Highlights 2015: Larsen Strings’ 25th anniversary year

Our 25th anniversary year is drawing to an end, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing Larsen Strings.

In 2015, we launched a revised version of our website and a new blog, all with the purpose of offering additional layers of information. Read about the blog and our aim to establish a community where string players and others with an interest in strings can join the conversation and share their thoughts: blog.larsenstrings.com.

Furthermore, to give a better understanding of how our strings can contribute to your instrument, we have developed a number of videos, which we hope will support and guide you in the search of the perfect set-up. Read more about our videos or even better, take a look at them via You-Tube  or our website.

Certainly, our 25th company anniversary was the highlight of the year. In June, we had the pleasure of celebrating this milestone with business partners and friends. Thank you to everybody who in one way or the other contributed to making the anniversary an unforgettable event. Read about Larsen Strings’ 25 years of history, or watch our anniversary video.

Finally, what made 2015 another special year is the contact we have with you, the musicians – who support us over and over again by playing so wonderfully on our strings.

To learn more about the artists with whom we have the pleasure of cooperating, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus or read our blog.

We couldn’t do it without you!

As always, we are working continuously with optimization of our existing strings and with the development of new strings, and we look forward to 2016 with high expectations.

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Violinmaker Ian Crawford McWilliams visiting Larsen Strings in Sønderborg

While many musicians in the search of the perfect set-up come to us, once in a while violinmakers also find their way to us.

Yesterday, Ian Crawford McWilliams, a Canadian violinmaker living in Brandenburg an der Havel, traveled all the way to Southern Denmark to visit us. He brought with him a cello and a viola.

As Ian explains it, for a violinmaker it is important to choose an all-round string set-up that will suit the needs of most musicians.

Ian Mc Williams

With the help of cellist Katarina Skliarevski and Larsen Strings’ violist Marie Girard we tried new set-ups of strings on the two wonderful instruments, improving the overall balance and sonority of the already well sounding viola and cello.

Katarina B

Thank you Ian for stopping by

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Discovering new sound possibilities for the string quartet

By: Anton Ilyunin from the Atrium String Quartet

www.atriumquartet.com/

In 2014, a close relationship between the Atrium String Quartet and Larsen Strings was initiated.

Last autumn, Larsen Strings had invited all four members of our quartet for a visit to their headquarters in Sonderborg, Denmark. There we had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Larsen and his team. Long talks and very exciting string-testing sessions for each of us brought us closer to the essence of Larsen Strings.

Of course, we already knew the Larsen brand as we had been playing on Larsen’s strings for a long time. Our cellist Anna had always used Larsen A and D strings. Alexey and I had fallen for Larsen Virtuoso strings right from the time, they came into the market. As for Dmitry, he was looking for a new solution for his viola.

Larsen Strings’ product development manager, Dr. Thomas Zwieg, opened for us new horizons of string sounds which we did not expect to be possible. It is quite incredible how string combinations can change the sound of an instrument. It is indeed a very interesting process, and we ended up with optimal set-ups for the entire quartet.

It was a privilege for all four members of the quartet to have the opportunity of meeting the team of Larsen Strings and we are very thankful to Mr. Larsen and Dr. Zwieg for helping us discover new sound possibilities for the string Quartet.

 

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The musicians’ contribution to string development

What drives us is our love of music. Our goal is to enhance the musical experience of the listener.

And that’s no small matter.

Bearing in mind this ambition, Larsen Strings’ development team is constantly in search of improvement potential that will enhance string evolution. Our highly educated engineers are devoted to developing strings, which respond to the need of musicians and enhance the symbiosis between musician and instrument. Along the way, trying strings with musicians is and has always been the foundation of our work. For this reason, Larsen Strings has entered into a partnership with many musicians as well as with the local symphony orchestra: South Denmark Philharmonic.

Trying strings with two violists

Last week two members of the South Denmark Philharmonic came by to test strings, violists Katrin Rimer and Jan Åkerlind. The two musicians who are partners in both their professional and private lives have developed very similar sounds.

Jan Åkerlind and Katrin Rimer testing strings

Jan Åkerlind plays a viola from Bettina Knutsson while Katrin Rimer’s viola is from Andreas Hötzer. Both musicians have chosen strong tension strings for their instruments as it enables a clear transmission of the vibrations from the strings to the instruments.

For more information about string tension please read the blog: What is the gauge – and how to choose between soft, medium and strong tension strings?

