Hello Fellow Fiddlers,
I know that in years to come I may look back on this post and smile indulgently to myself, chuckle and shake my head, but for now it's not so funny!! As you may know, I'm fairly new to playing, so occasionally I encounter situations which leave me anywhere from mildly bemused to downright dumbstruck. Anyway, this one is definitely veering towards the latter! There are sixty seven of you out there, so I'd like some feedback! OK, so I changed the strings, Thomastic Dominants, (one by one) on my beloved fiddle (for the first time since I bought it). Got it tuned up and proceeded to play a few familiar tunes. Then it started. The A string and the D string began vibrating like mad. The bow wouldn't grip and was hopping and jumping across the strings like a demented cat with sandpapered feet on a hot tin roof...covered in chilli powder. Get the picture? I was producing sounds that made a dog howl in the next parish (a normal day for me is howling in our parish only). Ahem, anyway, you get the picture. IS THIS NORMAL??? Does this happen every time you change your strings? Do you have to go into isolation for a week or two? Is my fiddle possessed? Answers please....

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Replies to This Discussion

1. You need to rosin your bow a TON when you get new strings. Your old ones had built up months of rosin residue which helped the bow stick, the new ones just need a bit of rosin dust. Rosin the bow. Play a long note. Repeat.

2. New strings often take a while (up to a couple weeks) to "settle in," so the howling will eventually subside and be replaced with dulcet tones soon. Hang in there. Some brands of strings are easier to break in than others, so you might try a different brand next time. (I use Infeld Reds but they're expensive.)

Thank you Katie for your swift response and your sound advice!  Here I was thinking that my new strings would improve my sound instantly!  By the way, I do like your use of the word 'dulcet'! (Me? Dulcet tones?!!)  OK then, off we go.  If anyone sees clouds of dust over my house in the next few days, you'll know what it is...

The clouds of rosin dust mixed with some other ungodly substances I'm sure...

Ha ha, you never know.  Anything to keep me sane when fiddle-wrestling!!


Latest update:  Well I rosined and bowed like mad for the last ten days and Lo and Behold, my fiddle's lovely tone has returned (I still sound the same!)

Thanks again Katie

 

Katie Davis Henderson said:

1. You need to rosin your bow a TON when you get new strings. Your old ones had built up months of rosin residue which helped the bow stick, the new ones just need a bit of rosin dust. Rosin the bow. Play a long note. Repeat.

2. New strings often take a while (up to a couple weeks) to "settle in," so the howling will eventually subside and be replaced with dulcet tones soon. Hang in there. Some brands of strings are easier to break in than others, so you might try a different brand next time. (I use Infeld Reds but they're expensive.)

One thing you may want to try out next time, loosen your bow. I have found that so many "Classically" trained people, have their bows lookin like you could fit a chap-stick trough it. If you take it down, it seems to grip better and sound more old timey. Not to much or you'll be playing with a noodle...

Hi Aslan, thanks for your comment. I'm far from being classically trained I can tell you!! However, a friend played my fiddle recently and commented that I have a "bouncy bow". It's a fairly cheap one to be honest so that could have been contributing to the problem. Things have settled down now but it's taken quite a while. I am experimenting with the bow tension though, but it seems that there are two camps, those who wind it up to the last, and those who slacken it off so as the wood is almost on the strings! And both believe they are right! I suppose it all depends on the bow itself, the strings and the sound being produced. Different strokes and all that.









Aslan said:

One thing you may want to try out next time, loosen your bow. I have found that so many "Classically" trained people, have their bows lookin like you could fit a chap-stick trough it. If you take it down, it seems to grip better and sound more old timey. Not to much or you'll be playing with a noodle...

Hi Paul;

Just a heads up for you...

The Dominants, I'm sure you know,  are synthetic strings which give the "feel" of gut strings.  If you went from steel core to these there is going to be a "bowing break in" period.  The steel strings are much more "reactive" to one's bow than the synthetic core.  Usually with synthetic core strings you want to have your bow hairs "loose".  The distance between your hairs and stick usually measure the thickness of a pencil in the center of the bow.  This will make your bow look like the stick is almost ready to sit on the strings.

Yes the quality of stick and weight will determine the "bounciness"  of your bow.  There are a lot of other factors as well, but let's not go crazy here right yet.  A very taught bow (camber is almost gone) will tend to bounce a lot, but then there are classical, as well as "fiddle", players who play like that.  I have found over the years that the "cheaper" the stick, the more distance there is between the hair and stick.  Let's face it, not all of us will go out and spend $600.00 + on a bow, when a fairly good $150.00 bow will do.

A rule of thumb I teach all my students, and bow purchasing customers, is that when you feel "tension" on the screw after a few turns, try the hairs out on the strings, or go 2 more turns, and then stop.  This will actually give you a good hair tension for the set up on the bow.  A good hair install will not be "floppy" when the bow is totally relaxed.  Also try to remember the tighter the bow the more the hairs are stretched, and then when relaxed will look floppy.  Another thing to look for is on a good hair install of a bow, the distance at the center of the bow and hair will be approx 0 to 1 cm at most (even then 1 cm is still a lot of distance. 

Just my 2 pennies worth;

Keep on Fiddlin'

AJ

Hi Albert,

Many thanks for your reply and your advice.  My bow is at the cheaper end of the scale for sure, but I will definitely try out what you said about  tensioning it.  I had been looking for problems with the strings, but the bow could be contributing to the problem too!  

Kind Regards,

Paul
Albert Wrigglesworth said:

Hi Paul;

Just a heads up for you...

The Dominants, I'm sure you know,  are synthetic strings which give the "feel" of gut strings.  If you went from steel core to these there is going to be a "bowing break in" period.  The steel strings are much more "reactive" to one's bow than the synthetic core.  Usually with synthetic core strings you want to have your bow hairs "loose".  The distance between your hairs and stick usually measure the thickness of a pencil in the center of the bow.  This will make your bow look like the stick is almost ready to sit on the strings.

Yes the quality of stick and weight will determine the "bounciness"  of your bow.  There are a lot of other factors as well, but let's not go crazy here right yet.  A very taught bow (camber is almost gone) will tend to bounce a lot, but then there are classical, as well as "fiddle", players who play like that.  I have found over the years that the "cheaper" the stick, the more distance there is between the hair and stick.  Let's face it, not all of us will go out and spend $600.00 + on a bow, when a fairly good $150.00 bow will do.

A rule of thumb I teach all my students, and bow purchasing customers, is that when you feel "tension" on the screw after a few turns, try the hairs out on the strings, or go 2 more turns, and then stop.  This will actually give you a good hair tension for the set up on the bow.  A good hair install will not be "floppy" when the bow is totally relaxed.  Also try to remember the tighter the bow the more the hairs are stretched, and then when relaxed will look floppy.  Another thing to look for is on a good hair install of a bow, the distance at the center of the bow and hair will be approx 0 to 1 cm at most (even then 1 cm is still a lot of distance. 

Just my 2 pennies worth;

Keep on Fiddlin'

AJ

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