Highest quality violin string?

May 13, 2010 at 03:55 PM ·

Can someone tell what is the highest quality violin string (or combination of strings) used on the best instruments? 

Replies (56)

May 13, 2010 at 05:14 PM ·

Hello Vicky; the highest quality violin strings would be very subjective and most likely a matter of heated debate.

For starters, I suggest checking out "the violinist.com guide to choosing strings" as recently pointed out to us by Roland Bailey. IMHO it has very good and accurate string descriptions.

Thanks Roland. Actually I'm going there now.

May 13, 2010 at 05:34 PM ·

 According to me there is no such a concept as the highest quality violin string.A perfect quality strings can be unsuitable for a certain violin and the opposite. One needs to look for strings according to the qualities of the instrument. 

May 13, 2010 at 05:40 PM ·

Where is the violinist.com guide to choosing strings?

May 13, 2010 at 05:45 PM ·

Here's a link:

www.violinist.com/wiki/violin-strings/

May 13, 2010 at 06:09 PM ·

The one event that made me completely reevaluate my feelings about violin strings was having the wonderful opportunity to speak to members of the renowned Tokyo String Quartet.  As many on here will know, they play a quartet of Stradivarius instruments previously owned by Paganini.

The instruments sound fantastic, as one would expect, and I really wanted to know what strings they used.  Dominants, was the answer!    Well, if they are considered good enough for instruments like these, I'm happy to keep using them on my Cuypers... 

May 13, 2010 at 06:55 PM ·

Hi!

Maybe this would help...

http://www.stringsmagazine.com/issues/strings95/coverstory.shtml

 

May 14, 2010 at 07:04 AM ·

 The best strings are the ones that suits your instrument best. Takes some time to investigate until you find the correct set / combination of strings.

May 14, 2010 at 12:25 PM ·

The lists of different strings are nice, but really doesn't help me decide.  I inherited a violin that is in the 20,000 range and I'm a beginner.  I have no idea what strings would be best, still yet, the strings on it are EP's, I don't know what that means. 

May 14, 2010 at 01:14 PM ·

 Try "Warchal Strings" - they are rich, penetrating, and have everything you will need.  They are my favorites.

May 14, 2010 at 01:42 PM ·

I agree with Nicholas about finding the strings that suit your fiddle, but you have to start somewhere. You may find that whatever strings you start with, they might be too dark or bright, too rich or too focused. And it will probably take your ear some time to develope to know the difference. A good option might be is to ask someone with experience if the strings you have on/put on are right for your violin at a beginner level. 

PS Congratulations on inheriting a $20,000 fiddle.

May 14, 2010 at 02:28 PM ·

If you are a beginner, I'd suggest you start with Dominants.  They are still pretty much the default classical string, and many top players use them on million dollar instruments.  Sound is about 80% from the player, and until you develop some skill at producing tone (after a few years) string choice really doesn't make all that much difference, IMHO. You could also leave the Evah's on it.

May 14, 2010 at 03:02 PM ·

I had forgotten about Warchal Strings!

Starting with the recommendations here such as Dominants and just go from there.  I bought one of the highest priced Real Gut (Passione) strings and they sounded fantastic, but I also recently put on Visions, 1/4-1/2 the price, and sound just fantastic!

May 14, 2010 at 04:29 PM ·

 Here is a fabulous, comprehensive article by v.commie Christian Vachon that I found very helpful: www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm

May 14, 2010 at 09:50 PM ·

Let me put this a different way;  what are the most expensive strings?  Can someone at least tell me that?

May 14, 2010 at 10:08 PM ·

 buy  Piastro   Tonicas mediums,they will be fine for you.

May 14, 2010 at 10:14 PM ·

Eva Pirazzi, Olives by Pirastro are quite expensive...I use Eva Pirazzi on my violin, sometimes I swith to Olives. But these particular strings are well suited to my instrument which has a strong resonance and needs minimum pressure for the sound to come out. It is an easy speaking instrument. I did use Dominants and it sounded well also. Really this is a matter of choice and it depends of your instrument.

May 14, 2010 at 10:17 PM ·

You're being silly. Most violin strings are expensive. Far too expensive.

