V.com weekend vote: Have you ever wound up with counterfeit strings?

January 8, 2022, 7:30 PM · It's amazing, the very low prices you can find for name-brand violin, viola or cello strings on the Internet.

Amazing, until you receive the strings and realize they are complete fakes that sound terrible, last only a few weeks, or seem to need a strange amount of tension to reach the correct pitch. In other words: counterfeit strings!

violin strings

Over the last few years, the pandemic increased everyone's dependence on online buying, and that puts more of us at risk for these kinds of unfortunate purchases. If you buy from a reputable shop (like one of our sponsors, for example), then you are safe with your purchase.

But not everyone knows which are the reputable shops, nor do they understand the high potential for fraud in this particular marketplace. On the SHAR website (SHAR being a reputable dealer!) there is an interesting article that explore the world of fake strings, stating that the fakes are not obvious, but tend to be pretty sophisticated. "What SHAR found was very troubling: obviously inferior strings of unknown composition and origin, with nearly perfect packaging and presentation," it says. "SHAR began buying up these strings, dissecting them, showing them to manufacturers, and searching for the source of these knock-offs, which led us across three continents and deep into the shadowy world of counterfeit products and online marketplaces."

Yikes!

Beyond the fakes that are based on high-end brands, there is also the real potential to simply purchase very bad strings, either because of lack of familiarity or because of the allure of a bargain price.

Have you ever had the misfortune of winding up with counterfeit strings, or strings you very much suspected were counterfeit, or simply very bad violin strings that one could almost classify as fake because of the bad quality? What has your experience been? Please participate in the vote and share your stories.

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Replies

January 9, 2022 at 02:37 AM · I bought some from my usual trusted online store (won't name names) that I'm not so sure about. I've been using the same strings for years and these played differently, wore faster, and the e string wouldn't stop whistling. I'm not saying they're counterfeit, but certainly not what I'm used to and possibly had a quality control problem on that batch.

January 9, 2022 at 07:25 AM · Remember those big claims about the brave new world that would open up with access to the world-wide web? Who then would have thought it would lead to internet scams, fake medicine, fake research, fake information? Now, fake violin strings!

January 9, 2022 at 09:21 AM · I haven't gotten counterfeit strings myself, but then I've always purchased from reputable shops, both in person and online. Several people I know have gotten counterfeit strings through major online retailers that were not specialized in bowed string instruments. Sometimes they were obvious upon opening the package (e.g. strings that were obviously steel and masquerading as Dominants), but other times it was not as easy to tell without installing them.

January 9, 2022 at 03:48 PM · I bought some from a respected dealer - expensive brand name strings - and they were all terrible. Note, the strings were not in their usual envelopes but were sold loose with a small paper ID tag. After some research I suspected they were fake (frayed bindings, an unusual colour E string ball etc). I wrote to the manufacturer to ask what to do. They wrote back asking for the name of the dealer but other than that they really didn't seem to care. What they did not do was ask me to send them the strings to see if they were fake. Thus, I really don't know how to proceed.

I have stopped buying that brand and will not, of course, buy more from this store. But I'm rather disgusted with the lack of pride and attention by the manufacturer.

January 9, 2022 at 05:26 PM · Elise, I’d send them to the so-called manufacturer anyway, and frankly, I’d mention your surprise at their lack of concern. String makers must realize that they are working in a market in which brand loyalty is considerable, and that they have strong competitors.

I’m sure you haven’t put them onto your violin, but if you have my suggestion is that you take them off directly. It sounds as though the tail-end balls have not been tested to withstand the tension, and could lead to nasty accidents.

January 9, 2022 at 08:53 PM · Richard - I had to take them off because they were plain awful. Since the manufacturer doesn't care I am reluctant to waste any more time on it.

January 9, 2022 at 09:41 PM · I respect your feelings Elise...situations like the one you describe here are so disheartening. Meanwhile, I wish you joy with the new replacements!

January 10, 2022 at 02:43 AM · Thanks Richard. :)

January 10, 2022 at 02:47 AM · As a lifelong and satisfied SHAR customer, I have never had a bad set of strings. Sure, I've had strings I didn't like as well as others, but not fakes. Many years ago, before fake strings were a thing, I bought my strings at the local violin shop run by my friend Daniel Foster, who bought his strings from some kind of wholesaler or middleman. Normally I would say "buy from the local shop if you can" but nowadays who knows where the wholesaler is sourcing the product. I would trust Dan (were he still alive), but maybe not the whole supply chain.

It doesn't surprise me that SHAR would put resource into investigating the problem, but my guess is that certain foreign governments are perfectly happy to help the counterfeiters hide in exchange for a share of their revenues.

January 10, 2022 at 04:28 PM · I've had requests for warranty repair on both fake Musafia cases as well as Musilia cases... does that count?

January 10, 2022 at 08:07 PM · Yikes, Dimitri!

January 10, 2022 at 11:10 PM · I usually buy my strings from SHAR. They source directly from the manufacturers (at least Thomastik and Pirastro). I am confident in the authenticity of the products. If you wait for a sale their prices are extremely competitive.

January 11, 2022 at 10:59 PM · I couldn't vote, because the answer is, I don't know. I certainly haven't had counterfeit strings over the internet, but the last few Golden Spiral violin A-strings I bought last century were very short-lived indeed. I thought it was my tailpiece doing them in - they always broke in the same place - or the make had deteriorated, but now Laurie has brought the subject up, I'm not so sure.

I expect folk who've wound up with fake strings have also been wound up by them!

Elise, surely you have time to tell us which brand of strings these were and what trusted shop you bought them from?

January 13, 2022 at 08:13 PM · Thank you for posting on this very important topic Laurie as well as everyone’s comments on the forum thus far. I’m a fellow violinist, educator, and the Thomastik-Infeld Brand Specialist for Connolly Music Company their US importer/distributor and we are fully aware counterfeit strings have been and likely continue to be sold in the market.

• We know Thomastik-Infeld is working diligently to prevent them world-wide.

• The counterfeit strings we have recently seen in the USA were sold on third party platforms.

• We agree with the caution you expressed about low price tags for your favorite strings.

• Make sure the retailer is a reputable source. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

• We recommend the Violinist.com community and all musicians in the US buy their strings from Authorized US Retailers.

If you have any questions, concerns, reports of counterfeit Thomastik-Infeld strings personally or through a colleague, and/or may require assistance finding an Authorized US Retailer for Thomastik-Infeld strings, please do not hesitate to email me directly at garretts@connollymusic.com.

January 14, 2022 at 05:45 AM · I hope their missiles are as good as their strings.

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