Strings Again

February 4, 2008 at 06:45 AM · I have a Mathais Dietrich German violin of 2007. Here's my review of strings so far. It's a very deep, rich, warm instrument, somewhat bright, and moderate in projection. Any suggestions? I want something a little dark, loud, focused, a little edgy, colorful, "ringy," and long-lasting (in my dreams...).

Dominants with "some horrible black/white spiral threaded at the tailpiece E": I liked the overall sound, but wanted more color and depth. The projection was pretty good, but the lower end was muddy. I HATED the E string. It whistled a lot, was way too piercing and whiny sounding.

Wondertone Solo with Hill E: too rounded a sound (not enough edge), not enough projection, too dry a sound.

Evah Pirazzi: Overall good sound, although colorless. Plenty loud enough, but too tense for the amount of playing I do. They hurt my left hand and right elbow.

Vision Titanium Orchestral: Everything I wanted when I first got them, but then as they broke in, the projection faded quickly and the sound became colorless and dry.

Passione: excellent string, but perhaps too much of a good thing? At first, I was in heaven. Everything I wanted and more. Not very pitch stable, but manageable now. As they've worn in, the G & D have become a bit too warm, the projection has diminshed some, and the ringiness has all but disappeared. I put on a Dominant A, and this helped tremendously for projection. I like the A much better (for clarity and color) than I expected and it makes the Passione G&D pale by comparison now! However, I LOVE the silvery-steel E!

Viennese Melange: G (Infeld Red) hated because it was too warm, muddy, and shallow sounding. D (Infeld Blue) had a pretty decent sound on this violin, but a bit tight and not very colorful. A (dominant) is on my violin right now and I love it with the Passiones, but wasn't wild about it with this set. E (Vision Stark) was a disaster --

everything one wouldn't like about a string = this string.

I'm a college senior and I play about 4 hours a day between rehearsals, teaching, and independent practice. I'm very confused by how good the Dominant A sounds (that last set is still on) because it wasn't like that when I first bought the violin with a set of dominants and that weird E (which I hated). Did my new violin go through a phase and should I try Dominants again, now? What's everyone's current favorite E for that set?

BTW, each of these sets was only on for about 2 weeks (but that's about 55 hours of playing).

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you all may have. I have referred to previous string posts quite thoroughly, but maybe this review can help point me in the right direction more quickly/accurately.

Replies (21)

February 4, 2008 at 03:29 AM · Typo: I currently have the Passione E on with Viennese Melange and I love the E, A, D but not the G.

Oh, and in case it helps, I'm playing Biber Passagaglia, Bartok Roumanian Dances, Bruch Concerto No. 1 in G minor, and Red Violin Caprices 1,2, &4 for my senior recital in May.

I have certain preconceptions about certain strings and am not inclined to purchase the following based on reviews here: gut strings, Infeld Red (doesn't last very long and too warm), Vision Titanium Solo (colorless), Obligato (die quickly), Infeld Blue (too tense), Vision (too rough and shallow sounding). I would assume that Vision Solo, although richer, would be equally colorless and this set is not available in my area yet.

Please let me know of any falsehoods to the above! Thanks!

February 4, 2008 at 12:56 PM · I would run, not walk, but run back to the Dominants...

strings are an elusive thing...

it would seem that all the new strings should/could be better than old technology, but for whatever reason, the Dominants got it right the first time...

I have tried all the strings (except the Tziganes) including the Passiones..I thought the Passiones sounded like Obligatos..which I don't like...I hate the tension of all the ens strings like Evah and wondertone Solo

Go back to Dominants (imho) and experiment with E strings...try the Jargar Forte...I personally get along quite well with the Wondertone, but the Jargar does help clear up any "tinniness" that the Dom's may have..

I aLso have a love/hate relationship with Eudoxas..they are by far my favorite string but do not go along with my temperment.

February 4, 2008 at 01:12 PM · Blaine,

Thanks so much for your quick response.