The best advice is to begin with a string that is relatively neutral, like Dominants. After playing-in the violin for a while, its natural tendencies will become apparent: not to you, but to a luthier or other experienced person in a violin shop. They'll be able to recommend a variety of strings that will bring out the best in your instrument; then trial and error will gradually let you evolve into a decent-sounding partnership with your instrument.

Then (or perhaps sooner) you can begin obsessing about a bow. Rule of thumb is about 1/3 the price of the instrument; but again it will take time to develop your sensibilities and abilities before making that kind of decision.

BTW, all rosins are not the same, though for some players it doesn't matter. There must be 30-40 different brands on the market.

Good luck with the variables. BTW, we've just scratched the surface here. String players are possibly the most obsessive folks on the planet, and you'll find that THERE ARE NO RIGHT ANSWERS.

Only more questions.

 

May 14, 2010 at 10:29 PM ·

Bob is right... I would start with the Dominants and seek the advice of a luthier. Your violin seems to be expensive, but it can sound really good with Dominants or other similar strings...

May 14, 2010 at 10:42 PM ·

 Vicki, if all you want is the most expensive string - google violin strings and look up the prices listed in the online stores. Go Strings is a reputable online store, others are Shar and Johnson. I usually check out three of=r four outlets before I buy, as being in Australia the cost of shipping needs to be accounted for.  Buy a set of the most expensive. then you can satisfy your own quest.

Unlike some things, a more expensive string will mean that it is a quality string - but it may not make it the best string for you. But at least you'll have a starting point.  Heck, order a set of the 5 most expensive if you can, and then make a plan to rate them for what YOU like. score out of 5 for sound and playability or something.

Then you'll have worked out the paramaters of your instrument and playing and have a set up that will bre worthwhile for the time being.  As the violin learns how you play, and you develop as a player, preferences and sound may change and you may have to go back through your experiment again - at least you should have a nice stock of stretched but unplayed strings lying around.  May be worth getting your teacher or luthier to show you how to change strings now, safely, since you could be doing it a bit.

 listen to what people here are saying. the best string is relative, and everyone responding was assuming you wanted to know the best combination for your playing and violin. you have to be the one to decide that.

Many great players with fine violins choose dominants.  I personally can't stand them, and prefer Corelli crystals (the cheaper) or corelle vivace (the more expensive). they are soft on my fingers and are good quality windings and have produced a nice sound on three different violins.  You won't damage the sound of your instrument or its value, by bunging on a set of mid price range strings for a couple of years.  Just don't go for the cheapest strings on ebay or something - they will be crap. All the strings reviewed by Christian in in his wiki are of value, so you could feel comfortable going with any one of those.

As for combinations of sets - my perosnal persepective is that unless you know you have a specific sound in mind, its better to start with a complete set, and change from there if something doesn't suit.  When I used evah's (the one and only time, and I'd never bother again) the e was tossed out - my index finger was shredded and it was a dreadful sound throughout. Usually though I find that the effort of swapping just one string hasn't made a worthwhile difference.

May 14, 2010 at 10:44 PM ·

Passione and Passione-Solo; Eudoxa; Vision titanium; Perter Infeld; Infeld/Violin Octave Superflexible; Evah Pirazzi; Pirastro Olives; Coreli Alliance. To name a few.

May 14, 2010 at 11:09 PM ·

The most expensive strings are gut core (Pirastro Oliv, Passione, etc.) and the new Thomastik Peter Infeld strings.  These strings offer a complex tonal palette and are indeed fine strings. However, they also require advanced skill and are not well suited for beginning players. Beginners need a string that has a quick response and does require a lot of bow pressure. I agree with the folks recommending Thomastik Dominant or Pirastro Tonica and I don't recommend buying the most expensive strings.

May 14, 2010 at 11:22 PM ·

Why Carrie "a lot of bow pressure" is necessary?

May 14, 2010 at 11:35 PM ·

Why Carrie "a ....[precise] bow pressure [and speed] is necessary?"

Because these strings are very unforgiving! If your draw and push speeds are not in the contact points for that speed these strings will let you know it! It takes precision bowing when using these strings!  For those of us that do NOT have our bowing techniques precise it is better to use more forgiving strings!

