The New Formula Tonica

March 28, 2009 at 03:17 AM ·

I have installed on my violin the new tonica strings for the first and only time i've played Tonicas. I've wondered how these strings differ from the old tonica in terms on tone and playability. In my opinion they are great strings with great warmth and depth, also I'm interested in trying out dominants. I was also wondering why these are such a great price? 23 dollars for a full set of strings, in the strad magazine they said the new formula strings would sell for 52 euro. Is this a release sale? I bought 3 full sets of tonicas in case, but if they really are 23 dollars a set its good for the price. Opinions?

Replies (40)

March 29, 2009 at 10:24 AM ·

The New Tonicas are also my first Tonicas and I like them a lot! I'm on my second set so far and my only complaint has been that the A string seems to have too short a life span on my instrument. I understood the low price to be introductory but have seen no indication of it going up yet so, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Strangely enough, all the strings seem to be shorter than usual. I at first thought I had been given a fractional size by mistake but they seem to work ok.

March 29, 2009 at 01:40 PM ·

I'm a big fan of the E tonica. I always put a tonica E whatever I put on the other strings.  I have tried such E's who sounded harsh, like metal, who whistled etc but tonica is the warmest i found yet on my violin with no secondary effects...   I also like the fact that it is wound and you can feel it more when you play on it.  With some unwound E's I loose the string under my finger and don't know exactly where it is... It's too small...  However the new formula have more tension and I have NOT tried them yet.   My violin maker said she would also try to find the tonica E with a lower tension than normal to match even better with my gut strings.  I'm so anxious to try this special low tension Tonica!  I don't know exactly how to tell the difference by the look but my maker knows it and can give me the one I want.  So if you want to try the new, the old or the low tension tonica, ask a good maker!

Good luck!


March 29, 2009 at 03:31 PM ·

Where can I buy the strings for $23 a set?

March 29, 2009 at 06:36 PM · sharmusic anywhere really just search tonica and

April 1, 2009 at 08:56 PM ·

a week after putting the violin strings on, I have to say they are great rich and deep strings, my ensemble leader defined them as bright, but I found that odd, I find them warm but do lack some projection but it's pretty pleasant not having to wear ear plugs while practicing with vision solo or titanium. They do though for the most part have a healty projection. Good response, and lovely all around string for a variety of instruments. also for 23 dollars, I think you couldn't get a better string. I would think that they would increase in price after the release formula.

April 1, 2009 at 09:24 PM ·

Wow $23 dollars for a set! I can buy 2 sets instead of buying my G string. I heard that they change the E string? 

April 1, 2009 at 10:48 PM ·

I still have a stash of old formulae (before they changed) Tonicas. I stocked up when they had a sale prior to the new release.

I am wondering how do the new formulae compare with the originals? Better?

Maybe I should stock up before they increase the price.

April 2, 2009 at 11:12 PM ·

They are still breaking in, compared to my vision titaniums, they are pretty well made deeper warmer sound, but though for some reason I was able to play a song easier on the vision, I don't know if its the tension or somewhat, But so far interesting and well worth it for the strings

April 3, 2009 at 06:39 PM ·

I actually liked Tonicas however they just didn't last long enough, a month or two at most?  How do the new ones seem to hold up.  I guess the only way to compare would be for one of you brave soles who used the old formula and now has purchased the new formula, to tell us how long the old ones lasted for you and if the new ones last the same time or longer or shorter...etc


April 3, 2009 at 07:04 PM ·

I may never get to try mine. The old ones have been in use for a year with absolutely no sign of giving up the ghost (or is it sole?). 


April 10, 2009 at 11:34 PM ·

week three ish, around practicing 3 hours a day, the tonicas are still the choice of string (even with vision titanium and vision solo) I ordered two more sets of the tonicas at 23 dollars each. They do require more attention to bowing, not so much the digging in type of string but the more conservative bowing. But still great juicy G the D is okay and the A im afraid might be losing some of its flavor, the e sounds okay with the exception of a tad tinny, but great in the 5th and 6th position. Look like I found a new favorite string, trying out dominants and passiones whence im done with these 3 sets.

August 2, 2009 at 08:55 AM ·

so, how are they after 4 months?


