This made me think: Wouldn't it be great to be able to try out all the new strings that arrive on the market? For that matter, it would be great to try out all the dozens of string brands that are already on the market - the many offerings from Pirastro, Thomastik and Larsen, Jargar, Warchal, D'Addario, Fiddlerman...
What are the best of the best? What are the subtle differences? What are the ones that work on fractional violins? What are good bargain strings to suggest for school music programs?
Given that most people change their violin strings only a few times a year, it would be rather difficult to try out every string on the market, unless you had a lot of violins, or maybe a violin shop or students to test them! It also depends on your taste and tolerance for risk - do you want to invest in a completely new kind of strings and risk six months of playing on strings you aren't crazy about? Are you willing to go to the trouble of changing them again in just a month or two if you wind up unhappy?
Given these factors, I suspect that a lot of string players stick to the tried-and-true, once they find a set-up they like. Or sometimes they never go much beyond their teachers' original suggestions.
Then again, I think certain players are tinkerers and like to change their string setup frequently - like nearly every time they change their strings!
As for me, I do occasionally try different strings, but it has been a long evolutionary process. As a kid, I simply used Thomastik Dominants, like (seemingly) everyone else. I have not yet tried the Dominant Pros, but I'm curious.
When I bought my current old Italian violin, for a long time I was playing with Evah Pirazzis. Then I tried Evah Pirazzi Golds (expensive, but wow soooo nice...) I did a stint with Jargar Superiors -- Joshua Bell was using them and they are gorgeous - but very loud. At that point, I had a little revelation: I am not a touring soloist and thus do not need something that will project to the back of the Hollywood Bowl. So I sought out something that had the qualities I liked but a bit less volume. So lately I have been playing on Obligatos, which match my violin so well, and I'm really pleased with them. They were actually a pre-cursor to the Evahs, so they have a lot in common with them. Very nice for an orchestral musician/teacher/chamber music player like myself.
Do you often try different strings? What are you playing on these days, and how did you arrive at that decision? Are you still experimenting? Or have you found the setup that works for you and stayed with that for a pretty long time? Please respond to the vote, and then tell us about your string set-up and experiences in the comments.
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