela , When I was playing my guitar for tips years ago on the road I played about 8 hours a day and had to replace them every week they would go pretty dead after 60 hours , I could still play them but they lost that ringing presents !

    #71187
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Yeah, Steve. If I remember correctly, I got these from Amazon.

    #71205
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    String life depends a lot on care and how acidic your hands are…it’s different for everyone.

    I have one friend that can totally ruin  new set of guitar strings in an hour…he only plays on old strings if he can help it because of that.

    cleaning the strings after each playing session will help them last longer

    I usually play several hours/day on Helicore mediums  and change them about 2-3 times per year…I will change out the E string more often though to keep the “howl” down, as I get an extra when I buy a heavier Westminster E with each set.

    I get all my strings from a large reputable dealer and have only had trouble with one set in about ten years…G broke after being on only a week…I’m thinking I  may have tunked it against something….

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #71209

    Angela
    Participant

    I don’t know this for sure, but I suspect what affects my strings:

    1. lotion on my hands; I sometimes wash them before playing but not always
    2. playing outside where the humidity is pretty high
    3. taking the fiddle in and out of a/c
    4. perspiration
    5. probably some amount of bug spray and sunscreen I use when I’m outside
    #71210
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    The ways strings end their life is varied.  With some they lose their ability to maintain their best sound and die of old age.  Sometimes a string breaks, & well most folks don’t tie it together & keep on playing.  Sometimes a string comes unravelled from the bow contact.  But mine almost always unravel where the fingers contact.  Until I got into doing a lot of 3rd position work, my A string would often only last 6 weeks.

    Fingernails not trimmed will easily do it.  Evidently my fingers are calloused and rough enough that they are hard on strings, and I have a bad habit of often using way too much pressure against the strings with my fingers.

    I had a knee operation, and they anaesthetised me with a needle in the back of my hand (for some reason?), but they couldn’t get the needle through the skin!….and they keep asking me why the skin on the back of my hand was so tough?  It was awful, and they had four assistants holding me down while they poked on me.  ………….So whatever….my strings wear out from my fingers, and the first to go is almost always the b to d note section of  the A string.

    #71212
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Ha I recently was at my moms she’s 90 years and she wanted me to play some of her instruments , the strings on all of her stuff are blackish or rusted and flat dead , she is almost deaf and thinks they are fine , so the beauty is in the eye of the beholder ! Ha must of been 20 years ago or longer since there’s been a string change on anything there !

    #71213
    goettjp
    goettjp
    Participant

    I bought my first fiddle in 1984… learned two songs and put it away…. picked it back up when I retired in 2012, same strings.  Played it that way for a couple years.

    Now I change strings when the A string starts to unwind between the “B”note and “C”#” note.    That’s the “slide” that gets hit most frequently.

    #71214
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    It seems to me most strings I’ve used have lasted a really long time (a year?), even when I played in a band.  I don’t play much at all now, maybe one day a week for a couple hours.  I usually play until a string breaks or looks like it’s about to, on any instrument.  Can’t really afford strings, so I make ’em last.  I’ve used Helicores for a long time, but here lately the A string always seems to give out.  I just switched to Prims a few weeks back…hoping they last a long time.

    #71215

    Don Babb
    Participant

    Thanks to everyone for your input! There’s much to learn about this wonderful instrument. I try to play as often as possible, but I rarely get in more than 3 hours a week, sometimes a little more, so I usually get 3 or 4 months out of a set before I feel I need to change them. I hope to get in and hour or so today.

    Anyway, thanks again for the input! Hope y’all have a great day!

    Don B

     

     

     

    #71216

    Angela
    Participant

    One of the first things that signals a need for new strings is when I can’t get the e played on the a string to match up with the open e string….

    Like on the first note of the C part in Jerusalem Ridge (or D part…depending on how you label the parts in JR…haha)

    #71217
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Angela , thanks for the input , after reading your post , I tried the A string E in the finger 4 position and the open E and they are identical .

    #71220
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Steve, how can you tell?

    If the strings were in tune, I’d simply adjust my finger to where they matched…

    The notes feel in a different place on my fiddles every day…I have to spend time finding them at the beginning of each day.  Changes in temp, humidity, hand moisture (did I just wash them or do dishes…), and how much I’ve played recently, all make a difference every day for me.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #71222
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    I’m going to go back to Zyex strings. They’re so sweet….it’s just that the break-in period is a little longer than the Helicores. (They’re still made by the same company but they’re a better string imho).

