Gut Strings with Loud/Big Projection
Hi everyone! I recently have purchased a new violin to use as a solo instrument. Previously, I had a cheap $1000ish violin that I used Olivs on for orchestra.
I love the feel of gut strings and I love to play on gut strings, but I have trouble spending the money on more Olivs for my new violin. My violin is loud in general, but I was wondering if gut strings would mute the sound too much. They were loud enough for my instrument, but I was wondering if I could purchase anything just a but louder for my solo instrument.
Does anyone have any recommendations for gut strings that can project clearly and loudly?
Supposedly Passione Solo are up to what you are asking, at least they are advertised as having "very powerful and brilliant sound - great projection"
Thanks for the reply. I have a set of Pi strings with a Goldbrokat E I later put on. The strings came with the instrument and I don't mind them, but I really don't like synthetics. I've heard good and bad things about the passione solos. I heard that the winding on the peg end is too long and reaches over the nut, something that I would not accept from a string.
Passione Solo are up to this task, as are Olives. The Passione Solo G has silking that may rest at the nut initially, but winds up in the peg box after a few days of stretching. This is by design.
Search this site for similar threads. There's probably a few. Opinions on strings can be very controversial. In this case, each player's definition of "loud and projecting" is different. You don't want strings to take away tonal complexity.
@ Ryan To my experience, Pi strings may seem soft under the left hand, but truly their tension could be on the "higher" side. So by swapping them with gut core with less tension, you may feel the instrument more resonant. I felt the same thing when I changed the PIs with Dominants (which are less tense) in some of my violins.
Tonicas, perhaps. Those are cheap synthetics.
It depends on context you are playing within. For example, I sat in the last row on the balcony during Tafelmusik's "Delightfully Baroque" concert and had no trouble hearing Cristina Zacharias play a demanding violin solo in one of Bach's cantatas - with full choir and orchestra!
Thank you for all the replies. I will take info into consideration. My violin I am using right now is of high quality and is not the cheaper one so I will invest in better strings. I just was worried to experiment with expensive strings. Thank you!
What is this instrument? Who made it? When was it made? General price class? These factors are going to affect what strings will likely sound the best.
Having a great instrument doesn't mean you need more expensive strings.
Douglas Bevan hits the nail on the head. Great instruments often just don't need the help, although they can be choked by high-tension strings, especially if the set-up is wrong.
Lydia, thank you so much for the advice and the time to write all that you did! I used to play Evah Pirazzi Gold strings on my old instrument. I just really prefer gut, but they are superior synthetics.
While I am not on the whole a "gut zealot", your Oliv strings can do the job quite admirably. Expensive as they may be, they will generally outlast synthetics sound quality and volume-wise. Passione Solo are fine, but the price isn't cost-effective, so at that price I would rather go with Oliv, which are not really "weak" sounding by any stretch of the imagination.
(Just to clarify, I believe the Passione Solo are also good and "loud", but even if they do mostly sound and feel like gut-because they ARE gut-the technology to keep them "more stable" do take away some of the gut magic other options have. The expensive price is "warranted" by this technology, which also is their main pro. If stability is not a concern, as it isn't for many gut core using players, I think "even" Gold Labels-which are presented as "budget gut strings"- represent a more practical value... they are also not weak, just bright and less bassy than Eudoxa.)
To be fair, the other (and one could argue, most popular) "big" brand can be overly expensive for seemingly no reason. PI strings are not worth that much money; unless one of their technicians comes to this forum and explains to me the technology that is so special and hard to manufacture vs their other lines, I won't be convinced.
Cantiga E is surprisingly good. I would say, give it a try and if not happy, switch to your favourite E. Also, unless a fan of high tension, start on light; they match Dominant medium when it comes to tension.
I also don't get it with all this pricing getting up and up all the time. Recently I tried a string set named "Fiddlerman Strings" synthetic and pretty close to the Thomastik Dominant in terms of sound and feel (with subtle differences). They are made in Germany, and cost a lot less (about 30 USD if I am not mistaken). So it is not only a matter of labor costs I guess.
