Testing strings with Jakob Elmedal Johansen

When trying strings with South Denmark Philharmonic’s violinist Jakob Elmedal Johansen, we talked about the way musicians view instruments, bows and strings. While Jakob placed much importance on the choice of instrument and bow, he had never given much thought to string choice. He simply played the strings suggested by his violinmaker. Jakob was also of the opinion that his fellow musicians do not think that strings have an important impact on their instruments. As he expressed it: “Most musicians see strings as unimportant spare parts”.

“Many musicians see strings as unimportant spare parts”

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Jakob’s violin, a French instrument from Joseph Hel (1889), had a nice warm sound. Especially the E-string was shining through. As a first step, we replaced the G-string with a Virtuoso medium string. Jakob immediately perceived a significant difference with the A and D strings which vibrated much easier due to the reduction in string tension on the instrument. At the end of our session, Jakob’s violin was strung with Larsen Virtuoso medium and even though we had reduced the tension on the instrument by approx. 1½ kp, the violin had gained more volume and projection. Also with the E-string, we succeeded in providing a nice sounding string that could match Jakob’s former string and give him some additional colours to play with.

In the end, Jakob realized that strings are not just spare parts…

String tension and the harmonic spectrum

Jakob Elmedal og Kristian Sigvardt

Finishing our session, we took some time to show Jakob how we measure the sound quality of strings in our advanced sound laboratory. By doing so, we acquire valuable insight into the sound properties of every string. It helps us understand the difference between a brilliant and a warm string. Jakob showed much interest in the technology behind the strings and we had an interesting discussion about how scientific knowledge helps us shape the sound in our pursuit of the perfect string.

However, the critical component in string development is and always has been the musician.

We work with musicians in string development as an essential phase of the Larsen process: Working with you to discover the soul of your instrument.

Many thanks to Jakob Elmedal Johansen for visiting us – We couldn’t do it without you.

 

 

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How to recognize a Larsen string?

How to tell the difference between Larsen strings once they are out of their bags?

Silk colour

Since the very first Larsen Cello A string came on the market, the yellow silk with blue thread symbolizes Larsen Strings.

However, to differentiate between the different string models and tension levels, Larsen Strings uses different silk colours, especially at the peg-end so it is possible to see whether a violinist plays a Tzigane medium or a Virtuoso® strong. To identify a Larsen string, please consult Larsen Strings A/S Silk colours.

Ball colours

Larsen Strings has a special way of differentiating between the first, second, third and fourth string. Where most producers use silk colours, Larsen Strings uses balls of different materials.

Larsen Strings I (Violin E, Viola A and Cello A) is made of brass. It has a rich golden colour.

Larsen Ball I Brass

Larsen Strings II (Violin A, Viola D, and Cello D) is made of chrome. It has a bright silver colour.

Larsen ball II Chrome

 

Larsen Strings III (Violin D, Viola G and Cello G) is made of copper. It has a reddish golden colour.

Larsen ball III Copper

 

Larsen Strings IV (Violin G, Viola C and Cello C) is black.

Larsen ball IV Black

 

Crown cello strings by Larsen

If you play the Crown strings, you will find out that all balls are made of brass. Crown, a brand acquired by Larsen Strings, has retained its original colour codes. To identify Crown, please consult Larsen Strings A/S Silk Colours.

Ball colours and Silk colours

Some people like the way we use balls to differentiate the strings, others find it difficult. We tend to believe that long-term it is easier to remember the ball colours than having a long list of colour codes when differentiating between the first, second, third and fourth string.

Please share your thoughts about balls and silk colours with us…

Because we couldn’t do it without you.

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This week’s visiting musician was violist Johan Korsfeldt

Johan Korsfeldt came by this week to test some strings with us. He brought a very old friend of mine with him: A viola from the Canadian violinmaker Ivo Johannes Loerakker, which I had the pleasure of playing from 1990 to 2011. When talking about strings Johan said:

“I want strings that give me something to work with, rather than boring compact sounding strings… Rather a Rolls-Royce than a BMW…”

Thank you for the visit and enjoy the strings!

jk

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