Stark Gauge Strings + Forte E String

Edited: July 17, 2017, 9:22 AM · I'm about to purchase an instrument from a luthier and he suggested I try out stark strings on the instrument because he believes the instrument can definitely take it. Unfortunately, I haven't heard the violin yet, and I plan on traveling so see him in about a week (which will decide whether I want the instrument).

I am a little afraid to try a gauge I haven't before, but I think I am going to trust the luthier and buy some stark strings on the way up. I'm thinking of getting Evah GDA + Jargar Forte E, but i haven't seen many reviews on this combination (which may be partly due to my lack of research skills). I'm testing out different E strings at the moment, so unfortunately Evah Stark E is currently not under consideration. (even the platinum E, although I don't even know if they make the platinum in heavy gauge).

What do you think of the combination? Are there any other I should consider?

The most I can go from is the luthier's description that the violin sounds really strong, and he strummed it over the phone with a Tonica set (I know for a fact that's THE BEST way to hear how the instrument sounds) and it sounded promising--which means I actually don't have much to go from in terms of the colour of the instrument (it's dark brown, but I don't think that's as relevant as I want it to be).

Thank you all!

-C

EDIT 1: or should I just bring up medium gauge for now so I have a frame of reference?

Replies (19)

July 17, 2017, 2:21 PM · Hmmm...heavier strings may show his instrument in a better light, but may be punishing on your fingers. Heavier strings may also help 'break in' the violin if you believe such things. However, a great new violin, in my opinion, should operate well with medium gauge strings...to give you a frame of reference. Heavier is a matter of taste, feel and sometimes to compensate for a flaw (i.e. if the violin is very unfocused).

It if works great with medium Tonica or Dominant, then you're in good shape...imho.

On a side note, sometimes violin makers are not the best at 'setting up' an instrument...which is another bag of beans...

July 17, 2017, 2:32 PM · I dont think I would try an instrument with EP stark first. They are already very heavy in tension in medium gauge (for non steel). EP in general have a very own sound before they are played in. Maybe you have the chance to have them strung on another violin a couple of days before trying the new violin with it, so they can loose the metal touch.
July 17, 2017, 2:33 PM · Higher tension strings will give more "core" sound, often at the expense of brilliance and colour. Dominants are as low tension as Eudoxas, with Tonicas a little higher. Even medium Evahs are as tense as many steel-cored strings.
July 17, 2017, 3:19 PM · Thank you everyone for your wonderful feedbacks!

It's not a "new" instrument because it's a repair of an old-ish french instrument (he suspects it's from the early 1900's). Should this affect my decision in any way?

I've been using Olivs and Passiones until now, so the tension on my fingers seems like something I need to definitely consider. I've tried out a handful of instruments at a violin shop that were stringed with (I assume) medium gauge Evahs and they felt fine, so maybe I should just go ahead and try the heavy gauge....

July 17, 2017, 4:25 PM · Well...if you're used to Olive and Passiones, heavy Evahs will be a rude wake up call. After playing a violin for 5 or ten minutes in a violin shop - you're probably not going to notice the effect on your fingers. I can play Evahs fine for a short while...it's after a few hours that you start to really feel it (if you're not used to it). Imho...
Edited: July 17, 2017, 5:32 PM · EP are already high tension - going for more tension on an old-ishis calling for trouble.
Quest for power might in fact be driving your attention away from hearing a mediocre violin, with no colours or shades. Byers beware!

I really do not know what is it about the high tension fashion these days?
Want a louder violin? Get an amplifier.
Want to play heavy-metal? Get an electric guitar.

July 17, 2017, 5:48 PM · When trying out a violin, it could pay you to have it set up by a competent luthier, 1st. I am a violin maker and player that has set up violins for violinists over a 50 year period of time. Each violin is different and reacts differently with strings, sound post, bridge, tap tones, base bar, wood, de-dampling, graduation and other considerations.
Example: A really old violin, such as in the 1600`s or 1700`s should not have high tension strings on them. Whereas a newer violin can stand some higher tension strings. A soft wide-grain spruce top needs strings that are compatible. I use sound posts that compliment the overall violin. Wide-grain top vs 5 to a seven grained post. This is as important as string selection. The entire sound spectrum needs are homogeneous and not just strings. Sometimes I experiment. Usually I can catch a violins needs right off at its 1st tune up. I am now working on the violin I play (One that I made) for an upcoming concert with the MN Orchestra. I will be playing Romischer Karneval. So, I believe it could pay for one to get some help in selecting a violin, its strings and other considerations by an experienced and competent luthier.
July 17, 2017, 8:58 PM · Cassio, I don't think there's much harm in trying. But I think you'll likely find them too difficult to play.

