Recommended A-strings?

May 20, 2009 at 07:33 PM ·

I've been searching for a nice A-string that works well with a fine-tuner - I take after my violin teacher and use two fine tuners, one on the E, and one on the A.  Up until recently, I have always used Pirastro's Evah Pirazzi line, which worked pretty well.  I've recently switched to using Oliv strings, and I found that, even without the A-string fine tuner, the Oliv A-string was absolutely abysmal in ways which I would rather not describe.  Can anybody post their thoughts about their A-string preferences here?  Thank you!

Replies (26)

May 20, 2009 at 07:53 PM ·

 I love the sound and playability of the Pirazzi A (and the rest of the Pirazzi set, actually), but it doesn't last long enough for me to justify the cost. Without fail, it always(!) unravels before the rest of the set, usually just a month or so in. Cheaper, more durable strings like Dominants don't sound as good on my violin.

Hopefully someone has a better recommendation.

May 20, 2009 at 08:18 PM ·

I also like the Evah A and find it works well with the set. But I'm in love with the Passione A since it's better IMO then the Oliv A but I don't use a fine tuner on the A. Have you tried steel strings?

May 20, 2009 at 08:32 PM ·

My thoughts are that you should go to your luthier and ask him/her.  Different A strings sound different on different violins.  Evahs may sound great on someone else's violin and not on yours.  We cannot hear your violin with current strings and have no way of knowing; your luthier can and can advise on what will best acheive your goals.   Good luck.

May 20, 2009 at 08:39 PM ·

Ultimately- from posts regarding strings you will more than likely be told;

a) It's trial and error. Because what sounds good on one violin will sound like crap on another.

b) What style/genre of music are you playing? 

* Fiddling (Celtic, Blue Grass, C&W, Rock, Jazz, Advant Guarde) usualy use steel/steel core-Bright, focussed, can be the most projecting. 

* Synthetic; Usualy stretch-out in a short period of time so you are not having to retune allot. 

* Real gut; Usualy the warmest, most complex but you'll spend quite a while having to retune offten.

c) Is your violin set up by a trusted Luthier and what does he/she suggests?

d) Are you shure it's not your bow?

Olivs are great strings. I have yet to hear anything bad about;  Passiones, Dominants, and the 2 varieties of Larsens and Vission titaniums.  Next are those I have heard a few dislikes, but not hate; Hellicores, Chromcores, Infeld Red/Blue, Jargar, Chrystals, Vission regulars.

Other than that I'm spent!  This is what I have learned being here for a year and a half.

Best wishes and success!

royce

May 20, 2009 at 09:06 PM ·

Obligato A on my violin mixed with gut Eudoxas sounds great.  I have a naturally dark sounding instrument and Guarneri modal. So if you have something like this, you can always try this A.

Good luck,

Anne-Marie

May 21, 2009 at 02:07 AM ·

Tonica 

May 21, 2009 at 04:12 AM ·

Greetings,

as an early poster suggested:  the Olive label a is a real pain.  This experience has been consistently reported by many users on this site over the years so it is not just a one off problem.  The new Passione strings are not only superb and long lasting `wound gut` (lets be clear) they definitly do not have this problem.  Their tuning is -very - stable and they last a loooong time which more than offsets the cost.  If you wish to use  aplain gut a and even a d as well,  go to a specialist.  There are names listed her ein various threads.   The chorda gut a which many shops stock is,  in my opinion,  rathe rlow quality.

I woudl also qualify the tuning issue with pure gut.  Actually the tuning is not as often as you might think although admittedly it is more necessray than with Vision which might stay at the same pitch until you die.  But this is nt the whole story.  learnign to tune quickly and well on the fly is a useful skill.  Even more so is the ability to `play in tune@ when the string has gone out.  The older palyers had this -mmany of today`s players do not to any particlar degree.  They leanr where to put their fingers and are veyr poor at adapting when the violin goes out.  Thisalso has a lot to do with eharing sensitivity so one might put forward the contraversial point that many olde rpalyers had slightly better pitch contorl and reflexes simply because they were forced to lsiten more ;) Hah!

The big differnec eyoiu will have to leanr with plain gut is how t use the bow more sensitively .

Cheers,

Buri

May 21, 2009 at 05:06 AM ·

titanium vision solo. Thats all I can say

May 22, 2009 at 09:15 PM ·

...wow, that must be a pain if you want a pizza or something.