However, while Katrin’s viola would welcome every string we tried, Jan’s instrument was more specifial. Nevertheless, for both musicians we achieved our goal: They left from here happier with their set-up than when they came in. Meanwhile, we gained additional information about our strings, which brings us closer to our goal.

Jan Åkerlind and Katrin Rimer at Larsen Strings

 

Many thanks to Katrin and Jan. We hope to hear from you soon, because:

We couldn’t do it without you.

Eager to know more?

If you wish to know more about string development, string process and Larsen Strings’ collaboration with musicians, please visit Larsenstrings.com or follow this blog…

 

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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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What is the gauge – and how to choose between soft, medium and strong tension strings?

Did you ever wonder what the difference between soft, medium and strong strings is? Did you ever chose a medium string because it is the easy choice (as I have done for many years before being more acquainted with string technology)?

What is the gauge and the tension?

The gauge is a historical designation showing the thickness of a gut string. By measuring the diameter of a gut string with an instrument (see the following image of a gauge-meter), it is possible to define its weight. The weight defines the tension of the string and affects the bridge pressure on the instrument. As the construction of modern strings includes many different materials, it is no longer possible to just measure the thickness of a string to know its tension level.

Gauge-meter

To define the tension level of a modern string, we at Larsen Strings use an instrument called a Monochord (see the following image) where the string is mounted hanging, carrying a weight. For a violin A string, the measured weight at a frequency of 440 Hz for a vibrating length of 32.5 cm will define the tension level.

tension test

How does the tension affect my instrument?

In combination with frequency, vibrating length (from the bridge to the upper-nut) and the height of the bridge, the tension of the string defines the pressure on the bridge (see the following picture. N: Pressure on the bridge; P: Tension of the string; α: Angle of the string at the bridge). The higher the bridge and the smaller the angle of the string at the bridge, the more pressure there is on the bridge.

tension violin

Tension is essential to enabling the transmission of the vibrations from the string to the instrument. The more tension on an instrument, the clearer the vibration is transmitted to the resonating box. However, there is a limit to how much tension an instrument can support. An instrument loaded with too much tension get a highly forced vibration; its ability to freely vibrate is reduced.

It is all about achieving the right balance: To find the tension level that suits best your particular instrument and playing style and will ensure a long life of the instrument. It is important to remember that an instrument can be damaged by exceeding bridge pressure. I believe that like me, most musicians care for their instruments and want them to be in perfect shape when times come to pass them on to a next generation of players.

What to choose: Soft, medium or strong?

It all depends on the instrument you have and the sound quality you are seeking. High tension strings (strong) tend to provide a greater volume and improved projection. They amplify the ground tone of the sound, to the detriment of the higher harmonics.

On the opposite, medium and soft strings are often used for instruments in need of a broader harmonic spectrum. Medium and soft strings enable the instrument to breath and will often bring a richer spectrum of colours. They lend more variation possibility to the instrument.

As for me, I still prefer medium strings. It brings more charm out of my viola and I like the feeling of them.

Do all medium strings have the same tension level?

When searching for the perfect match between strings and instrument it is important to remember that not all strings have the same tension level. The tension of the strings varies from string model to string model. It is thus possible to find a string called medium having approximately the tension of a strong string from a different brand or model.

Can I rely on the tension charts of the producers?

The sad answer is: Not entirely.

As string producers do not have to follow an internationally accepted standard, they can measure the tension according to a frequency and a vibrating length of their choice and do not have to inform about it. In lack of an available standard, Larsen Strings has chosen to measure the tension of its strings under the very same conditions as the world’s two largest string manufacturers. Furthermore, to increase transparency Larsen Strings informs of the vibrating length and pitch frequency under the measurements. However, some independent websites offer tension charts, which compare strings on the market.

Does low tension necessarily mean low volume?

It is possible to choose strings with only moderate tension, which due to their vibrating propensity provide great volume and projection. Larsen Strings has explored the possibility of reducing the string tension to the lowest level while still providing enough sound volume. These strings lend particular benefit to older instruments by providing a tension level that respects the inner balance of the instrument. On this point, Larsen Strings is especially proud of its Virtuoso® strings. The Virtuoso® offers a hitherto impossible blend of extraordinary sound volume with only moderate string tension. For more information, please explore our factsheets for violin, viola and cello strings.

Marie Girard – String advisor at Larsen Strings A/S

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