Gut Core G & D + Steel A

September 29, 2009 at 03:22 AM ·

 I'm sorry to post another string thread, but I couldn't really find this sort of discussion in the archives.

I recently purchased an c.1880 Flemish school violin.  I've tried lots of synthetic strings on it, and decided I needed warmer, darker, smoother, clearer sounding strings.

I've got Helicore A, Oliv G & D, and a Gold Label E on it now.  I'm surprisingly happy with this combination.  I'd never have thought in a million years I'd like this sort of sound.  I only though to try it because I remembered reading on here about how Kogan and I can't recall who else used a steel A with gut strings.

So I'm wondering... What combination do you all use?  (gut G & D, steel A & E)

Replies (52)

September 29, 2009 at 08:19 AM ·

September 29, 2009 at 11:49 AM ·


Thanks for your response.  I'm like a string addict.  I've never tried Violino... are they good?

Obligatos seemed to die very quickly on my violin.  Although, I think I like them the best of synthetic strings.  Yes, Oistrakh used this sort of setup (gut GD steel AE) but it's rumored Kogan used steel on all 4!

I'm just curious what strings people use in this setup...

Thanks again!

September 29, 2009 at 02:34 PM ·

I am glad to find someone using Helicore A.  As there is a tendency for synthetic core A string to snap just after one or two months of usage, I have long switched over to using Helicore A, which lasts much longer. Helicore A has a rounded and sweet tone which, to my ear,  is more pleasing than most synthetic- core A strings.

I believe the Russian School of Violinists in the past used steel A to get the perfect pitch, especially for playing string quartets. Their favorite steel A was Cromcor A. I recently discovered, quite by chance, an A string that is made of chromsteel in Germany by the name of Royal Oak. Royal Oak A is full-bodied and robust, the antithesis of Helicore A. It is cheap and worth a try by those who like to experiment with strings.  


September 30, 2009 at 01:02 AM ·

September 30, 2009 at 01:43 AM ·


>Their favorite steel A was Cromcor A.

Sorry to nitpick but Oistrakh actually use da Prim a.  It is quite likely that everybody followed suit;)



September 30, 2009 at 05:02 AM · I found Violinos somewhat lacking in power, but very, very warm and refined...very close to Eudoxa. I did find that the A cracked very easily, (but the D and G didn't), which was odd. I wonder if Pirastro would have success with these strings if they increased the tension a bit.

September 30, 2009 at 02:02 PM ·

 Well, if Violinos are warm, that's all this violin really needs... I might have to give those a try!

September 30, 2009 at 02:40 PM ·

Eudoxa-G; Passione-D; Chromcor-A; Gold Label (wondertone) E.

September 30, 2009 at 02:43 PM ·

 Thanks, Royce!  What do you like about the Eudoxa and Chromcor?  I've never tried those...

September 30, 2009 at 05:13 PM ·

The Eudoxa has a rich bottom end, almost Gypsy-ish (if that makes sInce?)  Chrome-core (sp?) Close to a Dominant A but last a heck of a lot longer.  It compliments the Goldlabel E and vise-versa.  I didn't care for Jargar or Larsen A or E.  The Eudoxa G lasted longer than the Passione G.  But a Passione set is still one of my favorites!  But when it comes to combos of Gut with steel, I like the combo I gave.  Give the A some time to work in to the other strings.  About 2 weeks to mellow a bit.

September 30, 2009 at 07:50 PM ·

Here's some combo's I tried with my gut sets.

Passione G, D Wondertonesolo steelcore A Oliv E

Oliv G stiff, Passione D, Wondertonesolo steelcore A Oliv E

Passione G,D,  Chromcor A Oliv E

Oliv G stiff Oliv D *silver* Pirastro Chromcor A Oliv E

I didn't like the steel A but it's way better then an Oliv A or eudoxa IMO. Plus the hill tuner and 2 prong tuner don't look right on my tailpiece so I went back to Oliv G, E and passione D,A.

September 30, 2009 at 09:18 PM ·

I love the plain old Passione set even with the cheap e-string everyone complains about.  1780 Chappuy and 1806 Xaveri Wagner.  Love these strings! J

October 1, 2009 at 12:53 AM ·

I use medium-gauge Passione G and D, but am thinking about replacing the Passione G with an Oliv G, for more body to the sound.

I use a Larsen Heavy E - it works the best out of all the ones I tried, including (but not limited to) all the gauges of the Pirastro Gold and Oliv E strings, Lenzner Goldbrokat, and Westminster.

