Good Strings?

June 7, 2011 at 01:13 AM ·

 on an intermediate violin, costing around $2,500, what would be the best out of these ( i cant afford dominants, so only one i could choose are below)


Should I use:



Pro Arte



? any good combinations with those, or should I use all 3 and just mix and match or use one set and then switch to another set (ie, use Pro Arte and use Zyex when i need to change strings)


June 7, 2011 at 01:23 AM ·

There are other good strings in this price range, such as Pirastro Tonica (~$26 at, Warchal Karneol and Ametyst (~$25 at, and Thomastik-Infeld Vision (~$32 at

June 7, 2011 at 05:39 AM ·

 Get a set of Tonicas. You won't regret.

June 7, 2011 at 08:33 AM ·

I second the recommendation of Karneols or Tonicas in your price range.

June 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM ·

June 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM ·

Bill, a little judgmental, don't you think?  In this economy people lose jobs, and high gas prices are causing hardship to many... There could also be unexpected expenses, medical bills, tuition, etc...  If the OP decides that other priorities are more important than violin strings, what's wrong with that?

Besides, affordability is often based on value judgment, not the absolute dollar amount - I probably have 10 bucks in my pocket, but I feel that I cannot afford a $10 cup of coffee...

June 7, 2011 at 01:09 PM ·

June 7, 2011 at 01:16 PM ·

Bill, I get you, thus my second point - for example, buying a set of Peter Infeld won't cause me to starve, but I cannot justify spending that money, based on my needs and playing level...

BTW, I don't know where you got the 90% number from. Most people I know, including myself, don't smoke or do drugs, and only drink occasionally.  I don't think we are in the minority.

June 7, 2011 at 01:42 PM ·


It could be the original poster decided to forgo having a car, and walks to work so as to afford the violin. It could be the payments on said violin that are already used for beer money. I find myself much happier with myself not second-guessing others on how they allocate their budget.

June 7, 2011 at 03:00 PM ·

I would strongly suggest any of the Warchal String sets. They are very good for any instrument. They are also relatively cheap.

June 7, 2011 at 03:06 PM ·


I don't understand why there are values attached to the original post.  It simply states the range in price and other aspects of the instruments and lists specific strings.

There are a lot of choices of strings out there.  Choosing depends on several factors (one of which may be price).  Violins react differently to different strings.  Also, how we like to play influences the kinds of strings we choose.

All that said, the three strings listed are three different types.  Prelude is steel core, Pro Arte is a perlon-core, and Zyex are a kind of carbon-fibre type composite and the original new-core type of string that lead to most of the strings developed in the 90's and beyond (with the exception of the Passione).

That said, they have different qualities.  Pro Arte's sound fairly warm, have a fairly low tension, but can sound unfocused on some instruments.  Zyex have a fairly high tension, are highly pitch-stable, but can sound one-dimensional on some instruments.  The Prelude are a steel-core string that last long, stay very well in tune and are very durable (hence the fact that they are often used on student rental instruments), but they do not have the depth of sound that other strings may have.

There are of course many other string on the market.  Perhaps if you can state what you are looking for and maybe some more info on the instrument you play, it would be easier to make some very general recommendations as to strings that you may want to try and play (bearing in mind that none of us have heard or tried your instrument).


P.S. If affordability is an issue, have you considered the Helicore?  They are steel core but quite warm sounding for a steel-core string, long lasting, very pitch stable and usually the price is not bad (at least it was in the past).

June 7, 2011 at 04:09 PM ·

Karneols are nice, they're silky and warm and easy on the finger tips. and they have a very nice sweet and ringing E string so you don't need to match the other strings with another brand.


June 7, 2011 at 05:55 PM ·

June 7, 2011 at 05:59 PM ·

If you aren't able to afford Dominants but can afford Tonicas, I'd have to warn you that from my experience, Tonicas sound pretty good for half the time that Dominants sound good, so if you are good at hearing when your strings are going false, Dominants might still be an option for you.

(When I used to use Dominants, if I were being really lenient, one set with a Jargar Forte E could last me almost six months, but I find that you can really feel Tonicas start to go around the two-and-a-half-month mark. Then again, I play anywhere between seven and twelve hours a week.)

I second the comment about Helicores. They're a really good set of strings, and in my opinion, the best full set of steel strings out there on every violin I've tried with them. If you're used to synthetics, it'll take some getting used to since they're a lot thinner. But they're nice and warm, but still have good projection and focus.