I want to suggest a somewhat simpler solution.
I found the Cntiga to be the most overpriced strings I ever tried.
I suggest regularly cleaning the rosin off the strings to increase their lifespan. I have found this to help decrease bad noises and squeaks while playing. I don't know if you should change your strings 1 week before rehearsal and 1 week before concert, but this might be a good measure if you play a lot.
I wouldn't trust any maker that has to lie about hand making the violin when its actually made in China. Truth in advertising is a lost art!!
If you can't afford a $90 set of strings, buy $70 strings and change them twice as often. Makes sense to me.
Ill Cannone is a Del Gesu, not a Strad.
My experience is that EPs don't project as well over the orchestra due to less complexity; EP Golds are normally a better choice for that situation. (Note that soloists with EPs on their violins are likely playing instruments rich enough in overtones that the difference doesn't matter for them, much like those instruments will also be fine with Dominants.)
Pressing harder on the bow with the hand muscles is definitely not right, but you could get a big sound out of your violin with the weight of your arm, as long as you use lots of bow and play near the bridge. Otherwise, you'll choke the sound.
EP Golds are dying even faster in my experience. In the end I think projection should be in the violin, the player, the bow and strings at the end of that list.
Brought up on Eudoxas half a century ago, I've always wanted "gut-like" synthetics. Now folks seem to want synthetic-like gut strings!
You do not need to use lots of bow and play near the bridge in order to play with more weight on the strings. Indeed, a violin that can't take a solid contact is not well-suited to playing solo, even if it might be a great orchestra instrument.
Good sounding violin strings are much harder to manufacture than good guitar strings, just try some off brand violin strings and you'll see just how bad they can be.
I specifically bought my violin for its loud voice. I was just worried that guts may hush it's magnificent projection.
A gut combo that works well for me with lots of projection is Oliv rigid G, oliv silver D,passione solo A and Evah pirazzi platinum E. The Oliv E is also great with this combo. While the price is higher than Evah gold it ends up cheaper because they last a lot longer
I'm kind of puzzled as to why some people on here are recommending synthetic strings when Ryan asked us what type of GUT strings to use.
Am I mixing something up or is the oliv e the same that comes with Obligato?
Michael McGrath, if I compare the quality of my guitarre strings (Savarez atm) I dont think they would work on a violin. Its ok on my consumer guitarre where intonation is just ok, but they are not exactly of the quality I demand on my violin to play in tune without to much work. The mass distribution is just not linear enough.
Guitar vs violin strings?
If there is some sustained interest in this side-topic we should probably make our own discussion.. in retrospect I feel guilty for hi-jacking the thread.
I reckoned that as the violin E is an ocatave higher, but somewhere near half the length of the guitar E, the tension would be similar.
Ryan said "I specifically bought my violin for its loud voice. I was just worried that guts may hush it's magnificent projection."
The fun part is, Vision TI solo have nearly the same core as PI.
"The fun part is, Vision TI solo have nearly the same core as PI."
Yes Synoxa vs Tonica baffles me, though the older strings have their own signature sound, which is quite beautiful, if a little high tension. If Tonica is so affordable, at least the Synoxa should be slightly less expensive.
I'm thankful that Nate had some excellent things to say in support of plain gut. I haven't yet got around to using the Tricolore setup, mainly because on my #1 symphony violin I am using a complete set of Pirastro Chordas which currently more than fulfil my needs - but the Tricolores are somewhere there on my bucket list.
I am trying a pure gut varnished heavy A Tricolore today for the first time (will install when I get home), but just wanted to add that said strings are also not that expensive when compared to Eudoxa and Gold Label. I do find the Gold Label to be fairly stable-perhaps was lucky, but I can vouch for them being good, "cheap" (not really) gut core strings. But going back to Tricolore, I believe a so-called "Heifetz Set" costs only $78 and some change. Eudoxa is around there, and Gold Label around $70.00 or slightly less.
