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Eudoxa, Oliv and Passione Strings

Instruments: How do these three gut offerings compare?

From Chris Dolan
Posted February 21, 2008 at 07:08 AM

I have a question, if I may. I am looking for a set of gut strings that would fare well on a violin set up for Evah's. The violin I played previously did very well with Eudoxa strings, but the one I am playing now seems to prefer a set with more tension (with the exception of the A string, in which case the tension of an Evah A seems too much, as the violin prefers a Eudoxa A). Here is the set I have on now:

Evah G, medium
Evah D, medium
Eudoxa A (I forget the gauge)
Hill E (again, I forget the gauge)

This is a strange combination, I know, but an Evah A just choked on the violin and, while not great, the Eudoxa A was better (by the way, the G, and especially the D, are a dream). Anyway, I have always preferred gut and would like to switch to an all-gut setup, with a steel E. So, what I am wondering is if Oliv strings or the new Passione strings might work better than Eudoxa strings on this violin, or which of these is more tense and for this reason perhaps better suited to this particular violin. String tension for sythetics is widely published information, but very little information exists with respect to the tension of gut, so I am a bit lost and the cost of experimentation is high. For this reason, another option I have considered is to use my current set of G and D strings, but with an Obligato A, which would also be less tense than an Evah. I realize that a new setup should one day be in order, but at the present moment this is not possible.

Thanks,
Chris

From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 07:42 AM
Chris,

I have been a big fan of Olives for many years. My main grief was always the A, as it would fluctuate wildly in pitch during a performance and/or while teaching.

A friend then put me on to the Tonica A by Eudoxa — used it many years, also trying Obligatos and Pirazzis and liking both for different reasons (also, Dominants and Infelds). In the long run my ears always grew tired of the sound and even my hands felt more fatigue working with them day in and day out. I do not play much in lessons, as I do not believe it is good for the student excepting brief demonstrations, but I do teach between 38 and 50 hours per week.

This past week I bought a set of Passiones and have been using that A with the others being Olives — one week impression, GREAT! I will be trying the others soon.

All the best,
Drew

P.S. I have always used the Silver D even when younger and using regular Eudoxas — I find it less metallic and more lyric with greater clarity and quickness of response.

P.S.S. Some violins do respond to certain strings better then others, but often that is a simple sound post adjustment by your luthier — play in the strings for a week or two, first.

From Chris Dolan
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 05:08 PM
Drew,

Thank you for the reply. I have always wanted to try Oliv's (and now the new Passione's), but they are expensive. My main beef against Evah's (and Dominants) is that they do not have as wide a range of tone or color as the gut strings I have played in the past. And the instrument I now play, which is a good one, does not like such a low tension string as the Eudoxa strings I have grown to love. So, I am eager to find a solution!

Thanks again,
Chris

From Nate Robinson
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 08:41 PM
Hi Chris,
I think Drew made some very good points. Olivs (from my experience with them) are the most pitch stable wound gut strings next to the Eudoxas in my opinion. I've only used Oliv and Eudoxa G's (never tried the Oliv A, so I wouldn't know how good they are). If the pitch isn't stable I think it means the string hasn't been properly stretched. Most people who are accustomed to synthetic strings (like I was for so many years) mistake the "break in" time for gut strings with instability. I use a second violin to stretch my gut strings for about a week at concert pitch. I would not recommend mixing Evahs or any other synthetic strings with gut strings for the G,D, & A. Mixing the two can cause unevenness in the tone.
From jake bush
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 09:00 PM
Once the Evah A loses its brightness, I think it fits along with Olivs decently. I, for one, can't stand the Oliv A....it's AWFUL sounding on my violin, and so I use an Evah A.
I am not too happy with the tone of the A though...does anyone have suggestions for what A string would fit with Olivs?
From Chris Dolan
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 10:16 PM
Jake, why not try a Eudoxa A, or a plain gut A from Gamut or Damian? When I played Eudoxa strings I used either a Eudoxa A or a plain gut A and both were wonderful. I use a Eudoxa A now with an Evah G and D because it does balance better, and the Eudoxa A just works better on the violin than an Evah A. Actually, tonight I am going to, for the mean time, put my Eudoxa G and D back on the violin. I miss them far too much and can't stand the thought of seeing them languish in my violin case. I think I'll try some Oliv strings when I am able to afford a G and D, and maybe Passione strings some day as well.
From Chris Dolan
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 10:23 PM
Nate,

