Violin Strings

Edited: July 21, 2017, 9:12 AM · So I've been searching for a long time for the PERFECT set of strings for my violin.

So far I've tried Dominant G, D, and A and Pirazzi G, D, and A.
For me, I really don't like the sound of Dominants on my violin. Sounds really tinny even after breaking in and don't project as well.

The Pirazzi G didn't work for me because the higher registers were very fuzzy and wolfy. The D and A were better than the Dominants but sound thin and too bright playing in first position.

I've been looking at the PI G string and seems that people like it. I'm looking for a G string thats deep, warm, and CLEAR in the upper registers.

For the D and A, I was thinking about Obligatos to have a warmer sound especially in 1st postition.
I was also thinking of Infeld Reds for the D and A.
Anyone have experience with both Obligato and Infeld Red D, and A's? (if any thoughts on either feel free to comment)
Also, if anyone has had experience with Stark D or A, what were you observations compared to normal Medium Gauge D and A's?

Now for the E string, I've tried Pirastro Gold Label, Goldbrokat Stark, and Jargar Forte. For me, all of them sound thin/tinny and not colorful.
The E string that came with the violin seems to be richer. I did some research and found that it was a D'Addario Helicore E Stark. Interesting.

I was thinking of trying a Gold Infeld red E or Gold Obligato E. (stark of either of possible).
I'm looking for a "Darker"/ richer sound but also one that's good at projecting (stark).
Thoughts or recommendations?

This is kind of separated in 3 sections: G, D and A, and E.

Please comment if you've had any experience with any strings mentioned or if you you any recommendations!

(I've been playing violin for 11 years and am going into my senior year of high school. Planning on majoring in Violin Performance.)

Replies (11)

July 21, 2017, 10:00 AM · It sounds like you may have fallen into the "I don't really like how my violin sounds and am desperately trying to correct it with strings" blackhole...I think we've all been there. The things you want, richer, darker, more projecting...I would get thee to a great luthier (no easy task finding one of those either) who has mastery over set up. For the price of all those string experiments, you could change neck angle, bridge, soundpost...and be in a much better world of sound and response, etc.

Since that probably wasn't helpful, I would try the PI strings...based on your post. Just imho.

July 21, 2017, 10:49 AM · Search the site for violin string threads. You will find a wealth of information. Do you like your violin?
Opinions on strings are extremely controversial because every violin has unique traits, and players choose to change these traits in different ways. Furthermore, every player has different tastes for sound, different perceptions of sound and different playing styles.
Edited: July 21, 2017, 11:17 AM · I agree with Peter. You can get a more projecting sound or a darker, richer one by strings. Both at once will not happen (assuming you dont use cheap china strings as comparison).
You should definitly get your setup checked and work out, if you hit the limits of the violin. Its a bit strange to have the dominant strings sounding tinny but EP not. That makes me think your violin wants a bit higher tension to work (which could likely be solved be setup). The sound characteristic of Dominants is not tinny.
Having a wolfy upper G string with EP is a common Problem, just because of the tension and that the strings are very powerful.
If you dont like Dominants dont bother to test Infeld red.
Obligato are very close to EP in some matters, in others the complete opposite but not pushing the projection of the violin.
PI might be worth a test, you may also check the e string as many like it.
Maybe Vision Titanium Solo or Kaplan Amo to add to that list. All those strings are a bit more on the solistic side but wont make the violin sound darker.
Did you ever try wound gut? Maybe you would like the Russian combination of g,d Eudoxa with steel a, e.
July 21, 2017, 12:53 PM · +1 on getting the luthier to check out your set up. They will make sure your instrument is optimized to get a good sound and can tell you which strings are likely to work best without you having to play the "what strings do I want" game. Nothing wrong with it, if you want to try different strings; but getting a professional opinion can save you some money and hassle in the long run.
Edited: July 23, 2017, 6:32 AM · +2 ! Of course, with your resumé I feel strange offering any advice.

Yes, you really need to get to the top violin shop you can get to. And it will make their job easier if you have a consistent set of strings on your fiddle when you do. When Dominant strings were first marketed they did not work well on the one violin I owned then and I had to wait for Pirastro Tonicas to switch from Eudoxa to synthetic strings. Neither you nor any previous responder has named a string I have not tried since those early 1970s years (except for the Kaplan AMO, which is still packaged and stored in one of my cases.

It is fun to think you can pick one G string (or D or A) and solve your problem, but every string you install will affect the others. A lot of factors go into optimally matching strings to an instrument, not the least of which are the specific characteristics of the particular instrument. So you might think a higher tension (i.e., stark) string will give you more power and projection, but the extra tension may actually overload and suppress vibrations of the violin top and crush the tone.