I'm having difficulty with my A though - I had been using a Jargar Forte A up until now, but always had severe intonation problems with it.  My teacher had me replace it, so I took out the Hill fine tuner I had used with it, and put in a synthetic A string (D'Addario Zyex) for now.

I still have yet to try Chromcor on my instrument, but it's never sounded good on any of the other instruments I've played on with it before.

I also still need to try the Larsen Steel A , but my preferred string store doesn't have it.  I may also try Thomastik strings - either Prazision or Spirocore, I've heard nice things about both of them.

October 1, 2009 at 02:06 AM ·

 I use the Gamut wound gut G string (Put it on a month ago), Gamut D and A, and Goldbrokat E. When I first put the G on in was virtually unplayable. With one bow stroke that was not completely perfect the string would not make a sound. Now the response is so much better. It is bright, deep, warm and a sound likening to that of toscha seidel. It is as beautiful as the eudoxa but much more powerful.

October 1, 2009 at 02:38 AM ·

Brian, why not try a plain gut A - Gamut Academie heavy gauge works well for me with Passione or Olive G/D. I'm currently using Olive G, Gamut heavy D, Gamut heavy A, Jargar forte E and am quite pleased with the combo (the Gamut heavy D was surface-noisey when new, but once stretched sounds pretty fantastic).


October 1, 2009 at 01:05 PM ·

Now, normal Eudoxas on G and D, infeld blue A and tonica (old formula) E

I love it although it untunes very fast. In an orchestra, I would die : )   And Eudoxas have a medium life span so I change them relativly often but I love the sound so much!!!


October 1, 2009 at 06:39 PM ·

Heh.... That would explain why I see strings available separately. I figured it was solely because packs are about 4-6 times the cost of a pack of guitar strings.

October 1, 2009 at 07:02 PM ·

I recently switched my A (Dominant light) to a Chromcor /Eudoxa steel and I love it!  It provides some needed clarity in the higher positions and improves responsiveness.  I have a Hill E which has a slightly different sound from open A to open E but besides that, it's a good match with that string and the regular Dominant D and G.  This violin is rather dark sounding and strings like Passione are too complex sounding so I haven't tried Olives or Eudoxas.

October 1, 2009 at 09:14 PM ·

@ Wayne- Give Eudoxas a try.

October 2, 2009 at 04:02 AM ·

Does anyone use Goldbrokat E with gut strings???

October 2, 2009 at 06:32 AM ·

@ Vincent:

I use a medium Goldbrokat E with Gamut Heavy+ Plain gut A and D, and Pirastro's "Passione" G.  It's dirt-cheap, has a very good sound, and is stable under the bow (whereas some other e-strings will squeal at the slightest provocation). I change it every 2-3 weeks to prevent extensive deterioration in the sound. It also seems resistant to whistling.

For the original topic: I have tried a Jargar Dolce steel A-string once as a substitute for the Gamut A, and I wasn't a big fan of it. It has a nice mellow sound but that's about it. The Gamut A has a much larger tonal palette, from the softest of whispers over the fingerboard to an incredibly powerful, silvery, and penetrating sound near the bridge. It's cheaper too, string-for-string. The Gamut A also seemed to have more body and presence to the sound.

And, as others on this board have said before, the Gamut D (Lyon twist) is mindblowing.

October 2, 2009 at 02:18 PM ·

Also, keeping in mind that it will have to come down to trial & error.  At least this thread will help get an idea where to begin.

October 2, 2009 at 03:18 PM ·

 That's my point exactly, Royce. I see no one has given favorable mention to the Gold Label gut set for example...

October 2, 2009 at 05:30 PM ·

@ Tasha- Come to think of it, very seldom does anyone mention Goldlabel sets, at leat not since I have been here.  I've heard many mentioned but I cannot recall anyone using them.  I take that back, there was a discussion about two years ago and a few did mention them, but nothing outstanding.

October 2, 2009 at 10:37 PM ·

The main reason I don't use a gut A string is because I use a fine tuner on the A, because of slight wrist problems which prevent me from using the A peg very effectively, and also so that I can tune faster while playing in orchestras.

I find both the Zyex and Obligato to be excellent A strings in general, and an old Evah Pirazzi that's lost its power can also produce a very sweet sound to blend with gut strings.

When I get a new instrument (in a couple decades or so) I'll try the Gamut plain gut A - I just don't feel like adjusting my settings right now.