Once my set of Eudoxa strings settled in they were quite pitch stable. I still have to tune them, of course, except when the ambient conditions are very stable, which is often the case at this time of year. I have always wanted to try Oliv strings, but the cost had me trying a set of Eudoxa strings first, and on the violin I played previously the Eudoxa strings worked so well that I never felt the need to look elsewhere. However, while the violin I now play is a better specimen, being a better instrument all-around, it did not have as strong a preference for Eudoxa strings, which I take to be due to the fact that it has been set up with Evah strings, and this has me looking for another gut alternative. Some day I will have a new setup done on the violin, but not until I have fully acquired the instrument. Seeing how you have experience with Eudoxa and Oliv strings, how do these two gut strings differ? I have read the description that Pirastro assigns to each, but I am curious to know how you would interpret the difference. Also, does you or anyone you know have experience with Passione strings?

Thanks,
Chris

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 21, 2008 at 10:35 PM
Greetings,
Drew is correct in his asertion that the Olive a is highly unstable. Not an issuie of stretching. It is a real shame. The otehr strings are gorgeous.
I am still trying to figure out the best a. Might go for a plain gut or a passioen enxt time.
Cheer,s
bURI
ps lAST WEEK i TRIED A VIOLIN WITH A pIRATRO nO1 E STRING ON. THAT E STIRNG SOUDNED JUST FANTASTIC ONT HAT PARTICULAR INSTRUEMNT.
From Nate Robinson
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 12:03 AM
That's good to know Buri about the Oliv A. You should try the Gamut Academie plain gut A if you haven't already. I absolutely love it! I noticed the varnished plain gut for me is more reliable. In regard to how the two (Olive and Eudoxa) differ Chris, on my fiddle the Olive G is a bit more robust sounding than the Eudoxa G which is a bit on the mellow side in comparison on my violin.
From Chris Dolan
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 12:16 AM
Thanks, Nate.

By the way, I would second Nate's suggestion regarding a Gamut A. I bought the varnished A for more stability in our humid summer climate and it is a very good string, as I have come to learn. The actual string I bought is a Gamut Violin a-2, Gut light+.

From jake bush
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 02:54 AM
I am considering trying out a Dlugolecki A and E....but have a question: should I get varnished or regular? What's the difference?
From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 07:25 AM
Chris,

Quick thought …
I have never found the Olives to be more expensive, except when writing the check:-) They hold up far longer and still sound great even when over used and fatigue of the string sets in. There was awhile when I would change Dominants almost every 4 weeks.

I also found the Pirazzi and Obligato A's winding did not hold up under intense playing — sometimes having to change them in 2-3 days, no exaggeration.

I just put the Silver D and G Passiones on tonight and will start playing them a bit tomorrow when teaching — unfortunately my bow thumb and left hand 1st finger are literally split due to the extreme cold and dry air we have been experiencing in the Chicago area.

Stay warm—
D.

P.S. Olives do everything 10 times better than Eudoxas:-)

From Eric Godfrey
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 07:27 AM
There is a good, concise discussion of the difference between varnished and unvarnished strings on the Gamut Strings web site:
https://www.gamutstrings.com/varnished_strings.htm

I have tried both; very little difference in sound that I can detect, and on the E-string at least the varnished lasts far longer than unvarnished for me.

From Ray Randall
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 04:36 PM
Drew, I have the same splitting problem. Two solutions from a dermatologist. I found using that big jar of Cetaphil works very well. I slop it on a few times a day and/or twenty minutes before playing. It takes that long before it's absorbed and you don't want greasy smudges on your fingerboard. If my fingers are a bit dry before practicing I swipe my wife's Dove Intensive Nourishing Lotion. That moisturizes your hand and fingers, but you can play in a few minutes. A product called Crack Cream also helps, but Cetaphil has stopped the cracking and bleeding.
From Blaine Nierman
Posted on February 22, 2008 at 04:49 PM
a little off topic from the strings...sorry for that...but...