I read that Arabella Steinbacher likes heavy Evahs with a heavy No. 1 E.

I can't see most people finding that to be a comfortable, responsive set on their violins. I wonder how she makes it work.

Adrian, the Dominant medium A, at 5.5 kg, and the Dominant medium G, at 4.4 kg, are much more tense than the figures that Pirastro lists for even their heaviest gauge Eudoxa strings.

July 17, 2017, 10:20 PM · Thank you everyone!

The luthier is "confident" the violin can take heavy gauges because it's extremely healthy. I'm definitely reconsidering it though. I'm much more reluctant to put down ~$80 for a set that may be problematic. Is there a way to see if it might be worth putting $80 down in the future? Would it help to try med gauge Evahs with a forte e?

Edited: July 17, 2017, 10:23 PM · I think you should try the violin with its current strings. After all, strings fine-tune a violin's sound.
July 17, 2017, 10:27 PM · He currently has Tonicas on which I'm not familiar with at all and I'm usually not in love with Dominants. I'm more familiar with olivs and passiones, but the luthier suggests something less soft, even as far as going to suggest stark strings.

With all the suggestions, I'm still open to trying stark gauge strings but more reluctant than I was before because it's not exactly an inexpensive process....

July 17, 2017, 11:43 PM · "Example: A really old violin, such as in the 1600`s or 1700`s should not have high tension strings on them. "
Although I agree considering the age of the wood especially those violins often gain from higher tension. The Amati and Stainer models often get a much more modern sound if the strings are powerful. Also look at all the solisticly played Strads and Guarneries, most of them are played with EP or similar these days and it suits them in term of sound and power.
July 18, 2017, 12:50 AM · I'm sure the violin can take stark gauge, but can you? Why not just regular Evahs, if you wanna try something new and high tension? Or, if you're used to Olivs, ask him to make the violin work with that. Something smells fishy...I've never met anyone who would recommend stark Evahs out of the gate...
July 18, 2017, 12:56 AM · I agree Peter, it sound a bit like the violin is missing power.
July 18, 2017, 6:09 AM · I agree with Peter also. It's a strange recommendation. I wonder how much the luthier plays himself.

You could try heavy-gauge Tonica strings for only about $30. Pirastro prices those strings very low, for some reason.

July 18, 2017, 8:20 AM · EPs are great strings, but you really have to theoretically "press more" with them-even moreso with Stark gauge. I once tried Stark Obligatos many years ago, and although playable, the feel is very different not only on the fingers, but also the bow (apologies for stating what perhaps is the obvious.)

(I would actually prefer EPs on Weich gauge, but that's not the subject of the thread.)

Definitely projection is not only about high tension-be aware in some cases the overall tone doesn't really gets any louder, and can make the violin sound thicker and darker, in some cases diminishing clarity-in addition to the aforementioned, possible playability issues. Nothing wrong with trying and seeing what happens, of course, but it's good to know high tension isn't 100% the solution for a "bigger tone" out of many violins.

July 18, 2017, 8:42 AM · Tonicas are great strings, and they'll sound different on every violin because every violin has different traits. These discussions can be quite controversial, but it seems that this one isn't as controversial as other string discussions.
July 18, 2017, 10:11 AM · I think I'll take the general recommendation and go with the regular Evahs! (: (or even Larsens which I've been wanting to try out for months).

That way, if I don't like the violin, I can still string another instrument with them and also put my unused Westminster E to good use.

Thank you everyone!!

August 1, 2017, 12:32 AM · Update: I bought the violin and dressed it with Evah GDA + Westminster E, all medium gauge. I'm happy with the way it sounds, though I can see myself wanting a little more out of the G string. I'm letting my violin awaken, so we will see about stark gauge in a couple months.

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