May 14, 2010 at 11:50 PM ·

Not so long ago, I did a kind of survey by looking at all the photos of "great" fiddles I could find, in auction catalogues, exhibition catalogues, books of collections, etc. Between half and two thirds of the Strads, Del Gesus, Amatis, Guadagninis, etc had Dominants. Many had Olivs or Eudoxa, a few had strings I couldn't recognise immediately.

Doms are a great benchmark string, and I would suggest trying them first. But maybe use a cheaper steel E string, like Goldbrokat.

"Most expensive" isn't necessarily "best".

gc

May 15, 2010 at 12:01 AM ·

I usually produce intense sound with bow speed and always avoid unnecessary pressure of the bow. It kills the internal resonance. Natural weight of the right arm and wrist seems to me sufficient. These are the fundamental principles of the Russian school. (Auer,Stoliarski, Yankelevith,Zakar Bron). I wont add any exclamatory dot. Even when I use Dominants, they usually respond very well to that type of technique.

May 15, 2010 at 12:07 AM ·

Graham: Perlman is using Dominants on his Soil Stradivari. They are practical ,because you can change them every two weeks. They do not take long (A few hours) to stay in tune...

May 15, 2010 at 07:12 AM ·

 I am sure Perlman doesn't use Dominant E on his Soil.!!!

May 15, 2010 at 10:45 AM ·

He does alright sir!

May 15, 2010 at 10:49 AM ·

Marc, that doesn't surprise me - in fact I seem to remember Perlman endorsing Dominants over twenty years ago. Maybe he uses the plain steel Dom E.

gc

May 15, 2010 at 10:58 AM ·

Hey Graham! I have seen many fine players playing with Dominants with Italian violins. Once on the most beautiful Del Gesù, the ex Thomas Mawkes. It souded great, really. Kreisler use to play on thomastik.  Dominant are very practical for persons who have perspiration problem. They are very resistant. Glad tho chat with you!

May 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM ·

Forgot to mention that Paganini was the first violinist ever to play on "modern" strings" made by Pirastro. They were much tiner than the one used by Lafont and Spohr. and silver mounted. Read a wonderful Biographie in french written by a Paganini researcher who works at the Genova Commune where they keep Paganini's famous Guarneri...

May 15, 2010 at 06:29 PM ·

> When I used evah's (the one and only time, and I'd never bother again) the e was tossed out - my index finger was shredded and it was a dreadful sound throughout.

The sound issue is probably violin-dependent. For the E, I have tried Gold Label, Goldbrokat (.27 and .26), Kaplan Golden Spiral Solo, Hill & Sons, Westminster... My luthier recommended the Evah Pirazzi Silvery Steel for my violin, which I believe is the one in the Evah Pirazzi, Passione and Wondertone Solo sets. He was right - the Silvery Steel has the most pleasing and best ringing tone on my violin (but I don't use the Evah set).

May 15, 2010 at 09:00 PM ·

So far I really like the Infeld P.I. strings!

May 16, 2010 at 12:07 AM ·

Perlman does not use the Dominant E, he uses a Pirastro Gold Label.

May 16, 2010 at 12:20 AM ·

Cheap!

May 16, 2010 at 08:11 AM ·

 I guess Perlman could do it on telephone wire strings!

May 22, 2010 at 01:21 PM ·

The original article has been archived but I just want to thank Christian for the advice: "The best match seems to be the Jargar Forte E, which reduces the metallic quality of the Dominants making them more « gut-like » while keeping the rest of the qualities intact. Not the longest lasting synthetic but an excellent one."  I had to order the Jargar E - but it did JUST as the doctor ordered.  Not only is my E sweeter, but amazingly, the rest of the Dominants are gentler too.

Thanks :)

May 23, 2010 at 09:51 AM ·

Hello: I am wondering where to order the Jargar Forte E. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you.

 

www.frederickwarner.com

May 23, 2010 at 11:31 AM ·

 

Hello,

You will find 'em here: http://stringmall.com/store/strvn09.html

Just scroll down for Jargar...

All the best,

Lothar

May 23, 2010 at 03:02 PM ·

All I'm looking for in violin strings is sweetness and projection. I've played with Dominants for years but recently I switched to John Pearse Artiste and I couldn't be happier. In combination with Andrea Solo Rosin it is pure gold, I tell ya!