Aluminum or silver D?

Sincerely,

Tasha

February 4, 2008 at 01:55 PM · I would run, not walk, to your luthier. S/he can actually hear your violin with the strings you have on, listen to your history with other strings, and recommend strings. While the luthier may second the very good recommendation you have received, the luthier may have other ideas based on what s/he actually hears.

February 4, 2008 at 02:34 PM · My luthier has high opinions of only 2 sets of strings: Dominants and Evah Pirazzi.

February 4, 2008 at 02:52 PM · Hi,

Tasha, Dominants are sort of a de-facto string; the work well on many instruments. Two things matter - the setup of your violin (make sure the soundpost is properly adjusted) and finding the right E (through experimentation). The right E makes all the difference with Dominants. Some violins like a heavy gauge E and some don't. I don't understand why so many people seem to miss out on this important point - finding the right E.

As for Silver vs Aluminium D, it depends on taste and your instrument. I prefer the Aluminium these days because it is fatter (like that of gut core strings) But, some instruments need the focus of the Silver D - or the colour that is. The only way to know is to try both.

Best of luck and cheers!

P.S. Dominants and Evah Pirazzi not only sound different but require two different styles of playing. So, that factors in also.

February 4, 2008 at 02:53 PM · Hi Tasha,

I think violinists often tend to overrate the question of string choice.

Often the set up of the violin is way more important than the choice of strings. New violins can need some adjusting in the beginning and it is a good idea to work on the sound adjustment with a luthier. Having a set of strings that you know and you can use as a benchmark helps tremendously. I have been putting Dominant on my new violins for 15 years now and that is a really constant factor which allows me to judge the sound of the new instrument. Then the customers often change the strings to what they are used to or just feel like playing.

BTW I have seen and heard several Strads with Dominants. However, this doesn´t mean one shouldn´t be open to test what is out there on the market.

In any case a well adjusted violin should work with one set of strings and one shouldn´t have to mix too many strings, unless one knows exactly what one wants and how to achieve it. But again, without knowing an instrument it is so difficult to give string advice.

I know a lot of players using a Lenzner E, that may be worth a try, though.

Best regards, hans

February 4, 2008 at 03:01 PM · Are you hunting for a sound from your strings that might be a general dissatisfaction with the essential tone of your violin or how your bow suits your violin? Or maybe your perception of how you want to sound is changing. About the best reason for trying other violins or bows. Seems like you've run the gamut of strings, though I suppose I'd say try a set of Obbligatos, anyway. The typical Dominant tone had gotten a little mellow for my current tastes, and Obbs. are what my luthier uses a lot now. They are not so $$ that you can't change them pretty frequently if you experience a faster rate of decline for yourself. Sue

February 4, 2008 at 03:24 PM · Sue, I just got a fabulous new violin and bow that work REALLY well together (according to myself and my teacher and my "audience" of fellow violin students at EMU). What I think I'm looking for is something easier to play that still has the power of Evah's and color of Dominants that (hopefully) lasts a bit longer than Dominants. My experience with Obligatos on past violins has been that they are relatively moderate in projection, rich and warm, but don't last more than 3 weeks or so.

Thanks so much for everyone's input! I've asked my Luthier recently if it needs a sound adjustment, he looked it over and said he remembered setting it up, and it definitely doesn't need an adjustment, just playing-in. He recommended dominants (play with the E) or Evahs.

February 4, 2008 at 03:34 PM · BTW everyone, I love the Passione E on my violin and I think that might be why I like the Viennese Melange set so much better than before... Thanks for the tip, Christian! I so appreciate your input every time I have this issue... However, I am still looking for a G string and I think I might just pick up Dominant D&G at Shar (10 mins away--another reason I'm so string-trial-trigger happy) some time today...

February 4, 2008 at 03:49 PM · Tasha - the fact that your violin is still playing in means that its sound may change over time. Thus, you may find that the strings which work best now may not work well at some time in the future. So, you need to be sensitive to that factor.