June 7, 2011 at 07:10 PM ·

Walt, Dominants might not be as expensive as you think, if they are your preferred strings... You can get a set of Dominant lower 3 with your choice of E (Jargar , Gold Label, Hill or Goldbrokat) for $41 - Dominant E doesn't work with most violins,  so this is a better deal:

I got to admit - I also think Dominants are expensive, especially there have been several price hikes since I started merely two years ago, and I'm not lucky enough to only use one set per year - it's more like 4 (~150 hours/set)... Playing the violin is not a cheap hobby, but I prefer it to anything else...

June 7, 2011 at 07:41 PM ·

 I'll see if I can try Dominants but I'll definitely try Pirastro..

I just can't afford expensive strings right now, besides, my violin was purchased almost 3 years ago, of course the economy has changed.


Prelude and Pro-Arte seem to sound better than Zyex on my violin.


Thanks for the suggestions!

June 7, 2011 at 07:47 PM ·

 I dont think I worded my post good.... I really mean't to post the 3 types of strings that sound best on my specific instrument, and which of those should i continue using for durability, but still with a nice sound. I've tried dominants once and they didn't sound quite as well as the Zyex or Pro Arte. Sorry it was worded not well good enough, im not from here so my english not very great. 

June 7, 2011 at 07:50 PM ·

most i can spend is around $35-40 on strings now

June 7, 2011 at 07:59 PM ·

June 7, 2011 at 09:26 PM ·

Perhaps some thought could be given to changing to gut strings, in particular a plain gut A, a plain or wound D, and a wound G.  Plain gut, in my experience, seems to give the best value for money in terms of longevity,  tonal quality and projection. Gut (plain gut especially) in my experience doesn't seem to deteriorate anything to the same degree that synthetic core does.  A nice bonus of plain gut is that there is no winding to get damaged.

Playing on gut for the first time will be a new learning experience for many (and it's a very worthwhile experience), and advice from an experienced gut player is, I think, advisable in the early stages. I suggest for starters a Pirastro Corda A, D and G set, in combination with a Hill or Goldbrokat plain steel E (both of which have achieved the apparent miracle of combining very high quality with a very low price). Interestingly, the Corda G is the only G I've found that eliminates the 7th position wolf notes that have plagued the G on my old violin for as long as I can remember.

[EDIT - I posted the above before I saw Nate's post]

June 7, 2011 at 09:43 PM ·

i use  for-tune strings... i never heard of them before htis local luthier recommended them to me they sound really good!

June 8, 2011 at 12:31 AM ·

The new Zyex Composite strings are actually pretty decent. I use them in lieu of Evah Pirazzi when I don't have any important performances or anything.

June 8, 2011 at 01:35 AM ·

 Trevor, you're absolutely correct on every point.

I would recommend the setup Trevor suggested even more highly than all Eudoxas if you want a more meaty sound with sizzle a la Heifetz.  I use the Tricolore wound gut G, plain gut D&A, and steel Goldbrokat E.

Eudoxas are wonderful though too.   I occasionally put a set on one of my violins.  

Instruments vary, but  I've noticed many instruments dislike the extremely high tension synthetic strings. They choke the sound and put unnecessary tension on the tailpiece, bridge, and pegs.

June 8, 2011 at 03:15 AM ·

Apologies for being a bit off topic, but a quick question for Nate:

What gauge Tricolore's are you using these days?  I'm using wound G with plain D & A, all heavy gauge, and absolutely loving them.

Back to your regular programming...


June 8, 2011 at 05:37 AM ·

 Hi Anthony, I tend to like the heavy gauge strings for the wound gut G, plain gut D&A by Tricolore with a medium Goldbrokat E-string.  All best, Nate.

June 11, 2011 at 09:05 AM ·

At the risk of hijacking this threat, I really need some advice.  After reading through an archived discussion of strings, I seem to be more confused than ever.  My daughter plays on a 1907 austrian violin and has always used Vision strings.  She will be auditioning for very high-end youth orchestra in the fall (probably playing the Bruch) and I am wondering if she might improve the sound quality by using different strings.  We live in a climate with widely varying humidity levels, so stability is very important.  I'd really appreciate some advice.

June 11, 2011 at 11:46 AM ·

Leslie, In my opinion, if you are willing to play the high price, the new Thomastik Peter Infeld (PI or π) strings are absolutely incredible - but only if you include the very-expensive PLATINUM coated E string. It really makes a big difference. The dealer miss-sent me sets with nickel E strings a couple of times and they prevent the set from bringing out its full character. These might be especially good for you because of prior use of Vision strings.

It is possible that the PLATINUM E-string alone, added to your daughter's set of Vision strings might make the same improvement to your daughter's violin - It's worth a try, and if it doesn't achieve the desired result, you can add the rest of a set. The E string alone will cost about $25 from a discount internet dealer.

These PIs are the only strings I have found in almost 40 years of using synthetic-core strings (after 30 years with gut strings) that actually work best for me as a matched set. Previously I was mexing and matching brands to optimize the sound and playability of my different violins.