Best thing about them is that they sound good immediately and you don't have to change the e-string for another brand (like a ot of people do with Dominant). The e-string sounds so sweet. In this video I'm playing high on the e-string and it sounds wonderful (I think, haha). Especially since I'm "close-mic'd" (a microphone directly pointed at my bridge), which can make your violin sound thin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DteYvLNhjQ

May 23, 2010 at 03:24 PM ·

For the record, Perlman uses a Pirastro Gold E with Dominants for the other 3 strings on his Strad.

Cheers! 

May 24, 2010 at 11:52 PM ·

Indeed, these ∏ strings (pi = Peter Infeld) really sizzle! Mine just arrived in the mail an hour ago. I'd been thinking about which violin to put them on and DID IT. They do seem to have stronger overtones (probably particularly in the fifths), so that they more strongly engage the instrument's resonances - especially in supporting vibrato effects (without being too wordy about it).

Quinn offers a 10% discount for a while. Since I'm a cellist who has spent that much for a single G or C string I'm not too offput by the price. But problem is: can I live without stringing some of the other fiddles with the same kind of strings?

I thought my Vision Soloists were great strings (and they are), but these ∏s are greater! I've been stringing this particular violin since 1951 (with almost everything good there is) and nothing ever beat these. I wonder what they will sound like tomorrow.

P. S. TOMORROW: Even better. Strings detuned only slightly overnight. Can play a 2-octave scale on the G string without any accommodation for "altitude" and the tone is pure all the way up. Doublestops are easy to hear both sides of cleanly. I'm getting them for 2 other fiddles too - I owe myself that - only cheap cuts of menat for the rest of the year.

Andy

May 26, 2010 at 08:38 AM ·

I'd like some suggestions for an E string, my violin came with Pirastro Tonica G D A & E but it's time now to change strings and i like the tonica for G D and A (esp luv the the silver D) but i just don't like the E. It's not that it sounds bad...just doesn't seems to go wih the rest if that makes sense. so pls help, gotta change them out soon...

May 26, 2010 at 11:05 PM ·

I would say the Olive, which I used to use ( I think I've tried them all), but settled on gut, which I feel brings out a sweeter tone.  This is probably dependant on your violin, the bow and how you use them.  I'm sure everyone finds what they like and what works for them.

try www.damianstrings.com/  and I'm sure you'd be impressed, maybe even fall in love with your strings :)

May 27, 2010 at 07:06 AM ·

 I use Hill special E medium on my violins. This string seems to blend well with most of the strings. I use Tonicas, Vision solos and Dominants.

May 31, 2010 at 03:56 AM ·

Greetings,

I remeber Hill e strings as very good indeed. Having said that the preceding poster might well consider the cherap and exceptionally high quality goldbrokat. Used by Heifetz, Milstein and my cat for generations.  Nobody has yet figured out why they are so cheap...the other goldbrokats are only useful for making fly fishing gear or Christmas tree decorations with dried prunes.

Cheers,

Buri

May 31, 2010 at 04:24 AM ·

 I second the recommendation for Goldbrokat. On both of my violins, as well as two of my friends' violins, the Goldbrokat has never sounded less than fantastic. This is with sets of either gut or synthetic lower strings.

Another e-string I've come to like is the Pirastro Universal No. 1. It doesn't whistle, has a pleasing tone, and good playability. My only complaint is that it has slightly less reserve power than the Goldbrokat, or the heavy-gauge Passione E (another great string, if heavy gauges work well.)

May 31, 2010 at 08:39 AM ·

 Thank you Buri for your thoughts. I will give Goldbrokat a try. They cost less than a half of what Hill costs.

May 31, 2010 at 01:01 PM ·

I'll just add - the type of strings used may make a huge difference to your particular instrument.

I was using the Thomastik Melange on my violin, but was unable to find them last year (I can put together my own though - just costs a bit more to buy the strings individually).  My violin is normally bright and responsive.

Last year, since I wasn't able to get the Melange, I tried a set of Infeld Blues.

Not good.  The instrument sounded dull and sad.  I thought maybe it was just 'me', and gave it to a friend to play.  He said the same thing (without prompting), even suggesting I needed to take the violin in for a 'tune-up'.

Last week I came across a set of Melange, snapped them up, restrung my violin and voila!  It's back!  Nice and bright, tone is great, sounds wonderful.

I'm just very sorry I spent a year playing with the dull strings.  Need to learn to trust my ear more.

