Sick of dominant strings.. any suggestions?

January 11, 2009 at 04:21 AM ·

This is my 8th year playing the violin and my ear has developed enough for me to differentiate between good and bad quality ofstrings.  My teacher told me to use dominate and that's what I have been mainly using.  They're pretty good quality, and a good price.

I'm noty satisfied with the E-strign though so I decided I am going to try a new set of strings or 2.  I don't want anything too cheap like those tinny red label stirngs, but nothing super expensive either.

any suggestions?

Replies (68)

January 11, 2009 at 05:55 AM ·

A Gold Label E string goes well with Dominants or if you want to try a whole new set, try Obligato.



January 11, 2009 at 05:45 AM ·

 I would definitely consider the e strings by Goldbrokat or Westminster.  They are very cheap and, in my opinion, go very well with dominants

January 11, 2009 at 10:19 AM ·

I liked the Corelli Crystals instead of the Dominants, found them easier to play, a better sound on my old violin, and fairly similar in price. I used them with both the E from the set, and a Jarger forte and something else which escapes me.  I 

January 11, 2009 at 02:24 PM ·

I like Corelli Crystal E's. My luthier recommended Wondertone, which is a nice, smooth&clear E string. (The package has a white rose on front.) I use a Kaplan Solutions, the non-whistling E string, to fiddle on, and like that very well. It is quite a bit more expensive. For a full set exchange, I agree that Obligato's are a step brighter, more lively than Dominants, so you could try those. Sue

January 11, 2009 at 03:05 PM ·

 Goldbrokat or Jargar forte E's.

I'm trying the new Warchal Brilliant Vintage (or is it Vintage Brilliant) set at the moment, and they're an affordable alternative to Dominants.  A different string, really, probably higher tension and more like Evah P's or one of the other newer "bright and loud" soloist strings, but cheaper.

January 11, 2009 at 03:34 PM ·

I've been using Warchals for quite some time, and was really pleased with the Brilliants but the last 2 sets I got, after 1 week the G starts to loose it under pressure and eventually goes flat.

I tried the Vintage but they don't seem to be a good match for my violin.



January 11, 2009 at 04:00 PM ·

Try the regular Vision strings, made by the same company that makes dominants. They are relatively inexpensive and an improvement over dominants and the e string is good. I recommend them to my students as a good place to start when searching for strings that work well with your violin.

January 11, 2009 at 07:03 PM ·

Hi Giovanna,

The Dominant E is not a very commonly liked string, so it's not unusual for you to dislike it. The most common replacements as people stated are the Pirastro Goldlabel E and the Jargar stark gauge E. The Westminster, Lenzner, and Hill are also quite common matches with a Dominant A, D, G. If you are interested in trying something besides Dominants I would highly recommend you try Vision (also made by Thomastik-Infeld, the company that makes Dominant)

They have a wonderful sound quality that I find also much more lively and responsive than Dominants. In addition, they are actually slightly cheaper than Dominants ($35) at For the money I don't think you can beat a set of Vision. Obligato and Pirazzi are also very popular and fantastic strings but cost a little more.


January 11, 2009 at 07:27 PM ·

My son's teacher recommends the Vision, as well.  I guess it's the latest choice and much less expensive than the popular Eva Perazi (which is what my son uses).

January 11, 2009 at 07:48 PM ·


Many people who decide to give up Dominants do so based on either a lack of response or the E string.  This is unfortunate because it is still one of the best synthetic strings for a great majority of instruments.  Before switching to something more expensive that may have some drawback, I would suggest that you try a couple of things with Dominants.

First, the D string - Dominant makes an aluminium D and a silver D.  Both are great strings but many violins react better to one or the other.  It is worth experimenting.  Even though many luthiers say that the Silver D is better, this is not always the case for every violin.  So it is worth trying both.

Secondly, try different Es.  Finding the right E is the key to success with most violins and Dominants and each violin is different.  There is no fixed answer.  The right E combined with the right D is the key to a successful balance with Dominants on all violins.  A good way to start would be to order the E string sampler pack from Quinn Violins ( which has most standard Es for a good price (at least, it used to).  That way you can try to find an E that is a match for your violin. 