I have some concerns that your luthier only thinks two types of strings are good. Ideally, while a luthier may have opinions as to which strings hold up best, s/he should be open to the possibility that one or another of the non-preferred strings may produce the best sound on your particular violin. Doms and Evahs will not produce the best sound on every violin out there, or even on most of them. BTW, if Shar is so close, you might want to ask some of their luthiers to give you advice.

February 4, 2008 at 07:54 PM · Tom,

I trust my luthier completely, but understand your concern. He has tried every string out there on a wide variety of instruments in age, quality, origin, etc. and these are his findings.

February 4, 2008 at 09:16 PM · I know a luthier with a similar opinion. Given the level of work he does, the shop he trained in, and the types of instruments he regularly works on, I got a positive vibe from Tasha’s luthiers’ string opinion. ;-)

February 4, 2008 at 11:24 PM · Regarding this subject, I found it interesting when a few years ago the SHAR Music Co. printed catalog featured the instruments of its employees and how they were "strung."

Clearly these people had access to expert advice and every string brand.

There were differences among them all and mixed sets all around.

February 4, 2008 at 11:52 PM · Well, I went to Shar and bought a silver D & G Dominant. I put the G on, and it was much better than the Infeld Red. I put the D on next, and it wasn't as nice as the Blue, so I put that back on. I'm still not quite happy with the G... Does anyone have any familiarity with the Larsen's G by comparison to the Dominant? I've heard that Larsen makes perlon core strings like Dominant, only louder (and brighter?) so I'd figure they're of similar tension and could work well together.

Thank you so much for all your input, everyone!

February 5, 2008 at 01:07 AM · Hi Christian,

What did you mean by the comment that Pirazzis require a different style of playing? Just curious what you have to say about that.

Tasha,

Really? There was a big enough difference in the way the strings felt that it hurt your arms?

February 5, 2008 at 02:51 AM · Howard,

Yes. There was enough difference in the tension that made my fingers tender much quicker, my entire left hand and arm sore (from pressing) and my right elbow (presumably from pressing).

I'm curious what Christian has to say about what style of playing is necessary for Pirazzis, too.

February 5, 2008 at 12:22 PM · Hi Howard and Tasha,

My experience with Pirazzi (the rare times I tried them) and that of my students is that they require a considerable amount of extra bow pressure to respond compared to Dominants for example (though less than Vision). They also require much more left hand finger pressure. As a consequence, it is harder to do contrasts with bow speed and contact point. If you like to press quite a bit and dig in, then you might like them. If you like to draw the sound out of the violin through other means, then you will not feel comfortable playing on them.

Hope this answers your question...

Cheers!

February 5, 2008 at 07:54 PM · Yes, thanks Christian!

February 5, 2008 at 11:06 PM · My Obligatos were put on in July and they still sound great. Playing roughly two hours a day.

February 15, 2008 at 04:56 AM · Tasha,

I've not seen the D'Addario's Zyex and Helicore strings mentioned much in these forums, and wanted to be sure to add them to the discussion as well. I used Dominants for many years, and have tried the full range of Thomastik and Pirastro lines (with the exception of newer strings that have come out in the last few years), but I still have yet to be as impressed with a set of strings as I have been with the Zyex and Helicores.

The Zyex are warmer, richer, and "chewier" than any string (including gut) I have experienced. They are probably best suited for a brighter violin, however.

The Helicores also produce a rich tone, but are brighter and thus best suited for a warmer or darker violin.

I can't, however, speak for the Zyex and Helicore E-strings, as I typically used a Jargar E (forte), which worked best on my particular instrument.

From your description of what you are looking for in a string, perhaps the Helicores would be your best bet. However, I found the Zyex strings to be so appealing, that it may be worth trying them first to see if they would be a good match for your violin before moving to the Helicores.

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