...I find that skin (fingers, dry skin...scalp..whatever) issues are an internal problem...in that if my skin is dry, I make sure to take extra omega fatty acids..3,6,9 and drink plenty of water.

From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 24, 2008 at 08:40 AM
Ray and Blaine,

Ray — I do use Dove products and have recently been trying Gold Bond Foot Cream (Triple Action) and GB Ultimate. Used to use the Crack Cream and did like it — will try again. Never heard of Cetaphil, but will get some.

Blaine — I do a lot of water, but perhaps too much coffee with the cold weather. I forgot about the omegas.

Thanks for the great tips.
Drew

From dwj mc
Posted on February 24, 2008 at 03:18 PM
There is another slightly different route Chris. If you find eudoxas not tense enough and olives and passiones too expensive, you could try the "stiff" or "rigid" version of eudoxas. Higher tension and bigger sound but still warm gut. I find them excellent and a cost effective alternative. Here in U.K. passiones are £60 a set. Thats about 120 U.S. dollars!
From Frederick Rupert
Posted on March 8, 2008 at 02:53 AM
Remember that Olives and Eudoxas come in quite a range of gauges. If you find the sound of the medium gauge "flabby" on your fiddle and you like Evahs, try a heavier gauge Olive. You may have to look a bit since the mail-order places seem not to stock the heavier gauges much.

PS Pirastro's website lists all the gauges they manufacture.

From Chris Dolan
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 02:51 AM
Thanks to all who responded.

Drew, I have a question if I may. How do you feel about the new Passione strings now that you have had some time with them?

Nate, I have a question I'd like to ask you as well if that is alright. I seem to recall that you use a Eudoxa G (don't recall the exact one, but it was heavy), a Gamut heavy D and heavy A, and a Goldbrokat E (medium?). What led you to use this setup? I find it quite intruiging.

Thanks,
Chris

From Nate Robinson
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 04:47 AM
Hi Chris,


I changed to this configuration because I really didn't like the sound I was getting with synthetics and felt they lacked a certain vocal element I could find with gut strings. I actually use the Oliv rigid G 16 1/4. I did try the Eudoxa G once last year and was using the Gold Label G by Pirastro. I switched to the Oliv G this past summer (it's far more pitch stable than the Gold Label) and it works great in my opinion. For plain gut I use Gamut D heavy+ gauge and Gamut A heavy+ gauge, and a medium Goldbrokat E. The medium gauge Goldbrokat I think works well with the gut strings cause it balances well on my violin with the the gut strings. The heavy E can sound a little bright in comparison on my violin. The thicker plain gut allows for more energy to be put in with the bow. About 5-6 years ago I tried plain gut D&A strings and my violin sounded like a banjo cause the gauges were much too small for the amount of pressure I use with the bow. From what I understand the smaller gauges are more for the baroque specialists/period performers since they do not really use much bow pressure or vibrato. Also the baroque bow is very different from the modern bow.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 06:31 AM
Greetings,
Nate, I made the same error with guage;) Plucked a string too loudly in a Brahms symphony and the conducter politley aske dhte section `Who is playing a shamisen?`
Cheers,
Buri
From Chris Dolan
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 12:32 PM
Nate,

Thanks for the reply. Due to cost, I was hoping you would say that you prefer the Eudoxa string :) But, I have really been curious about Oliv strings (as well as the new Passione strings), and I have had a very good experience with plain gut strings from Gamut, so I think I might give your setup a try. My D is on its last legs and the A is not far behind, either. The G could go for a while yet, but I think I'm going to change it anyway.

Thanks again and have a good day.

Chris

From jake bush
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 12:43 PM
I bought my set of Olivs for 60$ about 8 months ago. Their durability really is worthwhile! Best strings I've tried by far. Deep, lush G and D, and the E is so sweety and rosey, I suppose I would describe it. Velvet gold.

The A string is the living incarnation of Lucifer, however. I don't know about the rest of you, but on my violin the Oliv A sounds like a cow mooing while having a seizure. And it breaks very fast. I am not sure why Pirastro can't make a better A to fit the set.

I played on an Evah A with my Olivs for a while, but now I am trying a Passione A and it works much better as a set. It blends quite well with my Olivs, and it has even made my E string's tone a bit more golden and dark.