If all fails or you still want to try something else, then do so.  But do be aware that each string has its advantages and disadvantages.  In the end, you want a compromise that works for your instrument and your playing.

Hope this helps...


January 11, 2009 at 08:06 PM ·

Pirastro Obligato  and Pirastro Evah Pirazzi.

January 11, 2009 at 08:06 PM ·

I use to use Dominants with a Gold Label "E", comon combo I noticed. It made a very big diference for the better. I switched over to Passiones but bare in mind they are $77.00 from IUSTRINGS.COM. There are cheaper alternatives as the previous posts have sugested! I noticed that the students at my university, if not using Dominants, used Larsen or Vision.



January 11, 2009 at 10:07 PM ·

I have tried to like a lot of different strings thinking that newre must mean better due to research and development, better materials, stricter manufacturing, but always come away disappointed and return to either Dominant with teh Gold Label E or Tonicas with the Gold Label E. I would be a Eudoxa user if I were not quite so lazy, I think because I like the tone of those strings best of all.


My suggestion would be to try different E strings, as others have suggested because there is no other string that responds to different E strings like yes, a different E string will make the whole set act differently.

January 11, 2009 at 10:25 PM ·

A lot of good opinions expressed so far. First thing to do with Dominants is throw the E string in the bin. Next find an E that fits your set up from the good suggestions so far.

Dominants seem to be rather taken for granted these days, maybe because they are quite ubiquitous. In reality thay have seen off many attempts to immitate or improve on them from their own and other manfacturers and many great recordings have been made on Dominants. In my experience as a luthier I recall one or two string brands that pitched to be a better synthetic at a premium price, were fashionable for a year or so untill the hype died down and folk realised they liked Dominants better.  Whatever, I'd say that Dominants are still a good string and the benchmark for synthetics.  For violin and viola I am very happy to work with Dominants excepting the highest string in the set. My personal preference these days for violin, viola and cello is Eva Pirazzi, but then again I normally look to types of Jargar for the E on violin and the A on viola.

January 11, 2009 at 10:51 PM ·

A few years ago, one of the more interesting features of the SHAR catalog was the illustrated bits on how their different employees strung their own instruments. No one used a full set of anything. It is worth remembering. The Thomastik-Infeld (blue/red) family was based on this idea and trying to keep it all in the Thomastik "house."

I think it is worthwhile to try a Kaplan Solutions E string.  It has a similar non-whistling, wound design to the Dominant, but it has a different sound that might meet your requirements. I have found them a good match to many different brands of strings, although with the new Vision Solos, I do like to use the entire family.

While Dominants may be considered to be the ("gold" - HA!) standard string by many (and there was a big VSA forum on this a few years ago), like any other synthetic string, they work very well on some instruments and badly on some others.


January 12, 2009 at 12:31 AM ·

I really like Dominants, but stark gauge. I would highly recommend you try this before totally switching brands, because the difference is remarkable in a wonderful way.  I've tried the gamut of strings, and I must say this set up has made the biggest impact on me so far.  I use a medium Gold Label E, but I think I might regret not getting stark gauge on that as well, because now it doesn't quite respond correctly.

Everyone has offered wonderful advice so far.  Definitely listen to Christian Vachon's advice, he is the string guru on!  If you've ever read his numerous and thorough string reviews, you'll know what I mean.

If you've read this, Christian, do you know if a Gold Label Stark E would be likely to fix my problem?

January 12, 2009 at 12:38 AM ·

It's amazing how much Dominants sound better without that damn E string of theirs!!!!  Boy they sure sing well with a Wondertone Gold Label "E"! @ least on my two violins!


Royster ;^)

January 12, 2009 at 01:47 AM ·

Hi Tasha,

Thanks for the kind words! :=)


To answer your question, I don't know.  The only way to know is to try.  It will change the amount of pressure on the instrument (especially the soundpost) and it could go either way.  Give it a try and see what you like.  

I have seen some people try and like the Goldbrokat Heavy Gauge (0.27) or the Westminster of the same gauge with Starks and like it.  The Goldbrokat 27 is totally different then the 26 (the medium gauge).  I have never seen or tried the Pirastro Gold Heavy Gauge (do they make one?) so, I have no idea about that string.  However, I have only seen people use the medium.  Whenever I have seen heavy gauge Es it was either the two strings above, or the Hill Heavy Gauge or the Jargar Forte (on one occasion also the Corelli Crystal Heavy Gauge).