My suspicion is that a significant portion of the cost deltas in strings is actually due to marketing, not to manufacturing cost.
True, but I just find hard to believe that gut must necessarily sound "weaker" in modern instruments. Some thick gut sets have actually very high tension (not Eudoxa, of course.) I do agree with most of the other observations (also, I do not have a "modern" instrument myself... maybe one day, should fortunes change.)
Milstein and Heifetz were also projecting over different conditions, with very different orchestra string setups, at that time.
Seriously, the main draw of synthetics and steel is convenience. There are some good steel options, and didn't the Quartetto Italiano play on steel core strings? (Please correct me if I am wrong.) But players must choose strings by balancing this convenience with the tonal characteristics they like, the practical applications, their own playing technique and habits, and their instrument.
This Tricolore heavy varnished A is so powerful and bright. I'll see how it balances out in the next few days vs the other strings, but forget bias-has nothing to do with Heifetz or being "old-school", as the string is just full of vibrancy, richness, and power.
About Tonica vs. Synoxa prices -
For those of you using gut strings in projection-required solo situations (i.e., concertos with orchestra, concertmaster's solos, etc.), what's the rest of the environment you're playing in? i.e., period orchestras with period set-ups (and perhaps more chamber-sized), hall size, etc.? If relevant, would you make a different choice if you were playing in a large modern hall with a full-size symphony of players with typical contemporary set-ups?
That's kind of the place I'm falling in too Lydia. I would be much happier experimenting with strings if they weren't so expensive.
I wouldn't experiment too much if you are happy with your tone. Seems like the Warchal steel strings are good As, and since your violin sounds really good, it will likely make most options sound decent at worst. I am sure you could play loudly with Dominants, etc.-as you already know.
Adalberto, what are you using for the rest of your strings?
Oliv G Rigid 16, Oliv D Rigid 17 (trying it for the first time-I used to use the Silver D... this particular Oliv is "tense" for gut at 5.6 kp, but is not hard to play), Heavy Tricolore pure gut A (varnished), and a Medium Goldbrokat. These Olivs will last a long time, but eventually will try the other Tricolore options. All of the other strings are rather fresh (2 weeks old or less). The sound is big and bold, though that of the G&D is very "thick", as you can imagine, but not muddy; if I remember correctly you don't prefer Oliv yourself (and they ARE pricey) so may as well try the others, "for fun".
I am not sure its likely that buying the Tricolore brand enables one to manufacture exact replicas of the original Tricolore strings, may be more of a marketing gimmick, I don't know.
I do not believe Mr. Larson is a charlatan. He's well respected, and has been in the period string making business for a while.
I don't doubt that they are good strings, I just seriously doubt that they are that similar or identical to Heifetz's strings. For one thing Gamut is an advocate of much thicker gauges than would have been common during Heifitz's time.
Lyndon the Tricolore strings are indeed authentic and the same ones made back in Heifetz's time. Gamut owns the very machines that made the Tricolore strings in Chicago. Mr. Larson is one of the world's authorities on gut strings. I have shown these strings to a few mentors of mine who studied with Heifetz, and they have confirmed these are the same strings he used.
I'm not buying it, too long has passed since they stopped making them, I find it very hard to imagine that all the knowledge that went into producing them was miraculously preserved, buying the machines does not make the strings the same. The preparation and treatment of the gut is more important, and I highly doubt that is being done exactly the same way.
Adalberto, I loved Olivs on my previous violin, but for whatever reason they tended to lose their glorious sound after about two weeks, and became merely good. In the very stable climate of the Bay Area they also required more tuning than I wanted to deal with. (Context for that: My arms are rather short -- short enough that I cannot properly cup the scroll on a full-size violin, for instance. It's actually somewhat awkward for me to reach the pegs, and my arms are too short to be able to properly push in friction pegs when they're being turned. I generally prefer not to have to make adjustments on the fly, only when I have enough time to properly tune.)
