Yet another string question...

December 1, 2009 at 08:34 PM ·

I have read with interest many past discussion threads on strings (worth its own discussion topic I'd suggest), which prove that for every string there is someone who likes it and another who doesn't. I'd appreciate any help with a specific question. My violin is French, c. 1920, Mirecourt, and a luthier has confirmed to me what my ears tell me, that these instruments in general tend to a loud / brash / steely / harsh tone. Nice character at the bottom end but can be grating higher up, especially noticeable if I've just taken off the mute. So, what strings might be best for me? From reading up, I'm guessing that maybe a set of, over to the experts...thanks.

Replies (21)

December 1, 2009 at 11:15 PM ·

I wouldl try Dominants with a Jargar E.

December 1, 2009 at 11:55 PM ·

If you're looking for something less bright, I've found Eudoxa, Obligato, Violino, Infeld Red, and Zyex strings to all be excellent - on different instruments.  Which of these may work best depends on your instrument and preferences. 

December 2, 2009 at 12:56 AM ·

Don't try Evahs then since they are "usually" not recomanded for bright instruments as they are very bright as strings. But this is just an opinion, ideally you should try them all and choose (might just be a little expensive...) 

Good luck!


December 2, 2009 at 01:23 AM ·

Dominant  with Silver D and Jargar Forte (Thick) E., or like most of us here, try the Passione, you'll never go wrong.

Works on my back up violin that sound like yours, but not French mirecourt.



December 2, 2009 at 02:41 AM ·

What does your luthier recommend?   He can actually hear the violin with whatever you have on it and is in the best position to advise on what will best acheive the sound you want.  Obligatos do what you want on my violin and so do Passiones, but different strings sound different on different violins.  So, we can speculate all we want, but your luthier can probably give the best advice.  Good luck finding the strings that work best.

December 2, 2009 at 03:31 AM ·

You can only do so much with different strings.  My previous violin was on the harsh side.  I tried different strings, but finally I ended up buying a new fiddle.  It sounds a lot better no matter what strings I use.  My point is, if the sound is just a little harsh, you might be able to compensate with different strings, but if you want to change the sound a lot, you might need a different instrument. 

December 2, 2009 at 03:48 AM ·

I know my violin is French, but not sure it was Mirecourt; made around the same time though. Mine doesn't sound harsh, it actually sounds a bit warm and mellow. That said, I'm addicted to that sound, so Passione's compliment it well. If you are willing to do gut strings, I'd try Eudoxa's to counteract the harsh bright sound. If that's too much, I'd try Passione (gut strings, no tuning instability) or Obligato's.

That said, I can't hear your violin through the internet (except recordings ect :P)... so i'd ask your luthier to listen and hear what he/she says about strings.

December 2, 2009 at 04:39 AM ·

Which strings or string combination are you using right now?


I would try Obligatos for a darker sound or gut core strings (Oliv or Passione) for a warmer, rounder, and more complex sound.

December 2, 2009 at 10:07 AM ·

Perhaps you could visit your luthier, since other things can be tried, such as a new bridge and soundpost, or reducing the string afterlenth (distance from bridge to tailpiece fret), correction of the neck angle, etc.  

Life is too short for playing an instrument which sound you don't like...

December 2, 2009 at 01:08 PM ·

I'm currently using Dominant with Pirastro Gold E, on the grounds that if it's good enough for Hilary Hahn, why not. Before that Helicore, before that Corelli Crystal. I'm tempted to try a gut string, if only because everybody should at least once, right?

December 2, 2009 at 01:11 PM ·


From my experience, Obligato usually are the best for calming down a bright instrument.  I would advise however that you use a Pirastro steel E instead of gold-plated, as gold-plated Es tend to be quite bright.  You could also try a steel E like Kaplan Golden Spiral; or Goldbrokat medium if you find that the Obligato has taken away too much brilliance and you want to add a bit back in.

The Passione might be a good string as well.  I don't have much experience with them, but have heard great things.  Euxoda could be another try, but the transition is harder from synthetics.

Contrary to other advices, I don't think that Dominants with any kind of E will do the trick.  A thick gauge E can help at times by adding extra pressure and redistributing the balance on a violin, but it doesn't tend to work on the French violins you describe.

The only other synthetic you might try is the Warchal Ametyst which sound fairly dark, are low-tension and feel kind of like a synthetic Eudoxa under the fingers.  Because of the different characteristic of this string (it is unlike anything else on the market) it could work on the instrument you describe.  The only catch is that also like Eudoxa, you will have to adapt your bowing closer to gut-wound that playing on synthetics.

Hope this helps and best of luck.


December 2, 2009 at 01:27 PM ·

If I receive a good instrument without strings my first choice will be Dominants with a Jargar E. If the instrument does not sound good, the problem will be with the instrument, not with the strings. With Dominants we have a good starting point to start working with the instrument, eventually we may choose other strings, but Dominants offer a good starting point for the set up. I think the same is done in many shops, including Bein & Fushi, if I'am not wrong, I remember reading something  about that.

Another thing that can be done to tame the E string is using one of those plastic tubes in the string over the bridge.

December 2, 2009 at 09:21 PM ·

Ask you luthier for advice. Otherwise I think a set of Obligato's or Eudoxa/Passione would give you a warmer sound. Tonica's may also be an altenative to dominants.

No one suggested Infeld Red???

December 2, 2009 at 10:14 PM ·


Manfio, I think strating with Dominats is the most sensible and cost effective way to work. Its interesting though,  here in Japan there is an incredible trend towards stringing up all instrument with Evah Pirazzi.   Just for me,  this yends to makes things loud and crude and chokes a lot of violins.  I have also noticed an astonishing trend of teacher shaving even their youngest students use these strings.  It is somethign I am actually quite opposed to since they take extra pressure to play and ,  in my opinion,  add tension to a oyung players bow arm.   Maybe like movies,  an adults only rating is required.....



December 2, 2009 at 10:52 PM ·

Andrew Holland suggested Infeld Reds early on.

Eudoxas are a bit darker than Passiones on my violin, and Dominants tend to be a bit bright.  What you have said about your violin, it seems to be somewhat like mine.

December 2, 2009 at 11:15 PM ·

Hi Stephen! There is a trend among string makers towards brighter strings....   I receive strings from manufaturers to test them and give my opinion on them and in general I find many of these new strings too tense and too bright to my ears, at least on the instruments I make.

I never tested Evahs on my violins but I use them on my violas (with a Larsen A) and I never heard a player complaining about them, I don`t find that Evahs are too tense on violas, but I never teste them on my violins. I tested the Passiones on my violas and I found the response too slow, and the D string refused to stay in tune, they were good to play adagios (a very rich sound) but the slow response was quite an issue, I think.



December 3, 2009 at 03:07 PM ·

Hi Luis,

Just curious about the string testing process: Do you test a lot of strings that never actually reach the market, or does most of what you test eventually get sold?

December 3, 2009 at 03:40 PM ·

Hi!  I test both strings that are being developed and those that are already on the market.

December 3, 2009 at 06:25 PM ·

What a cool job... String Tester!

}:^D Yea!

December 3, 2009 at 07:19 PM ·

A cool job for sure! It's just suspiscious if a maker tells he only tests G strings. Then run away... : )


December 4, 2009 at 04:42 PM ·

Thanks for all comments, I've gone for Christian's suggestion of Obligato with steel E. Will attempt to post feedback after due time to try out this combination.

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