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What string characteristics change due to different core materials?
Naturally, using different materials also leads to a change in the characteristics. Overall, the following features can be altered by the choice of different materials:
- pitch stability
- left-hand feeling (soft versus firm)
- right-hand feeling when bowing (soft versus hard)
Here are some examples of the effect this can have:
If a gold-plated chromium steel violin E-string is replaced by a tin-plated carbon steel E-string, the whistling of the gold E-string is almost always reduced, but the susceptibility to corrosion is increased (string becomes coarse and dark).
If an aluminum-wound, synthetic core violin or viola A-string is replaced by a chromium steel-wound carbon steel core A-string (steel wire), response, pitch stability and corrosion resistance are usually improved, but the tonal modulation capability is limited. In addition, the diameter of a steel wire A-string tends to be much smaller. This results in the above-mentioned improved response, but the string also feels harder.
If a synthetic core viola D-string (wound with aluminum or silver) is replaced by a chromium steel-wound carbon steel core D-string, the same as in the previous example applies. The diameter of the carbon steel D-string is much smaller. The response, pitch stability and corrosion resistance are usually improved, but the tonal modulation capability is thus limited. What is more, the steel wire D-string also feels harder.
If you replace a synthetic core viola C-string with a tungsten-wound spiral rope core C-string, the same scenario occurs. The diameter of the tungsten-wound spiral rope core C-string is considerably smaller. The pitch stability and corrosion resistance receive an upgrade; however, the tonal modulation capability is likely to suffer. The response can both improve or deteriorate. Similarly, the spiral rope core C-string can often feel harder.
In general, for violin and viola strings, a switch from synthetic core to steel strings leads to an increase in volume and a decrease in tonal modulation capability.
With cello A- and D-strings, a spiral rope core may be replaced by a steel wire core. This results in an improvement in response and pitch stability. In contrast to this, a spiral rope core is usually used for cello G- and C-strings in order to optimize flexibility, handling characteristics and tonal modulation capability.
With regard to double bass strings, it used to be less common to combine different core materials. However, bassists that play both jazz and classical music are now increasingly using a combination of our Belcanto® G- and D-strings (rope core) and Spirocore® A- and E-strings with light tension (spiral core). They thus achieve the growl and sustain (the prolonged rumbling) on the lower strings, that is needed for playing jazz, while the pure sound quality required for classical bowing techniques is achieved on the higher strings.