May 22, 2009 at 09:41 PM ·

Good one, Phil.

Although I haven't read anything about them, I really like the feel of the Corelli Vivace advance.  I tried the evah's and didn't like how they felt under my fingers, the E string was jsut dreadful, may have been false, so I removed it and replaced with a wondertone E - Never again! I had cuts on my fingers within a week, and callouses where there had been none for over a year since starting to learn vibrato. Thankfully the A on the Evah's unravelled itself (none to soon, it was about 3 months) and I had a good reason to remove them.  The A and D didn't ever really have any great sound to them - to me it sounded blah, but a loud blasty blah -I think the Vivace A (and E) have a better sound on my violin, but its the feel that sells me on them.  I also preferred the Corelli  crystals to dominants on my old 3/4 violin, again because of the feel - they are smooooth and i don't notice andy drag or sticking under my fingers, and I can play them with a light touch.

May 22, 2009 at 10:19 PM ·

For the past year I've been using heavy gauge Passiones with a Jargar forte E and liking the result. But I've always wanted to try a plain gut string just for the heck of it. In my hands (i.e., instrument, bow, rosin, and playing quirks) I sometimes found the Passione A to be slightly less wonderful than the other strings, so I decided to experiment with Gamut plain gut. I bought the unvarnished A in heavy gauge and heavy gauge +. The heavy + gauge sounded good but I couldn't get used to it being so much thicker than all the other strings. I tried the heavy gauge next and it seemed a better match. The string sounds fabulous and seems to enhance the sound of the other strings as well – my violin seems to resonate better on all strings. I recall one of Christian Vachon's posts from long ago stating that the E string can change the sound of the other strings (e.g., the Jargar forte E can make Dominants sound less metallic and more gut-like). I was wondering if this same sort of effect has been noted by others when adding a single plain gut string other than the E.

ab

May 23, 2009 at 03:30 AM ·

I've always been told that with the exception of the E, a violin is out of adjustment if you don't like a whole set of strings.

May 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM ·

Does anybody use a metal A string anymore (with synthetic G and D)?  I've never been happy with how the A string sounds between the D and E and have been considering trying a steel string....

May 26, 2009 at 01:04 PM ·

Hi,

I have been reading, trying and writing about strings for years, and in the end, it always boils down to personal preference and playing style (particularly bowing) and violin.

However, there are types of strings and each of them has different characteristics:

1- Plain gut - used by the players of old on the D and A strings.  Like Buri said, they are sensitive to bowing, and tuning/intonation is an art.  The difficulty is finding the right gauges for your violin.  As a general rule, thicker gauges seem to fare better.

2- Wound gut - Oliv and Eudoxa are the classic strings.  The new Passiones are also wound but said to be more stable.  I only tried the prototype not the finished product, but found them to be half-way between synthetics and traditional wound-gut.

3- Synthetics - can be divided into two categories, perlon-core (like Dominants) and new-core-types (like Pirazzi).  Perlon-core types tried to get the feel of gut with the stability of a sythetic core.  The new-core-types seem more at being stable than anything else.  Some like Pirazzi or Vision require a different type of playing, especially with bowing.

In the end you have to choose a compromise between your violin, the way you like to play and the string to find YOUR sound.

Best of luck!

Cheers!

May 27, 2009 at 12:24 AM ·

I wonder if Pirastro would considcer making a Passione steel A?

May 27, 2009 at 02:13 AM ·

The Olive A has always been considered a dud by many people. It used to be, when gut was more popular, that many violinists used Kaplan's A, instead. Someone told me a couple of years ago that the Kaplan A had taken a turn for the worse, but that was only one person, so it may not be true.

June 1, 2009 at 03:19 AM ·

I have found the Pirastro chromcor A to be a very singing and full sounding A that blends well with the thick gauge gold Olive E I typically use. It has worked on most of my students instruments quite well but there are exceptions. Because it is a metal string I do use a piece of parchment over the notch in the bridge for the A.

June 1, 2009 at 02:00 PM ·

"From Tasha Miner
Posted on May 23, 2009 at 03:30 AM

I've always been told that with the exception of the E, a violin is out of adjustment if you don't like a whole set of strings."