October 3, 2009 at 02:28 AM ·

 I'm wondering how people might feel about oliv, passione, and eudoxa in this type of setup?  I like the Olivs, but would appreciate something a bit darker and more reliable...  Especially the D string.  Would Passione's work?

Thanks for all the feedback guys!  Does anyone know of any good youtube videos of Oistrakh or someone using this type of setup?

October 3, 2009 at 03:48 PM ·

Hi, for Oistrakh, there are many many many amazing videos on youtube!!!   For something more reliable than Olive??? I love my Eudoxas so much but for tuning issues, I tune 15 times a day!!!   Especially the  darn D who is very unstable...  But I can afford this since I don't have time to be in any orchestras for now and I do not earn a living out of my violin if ever it untunes in an inapropriate moment. I had great fun with this on my friends summer wedding... (fourtunately, there was a nice washroom to go tune myself in : )   It's to everyone to see if they want to tune as much or not.  Maybe it doesn't always do this on all violins but gut is very sensitive to temperture and humidity issues I think.  My teacher is in love with my setup but would not want it for her because it is not stable ennough for her professionnal activities even if she adimts that gut sound is special. If you don't care about always tuning, give it a try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The sound is wonderful even if it comes with a high "tuning" cost.


October 3, 2009 at 04:20 PM ·

October 3, 2009 at 05:52 PM ·

I agree with Brian about the Olive/Passione G strings. I thought the Passione G was great until I tried the Olive G - this baby kicks butt even in high positions. Haven't tried the Eudoxa G/D yet but they are next on my list. 

October 3, 2009 at 07:14 PM ·

You know, It makes me mad when people insist on using certain strings "because" they are a make or model. For example, Olive (a very good string) is not advised (to my students) for quiet violins. 

I have experimented with many strings on many instruments. On my previous modern Italian, I'd use Olives or Eudoxas or similar. On my current #1 violin I use an Obligato G (for warmth) Dominant D and A (for clarity and edge) and a Eudoxa "wound" E string which seems whistle free compared to plain "strand" E strings. I like the gold E (whoever makes this) but have not used one in a while. This crazy arrangement might not work on any other Violin, I appreciate.

November 8, 2009 at 11:57 AM ·

If you guys don't mind me reviving this thread...

Has anyone tried Pirastro Flexocor/Permanent strings? I'm particularly interested in the A + E since I am considering going two lower gut and two upper steel. (I generally dislike synthetic A's and the gut A's starting to piss me off... tuning issues).

Also, I am curious as to the effect of using two fine tuners instead of one (-strictly- generally speaking). Can someone enlighten me on this subject?


November 8, 2009 at 09:40 PM ·

November 12, 2009 at 06:23 PM ·

I actualy like the Passione & Eudoxa 'E' strings!  No squeals or whistels yet!

November 13, 2009 at 06:25 PM ·

 Does anyone know the difference in thickness between a violin steel A and a viola steel A?  I would think that the viola string would be a bit thicker...

November 14, 2009 at 04:57 PM ·

The Thomastik web site offers data that allow one to compute the mass per length of the strings.

For a Dominant violin A string of medium mass they have a stop length of 32.5 cm and a tension of 5,5 kp; for the corresponding viola string it is 37.0 cm and 6.0 kp. Putting these numbers in the string equation one finds that the violin string has the higher mass per centimetre, by a factor of 1.188.

November 20, 2010 at 07:24 PM ·

 Hi, my first message on VC

Now , the best for my violin:

G: medium dominant

D: medium silver dominant

A: medium jargar, 2 prongs black fine tuner

E: medium pirastro gold label, 2 prongs black fine tuner

I'm a strings addict,... tried chromcore pirastro "A": very good focus but too tense, my violin can't stand. The tension of this string do my bass strings sound too stiff. The difference with the jargar "A" is huge.

Someone have used G,D vision titanium, A pirastro chromcore, E goldbrokat stark?

November 21, 2010 at 09:46 PM ·

I find Pirastro's Chromcor E and A in combination with Eudoxa D and G, or Vision D and G (peg-tuned) are quite effective.   A good reason for the steel A with peg-tuned lower strings is that the A peg can occasionally be a problem to tune from the playing position, especially with relatively high-tension synthetics or even gut, whereas the D and G are much easier to control in this respect.  The Chromcor E and A make a good and powerful matched combination tonally,  the A having more than a hint of complexity.  I wonder if these reasons influenced the great Russian violinists.  You need only one really prominent player to start using a steel E and A with gut D and G for many more to follow suit.