Hope this helps at least a little bit...


January 12, 2009 at 03:27 AM ·

Thanks, Christian!

& you're welcome! =P

January 12, 2009 at 11:22 AM ·

Giovanna- Just out of curiosity  what is the bow that you are using?

January 12, 2009 at 11:57 AM ·

I too find the Dominant E string stand out too much compare to the rest, doesn't seems to match well, the E sound a little "tight", lack of some sweetness. But I don't really care, my violin seems to love dominant very much. I've had the same set of dominant on my violin for more than a year and they still doing fine.

I'll definitely try other E string during my next stop for strings shopping.

Agree with the opinion that the Dominant strings as the benchmark. It really is. If it doesn't sound good on your violin, most probably the problem lies in the violin, not the strings. I find it to be true that if you find dominant bad on a violin, it won't sound much better with other "better" strings, most probably only a small increment in quality. A good violin will basically sound good on any decent synthetic strings.

January 12, 2009 at 12:53 PM ·

My comment looks very basic but if it could be useful...  I don't know for dominants but I had a similar experience with the Pirazzi E that almost got me crazy. See if there is something in commom with the dominant E: it was so bright, so clear that it went directly into my ear and was really bothering me. I like a little more dark than too cristaline sounds and it was like a trumpet or metal to my ear. The solution: I put a gut E and not a "nude one" but a one that is enrolled if you know what I mean. It sounds less clear and it never whistle since whistle is associated with "nude" E strings. Just one thing, don't put Eudoxa at least you are able to make respond a very very stuburn instrument because the response of Eudoxa E is so slow that it is really difficult to play it well! Maybe it will help and if not, sorry!


January 12, 2009 at 01:41 PM ·

I think you should go to your luthier and get suggestions.  Asking people what strings you should try will do what it has done in this thread: produce at least one vote for almost any strings you care to mention.  Different strings sound different on different violins.  Someone who can actually hear your violin with dominants and can discuss the sound you seek to acheive is in the  best position to help you.  With regard specifically to e strings, they are relatively cheap, so you can try a bunch of them and see what works best.  Good luck!

January 12, 2009 at 09:21 PM ·

Dominants are a really nice set of strings. If you still like Dominants but just want to change the E then just buy a bunch experiment since E strings don't cost that much unless your buying those Gold plated ones. [Oliv E rocks!]

January 12, 2009 at 10:35 PM ·

You can always try gut or plain gut strings. When I started a I used dominant but then when I switched to plain gut I loved them. They are much more powerful then any synthetic string i've tried. They are very warm and brilliant at the same time and are super strings. Anyway if you want to stay with synthetic I say stay with dominants but change the E to a goldbrokat. 

If you feel like experimenting and you want to give gut or plain gut a try I'd recommend Gamut for plain gut, or the Eudoxa for wound gut.

January 12, 2009 at 11:37 PM ·

I use a jargar E which I absolutely love but Larson's isn't bad either. Good luck!

January 13, 2009 at 12:22 AM ·

Ausar- I believe she is looking for something in the price range of Dominants, as nice as real gut is would they be to expensive?

January 13, 2009 at 01:25 AM ·

Royce, yes I think plain gut will expensive. The selection of gut strings  that I recommended in my earlier post would be about 50$. Its expensive but not too expensive. It is much cheaper than these new synthetics such as Eva Pirrazi. Plus when you order from daniel larson  the d and a strings come double length so you get 4 strings for the price of 2.



January 13, 2009 at 03:15 AM ·

Oliv G stiff, Passione D, A and Oliv E is a pretty expensive combo. My favorite!!!

January 13, 2009 at 03:52 PM ·


I use Passiones... so you like the Olive G? What is it that you prefer it over the Passione G..and or E?

January 13, 2009 at 10:41 PM ·


I prefer the Oliv G Stiff over the Passione G because it offer's me more tone then the Passione. Maybe not as much volume but I use the thickest gauge I can get so it kinda even's that out. Feels more pliable which I like. Passione G offer's a more quicker response and stays in tune more but I want that tone. Oliv E I use because I feel it is the best E string for my instrument. Passione E is really nice also but I don't think it's as sweet sounding.

