The Violin Channel recently caught up with D’Addario Orchestral Strings‘ Director, Mr Craig Harbauer.
In a VC-exclusive blog, Craig guides us through the development of D'Addario's newest addition - the synthetic core Ascenté violin strings:
"In developing Ascenté, we really wanted to respond to the needs of teachers. They would tell us their students were ready for a string with more tonal range than steel core strings could offer, but they didn’t want to be constantly tuning or replacing broken strings during rehearsal. So, that’s where we started; make a good sounding string with a great synthetic feel that has excellent tuning stability and lasts a long time.
Ascenté construction was inspired by the design breakthroughs we had with our Kaplan line of strings. The synthetic core and synthetic winding construction – a feature unique to D’Addario – combined with special alloys allowed us to achieve our goals for tone, stability, and durability.
Ascenté strings are balanced and bright, expanding the player’s tonal palette with sophistication and consistency. They get their unique sound from their core, which is made of a “super low stretch” variant of the same synthetic material found in most professional violin strings. Our Zyex, Kaplan, and now Ascenté lines all use polyether ether ketone (PEEK for short) in the core. During manufacturing this core is processed specifically to minimize stretch under constant tension (sometimes called creep), making these strings incredibly pitch stable.
Playability and feel under the fingers were important to us too. The synthetic core already provides a huge improvement over steel, but we also wanted to choose winding materials that feel great while playing. We chose a copper / nickel alloy called monel for the outermost winding of the G and D strings. Monel has a silky smooth surface, is harder than silver, and has the additional benefit of being highly corrosion-resistant! As a matter of fact, this material is often used with salt water applications for exactly this reason.
As in Kaplan violin strings, Ascenté G, D, and A strings use an additional high tech synthetic wrap for torsional stiffness (resistance to twisting while bowing) inside the string. This had significant ramifications with regard to A-string construction. Traditional A-string construction utilizes two extremely thin wraps of aluminum over the core to achieve the torsional stiffness and mass per unit length necessary to vibrate at 440 Hz. That super thin outer layer of aluminum wears out quickest, which is why you might find that your A-string is frequently the first to need changing. Since Ascenté uses that special synthetic wrap inside the string, we were able to consolidate the two thin aluminum layers into a single thicker aluminum wrap. It’s twice as thick as any other A-string’s outermost winding, giving it a significantly longer string life while maintaining the same diameter, great playability, and powerful sound!
That should answer just about any question you had about the new strings, except for one. Why is the silking orange? That’s a story for another day.