From Chris Dolan
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 02:49 PM
Jake,

Where did you find a set of Oliv strings for $60? This is a much better price than I have seen elsewhere, and it would make it a lot more affordable.

Thanks,
Chris

From jake bush
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 03:22 PM
The same place that sold them for 60$ now sells them for 97$ a set. The G and D alone are now $60! (44$ for a G string....goodness gracious)

I am not sure why the price has climbed so high lately. You might manage to get strings from Pirastro for free, though. E-mail them saying you want to try out the strings, and they might send you one or two. When I first bought Olivs, my A string broke, so I filled out a questionaire commenting on it on their site, and a few days later I received in the mail a replacement string, and both a Evah A and an Obligato A in case I wasn't satisfied with the Oliv A.

Pirastro truly does have wonderful customer support!

From Drew Lecher
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 05:14 PM
Chris,

Sorry, I haven't checked this thread for a while.

I am liking the Passiones a great deal, though the E was a bit light (beautiful, though) and I went back to the Olive E Heavy. Next time I will try a heavier gauge. We have not had a lot of weather changes here as yet, but so far the A is much more stable then the Olive A and it does do very well with the Olive G & D.

I get my strings from Gregory Sapp Violins in Montgomery, Illinois and they give an excellent discount. They are listed under the violin makers on v.com and here is their contact info:1(630) 906-0244 and Greg and his wife Mel, are the best.
Take care,
Drew

From Chris Dolan
Posted on March 13, 2008 at 08:56 PM
Nate, Jake and Drew:

Thank you so very much for your feedback. It is much appreciated.

Take care and have a good evening.

Chris

From Michael Czeiszperger
Posted on May 6, 2008 at 03:22 AM
"The violin I played previously did very well with Eudoxa strings, but the one I am playing now seems to prefer a set with more tension (with the exception of the A string, in which case the tension of an Evah A seems too much, as the violin prefers a Eudoxa A). "

I'm now really curious: how can one tell if the tension of a string "seems too much"?

Thanks...

From Marina Fragoulis
Posted on May 6, 2008 at 02:22 PM
I've heard good things about the Larsen A string, anyone ever tried that? I used to play on obligatos. The sound was great for a synthetic string but they had to be changed often - they didn't get false but they did unwind frequently which was annoying.

I switched to Eudoxas A,D,G and a Pirastro Oliv E. Hate the E!!!! The D is not working and I'm so tired of constantly retuning my instrument during rehearsals. Maybe gut strings aren't good for orchestral playing?

I'm now going to switch to oliv G & D, and will try the Larsen A. Not sure about the E yet.

I have to CM a concert on the 17&18th with rehearsals starting this thursday - too late to break in gut strings you think if I changed them this afternoon? Oh well who cares, it's Schoenberg lol no one can tell.

Where do you all get strings in the nyc area? Do you order online? Please share info if possible.

From Ray Randall
Posted on May 6, 2008 at 03:39 PM
Love the Psssione strings. Our CM tried my violin with the Passiones on it and went nuts
about how they sounded and just put a set on his
Gand and so far is very happy with them. Again, each violin is different and might prefer something else.
From Wilhelm Klingenberg
Posted on May 9, 2008 at 03:33 PM
I can recommend the Larsen Tzigane as an alternative to any of the Pirastro gut strings : they share characteristics of moderate tension and facile modulation, while having no stability issues as they are composite. The best characterization would be as being a high-end version of the Dominant strings.
From Royce Faina
Posted on May 9, 2008 at 05:48 PM
I just switched to the Larsen's Tzigane Medium strings. So far it's day three and the stretching has slowed to a crawl. The sound; warmth, depth, color is still shifting and settling in. We've had flip-flopping waether for about a week (Sunny in the 70'sF and the next morning snow/rain showers with overcast, and temps going from the 20's up to the 50's and back down again...same with the humidity). They do remind me of Dominants much of the time. But the jury is still out if I'll continue using them, or maybe try the other series of Larsens in the Robin Egg Blue envelopes, or go back to Dominants.
Laramie is so dry and the weather so erradic that just about everyone that comes here ditches real gut strings. They make great winding matterial for copycat Indian crafts.

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