Lilting Fiddle

Learning to Play Fiddle as an Adult

Fiddle String Swing

Posted on January 8, 2021

Back in September of 2020, I picked up a set of Thomastik Alphayue strings for my Master fiddle. While I’m sure for the right instrument they could be a good set of strings, they just weren’t working out for mine. They sounded scratchy (due to certain rosin) and often muted on the G and D strings far more often than I’d like.

Also, when putting new strings on any instrument, there’s a period of time where the strings must stretch and settle. During this, you have to retune several times – sometimes even during a single practice session. I always check tuning before I practice, and a settled set of strings doesn’t usually need much tuning from day to day.

The Alphayue strings took weeks to finally settle. I’ve never had strings slide out of tune so much for such a long period of time after first putting them on.

While I did get the Alphayue on sale at a good price, I was still reluctant to switch them off for something new because I felt that I’d hardly gotten my use out of them. That’s when I noticed some discoloration on the strings of my Bunnel – indicating those strings would need changing pretty soon.

So, the idea came to me that I’d pick up some new strings for my Master and put the Alphayue on my Bunnel, which is my back-up fiddle. That way, those strings didn’t go to waste, and hey… they might even sound better and fit the Bunnel more. Who knows?

This time around, I decided to try D’Addario Zyex because not only do they have good reviews, but the D and G strings were available in silver. I’ve never tried a silver violin string before, but D and G on my Master have a history of being a bit nasal-sounding. So I was curious to see if this improved that.

I had an extra Hill E string (which remains my favorite) that needed to be put to use, so I only bought three Zyex strings and not a full set. My strings arrived yesterday, much to my surprise – they weren’t supposed to be here until Saturday – and I did the string swing between the two fiddles.

One of the first things I learned to do back when I got my first cheap fiddle was how to change the strings on it. I know some beginners are a bit antsy to mess with this, but it’s really not that difficult. I’m saying that without ever having a string break on me, though. I think I’d be a little more scared if one should pop!

Also, I used to practice learning guitar back in my high school/college days, so changing strings isn’t something unknown to me. …Despite the fact guitar and violin strings are very different animals!

Anyhow, I have one practice under my belt with the new strings. It’s hard to tell yet because they’re still stretching and settling in, but I think these are a marked improvement in sound over what I was using before. I haven’t had time to experiment with the Alphayue on my Bunnel to see if they sound similar on different fiddles, either.

I’ll let you know on down the line how it turns out!

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