I'm currently using Evah's heavy gauge as experiment and gonna wait till they finish up then go back to my combo. I like the full set of passiones which stays in tune and works with everything. But I prefer the added Oliv G and E.

January 17, 2009 at 04:27 PM ·

Wow thanks for all the feedback. I am going to look into all these, and I'll post when I try a  new one!

And Royce, I actually am using a Jon Paul-Legacy Carbon Fiber bow, but my private teacher told me I should get another wood bow like I used to have.

January 17, 2009 at 08:40 PM ·

BTW I just put a Hill E on and love it!  Tried Gold Label, Westminster, and Jargar, too.  Hill sounds the best!

January 17, 2009 at 09:59 PM ·

Giovanna- Neat bow! I like the idea of having a Pernambuco bow along with your Crbon-fiber bow! As a matter of fact, if my strings are not sounding quite right I first begin re-adjusting the tention of the hairs of the bow I'm using. I have solved alot of troubles just doing that. Maybe you do too.

Hill strings- You know, I remember last year people talking about Hill strings and so far I cannot remember anyone having anything bad said about them.



January 17, 2009 at 10:14 PM ·

One E string I've paired well with Dominant and Vision strings is Pirastro's Wondertone Solo E (Silvery steel version).

January 18, 2009 at 02:30 AM ·

Passione E and Evah silvery steel E are the exact same as wondertone solo I think.

January 18, 2009 at 02:44 AM ·

I don't know guys, I'm using Passiones now and the "E" has stayed clean sounding, where as my beloved Wondertone E would give an acational squak or wolf.

January 19, 2009 at 12:42 AM ·

News 2006 from pirastro website.

"Violin Evah Pirazzi Set: New E-String Silvery Steel

After the development of the Wondertone Solo Silvery Steel E-String we will use the new steel also for the Evah Pirazzi steel E string. The colour code, the Art. No. and the price will remain the same. "

Sounds the same to me lol. Maybe ur using wondertone solo advanced E not the silvery steel.

January 19, 2009 at 01:02 AM ·

Vincent- I'm intrigued with your string set up, with the Olivs. I think I'll give it a try.

January 19, 2009 at 03:02 AM ·


I wouldn`t mind a set up like VLs either.  The Olive g is probably a litlte less bright and a touch more sonorous than the Passioen although both are superb.   (Using all Pasisone at the moment with great satisfaction). I woudln`t use the Olive a because (like many other people have reported) it is often unstab;le for some reason. This problem has been rectified in the Passiones.  E string remains a quesiton of taste and experimentaion.  The Passione is is good but has lost its power rtaher quicker than the rets of the set which are still goin stroing after 4 months which is awesoime.



February 15, 2009 at 09:53 PM ·

As a Dominant user I never use Dominant E.  On some violins I use Westminster medium, it is powerful, but why doesn't anybody mention Kaplan Golden Spiral.  It sounds great.

February 16, 2009 at 09:11 PM ·

I'm not sure what is wrong with those Dominant E strings but it seems like no one ever uses them.  Not sure why.  Personally I never liked the Kaplan Wondertone or other pure-steel E strings.  The sound was too raspy and they kinda dug into my fingers.  I have always preferred the wound Euxoda E string.  I'm one of a few who use it.  They last a long time and they feel much better to the touch. 

February 17, 2009 at 11:19 AM ·

Leon- Dominant "E" strings are like a realy good vacuume cleaner.... they really suck.

Seriously though, for some reason they just don't sound that good on most violins. Wonder tone Gold label "E"s, and Jargar "E"s seem to be the most popular replacements, there are a few others though. Goldbrokats (sp) are another.



February 17, 2009 at 01:16 PM ·

If the dominant E strings are really good vacuume cleaner I should use them to clean the floor. : )

I agree also that they don't sound good at all with any string set that I tried. Gold Label E is really nice replacement.

February 17, 2009 at 10:24 PM ·


I don`t know if the same del wa soffered elsewhere , bu here in Japan Dominant started giving away free e strings with every a string..    I  have quite a pile of them in my violin case.   I offer a free one to colleagueas every know and again ,  and I always get the same reaction ,  a `look what the cat sicked up ` expression and a polite no thanks.