 

 

 

June 1, 2010 at 02:12 AM ·

Here here with the Goldbrokat E. I put one on my lovely modern fiddle for the first time on the weekend, combined with a set of Passione gut strings which have been on the instrument for a month. Oddly, the Passione E which was on there initially sounded great for the first few weeks, but about a week or so back it started sounding really dull and there was a very strong whistle when crossing strings. The Goldbrokat is now making the instrument purr again, and the whistle is gone!!

As an aside, before putting on the Goldbrokat I tried the Kaplan non-whistling E.... it whistled.

Despite playing the violin for 30 years, I have only started experimenting with strings over the last year or so and am constantly surprised by the difference a string change or combination can make. Keep experimenting - each string and combination seems to have a different effect on different instruments so it's really a matter of trial and error.

June 1, 2010 at 03:04 AM ·

The tone is not just in the strings. It's also the playability of your bow (how easy it is to control it, and how "alive" the bow feels in your hand) and whether your violin's wood sounds "bright" or "dark" in the first place.

For darker sounding violins, using brighter sounding strings may help it to "sing" better, and vice versa. Using very warm sounding strings on an already dark sounding violin may make it sound "muddy" and not-so-articulate. 

Personally, I really like Larsen Tzigane strings. I've put them on a cheap entry level Suzuki-brand student violin, and it really made a huge difference. The violin started to sing!

For studio recording or playing live through amplifiers, playing with the EQ levels to get the tone you want really helps. For both solid body electric violins or amplified hollowbody acoustic violins, you can just buy a small EQ pedal and plug it in, and adjust the treble and bass to your heart's content until you get the tone you want. 

Cheaper and easier than changing different sets of strings just to get the tone you like.

Just my two cents worth of thoughts. haha

Shawn

June 1, 2010 at 03:42 AM ·

My violin loves the Passiones. As they are saying it's the violin's choice on what strings are best. My teacher turned me on to the Jargar Forte E and I love it. It has a nice little subtle bite to it that reaches out and says "gotcha" to the audience.

June 1, 2010 at 06:01 AM ·

Maybe I looked through all these posts too quickly but I saw no mention of Obligato.

I used, and still use, Dominants and Tonicas, but found the Obligato to give a darker sound and to handle more like a gut string on the one violin i tried them on. Unless handled with care, their gold "E" can whistle, but I like this "E" for being relatively perspiration resistant. BTW, I prefer the silver Dominant "D".

June 2, 2010 at 02:58 PM ·

The P.I. Infeld "G" string is the best that I have heard and used!  At the moment my violin likes;

#1) Passione (One of the best "E" strings I have ever used.)

#2) Eudoxa (another good "E" string.)

#3) Vision with a Wondertone or Goldlabel "E".

I do like the Passione Solo but they have so far been the most unstable strings that I have used.  I don't get the rich over tones but they are very focussed yet forgiving!

I want to try Warchal strings one of these days. Not to pricey and a good rep.

June 2, 2010 at 11:20 PM ·

For the record, Perlman uses a Pirastro Gold E with Dominants for the other 3 strings on his Strad.

This is probably the most popular combination and is precisely what I use.  Great response, great sound and inexpensive to boot.  I've tried quite a few strings, and this combination is hard to beat.  The Gold E is thin and easy on the fingers and also gives the E string a boost, just what my violin needs.

June 3, 2010 at 01:48 AM ·

Mr Beck; I think the oblagato gold E is one of the warmest E's I've tried (and I've tried a lot of 'em) with good volume and tone, and seems like a fairly heavy gage as I don't like flimsy E's. Might even be too warm for some fiddles. anyways, I've still got Tonica's on my fiddle and pretty happy with them. But I went back and forth between the oblagato gold E and the stock Tonica E about 4 times before settleing on the tonica E. The other 3 strings seemed to go with it better, and the Ob E was perhaps a little too ringy. But if anyone is looking to help a shrill thin E, I think the Ob E might make a significant difference. The Infeld red pack gold E is the same kinda thing but a bit too much I think.

But I like the tonica E, nice silvery tone but by no means shrill. Perhaps a tad more bow pressure to draw it out, but I can live with that as the result is very nice (IMHO-for my fiddle) I can't remember the last time I used the E that came with the set.

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