    #71225
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Dave , I was just checking out what Angela said , I first used my elect, tuner and tuned my fiddle , I am still using the fingerboard sticker John recommended so I simple played the E string open and then the forth finger position on the A string played , and it in fact was the same as the open E string and both bowed at the same time were the same !

    #71251

    Angela
    Participant

    Yes…when my strings are going out, the 4 on A and the open E don’t have the same tone…I can hear like a “scratchiness” or something….plus it gets almost impossible to find the sweet spot on the A to match the E.

    #71631

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Angela’s string test is a pretty good idea. When you from A4 to E0, it shouldn’t sound like you’ve just swapped instruments. If it does, then it may be time to change strings! I am also bad to “play it until I fray it,” and yes, it’s usually around the A2 or E3 where a lot of sliding happens! I haven’t really kept up with the number of hours, but I seem to be changing my Helicores every 3-4 months.

    #71634
    Gunnar Salyer
    Gunnar Salyer
    Participant

    I use the cheapest strings I can find, and I only change strings when they break. The exception is my current e and d strings, which are used dominants I think

    #71637
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I’m with you, Gunnar…I’ve got too many instruments to keep in strings, plus the fiddle strings are just too expensive…my strings have to last as long as possible.

    #71644
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    John, when I change a string, I write the date on the envelope the string comes in and clip it to the stack of saved envelopes pinned to the wall.  Then I can look back on the stack of envelopes and see the dates for when each string was changed.  It was interesting to note when my practice regime evolved how my string life changed for different strings.  But with these (expensive) synthetic core, wound strings there is definitely sometimes a lemon that barely gets broke in before it starts to unwind.

    #71645

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Rodger, that is a great idea.

    You mentioned a possible correlation between your practice regime and string life for different strings. Could you elaborate on that? Thanks!

    #71682
    Kenny
    Kenny
    Participant

    Fred,

    You mentioned you were going back to Zyex strings.  From what I read there are two choices for the D string.  What set do you like to use?  Do they sound warmer than the Thomastik Dominant?

    #71685
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    I’m going to try a couple sets of them for the heck of it.

    Thinking they may sound better on my Gliga as the action is a touch higher than the older fiddle and it is quite a bit brighter.

     

    #71716
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Hi Kenny: I like the Mediums with the Silver D. I usually don’t have a problem with E wolfing, so I use the E that comes with the set.

    I haven’t used Dominants in years, but I remember two things about them: 1) I liked them, and 2) they were expensive. But nowadays just about any string that’s any good at all is costly. Several of my professional fiddle playing friends use Evah Parazzis with a silver D. I go thru strings too quickly for my string budget as it is. lol.

    Dave, is the Gliga fiddle the one you’re playing in these teaching videos?

    Rodger, I’m going to adopt your idea of recording the date of string replacement on the package. That makes a lot of sense.

    #71722
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Fred, Yes.

    I think I like the tone of my old D. Salzad  a bit better, but The Gliga is only ~15 yrs old so i use it for my daily practice right now.

    Current strings Helicores w/a little heavier Westminster E string… a little over 6mos old right now. Not worn, but not sounding great anymore.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #71731
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    John, well I would be going through an A string sometimes in 6 weeks, next was the D but a lot longer, and much longer for a G.  My steel E would never ‘wear’ out but just lose it’s best sound.   I’ve been taking lessons and upgrading as well as playing in an orchestra.  My lessons include regular 3rd position exercises, and 3 octave scales using higher positions, etc.  I’ve always had a problem using way too much pressure on the strings, and the shifting forces me to loosen up dramatically….then there’s the tendency to maintain the loose pressure after the shift.  The regime has me down on the G & D strings much, much more than my previous practice was doing, actually using those strings a lot more than the A & E.  As well, the orchestra pieces always seem to have me down on the G & D more than above.

    So less use of the A combined with lighter pressure, (& keeping the nails trimmed) seems to spread out the wear more evenly.  The issue of sliding for the shift doesn’t seem to be an issue, I guess because, although the finger is normally on the string for the shift, the pressure is so light it doesn’t seem to affect it.  I think I’m barely touching the string in my shifts, and sometimes not at all.  I’m weird in that I can shift very well without sliding my finger on the string, although the teacher doesn’t usually like that.  Getting away from using the A string for the B,C, & D notes on most every thing I played, and with excessive pressure is really noticeable on the A wear.

