What strings are best?

Edited: November 15, 2017, 4:39 PM · I am looking for some new strings for my violin. It is a Sandner, and about 10 years old. I paid $400 for it. The strings on it right now are Preludes. I have been playing on and off for about 6 years. I am wondering if I should upgrade the strings, and if so to what. The cheaper the better. I know there are many other string discussions, but I still could not come to a decision.
EDIT: Where should I buy them? Is Amazon okay?

Replies (36)

November 15, 2017, 3:51 PM · If you're a student playing on a student violin, cheap synthetics like Tonica, Dominant (more expensive), Alphayue, Spirit and Pro Arte should be just fine. If you want to find more in-depth discussions on strings, search this site. You will find plenty of very diverse opinions.
November 15, 2017, 3:54 PM · I have seen the other discussions but I just wanted to figure out what strings would be best for me. Thanks for the input.
November 15, 2017, 5:44 PM ·
November 15, 2017, 6:30 PM · It doesn't matter where you buy them, as long as it's a fairly reputable site. Just look for the best price haha.

Dominant would be the most expensive (and best quality) that I'd put on a violin of that price range.

November 15, 2017, 6:44 PM · I will start by saying, I am NOT an expert. I am an adult returning from a 20 year break. My current violin is a student grade Romanian instrument (Purchased from my local luthier). It came with Steel strings that I hated. Since my violin is also in the lower price range, I couldn't justify at the time buying expensive strings, so I opted for the fiddlerman strings. Are they amazing? Most likely no. Did I see a big improvement over steel starter strings? yes... I liked them so much, I purchased a 2nd set.
November 15, 2017, 7:03 PM · I like Zyex and Tonicas.
November 15, 2017, 7:25 PM · Fiddlerman strings are definitely in the running. Apparently they are compared to Dominants.
November 15, 2017, 7:33 PM · Looking at several websites the value of my violin when it was brand new is around $1200. Does that seem right?
Edited: November 15, 2017, 7:53 PM · Tonica are better and cheaper. Don't buy on ebay, lot of Chinese fakes floating around.
November 15, 2017, 8:36 PM · by definition: the strings you have not tried yet.
Also, Dominant on your average Stradivarius.
November 15, 2017, 8:37 PM · Shouldn't a Violin Master be telling us which strings are best and not asking us? :P

I like Zyex for long lasting strings. They're also economically priced.

November 15, 2017, 9:17 PM · Hahaha, Rocky, applause!
November 15, 2017, 9:19 PM · Go for Dominants as a next step. They are middle of the road interns of tone and responsiveness, but will be worlds apart from your Preludes.
November 15, 2017, 9:26 PM · Violin Master,

I would go with either the Fiddlerman or the Tonicas, for two main reasons. First, you say "the cheaper the better" and these two are great value for their price. Also, if your current strings are Preludes (steel core) moving to synthetic may be a "shock" (chances are it will be a positive shock) so I would not risk with those sets with crazy high prices.

According to my experience the Fiddlerman seemed richer and warmer than the Tonica which were brighter and more clear. This is a matter of personal preference and mix and match with your instrument and playing style.

November 15, 2017, 11:53 PM · I will disagree with the concept "the cheaper the better" Finding the optimum strings for your fiddle is the least expensive way to improve your instrument. For steel strings try Helicore or NS-Electric. For nylon core try Corelli Crystal or Pro-Arte or Tonica. For E-strings try the 3 different gauges of Goldbrokat.
November 16, 2017, 12:11 AM · Yes, I think this person asked "best" rather than "economically best".

However, there's a point where it becomes sort of ridiculous IMHO - when your violin is worth $400 and you spend $200 on Evah Pirazzis or the like...

November 16, 2017, 9:30 AM · Right. It also doesn't make sense to use very expensive strings on a very cheap instrument. I have never used any of the brands that cost more than gut strings.
November 16, 2017, 10:13 AM · I like Pirastro olive and Evah Pirazzi Gold very much. Strings have to suit the violin. The only way to find what sounds best on your violin is to try out different ones which is expensive.
November 16, 2017, 10:33 AM · I prefer to order strings from Shar over Amazon. I have occasionally been sent the wrong item from Amazon. I ordered ball end, they send loop, etc.
November 16, 2017, 10:48 AM · I like Olivs and Passiones a lot, but I don't think I'd put them on a 400 dollar violin (and the added tuning difficulty is something I wouldn't have wanted as a beginner). Tonicas are probably the right choice.
Edited: November 19, 2017, 7:05 AM · I have bought some strings from Amazon. You should note who is actually sending the strings to you - it is often a very reputable dealer like Johnson Strings, in which case - no worries. Other dealers I have use quite a lot are SHAR, Southwest Strings, Concord Music, and Ifshin Violins - I usually base my choice on price (including delivery charges). I have bought a lot of strings (with 4 violins, 3 cellos, and 2 violas - and a granddaughter whom I kept in strings for 10 years, and may again soon.)

