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Dec 08

Cellist Amit Peled on Practicing & Performing with Pablo Casals’ Goffriller Cello – Strings Magazine

Violin Viola Cello Double Bass

Practicing & Performing with Pablo Casals’ Goffriller Cello – Strings Magazine a towering 6’5″, cellist Amit Peled is an inspiring presence. But it isn’t just his height that creates an aura about him; it is his skill and creativity as a cellist and his likeable and passionate character that make Peled such a galvanizing persona in the music world.

A German-made cello in the style of Goffriller is available from Animato Strings.

If you wish to read more about the characteristics of the Goffriller cello that was owned by Pablo Casals click here.



Oct 06

Looking after strings

Violin Viola Cello Double Bass

Good strings are an important investment towards the sound quality of your instrument. You can maximise the life of your strings by looking after them carefully.

A professional would generally change strings at least every three to six months. A student could expect to change their strings every year.The string makers, Warchal,  advise that the commonly accepted lifespan of violin strings is around 150 hours of playing.   =The higher strings tend to need changing more often than lower strings and are also more likely to break.

There are several reasons why strings may need replacement.

  • The windings may break and unravel;
  • their sound quality has been lost
  • they are not staying in tune anymore.

Some teachers recommend that their students changing strings 4-6 weeks prior to an exam to make sure the strings have settled (stay in tune more easily) and so that the sound of the instrument will be optimal.

Cleaning strings

Whenever you finish playing, use a dry cloth such as a microfibre cloth to gently remove excess rosin from the strings.  If rosin isn't removed regularly it builds up and becomes harder to remove. When strings are coated with too much rosin, they won't have as nice a tone. Also clean the rosin from the violin itself where the rosin dust lands.  Rosin can also damage the varnish. 

About once a week, an alcohol based string cleaner such as Pirastro string cleaner or an alcohol pad can be used to clean the strings. When using alcohol based products, it is essential to prevent the alcohol coming into contact with the varnish of the instrument. You can hold the instrument upside down or place a clean dry cloth between the strings and the fingerboard of the instrument to protect the varnish from the alcohol. Alternatively, you could remove each string before cleaning it.  Remove, clean and replace one string before going on to the next one. This minimises the risk of moving the bridge and having the sound post fall over. Use the cleaning solution sparingly- a small drop with be enough. After cleaning your strings, make sure that you wash your hands before touching the instrument's varnish.

Tuning and fitting strings

When tuning make sure that you don’t over tighten the strings as this stretches them. Also make sure that the pegs move freely otherwise you can end up over tightening or breaking the strings. If the pegs are sticking, they may need a peg service. If you are comfortable with changing and tuning strings, you can apply peg paste to the part of the pegs that come into contact with the peg box. Otherwise, a peg service can quickly and easily be done in our workshop while you wait. If the pegs are still not moving freely, the instrument may need a luthier to  work on the pegs or the peg box.

Make sure that your strings are fitted correctly. When winding a string onto the peg, don’t let subsequent windings overlap previous windings. Instead, make sure that the windings are parallel to each other. Here is very helpful demonstration on how to string a violin. The same concepts can be applied to the other members of the string family.

Instrument set up

The set up of the instrument can impact on the life of your strings. The notches in the nut and the bridge need to correspond to the thickness of the strings. These notches also need to be smooth. If the strings are become damaged where they stretch over the nut or the bridge, the notch may need to be adjusted by a luthier. When changing strings, you can apply the graphite from a pencil to the contact points on the bridge and the nut. Lubrication from the graphite allows the strings to run more smoothly and it is easier to straighten the bridge.

Lubricating the notches of the bridge with graphite

String perspiration and aluminium wound strings

Aluminium wound strings can have a short life span for some players.  In these cases, acidic perspiration from the hands is damaging the aluminium windings. Cleaning the string should increase the lifespan to an acceptable level. Washing the hands prior to playing can also help. For those with very acidic sweat, chrome wound strings are advised as they are less susceptible to perspiration.

The unraveling string

Tido microfiber cleaning cloth

Pirastro String Cleaner

Strings fitted correctly to pegs

May 29

What it takes to set up a violin

Violin Viola Cello Double Bass

Animato Strings uploaded a video to YouTube, demonstrating what is required to set up a violin. Mel takes the viewer step by step through the setting up process.
We can divide the setting up into 7 steps:
First, we check the fingerboard for its straightness (or lack of). We check if it has bumps or dips. If so, it needs planing.

Aug 25

Animato International Violin Competition

Animato News

Animato Strings organises the second Animato International Violin Competition.

The finalists will compete in Brisbane at the Hamilton Town Hall, Brisbane on 11-13 November 2016.

The public concert on Sunday, 13 November 2016, 3pm will bring the competition to a close. It will feature the winning violinist, accompanied by the Animato Chamber Orchestra, reinforced by the finalists who didn ‘t win the first price. The winner will play one of the two major Mozart violin concertos.

The prize money for the winning violinist is $5000. The maximum age for the violin competition is 17 (on 30 June 2016).

One of the major adjudicators with be Robert Truman who was principal cellist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for over 20 years.

This event supports comradeship and mutual support amongst the contestants, culminating in the public concert in which every contestant participates. Based on the success of the first violin competition in 2013 Animato has been encouraged to continue next year with this initiative, establishing a tradition that will contribute to putting Brisbane on the international map for world classical music performances with young performers.

Previous competition’s winner, Yejin Min (Korea), won the first prize, a German master violin, valued at AUD 20,000, sponsored by Animato Strings. With this violin, Yejin won – shortly after – another prestigious competition.

Animato Strings continues to be a major sponsor for this event. The deadline for enrolment is the 30 June 2016. Details can be found on the websites International Violin Competition.

Jun 14

Yo-Yo Ma becomes UN peace ambassador

Animato News

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has chosen internationally well-known cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a peace ambassador.

The New York-based performer is among the most in-demand cellists on the planet.

Ma, 50, was born in Paris , then settled in New York when only five years of age to plunge into music through the Julliard School. He graduated from Harvard in 1976 and is appreciated for his interpretations of J. S. Bach and Beethoven.

Not being one to avoid experiment, Ma has deviated into other types of music including pop, Brazilian samba, bluegrass, jazz and tango. With in excess of 50 recordings under his bow, he has recorded together with the likes of Kathryn Stott, Bobby McFerrin and Egberto Gismonti.

Ma has 15 Grammys at the time of writing this article (2006). Ma was, in addition, the 1999 receiver of the Glenn Gould award for musicianship.

Annan verified the cellist would come to be a “peace envoy,” joining a lineup of further notables which include environmentalist Jane Goodall, actor Michael Douglas, basketball player Magic Johnson, jazz musician and performer Wynton Marsalis, opera performer Luciano Pavarotti and Nobel laureate Elie Weisel.

Peace messengers travel around the planet offering a message of peace.