E strings

July 9, 2011 at 12:01 AM ·

 I have been using the Goldbrokat for years, but recently experimented with Evah Pirazzi's Gold E and Pirastro Gold Label E and like the later the best.  It seems to give a warmer tone and fits my violin.  Of course personally I love a warmer sound, as I like Pirastro Olive and Euroda strings...

Though the instrument and personal preferences play a big role, it would be interested to see what other prefers as the E string.

Replies (39)

July 9, 2011 at 06:11 PM ·

I don't have any experience with the Pirazzis yet, but the Gold Label E, which you mentioned, has pleased me well on my three older instruments.  With each one, I definitely get the warmer sound I'm looking for.

Still, with so many individual tastes and preferences, who knows?  Someone else might pick up my instruments and try them out and not like the results with my setup.  Of course, as I'm sure you know, a player's touch makes a difference.

I tried Vision regular or solo -- I'm sure it was one of the two -- in 2005.  It did well here.  No experience yet with Olivs.  I seem to recall trying the Goldbrokat in 2005, but I don't recall offhand what result I got from it.

I definitely tried the Jargar Forte E the same year, 2005, with Dominant A-D-G; but this E a bit too strong and penetrating for me with the Dominants and the instrument I used in on, so I gave it away to a v.com member who had already had good results with the Jargar.

Most of my string experience so far is with the Pirastro group.  The Eudoxa wound E gives a nice sound on all my instruments, but I prefer the greater sheen and brilliance I can get in higher notes by substituting the Gold Label E.  This E and Eudoxa A-D-G -- stiff D-G -- give me what I want on two instruments -- a viola sound in low notes and a warm brightness in high tones.

The third fiddle pleases me well with Wondertone Solo E-A-D and Eudoxa G, stiff version once again.

July 9, 2011 at 06:21 PM ·

Here are some E strings mentioned repeatedly in this forum:

  • Pirastro Gold Label
  • Jargar Forte 
  • Goldbrokat
  • Passione
  • Hill
  • Westminster

Since the E string is temperamental and inexpensive, the best way is try them all and see what you like on your instrument.

July 9, 2011 at 07:55 PM ·

Sometimes I wonder if there is actually only one kind of (steel, unwound) E-string - and lots of different coloured packages and winding.

Its well established, just ask Buri, that the original E string steel wire was developed for cutting the very hard parmigiano cheese in northern Italy...

July 9, 2011 at 11:07 PM ·

I believe that Evah Pirazzi Silvery Steel E is the same as the E in Passione and Wondertone Solo sets, but each E on the list above produces a distinct sound on my violin, so I'm pretty sure they are not the same.

July 10, 2011 at 07:34 AM ·

Keep in mind that not all steel is equal - some types of steel have more carbon, resulting in a stronger but stiffer alloy, and some have less - resulting in the opposite. Add to the mix that some steel e-strings have small amounts of chrome or tin in the alloy, which improves corrosion resistance. Examples would be the Jargar e-string (chrome) or the Tzigane e-string (Tin).

That is to say, even with just unwound steel E-strings, there is enough variety that saying they're the same is as much a fallacy as saying all plain gut strings are the same, or that all nylon-core strings are the same.

As for an e-string that sounds "warm," I prefer the Goldbrokat medium gauge over everything else I've tried, on both of my violins. This string list includes:

Pirastro 'Passione' silvery-steel E, heavy gauge

Jargar's Chrome-plated E, heavy gauge

Larsen's 'Tzigane' Tin-plated E, medium gauge

Lenzner Goldbrokat E, heavy gauge

Pirastro's "Universal No. 1" steel-wound-on-steel E, medium gauge

Pirastro 'Olive' gold-plated E, medium gauge

I find that while the medium Goldbrokat is quite edgy and bright at a close distance, it isn't by any means shrill and the projected tone sounds warmer than that of the other strings. For instance, the Jargar forte E sounds a bit warmer to me at a close distance, but on recordings it's the Goldbrokat that produces the most vibrant and warm tone. I've found the Universal No. 1 to be a moderately close second, though it lacks the power and edge of the Goldbrokat on my instruments.