November 22, 2010 at 01:29 AM ·

Haha I think do know who is that proeminent player...   that everyone copied the setup...

I am also guilty in a way but not totally since I don't use chromcore for my upper 2 strings! : )

Beside from always tuning, I love this type of setup very much.


November 23, 2010 at 04:02 PM ·

I've been using a string combination recommended by the concertmaster of a famous orchestra, which is Dominant medium gauge G and D, a Helicore light gauge A, and your choice of E string depending on what sound you want. What I found is that the replacing of the Dominant A with the lighter gauge Helicore A (which sounds similar, if a little less complex but with faster response) improves the sound of the G and D strings, making them sound more resonant.

December 1, 2010 at 09:54 PM ·

 Hi! Mr Lee, 

                    after reading your post, I changed my "A" Jargar  and "E" Pirastro gold label to an old medium  "A" and "E" Helicore, for a try. The "A" , out of the bag, seems very flexible. So, with my Dominant "G" and "D"(silver), the mix is not good,... it's phenomenal. Best sound for ever. After two days, it's better minutes after minutes.

Is it my last combo? I don't know! I am O.K. for every things to improve the sound of my violin.

Today is not the last day!

March 5, 2011 at 07:27 PM ·

i actually heard that Oistrakh was using a  metal Thomastik Spirocore A.

i have recently tried the A - Spirocore (medium) G,D - Evah Pirazzi (Soft) and E- Pirastro Gold (medium), and i am extremely pleased!

the best combination i've tried so far.

June 4, 2011 at 03:07 AM ·

yes, Oistrakh did use a Spirocore A (though he originally used Prim), and I've tried that exact combo you're using now (except all medium gauge) and it was really wonderful!

now I'm using a different A and E on the recommendation of my current teacher (who studied with Yuri Yankelevich), who recommended a Prim A with a Westminster E, both medium gauge

February 7, 2012 at 07:33 PM · I use Golden Spiral solo G and D and Jargar Forte A and E on my violin, and it works a treat. I've gone off synthetic A strings because they seem too fuzzy.

February 10, 2012 at 09:37 AM · I am trying a Helicore A to match better with a plain steel E - to avoid the sudden jump in tone.

For chamber music I still prefer the Dominant A & E, though. (Am I in a minority of one?!)

February 10, 2012 at 09:37 AM ·

December 6, 2012 at 06:48 PM · Right now I am using Eudoxa G and D with a Warchal Russian style steel A string. The current E is a Vision solo E. This combo right now sounds like heaven!!! Some of you should try it!


December 6, 2012 at 09:14 PM · why is that combination used?

December 7, 2012 at 04:05 AM · Before reliable nylon-core strings were invented, people had to choose between wound gut, plain gut, and steel A strings; wound gut A strings were notoriously unreliable back then, so people would either choose to go with plain gut or steel.

December 7, 2012 at 06:19 AM · On one LP sleeve photo, Arthur Grumiaux has two fine tuners on his Strad!

On the other hand, Heifetz used a plain gut A with a Goldbrokat E..

Chromcor has an "Eudoxa" version of their steel A.

I don't know Violinos, but Aricores are warm and gut-like.

Let's remenber that a change of maker or string type usually entails modified bowing habits (attack, speed, pressure, contact point.)

Why do tennis players use gut? It "rings" less than nylon: synthetics often have a "buzz" at each bow change because they ring too much..

December 7, 2012 at 06:47 AM · thank you for your reply brian.

i assume there are other reasons why people still do this: i cannot realistically believe that a reliable A gut string hasn't been made since.

December 7, 2012 at 07:05 AM · They're better now than they used to be - the Pirastro Eudoxa and Passione A strings are reliable strings. The Oliv, less so.

December 8, 2012 at 02:37 AM · Not gut, but apparently the Pirastro Wondertone Solo set comes with a steel core A:

"Pirastro Wondertone Solo strings offer excellent versatility and outstanding playing characteristics. Wondertone Solo features a new synthetic core modified from Pirastro's leading performers, Evah Pirazzi, Obligato, and Violino strings. The result is nearly no break-in time and exceptional tuning stability. In addition, Pirastro introduces a steel core A string and Silvery Steel E string that are specifically designed to optimize set harmony. Pirastro recommends its Oliv/Evah rosin with these strings. "

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