August 4, 2009 at 05:09 AM ·

I  have used a Tonica G (old formula) for years. It has always produced a reliably warm, strong, focused tone but it has always gone false rather quickly. I notice no difference in tone quality with the new formula Tonica G compared with the old. I had hoped that a longer lasting string would have been a  feature of  this new formula  but it doesn't seem to be the case. Still, I continue to use the Tonica  G as the best sounding G for my instrument. I wonder if others had similar experiences with the G string in particular going false so quickly and why this might be so when the company that makes the Tonica string has produced other fine brands that do not have the same problem. Their chromcor A for example is a wonderful string that does not go false nearly as quickly as the Tonica G.

August 10, 2009 at 11:25 AM ·

Hi Everyone,


You can buy Tonica New Formula at Southwest Strings online for 25.95. These are very similar and comparable to Eva Pirratzi, and for less than 1/2 the price. They were a bit of a powerhouse on my fiddle, which is always nice, but perhaps a weeee bit slow with response if I'm extra picky. So, I bought weich (light guage) and am content. Perfect!!!

August 10, 2009 at 10:07 PM ·

 The new formula Tonicas were a bit bright on my fiddle... the old formula had more warmth and a darker quality, which I really liked. The problem I had with Tonicas (both new and old) is responsiveness, although I would say they are more responsive than other Pirastro strings like Evahs and Obligatos. 

Now I use Helicores, which I love.

October 12, 2009 at 12:26 PM ·

I bought a set of new Tonica and gave it a go last few days. I've been a long time dominant user and very happy with the sound, but since tonica are much cheaper so...

Anyway, initial impression is that they're thinner than dominants, feels OK under the fingers.

What I like about it is that the focused sound and clarity they deliver. Although it sounded too bright on my violin (it's even brighter than the metalic character when dominant is still fresh!), I can imagine it 's very suitable for instruments that lack brilliance and focus.

What I don't like about is the ability to do tone color changes, the response and overall feeling when bowing are rather stiff. I prefer dominant over tonica for this 2 very important elements, dominants are very forgiving in both response and tone colour changing. I find tonica felt similar to Evah - powerhouse but stiff.

Projection, like some members mentioned, was lacking. They sound rather powerful and juicy under the ear, but a disappointment when I hear someone else play my violin especially in bigger space. Besides, the G string is what disappointed me the most among the rest - sounds nasal, lacking a lot of body, and noticeably too bright among the rest, it sounds like I'm having a $2 steel G on my violin. I thought it's my violin, but I immediately tried the very same string on my student's violin - same result. Maybe a bad string?

All in all, I'm not sure if they're not well settled enough, I took them during late 2nd day of teaching. I couldn't stand it. Anyone can tell me how long they take to settle? Still, even if they're not well settled, I find I prefer dominants even the very moment they're strung up which can get pretty nasty on the metalic sound, but they're still far more warm and smooth compared to tonica.

Seeing many people like tonica strings (including my teacher who bought like 20 sets for himself or students), I think it's either my violin dislike tonica, or they doesn't suit my playing style.

October 12, 2009 at 01:43 PM ·

I have a Tonica E and it sounds pretty good. I use A D G Dominants with it.

December 13, 2009 at 10:47 PM ·

I just tried a tonica E on my Brothers Amati and found it to be a distinct improvement over the Vision titanium solo E. It doesn't lose any power up in the high register. The only problem is the open E sounds too agressive.  I tried the string on a 2009 Tim Johnson violin and it sounded to bright and piercing.

December 14, 2009 at 12:34 AM ·

The old Tonicas had a fine tone when new, especially the A (violin).  However, they would lose their overtones and sound dead pretty quickly.  One chamber music camp totally shot a set for me two years ago, after only four days.

December 14, 2009 at 05:38 PM ·

I loved the fullness, sweetness, and complexity of the old version, and I think the new version is really missing it.  They remind me of some of the different Vision strings (bright and focused), which appeal to some but they're not for me.  Pirastro very kindly sent me a set of the new-formula strings in stark gauge to try for free, which were warmer and still responded well, but still lacked the resonance, fullness, and complexity of the old version.


