Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

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Clay Schaeffer
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Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

At one time, as I understand it, violin strings were all gut without metal wrappings. Has anyone tried using plain nylon mono filament for violins? I know some homegrown "basses" use weedwacker string.

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Mark Swanson
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Mark Swanson »

One of my sideline distractions is fishing. I can tell you that not all monofiliment lines are the same. The expensive high-quality stuff is a lot "stiffer" or resistant to stretching, than the cheap stuff. I have a feeling that might make a pretty big difference if you're going to use it for musical strings. They also sell a type of line that is made with a "braiding" process, and these lines are supposed to be very strong with no stretching, but I'm not familiar enough with the process to know if a braided line is consistent enough along its length to work for musical strings. You can use a string calculator to determine the amount of tension on each string and use the right strength of line.
If you are going to try it, buy the smallest package you can, the stuff can get expensive and if you buy one of the big spools you'll have enough for the rest of your life if you're making violin strings. Unless you fish of course- then fill up your reels too.
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Jim McConkey
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Jim McConkey »

I think the major problem with monofilament for any bowed instrument is that the strings are too smooth. There needs to be some roughness for the bow to engage. Not quite nylon, but I have heard a few put plain, unwound steel strings (also too smooth) on bowed instruments, and the sound was invariably thin and screachy. The surface smoothness matters a lot less for basses and plucked instruments and only affects the playability.
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Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Perhaps a light sanding with fine sandpaper and a liberal dusting of rosin would help. As many different things as people try, I thought perhaps someone had tried this.

Roderick Jenkins
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Roderick Jenkins »

Jim,
Most violin e strings are plain steel, so i don't think smoothness is an issue. The rosin and the texture of the bow hair should produce a sound.
Rod

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Jim McConkey
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Jim McConkey »

Isn't that why the E string is also the most often replaced, because of the shrill tone? I didn't say it wouldn't work, only that it doesn't always sound good. Plastic will react differently from steel, so your mileage may vary.
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Simon Chadwick
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Simon Chadwick »

My fiddle is set up with all gut strings, from Ephraim Segerman at N.R.Instruments in England. The 2 bass strings are very thick and knobbly twisted gut; the two trebles are smooth plain gut.

Anyway I find that the highest string is a bit fragile and expensive to replace (even with the fiddle tuned down one note all the time) so it usually has a nylon fishing line on the highest position.

Yes I roughened the bowing area with fine sandpaper to help the rosin stick.

The sound is a bit brighter and harsher than the gut but not too bad to be really noticeable in ordinary everyday use.

If one were serious, nylon monofilament harp strings would be perhaps better than fishing line.

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Simon Chadwick
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Simon Chadwick »

I see Ephraim is advertising nylon strings processed like historical gut. I have not tried any of these.
http://www.nrinstruments.demon.co.uk/ProcPolySt.html

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Simon Chadwick
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Simon Chadwick »

DSCF9610.jpg

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

The 2 bass strings are very thick and knobbly twisted gut
Those are some interesting looking strings! Reminds me of thick marine rope.
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Clay Schaeffer
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Trompette Marine rope?

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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

Hi Simon,
Those are some interesting strings. Are the bass strings catlines or high twist? Do you think it is necessary to use a multistrand string on the basses to keep the tension reasonable? I wonder how they are made, as nylon doesn't generally like to stick to itself.

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Simon Chadwick
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Simon Chadwick »

Hi Clay, on the fiddle, the 1st string only is plain nylon fishing line, about 0.65mm diameter (I can't find the reel to tell you the actual specs). To replace a low-twist gut 1st, the label says 22.5 (is this 0.0225"?).
The 2nd is 28.5 medium twist gut
The 3rd is 40 medium catline 3 strand
The 4th is 57 medium catline 3 strand

Nylon catlines - I have never tried these on the fiddle, I note Ephraim's advert for them on the link given above, and am curious. On my kora, the strings as I got it are green nylon, and the basses are 2 strand catlines, very loose twist. They don't stick to themselves, but they dont unravel because age has "set" them in their twist. Photo attached.
Kora with twisted green nylon bass strings, monofilament green nylon midrange and the same clear nylon trebles as on my fiddle
Kora with twisted green nylon bass strings, monofilament green nylon midrange and the same clear nylon trebles as on my fiddle
Also I am now also curious that Ephraim mentions on his website "high-twist monofilament" nylon strings, and I am wondering if twisting the monofilament nylon will make it more flexible and less harsh sounding? Perhaps I will try on the fiddle, I guess I just undo the string from the peg, turn the loose end 20 or 30 times and wind it back up to pitch?

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Simon Chadwick
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Simon Chadwick »

I tried undoing the nylon monofilament top string on the fiddle, twisted it clockwise as much as I dared (perhaps 30-40 turns) and then reattached it. Now it is up to tension it does not look any different but I cant really be sure if there is a change in sound or not.

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Simon Chadwick
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Simon Chadwick »

Just found the reel of nylon, it says 50lb. No other info, sorry, I do remember buying it at an inland fishing tackle supply shop.

Bob Menzel
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Re: Has anyone tried plain nylon for violin strings ?

Post by Bob Menzel »

If you're considering the braided fishing line Mark refers to, be advised that they can and will cut you (kind of like a wire cheese cutter only worse). These would include the low stretch Spectra lines (ie.: Spider Wire, Power Pro, etc.). I've never used Dacron line, perhaps it might be safer.
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