Can`t even give them away it seems.



February 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM ·

If ever you find yourself in a survival situation, dominant "E" strings are at their best used as a snare for catching food! Rabbits, chipmunks (sorry Alvin) squirls, prunes. That and for cutting slices of cheese or clay!



February 18, 2009 at 10:59 PM ·


I have frequently found myself in survival situations (especially just before payday) and whereas my Dominant snares were rejected by all edible species  those of my marooned colleagues who uses wondertone returned positively glowing with health and nourishment,



March 1, 2009 at 11:02 PM ·

I know many people who used dominant strings for a long time, tried different sets and went back to the dominant strings:) A good E that goes with the dominants is the Westminster E. offers them as a set.

Good Luck,


March 12, 2009 at 03:10 PM ·

I've also seen people use Oliv E w/ Dominants ADG.  A brilliant, powerful-sounding E string.  A little pricey, and some say it whistles.  I've combined it with Evahs and the sound is pretty nice.  With Dominants, the Oliv E might be a little too piercing.  Some like it though.

March 12, 2009 at 03:36 PM ·

After trying regular Visions, Vision solo and Evahs, I'm returning to Dominants. I'm wondering if anyone has had experiences similar to mine.

I tried and loved the regular Visions because the core sound was richer, the fundamental deeper, and though the tension was slightly higher than Dominants, was still full of color. However, the strings started going false in about 2 weeks.  

Evahs also had that deep fundamental and was powerful.  My  friends liked the difference, however to me, the violin was less resonant.  Though Evah's higher tension produced a bigger sound, paradoxically, it choked the resonance under my ear.  The Jargar E string seemed especially constricted.   Also, there dramatically less color as the bow moved towards the fingerboard.  

Finally, I tried Vision Solos, which has less tension than Evahs, more tension than the Vision regulars.  Is it possible that the windings on this string are slightly less grippy? The Solos brought my violin back to life to a degree. At this point, my objectivity is shot, but it seems like the Solos also choke my violin's resonance.  The Solos, though of similar sonic character, are probably louder than the regular Visions.  However Solos definitely have less color than the regular. 

I had not compared Dominants with gut core strings.  Dominants are higher tension than gut.  I wonder if there was a similar controversy re string color when they came out.

Anyway, I'm tired of experimenting  I'm returning to Dominants for now, with either the Jargar or Goldbrokat E.   I know everyone's violin and ears are different, so my conclusion shouldn't adversely affect anyone else's judgement.  But I would love to know if others have shared my experiences.









March 12, 2009 at 07:34 PM ·

It depends on the instrument, of course, but I actually find Visions to generally have less warmth, fullness, and color than Dominants.

March 12, 2009 at 07:28 PM ·

Eudoxas with the Goldstahl E, and just like changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the strings get changed every 6 months

March 16, 2009 at 04:23 PM ·

I like the Dominants with the Lenzner Goldbrokat E, medium (0.26 mm) at the moment. But there are a lot of other e stings you can combine Dominants with.

By the way, I think on James Ehnes' Homage DVD this is exactly the combination used on most violins, if I am not mistaken, but I will try to find out for sure.


Best, Hans



March 17, 2009 at 02:31 AM ·

I'm having pretty good success with the Larsen E.  It's a pretty mellow, intimate-sounding string.  Not too brash and doesn't whistle.  I quite like it! 

March 17, 2009 at 04:20 AM ·

I remember when I tried to get away from dominant strings.

I found some submissives, but they were too flat and had no tone. I tried to go back to the dominants, but they were very unforgiving; now, I'm afraid of committing to anything.

March 17, 2009 at 12:10 PM ·

Well I've always switched my strings around for fun.  Each reveals something different about my violin.  My rota consists of Larsen Tzigane, Dominant, Infield Red/Blue, Evah Pirazzi, Obligato, and the Oliv E for good measure.  It's a long journey, but in time you'll discover what works best for your violin.

How long have you had your Dominants?  They do need at least a couple days to settle.  I hate the initial sound too... harsh and brash. 

March 17, 2009 at 03:53 PM ·

Does anyone like the Dominant aluminum wound E string over the steel, or think both are crap?