February 8, 2010 at 05:00 PM ·

Ok, apparently my violin suddenly favour the new formula tonica string. So long story short (I wrote a new topic with elaborations but haven't published yet, though it's before I wrote this post), the dominant strings no longer sound good on my violin anymore. I suspect my violin is settling in in the recent months, so it could be that dominant strings doesn't bring out the potential of my violin anymore.

The G string issue being hollow and weak sounding is now gone, and it sounded warm, full, resonance, along with the other 3 strings. Now it's easy to control the tone color and dynamics as like what I could do previously with dominants. On top of it, it sounded more powerful than ever (though I have to do more test playing to confirm this), at the same time it doesn't feel as stiff to the bow stroke. Totally the opposite to what I experienced before as stated above.

Not sure if this is a good sign. In a way, tonica is much cheaper, so I can save more in a long run. On the other hand, maybe it's showing a sign that my violin need attentions to the setup. Hope I'm just being paranoid!

May 28, 2011 at 01:45 PM ·


 The Tonicas were my favorite strings since I was 12 years old. They always lasted for at least three weeks. But after a month, any string isn't the same anyway. The new Tonicas have nothing in common with the old once, they have much more tension, are less flexible, and at the same time the instrument sounds smaller with them. I see no reason, why the company did this change, especially after so many soloists and musicians have been using them for many years. Both of my teachers, the first violinist from the St.Petersburg Quartet Alla Aranovskaya, as well as Viktor Tretyakov have used Tonicas ( its not the reason why I used them) and are not using them anymore, because of the change. As I have noticed, correct me if I am wrong, Gidon Kremer, Julian Rachlin, and Julia Fischer also played Tonica. I really cant find any solution for my violin at the moment, that would be of the same quality.

May 28, 2011 at 03:01 PM ·

I'm pretty sure I once saw an endorsement for Olivs by Gidon Kremer.

I know that Aaron Rosand used to use weich-gauge Tonicas on the Kochanski del Gesu... I wonder what he uses now, if he didn't have a stock saved up from before the formula change.

I wish Pirastro would release the old Tonicas again, like they did with their Flexocore and Flat-Chromesteel bass strings (selling them in both the current versions and the "original" versions).

May 28, 2011 at 03:46 PM ·

Not related to the topic - some update from my above post.

It turned out that my violin indeed needed some care and an open seam caused me such a huge problem and headache in the past 15 months. It was a long story, but in short, now I'm back to dominants and they're as good as they should be.

Still, my opinion about the Tonica stay the same as what I mentioned earlier in this post - powerful, higher tension, but somewhat thin and less flexible. Seems to be consistent on quite a few new violins I"ve tried recently.

May 28, 2011 at 06:53 PM ·

I agree - I was hugely disappointed with the new strings - and told Pirastro this.  Thin and lacking in warmth - on a few different instruments I tried them on. 

They had written me a few years ago that they were planning on releasing the 'new formula' viola strings soon, and they haven't.  I hope they don't. 

May 28, 2011 at 07:58 PM ·

Tonicas were on my violin when I bought it last fall.  I like the sound but after a little bit of time I thought the E sounded to metalic and the G a little gritty.  It's about time to change strings.  I just don't know what to try next.

May 29, 2011 at 03:11 PM ·


 Do you think it would make sence putting viola G and D Tonica on violin, or are they much thicker than the violin strings?


May 29, 2011 at 11:00 PM ·

Daniel, the viola strings would actually be thinner than the violin strings and the tension would likely be too low (assuming they're medium tension). 

May 30, 2011 at 12:15 PM ·

I haven't yet tried Tonicas, but the occasional mentions of Dominants in this thread remind me that last year I bought a French violin from about 1910 which the luthier had set up with mid-tension Dominants.  I hadn't tried them before and am impressed with them.

May 30, 2011 at 06:30 PM ·


 Andrew, do you think Viola Tonica Stark would make any sence ? Today I tried Pirastro Aricore G and D for the first time. The D is fantastic, very similar to old Tonica, has a little more tension. The G is too dull though. A "stark" version would be perfect, but they dont produce any. Does anyone here has any experience or have heard anything of Synoxa, which suppose to be of the same quality as Tonica/Aricore?

