Why do most violists prefer steel A strings?
I'm curious about this. I've noticed that most violists use steel A strings instead of synthetic As. Why might that be? The only explanation I can think of is that a steel A gives a brighter, edgier sound, making it stick out like a violin E string. Any thoughts?
PS. I'm well aware that there's at least one regular poster (Adrian Heath, I believe) who prefers synthetic viola As (like me). Anyone else?
I played viola professionally for many years, for most of that time I used a steel A (Jargar medium) because it had more power than covered gut A strings. Later, however, I started using a plain gut A, with Olive D and G and a Dominant C, which was the best combination. The gut A had plenty of power (contrary, perhaps, to stereotype) and wonderful character and on that viola those strings together were very even and blended well with each other.
I didn’t even know there was such a thing as synthetic e strings
I think it has a lot to do with bowing: the viola body and strings have greater "inertia" than those of a violin, and thus a heavier bow and a deeper bow-stroke.
Many string sets come with steel A. Warchal is a notable exception. Lika Adrian I dislike the steel A strings (and the steel C that some viola players love). I am currently waiting for a set of tricolore to arrive.....
The modern viola sound is more soloistic.
I haven’t used anything but a steel A for a very long time.
And a steel C? Again, I find it odd to enclose the warm, velvety sound of the G & D between a trombone and a trumpet! (which I enjoy listening to BTW.)
Interesting to note that the great violist, Lionel Tertis, insisted on all steel strings both for himself and for his students.
.. and Arthur Richardson, who designed and built the first generation Tertis-Model violas, was not pleased!
...and Lionel Tertis insisted on all steel strings, even for his students.
My viola was made for me by my friend Charles Woods (actually it was one of two he made at the same time dated 1996) and by his own admission he sold the "better" one to a more experienced but younger viola player. It is a quite beautiful and powerful instrument but the C string is a bit "edgy" under the ear. I found that edginess is decreased by dropping the pitch of the C string so I have sought lower tension C strings. Also I have been advised that having a lower tension A string could also reduce the edginess of the C string.
How do you find the response of the passione C? On my viola it was kind of slow. The oliv-eudoxa C is wonderful on my viola. Very responsive and gorgeous sound.
because they do not have E string 8-;
I have no problem with the Passione C, but I'm used to bowing C strings after 6-1/2 decades of playing cello.
I use a Larsen A because I need to project, both as an orchestral section leader and as a chamber musician. I'm going to get drowned out if I don't have a more focused sound. I already play a smallish (15.75") viola.