My first violin was not happy with Thomastik Dominant strings when they were first marketed (back in the early 1970s) but a couple of years later it worked quite well with Pirastro Tonica strings when they were first available. Subsequent violins I have bought worked just fine with the Dominants. However, even into the 1970s I continued to use Pirastro Eudoxa and/or Olives (gut core strings) and I have tried them again (and even Passione) from time to time until about 10 years ago.

At the present time I have 4 violins that cover a range of tonal characteristics all strung with Evah Pirazzi GOLD strings but with Thomastik Peter Infeld Platinum Es. It is probably the best combination I have ever found for all of these violins and I think the PI E string gets a lot of the credit for the sound of all the strings as this is the 3rd set of strings that I have partnered with it - on all the fiddles - the first were Peter Infeld, 2nd were Vision Solo - in my opinion, each step has been an improvement.

I have found the Pirastro "FLEXOCOR PERMANENT" brand of steel-core strings capable of brightening up and strengthening a violin that is a tad under-whelming very nicely (again with a PI Pt-plated E string) but with no harshness. Unfortunately, these are rather expensive strings

I think it is worth noting that in a VSA (Violin Society of America) roundtable discussion among experts, published some years ago in the VSA Journal, DOMINANT strings were considered to be the "benchmark" (not necessarily the "gold standard"). Therefore, it is probably not a bad idea to start string experiments with Dominants, because a good luthier who knows how a violin sounds with them can probably help guide you to better choices if you need them. I think Dominant strings work quite well with instruments that have "proper" resonances similar to fine old instruments. But many instruments not that ideal can be brought to really glorious sound with some of the newer string designs,

I noticed that back about 20 years ago, Ifshin Violins seemed to be stringing all its new instruments with Dominants, but over the next 10 years or so they were using Tonicas on some of their instruments as well. I assume I know why. By the way, Ifshin's employee, Richard Ward is quite a string expert, who has published a number of articles in STRINGS magazine.

November 16, 2017, 11:38 AM · I don't think anybody can give you a definitive answer for your original question. However, I heard some good things about Warchal Karneol, and I recommend Southwest Strings, which is a reputable on-line shop.
November 16, 2017, 12:09 PM · @Andrew -- remember when you talk about Tonica's that they were reformulated a few years back. A Tonica string today is totally different than it was 10 years ago. As to why Ifshin is using them, they are significantly cheaper than Dominants now, whereas Dominants used to be less than Tonica.
November 16, 2017, 1:09 PM · When sell through Amazon, you send your product to the Amazon warehouse. Then Amazon ships the product to the buyer. If a product is slotted wrong in the warehouse, you'll get the wrong product, and it doesn't matter who the original seller is.
November 16, 2017, 1:17 PM · Douglas, In what ways have Tonica strings changed since they were first sold?
Edited: November 16, 2017, 1:30 PM · They reformulated them a few years back, based on the advances made with the composite core of Evah Pirazzi. They are now called "New Formula" Tonica and this is indicated on the package.

I would say the new ones are a little louder and brighter with faster response, and a little less warmth than the originals.

November 16, 2017, 3:27 PM · Thanks a lot everyone. I think I will try either Fiddlerman or Tonicas.
November 16, 2017, 6:13 PM · My E string just broke, so I guess this was just in the nick of time.
November 16, 2017, 6:23 PM · Lyndon, did you say that Tonicas are cheaper than Fiddlerman strings? From what I can tell it is the opposite. They might be better quality, but they are more expensive.
November 17, 2017, 10:01 AM · Tonicas are about $35, but cost me less wholesale, about $25.
November 17, 2017, 10:12 AM · Makes sense. Just realized that I was looking on Fiddlermans site, so also probably not a super fair comparison.
Edited: November 17, 2017, 2:26 PM · Doing a google search for somewhere to buy strings near me I found out that Quinn violins store front is about 10 minutes away.
November 17, 2017, 9:55 PM · They where out of almost all their strings because a shipment was late, so I did end up buying preludes again. They even had a hard time putting together a set. I will definitely buy new strings BEFORE these break.
November 17, 2017, 9:55 PM · They where out of almost all their strings because a shipment was late, so I did end up buying preludes again. They even had a hard time putting together a set. I will definitely buy new strings BEFORE these break.
Edited: November 19, 2017, 4:06 AM · No one mentioned the Vision Solo, so I break a spear in their favor.
For me they are very good and they have an excellent quality/price/ durability ratio.
My standard first choice for my violins.
For E strings Lenzner Goldbrokat are unbeatable as quality/price ratio and I use them often (such a beautiful tone!).
However, as a maker I need an initial standard to compare the response of my violins, then it's up to the musician to choose what is best for his taste, unfortunately the only way is to try different strings brand and resign themselves to invest a bit of money....:-(
November 19, 2017, 6:48 AM · I think any string will sound grand on Sora instrument. : )

For any members here not familiar with Mr. Sora, check out his violin making videos on YouTube, especially those of the scroll carving.

This end of this week is Black Friday and often the best string prices of the year are offered. If I feel it is the lowest price I will order four or five sets and a dozen various E strings for the upcoming year.

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