March 21, 2009 at 11:44 AM ·

A few days ago, I bought a set of Doms, as I needed to replace the broken and frayed strings I had, and Doms are about the only pro strings sold here in Shanghai.  I did not notice the product code on the package (#135) until I opened it.  To my surprise, it came with an Al-wound E and D. ( All previous sets came with plain steel E and silver D.)  I was entirely unware Doms had Al-wound strings.  

Well, after a few days of "settling", I can say the Al-wound E is a big improvement for my violin.  It is much less harsh than the plain steel E, and seems to mellow the other strings too.  The D is mellower too.  Not darker or less power, but overall a mellower, sweeter sound. Better harmonic balance.   I had the pleasure to hear my prof play my violin, which confirmed my impression "under my ear".  

Overall, I think perhaps I have found a solution to the challenge of finding an E string



March 25, 2009 at 03:20 AM ·

What do you guys think about Hill E strings (heavy, medium, or light gauge) I Have used them before and was happy with their performance. Have not tried them on my new violin (which currently has a pirastro). My old teacher swears by them and gave me my first one.


May 25, 2010 at 09:56 PM ·

I think there's something wrong with the way the Dominant Es are manufactured.

Some of them sound just fine, some of them are awful.

May 25, 2010 at 10:27 PM ·

May 25, 2010 at 11:35 PM ·

Sick of Dominant Strings...any suggestions? was the question. IMHO the answer is Tonica's. This very web site (under instruments - choosing the right violin strings) describes Tonica as "one of pirastros answers to Dominants" and with "a little more compexity with no metallic edge" and "a good all purpose string" I would add a little warmer, not quite as loud as dominants but with more character.

I think the string descriptons in this section are excellent, and whoever wrote this certainly knows their strings.

May 25, 2010 at 11:42 PM ·

I totally converted to gut strings over the years and am absolutely convinced they work better with the violin.  Damian Dlugolecki makes gut strings, also silver wound gut etc..


I use a gut E, Gut A, Gut D and silver wound Gut G and have never been happier.


You can find him on the internet, just google him.  Great guy.

May 25, 2010 at 11:50 PM ·

Eudoxa, Passione/Solo, Vision, Tonica, P.I. Infeld.......

May 26, 2010 at 01:30 AM ·

I've gone from Dominants to Larsen Tziganes, and I'm totally in love. Beautiful sound, and a great left-hand feel. The E especially sounds amazing, it blends in with the others quite nicely.

May 26, 2010 at 02:46 AM ·

Dominant E strings have a horrible reputation--everyone I know buys the set minus the E and puts something else on.

Westminster is a good E string, and I prefer Goldbrokat, myself. Neither is expensive. Both will give your E string a firmer, more solid sound, which is why many pros use them. For what they cost, you can buy one of each, and see which you prefer. The Westminster is basically just a Super-Sensitive, but I think you have to buy those in sets, and you really don't want the rest of the S-S set.

If I remember correctly, Heifetz used a Goldbrokat E.

The Pirastro Wondertone Gold Label E is another popular one, but I actually prefer the other two that I already named. It's more expensive than either one, also.

Do not be tempted by the Pirastro Olive E just because it's expensive; it can be spectacularly bad on a very large percentage of violins. The added weight of the gold plating makes it harder to get moving, so if your violin isn't wonderfully responsive, it will tend to squeal.

There's a reason Dominants are so popular. Over the years we've moved away from them several times in our shop, and keep coming back to them. They have a complex sound that you don't get from anything else but gut. But we never use the Dominant E.

May 26, 2010 at 06:42 PM ·

I will suggest Jargar. I'm currently using a dolce E, but I understand that mediums and fortes are also well-liked. I was using a Larsen Tzigane E but it's plated with that nasty tin, and it sounded OK but it corroded quickly.

May 26, 2010 at 08:42 PM ·

I'm currently using the Pirastro Universal No. 1 E-string, medium gauge. It's actually a wound string, with corrosion-resistant chromesteel winding over a steel core. On my violin, it provides a more open sound than some of the other e-strings I've tried (Olive, Vision Solo, Infeld Blue). However, my violin tends to be a bit difficult-to-work on the E-string and the No. 1 E made the response and tone better.

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