I now have these strings on 4 of my violins (quite different from each other in characteristics and sound) and all 4 are the best they have ever been, and still retain their individual characteristics.


June 11, 2011 at 02:33 PM ·

I'll add my vote for the PI set too.  Great sound and very playable.


June 11, 2011 at 02:56 PM ·

The real answer Leslie is that noone here can really tell you.  PIs or Evah Pirazzis will give you good volume and carreiage so if that is the only consideration they will work well.  But it really depends on a multitude of factors and the MOST important is the sound that your daughter wants to create.  Each violin and each player are different - with the latter having more shades even than the former!!!  The point is that if you want her to perform well then set her instrument up so that it makes the sounds that she wants to deliver.  Some of us like piercing notes that cut through an whole orchestra wheras others love the dark resonant sounds more akin to a viola.  the best clue is the violin - if that is she had a say in picking it. 

What I suggest is that (if possible) you go to a luthiers or violin shop that sells a variety of strings and ask to try some out on her violin.  Call before hand to check that they offer this service AND that they have pre-stretched strings on hand (some of the best ones can take a day to sound playable and 3-5 days to get close to their final tone. 

Just to reitterate - ask your daughter; she is the only authority on the outcome - everyone else should just help her get there.


June 11, 2011 at 04:42 PM ·

You guys are the best!  I am willing to spend a bit on strings, especially before this big audition (of course the next year will be college auditions!)  She has the best violin we could afford (she actually picked it over one costing twice as much)  but I want to make sure she has the best strings for her instrument.   I will definitely try the string you recommended first and see how that works for her.  I may have to get her to the city since our luthier here doesn't carry strings.

Your advice is priceless! 

December 4, 2011 at 04:24 PM · Hi,

Did you try since last Juin Zyex?

I have also a modern violin and they are very good if you want not heavy tension strings but brilliant at the same time..Only buy them with a D silver,the aluminium is not so good..

I don't know the Prelude and pro=arte strings;Did you finally try one of them?



December 6, 2011 at 01:02 AM · I would recommend non of the above. Not a fan of D'addario violin strings. On a $400 dollar instrument...sure, they're fine. Sound quality is ok, but they just don't last in my experience and not worth the minimal savings. Get a good Thomastik or Pirastro string. A $2500 dollar instrument is worthy of something better in my opinion. Dominants, Tonicas, Evah, Obligato...something along those lines.

December 6, 2011 at 03:01 AM · All these threads about string choices...but there comes a point where you sound more or less the same no matter what strings you're playing on.

And then comes the time when you sound the same no matter what INSTRUMENT you're playing on, and then it gets weird. I recently reduced a luthier to helpless, bewildered laughter because I somehow made all the wildly differing instruments in his shop sound the same. Not sure if that's a good thing....

December 6, 2011 at 03:02 AM · As for your situation though--seriously, Dominants aren't much more expensive than the options you list and are significantly better. I don't use them myself but I know plenty of professionals and students alike who do so happily.

December 6, 2011 at 07:48 PM · Once I got over the sticker shock at my first string change (violin strings are MUCH more expensive than guitar or mandolin strings), I just kept on using Dominants. At least until my last string change, where I decided to try a set of Tonicas. I noticed the difference immediately; they make my cheap violin ring like never before. Your mileage may vary, but I'm sold on Tonicas now.

As for sounding the same regardless of strings or violin, I've already reached that point. I once tried a $4500 violin and, although it sounded wonderful, all my familiar squeaks were there, as individual as fingerprints.

December 6, 2011 at 09:06 PM · This is basically a repost, but...

The new Zyex composite strings are actually good strings, although I don't like the feeling of them under the fingers. They produce a loud but textured sound that reminds me of Evah Pirazzis, but with a warmer quality. They're at least worth a try. I know of one famous violinist who uses and endorses them on Youtube.

December 6, 2011 at 09:06 PM · From Charlie Gibbs

Posted on December 6, 2011 at 08:48 PM

"Once I got over the sticker shock at my first string change (violin strings are MUCH more expensive than guitar or mandolin strings), I just kept on using Dominants. At least until my last string change, where I decided to try a set of Tonicas. I noticed the difference immediately; they make my cheap violin ring like never before. Your mileage may vary, but I'm sold on Tonicas now."

Tonicas are great alternative to Dominants....and less expensive too. I used Dominants exclusively for years. They worked well on my previous violin. But,later I found Dominants can sound thin and metallic on some instruments, especially fresh out of the package.

If dollars are tight and you are looking for an affordable synthetic string, Tonicas are worth a shot. Much better than anything D'addario offers.

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