May 31, 2011 at 01:33 AM ·

Daniel, Pirastro makes a 14" version of the viola strings - those might be an even better solution for you than the stark version of the full-size viola strings.  I see that Shar ( ) sells them. 

I've tried Synoxas.  They feel like Aricores, to me, but the sound tends toward bright and sweet instead of very warm (and maybe dull). I felt they lacked a bit of flexibility and dynamic range compared to Tonicas - they were somehow a bit stiff and unresonant on several different violins and violas.  I wonder if that's why they weren't more popular.

November 4, 2015 at 12:06 PM · Hi

I am interested in trying Tonica strings on my violin. However, I'm wondering if I will not enjoy the experience as I've been using 'power' strings for too long. For instance, Evah's - original and gold, Peter Infeld etc.

My interest in trying the Tonica's arose from considering using dominants. However, I resisted as most shops here In Australia have been clearly stating that dominants are probably going to be too bland after using Evah's etc.

To be honest the price is also tempting. But I don't want to buy another set of strings which I take off after a day or two. Any thoughts ?

Thanks in advance.


November 4, 2015 at 03:40 PM · There is only one way to find out...

November 4, 2015 at 05:21 PM · I use Tonicas on all my violins now. If you have been using something better then you may not like them. Do you want to swap your Mercedes for a Toyota ? Personally , I am happy with the much cheaper Toyota....and the Tonicas. They certainly last longer than Dominants and without that awful initial metallic sound.

November 5, 2015 at 12:59 AM · If i can write down my opinion:

i don't particularly appreciate Tonica "medium"....... but i like a lot and use the "strong" (stark) Tonicas......

Very different sound and strenght, in my opinion.

And surely i don't like so much the silvery, naked, E. I like the stark aluminum wound E.

November 5, 2015 at 02:21 AM · I tried Tonicas on my Guy Harrison 2011 (Guarneri model) violin, after several years of using only Vision Titanium Solos, which certainly belong in the "power" strings category. This violin is a powerful instrument, also, with lots of projection, so I was uncertain whether Tonicas would be a suitable match. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful and nuanced sound they produced, reminiscent of the Eudoxa gut strings I grew up with long ago but more stable. Perfect for chamber music, and enough projection for fiddling too. The VTS, on the other hand, had started to get on my nerves --they were beginning to seem overly aggressive to my ear. They sound good for a while, but go dead suddenly after a few months, and when that happens the sound becomes intolerable. I liked the Tonicas on the whole much better: responsive, light and bright, but also rich in overtones.

I confess that I have since switched to Passiones, however, which seem now like the ideal match for my violin. Going back to gut strings has meant a lot more tuning up, but they're worth the effort. And they last a long time. . .

November 5, 2015 at 07:29 AM · Thanks everyone

Very informative and useful advice as usual from this forum - much appreciated ! I got a set earlier today and tried them. However, I didn't leave them on as I was missing the depth and intensity - little 'sparks' and 'dark clouds' with a range of other colours created by strings like Evah etc. However, I did buy a PI - platinum E string and some Andrea Solo rosin. Wow what a difference - I'm not sure if it's the E string or the Andrea Solo rosin - but the Evahs (medium/ green) sound so dark and 'olive like' on the violin.

I was generally very impressed by the Tonicas - as they are a great string for the price and overall tonal quality is great - but the evah's have a higher tonal quality in my humble opinion.



November 5, 2015 at 08:12 AM · On my dull-toned violin, (French, early 19th century) Tonica "weich" (light tension) seems to let the wood breathe, with a subtle play of harmonics. "Power" strings just cramped the vibrations.

November 5, 2015 at 12:27 PM · Gurdip, I think you would have found they improved considerably after a week, if you had kept them on your violin. They wouldn't be as "powerful" as the Evahs though. However, I do think the trend for ever more powerful synthetic strings, which means more and more tension on your instrument, is not always a good thing for the sound. It may also be a problem in the long run for the well-being of the violin.

November 5, 2015 at 08:39 PM · Hi - I might pop them back on and see what they sound like. I guess that I am used to that immediate broad and intensive sound spectrum that you get from a higher end string. Thanks for the advice.

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