Lyndon, My teacher Erick Friedman recorded the Bach Double Concerto and studied with Heifetz. He used these very strings on his Stradivarius when he was student of Heifetz as did a number of his students who I know. There's a difference between speculation and first hand accounts. Daniel Larson is an internationally respected authority on gut strings. He is to gut strings what Bernard Millant or Isaac Salchow is to bows. I think we should celebrate the master craftsmen that are with us today rather than tearing them down. I encourage you all to try these amazing Tricolore strings!
I prefer Damien Dlugolecki's strings, though they both seem obsessed with heavy gauges IMHO.
Why can't you say something logical, like Mr, Larson endeavors to manufacture a string that comes as close as possible to the original Tricolore strings, given what we know about them, then we would have no argument, but claiming they are identical is just ridiculous and illogical.
'Your testimonial relies on recollections of how strings sounded from 40+ years ago, most people can't reliably remember what something sounded like 5 minutes ago, get real!!'
You said the new strings were identical to the ones Heifetz used, I stand by my case.
Prove they are NOT identical. Proof beyond a doubt. Misgivings are not evidence.
Prove they are identical, that's the claim that was made!!
@Nate Robinson -- what gauges do you use/recommend in the Triclore strings?
Hi Douglas, I currently have a set of medium gauge on my 2 old fiddles from the 17th and 19th centuries. I use heavy gauge on my Phillip Injeian violin made in 2003. It can vary from instrument to instrument.
"It is our belief that we are now able to offer and exact copy of this historical brand of musical string"
@Nate Robinson -- thanks for the info. I've experimented with nearly every string on the market over the years, but never pure gut. I just ordered a set to try and will report back in a new thread. Injeian is my local luthier here in Pittsburgh -- a great guy!
Glad to hear that Douglas. What a small world! He does tremendous work as a maker and restorer!
I agree that there really is something about gut -- they are the "analog" to the synthetics "digital", so to speak. My violin doesn't really seem to need the help from strings optimized one way or another, though (my luthier is of the opinion that I could simply put Dominants on it and call it a day), but the engineer in me can't help wanting to tinker.
Modern gut string makers are playing the same volume game the synthetic string makers are playing, they claim some shaky kind of historical evidence for heavy gut gauges, but the real reason is they can't get their customers to accept the slightly lower volume of traditional medium or lighter gauge gut strings.
The marking of gauges on, say, Olivs and Eudoxas haven't changed over time, right? Oliv medium is still relatively high tension.
Those are wound gut strings, they are roughly comparable to Dominant (in tension, edit), I believe but not quite as loud. I was referring to unwound gut like Tricolore, Gamut and Damien Dlugolecki. They all still make the lighter gauges but they "expertly" recommend the much heavier gauges.
I dont even feel Eudoxa and Olive are comperable to each other. Dominants are not close to those strings.
I meant close in tension, not sound.
In my long-forgotten youth, Eudoxa was the reference, and Dominant a practical but rather nasty upstart. Then Tonica, Pro Arte, and escalating tensions.
According to Pirastro'a website, the Oliv G is very low in tension, even in the thicker gauges. I don't know that it's easy to generalize across string brands when thickness between strings differs among brands.
Indeed it always surprises me how the balance of tensions across the four strings varies so much from one brand to another, even from the same manufacturer.
Holy smokes the amount of replies.
I would realy be interested in the longlivety of the Passione Solos compared to PIs. I am thinking of trying a set after my PI are outplayed, which is after 4-5 months usually.
Also curious about Passione Solos vs. Passiones. For me, Passiones probably need changing every 4 months or so to sound optimal -- call it about 150 hours of play time (versus about 100 hours for EP Golds). Therefore, relatively expensive.
I've tried Pis, Passiones, and Passione Solos.