I don't think so! Some years ago the SHAR catalog highlighted the instruments and STRINGS used by their owners and employees. Most of them used a "mixed and matched" assortment. The Thomastik Blue/Reds are designed for this sort of thing. Since I left Eudoxas and Olives many years ago (for climatalogical reason) I have pretty much mixed and matched until the past few years when I started experimenting with Passione, Warchal, Dogal, and Vision SOLO. I found that on my various violins all these 4 sets worked well as sets. However, it looks like I am settling on the Vision SOLO (I had tried the other Vision sets as they came out).

Each string affects the sound and behavior of the others (probably because each string contributes to the total tension acoss the bridge, and thus the force downward on the violin).

Andy

June 1, 2009 at 08:19 PM ·

Greetings,

you are right.

It`s nonsense.

Cheers,

Buri 

July 17, 2009 at 12:44 AM ·

Thanks for all the helpful responses, and sorry about my own late response! :)

I finally decided on a Jargar A (forte gauge) which works quite well on my violin - and so my current string set is Passione G and D (mittel gauge), Jargar A (forte gauge), and Gold Label E (stark gauge).  The Jargar is a great string, is responsive to pretty much any bow strokes, is stable in terms of intonation, and the ball end can easily be converted to a loop for use with Hill style fine tuners.

Thanks again for everybody's help!

July 17, 2009 at 12:57 PM ·

I didn't see any mention of Larsen.  It's a little expensive for a synthetic string but well worth the cost if you want a banging A string.  The A is the best of the set in my opinion.

July 17, 2009 at 10:10 PM ·

I did try Larsen!

The A strings I tried were Prim (medium), a discontinued perlon A-string  line which I put on as an emergency string after I killed the Prim with a particularly violent pizz., Larsen (medium), a medium-gauge spirocore string modified by a luthier to have a loop-end (to accommodate my Hill-style fine tuner), and Jargar (forte).

The Prim was an okay string, with good response, and easily tuned - however, as many people believe, the sound was quite bad.

The Kaplan perlon string was absolutely terrible - even worse than the Prim.

The Larsen string was pretty good - as expected, it didn't work very well with my fine tuner, but it had a very projecting, warm tone.  As recommended by my teacher, however, I decided to try another steel string.

And so I tried Thomastik's Spirocore line of strings - because of its solid ball, I couldn't use it with my fine tuner, and a luthier managed to modify the string so that it became a loop-end.  Unfortunately, this shortened the string somewhat, so that the silk wrapping at the peg end of the string fed over the nut and onto the vibrating portion of the string.  This was perhaps the best sounding of all the A-strings I tried - when it actually responded.  The string would occasionally just stop sounding at random intervals - especially when I played open A's.

In any case, I removed the Thomastik and replaced it with the Jargar Forte.  This string is extremely warm, and balances well with the other string combinations I've used it with (Olivs, Pirazzis).  Its one problem is projection - my current Passione strings have perhaps double the volume output of the Jargar.  This is probably a bridge problem, however - a luthier told me that I needed to get my bridge modified or replaced to accommodate the Jargar better.

July 18, 2009 at 12:47 AM ·

I like the Passione 'E'.  The Eudoxa is 2nd.  Steel I believe.

July 18, 2009 at 01:05 AM ·

The E strings I've tried include Dominant, Thomastik E01, Vision Titanium Solo, Goldbrokat, Oliv, and Gold Label (stark and mittel gauges).  I liked the Gold Label (stark) the most.

July 21, 2009 at 02:15 PM ·

For those who are looking for an alternative to  Pirastro Chromcor A, I would recommend the A string of Royal Oak Steel Strings. The Royal Oak strings are made of chromsteel, just like chromcor. The sound is loud and bright, and may be suitable for violin which has too dark a  tone. 

I don't recall reading about this brand of violin strings in Violinist.com. It is said that violinists whisper about them in private, but never in public forum since the steel strings are rather cheap, to say the least. The A string of Royal Oak  blends very well with my Vision Titanium Solo set after the A string of the latter snaped. I play a 1959 Roth.

July 23, 2009 at 11:58 PM ·

I didn't even know that Royal Oak made strings!  I thought they only made cleaners and rosins!

Royal Oak All-Purpose Cleaner (Do not consume for internal use!) is the best string cleaner I've ever come across, by the way.

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