"Mixing and matching" strings is costly - and as soon as you are happy there will be one (or six) new string names on the market - and of course you will want to try at least some of those. The SHAR catalog used to list what violins the SHAR employees played and what string mixes they used - I think it was a good marketing ploy - at least they got a lot of my money!

I have found Richard Ward, who works at Ifshin Violins in El Cerrito, CA and has published articles on Strings (etc.) in STRINGS magazine, to be very knowledgeable about strings - but even he would have to have your instrument in his hands to offer the advice you seek.

July 21, 2017, 1:24 PM · Agree with previous comments about getting to a luthier if you can. We can't hear your instrument. The luthier, or another experienced player, should be able to give you some input and guidance. Have this person play your instrument, if possible, in different rooms and acoustical conditions -- and at varying distances from you.

From another previous response, one statement I'd like to challenge: "If you don't like Dominants don't bother to test Infeld Red."

I tried Dominant A-D-G on one instrument, then tried Infeld Red A-D-G on the same fiddle. Can't speak for the next player; but I personally found Reds superior -- that is, on the one fiddle I used for comparison. Response on the G in high positions was clearer and more reliable. Someone else may experience the reverse -- individual instruments and players are significant factors. I now regularly use the IR A-D-G on a second fiddle -- while the first, the one that had the tryout of Dominants, now has Vision Solo A, Peter Infeld aluminum D, and Infeld Red G. The IR suits me better for the G than PI did -- I get a darker, less edgy sound from IR.

About Eudoxa D-G, also mentioned above: I use these two strings on a third fiddle in their stiff versions. I won't use the regular ones -- tried them once. The tone broke too easily. I get more power and a darker sound from the stiff. The combo I cited for the first fiddle -- VS A, PI D, IR G -- didn't work so well on this third fiddle, which does better with lower tension.

FWIW, I'm using currently using Goldbrokat medium E on all three fiddles -- very pleased.

July 21, 2017, 1:42 PM · "From another previous response, one statement I'd like to challenge: "If you don't like Dominants don't bother to test Infeld Red."

I tried Dominant A-D-G on one instrument, then tried Infeld Red A-D-G on the same fiddle. Can't speak for the next player; but I personally found Reds superior -- that is, on the one fiddle I used for comparison. Response on the G in high positions was clearer and more reliable."

I prefer the IR to Dominants too, but the tension is very similar and the overall characterisitc at least close imo. If you really dont like Dominants, I would not test IR next. If you like Dominats but look for a slight improvement its something else.
Of course this is my personal view and based on my violins.

July 21, 2017, 2:33 PM · I relatively recently spent a bit of time in Columbus (where the OP lives), and was disappointed by the apparent paucity of violin shops there. I wasn't even able to obtain Evah Pirazzi Gold strings from what seemed like the primary shop in the area, much to my surprise. I'm guessing the OP's teacher is the best source for where to get a competent set-up done.

OP, what type of violin do you have? Is it properly set up? Does your teacher feel like it's time to upgrade?

July 21, 2017, 5:20 PM · The Stark Oliv E/Obligato E is very rich and powerful.

Another option is Regular EP Weich, for a less fuzzy upper register on the G (can't guarantee without knowing your violin.) I think EPs are great strings, despite their generally lukewarm reputation in this forum (no offense intended, of course.)

Titanium Solo tend to be "bright" at first, but the G speaks clearly even after months. Also, the tone gets more beautiful with time, and they retain lots of volume. They retain enough upper mids so they never sound like worn Infeld Reds or Obligatos, but still have lots of fullness and warmth, and are also nrot too bad on the fingers.

I would suggest wound gut for a clear G tone, though I am sure many here would disagree, and you may not like that option yourself for the usual reasons. Most synthetics, even the best, tend to sound a bit hollow (even the "warm" types, or especially those.) EP can sound like that after some time at the upper reaches of the G. A decent wound gut G grnerally has depth, but also "more clarity" (in quotes because it's my experience), granted appropriate technique. "They" speak very well on any Sul G passage.

The setup, as aforementioned, is important, but I disagree, perhaps foolishly, that all violins must sound great with Dominants, or there is something wrong with them. A violin can be well set up with other tonal options, as good as Dominants are.

July 22, 2017, 4:55 PM ·
July 23, 2017, 2:30 AM · +1 for wound gut. I find that oliv rigid G goes well with oliv silver wound D. After consulting Pirastro about the top strings I now use passione solo A and pirazzi platinum E. The passione solo A is much mor stable than the oliv A. And if you are looking for a rich E the platinum is a good choice. It is not available in stark, but the medium is higher tension than the oliv/obligato gold E medium. On my violin it made the whole instrument richer sounding and more responsive.

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