    #71789
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Wow…at first the new Zyex strings sounded just dead…even compared to the six month old helicores I took off (which sound awesome when first installed).

    Only strings that blended at all on double stops were the D/A… the G/D & A/E are horribly unbalanced.

    Only have ~3-4 hours on them so far…I’m hoping they “break in” and start sounding more like a set instead of a mismatched foursome soon.

    #71790
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Dave , I have a set of Zyex I bought a year ago that I put on my violin and same thing , I probably should of waited a few days for the magic break in , but took them off after about 6 hours , Now that I have three fiddles I am going to put them back on the same fiddle I took them off of and give them another chance as that fiddle is now my 2nd fiddle , So I will still have my number one fiddle to play on while they break in on my 2nd fiddle so we’ll see ! There’s some good reviews on Zyex and I would like to get my moneys worth out of them !

    #71792
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Wow, Dave and Steve: You’ve got me runnin’ scared. Maybe I won’t switch back to Zyex. I’ll have to start reading the reviews again and take a chance on something else. I hate the idea of spending so much on the Evah Parazzi’s but I may have to. Helicores would be super if there weren’t so many problems with manufacturing consistency, etc.

    #71796
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    I haven’t given up on them yet Fred.

    The Zyex are a much “looser” string, like Dominants to me. I guess  that makes sense since they are both synthetic core sets. Near as I can remember, these play much like dominants did.

    It may be that either my fiddle or playing style match better with the steel core strings…we’ll see…for Fifty bucks I’ll have these on for a good while whether I like them a lot or not.

     

     

    #71797
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Hi Dave: I can’t remember right now why it is that I gave up on Zyex and went back to Helicore mediums. Bobby Hicks is always trying to get me to switch to the Helicore heavies. I just can’t bring myself to using heavy strings on my delicate little fiddles, lol.

    I noticed one thing that was a problem for awhile with the Helicores that has since cleared itself up: I had been having trouble with the G string going low and then high when I’d bow it heavy. This has gone away. Who knows what was happening there?

    The Parazzi’s are about twice what the Helicores are…..and I just can’t bring myself into spending that much on strings. I don’t think that much of treating my wife and our friends to a big old steak dinner costing even more than that….but strings to make me sound great instead of squawking every other note……no way….just can’t bring myself to it. lol.

    #71801
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    .

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #71802
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Oh yeah…I didn’t mention the squawking & growling…terrible.

    I’m also kealing with notes changing on me with varying bow pressure with the Zyex.

    My next experiment, after I recover form the $100 Zyex one) might be heavy strings…Becky Buller uses them also.   I tried a heavier E string (Westminster) and it worked quite nicely with the M helicores. Though I did notice having to play it with a touch more pressure compared to the A once it started to age.

    #71804
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Hey Fred and Dave Check out Fiddleman violin Strings Your not supposed to be able to tell the difference between them and Dominants and they sell for $29.79 per set !

    https://youtu.be/W-q58fSpDZI

    #71806
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Steve, to be honest, I’d forgotten why I’d switched to steel core strings in the first place…now I’m being reminded.  Dominants are about like the Zyex…my fiddles (or playing maybe?) don’t seem to agree well with composite core strings.

    #71809
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Dave , last year I asked John about what kind of strings all my fiddle hero’s use ! And he posted a whole list of names and string types that they use ! there must be a reason they use these strings !

    Bobby Hicks – Heavy gauge Helicores with a viola C (Spirocore?)
    Johnny Gimble – Medium gauge Thomastik Superflexibles
    Jay Ungar – Medium gauge Zyex
    Kenny Baker – Thomastik Superflexibles
    Jimmie Mattingly – Medium gauge Helicores and Zyex
    Aubrey Haynie – Medium gauge Helicores
    Charlie Daniels – Super-Sensitive
    Stuart Duncan – Heavy gauge Helicores
    Mark O’Connor – Heavy gauge Helicores and Zyex

    #71828
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    update:   after another 4-5 hours of playing the new strings will finally stay i tune and started sound better balance wise somewhat.

    They are sounding OK now but sheesh what a long, excruciating break-in period!

    At least they are sounding good enough now so that I won’t mind playing through 2 sets of them on this fiddle.

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
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