Good Strings for an Average ViolinInstruments: I'm having trouble picking out better strings for my student model violin. I don't want to spend too much on something that might sound awful on a student instrument.
From Maren Svare
I had a student model violin that I've played since I was twelve, and since I don't play professionally, I've only ever used cheap Dominant strings on it. Lately though, I've been playing more in a community orchestra and realizing again that I've definitely gotten to the point where I play better than the violin can handle. Since I can't afford a new violin (!), I thought about putting some nice Obligato strings on it (I like the richer, warmer tones it's said they produce), but I'm afraid that it would be a waste to put something that nice onto something that average. Are there any good strings that will sound better on a lower-end violin?
From Emily AllenInfeld strings are great (I believe they are from the same brand as Dominants). I used to use the red ones which are Zyex strings and those are amazing too!
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 11:05 PM
From Adalberto Valle-RiveraThere's no reason to treat any violin as "unworthy" of anything but "the best" strings that work great with it. As long as they fit the violin, your playing needs, and tone sought after, you are only limited by your budget.
Posted on April 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM
That said, "cheap" dominants ARE NOT cheap at all-there are MANY other more affordable options, and also, Dominants are proven synthetic strings (why many soloists stick to them to this day, and so do many professional players.) Indeed, the main reason I am not interested in trying Dominants again at the moment, is because they do not seem (to me) cost-effective, much like Evah Pirazzi-I cannot afford to change strings all the time (even if I would want to-I am ALWAYS curious about trying new strings/old classics.) They don't seem to have the best longevity, which doesn't mean they sound bad or are "bad quality", nor "cheap" strings. Your violin may not work its best with Dominants, but they could very well be excellent for it-they are certainly not "cheap student strings", no matter how popular they (rightly) are with students.
If your budget is not limiting you, try as many strings as you can, understanding that the most expensive won't necessarily be the theoretical "best match" to your violin and/or personal preferences. For instance, Warchal has several low cost options that are excellent, and the most expensive sets might not work after all for you. It's also good if somebody could either listen to you and/or play your instrument for you, so you have a more exact idea of how your violin "really" sounds with the current Dominants. Then it's all a matter of experimenting with the brands/gauges/ etc. that better fit the sound concept you aim for, until you find the desired tone and playability, within the constraints of your violin's natural tonal palette and limitations (and of course, a great setup always helps as well-no matter how "cheap" your instrument may be, it should sound/respond at its "best.")
From Casey JeffersonIt really depends on your violin. Shrill violin often benefit from dull sounding strings like Violino, and dull sounding violin often benefit from strings like Tonica (new formula) and maybe Vision.
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 06:30 AM
I don't recommend Obligato if your violin is sounding dull with dominant, it'll only get worse.
Lots of people put on Evah Pirazzi on their not-so-good violin to get better sound out of it but I can only say it won't make much of a difference except "louder is better" - with big compromise on being very stiff strings, affecting both left hand finger pressure and under right hand bow pressure.
I use dominant set medium tension (even the stock E string although a little thinner and brighter than the rest), and find no problem with them although they last about 4~6 months before the sound become dull. I love them not just because of very balanced tone it's very easy to manipulate the dynamics and tone colors.
From Peter CharlesI was talking to the first violinist of the wonderful Pacifica Quartet the other night backstage at the Wigmore Hall and she had the loan briefly of a Guadanini. I asked her what strings were on it and she said Dominants! So there, a wonderful fiddle with a fine player and Dominant strings.
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 09:45 AM
Just like to say that it was quite a privilege to attend all of the seven concerts given by the Pacifica Quartet here in London recently. Wonderful Shostakovich cycle with new insights into the scores, great playing, and lovely people to talk to. I hope to attend their next concerts here at the same venue which I think they told me would be in May.
EDIT: Just so that no one is confused I have given out some mis-information. Whereas I thought they were playing in May, I'm dissapointed to see that I must have misunderstood, as I've looked at the website and it's certainly not before September. So maybe they meant May next year (2013). Pity as I was looking forward to hearing them play Ravel (hope I got that right!!)
From Nicky PaxtonI have Dominant medium tension and Dominant low tension on different violins. I find all these strings good and reliable, including the Dominant Es. Like Casey, I have no problems with Dominants.
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 10:32 AM
From Carlo BallaraI second all those praising dominant strings. I use them on all my violins. I would use a Pirastro Gold E however. By all means try some other brands but try changing your current Dominants for new. I change mine every 4 months. You may surprised by how good they sound when replaced.
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 02:52 PM
From Joe Hague Jrred label is good
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM
From Tom HolzmanGo to your luthier and let her/him advise you. S/he can hear your violin with the current strings and suggest something s/he thinks will get you closer to the sound you want.
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 03:08 PM
From Paul ChanDominants are not "cheap". I dont know why so many teachers get their students to use them. They're expensive and dont last long.
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Some previously posted about Corelli Crystal. They're about half the price of Dominants. Zyex are also cheaper and they last longer too. But you will have to try them to see if they produce the sound you're looking for.
If you're willing to fork out for Obligatos, can also consider Warchal Brilliant or Larsen Tzigane. They're in the same price range and each has its own qualities depending how you want to balance your sound. The last time I used Obligatos they barely last me 3 months and youd dont get much value from them IMO.
The thing with strings is that its a recurring cost. You can be spending from $75 to over $400 a year depending what strings you get and how often you change them. So if you can get away with cheaper, longer lasting strings, it will help save you money.
Go to a luthier get them to look at your setup. A lot of student violins have cheap wooden tailpieces with heavy fine tuners and cheap bridges. Having it replaced with a wittner tailpiece and a decent bridge cut will cost you about $100. But you'd only need to get that done once and it should improve the sound of the violin by quite a bit. They might even re-position the sound post to optimize the sound.
Another thing to consider is a re-hair. Many students/teachers overlook the condition of the bow hair. When you have good hair you dont have to "work" your bow as much to pull a good sound and dynamic range.
From Brian LeeIf one wanted to liven up the sound of Dominant strings, firstly I'd recommend the aluminum D over the silver D (a personal preference of mine; also, the aluminum D is lower in tension), and I'd use a Jargar forte or Westminster heavy E string, or a Goldbrokat medium or heavy. (I find the Jargar to have the most vibrant, colorful sound; the Westminster to have the most focus and bite, adding a sort of darkness to the sound as well; the Goldbrokat seems to be very warm, with a singing quality that rounds out the lower strings as well.)
Posted on April 24, 2012 at 06:24 PM
The Peter Infeld tin-plated E is great as well.. it seems to have the qualities of both the Jargar and Westminster strings, with the color of Jargar and the focus of Westminster. It also lasted longer on my violin than either of those two strings, and is lower in tension (although I tend to prefer a higher tension E with medium tension lower strings).
Zyex composite strings are also pretty good, and not too expensive. People who like Evah Pirazzis tend to like these strings as well, which I prefer for their lower tension, lower price, and longer life span.
From Maren SvareThanks for all the advice! :) I'll give it a little more thought and try out something new!
Posted on April 28, 2012 at 11:07 PM
From Christian LesniakI have a very harsh (and loud) violin, and some pro artes calmed it down quite a bit, giving it a very mellow sound. A friend that I play with commented on the improved tone immediately. If your instrument is harsh, I would recommend them, but if your instrument lacks power, they might be stifling (Though they might be great). I like Dominants quite a bit, but you could try Pi strings if you've got a windfall coming your way. They sound great and they are supposed to last the longest. I probably wouldn't buy such expensive strings for a toy, but I find I like Dominants quite a bit anyway, and when I had a very quiet violin, they gave it a nicer sound and lasted a long time.
Posted on April 29, 2012 at 04:39 AM
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