July 10, 2011 at 09:57 AM ·

[Jeifei  - I was just having a tongue-in-cheek moment.  And as far as I am aware, there is no evidence that E strings were originally for cutting cheese either;) ]

July 10, 2011 at 12:37 PM ·

I agree with Jiefei, the .26 gauge Goldbrokat is extremely warm sounding on many violins.

A violin that was loaned to me once came strung with Evah Pirazzis and a Pirastro Universal E; I swapped the E in favor of my usual medium gauge Gold Label, which didn't work at all, it sounded pretty much dead; I then exchanged it for a medium gauge Goldbrokat. Still dead. I switched back to the Universal E and it sounded awesome again (I guess that's why whoever set up the violin put it there); it was one of the warmest E strings on any instrument I had played.

July 11, 2011 at 01:17 PM ·

E strings were originally for cutting cheese

Maybe there is hope for Dominant E strings having a purpose? :^)

July 11, 2011 at 02:13 PM ·

"E strings were originally for cutting cheese

Maybe there is hope for Dominant E strings having a purpose? :^)"

I assumed so since they tend to stink.



December 23, 2011 at 10:57 PM · "E strings were originally for cutting cheese"

... and G strings were originally used for? :)

December 23, 2011 at 11:15 PM · Actually a couple of decades ago a cellist retired to Austin and immediately went on a tour put on by my former parish (I want to say Germany).

I had several friends who went on the trip and one of the things I heard from several of them was that the cellist carried a (wire) cheese cutter that he used to keep his fingers in shape. At least two of my friends demonstrated a motion I knew to be vibrato.

So cheese cutter indeed.

December 23, 2011 at 11:22 PM · Once my mother needed some wire to make my sister's wedding veil. Neither of us could find some, so I gave her an old gold plated E-string. It worked very well and my sister still doesn't know.

October 14, 2012 at 08:02 PM · I've said it elswhere, but am I the only wierdo who actually prefers the dominant aluminium-wound E (or the Eudoxa equivalent)?

True, I am really a violist who flirts (frequently) with the violin for its silky sweet highs. Plain steel E's remind me of the dentist's drill!

However, when I do need more projection, I change to a plain steel E, with a Chromecore Eudoxa A to match the E better.

October 14, 2012 at 09:38 PM · The Problem wich I encountered with the Eudoxa-E (middle), wich has a beautiful sound and handling, is the lack of power in the very high register. I will try the strong version of it soon.

October 14, 2012 at 11:04 PM · Has anyone here tried Westminster? Plain steel & not very expensive. I heard that Pinchas Zukerman uses them, so I'm trying them out now. I think they're an improvement on the Gold Label that I used before. They have power in the high end, and some warmth.

October 15, 2012 at 03:59 AM · Pinchas Zukerman uses the Westminster heavy gauge E, as does Perlman, Rosenberg, Cho-Liang Lin, Kremer, etc..

October 15, 2012 at 04:08 AM · The Westminster heavy gauge E is my second favorite E string after the Jargar heavy E; I use it in humid seasons if I'm not able to go to my luthier to have my soundpost tightened, and on violins that don't speak easily on the lower strings - it seems to help free the sound a little bit

October 15, 2012 at 06:57 AM · Simon, I agree about the lack of power on the high notes. I wonder how Joachim managed the Brahms concerto on a gut E!

October 15, 2012 at 07:20 AM · With all the (almost) unanimous negative press the Dominant E has recieved, how come the manufacturer has not changed it? Don't they listen to user feedback?

October 15, 2012 at 07:49 AM · From what my luthier tells me, Dominants were never designed to be really great strings - they were designed to be pitch stable, and one day, Pinchas Zukerman tried them and really liked them, and everybody else followed suit (or something along those lines).

Maybe they're keeping the E string as it is as an extra incentive for people to switch to Vision Solo or PI strings...

October 15, 2012 at 08:30 AM · Adrian, or imagine Milstein, who played the Eudoxa E as far as I know. But I must say his sound wasnt the loudest, but very delicate and I think he used a lot of bow speed instead of pressure.

Can anyone tell me where I can find the Eudoxa-E heavy, because in germany and Austria they seem to have stopped the production.

October 15, 2012 at 09:28 AM · Elise, why on earth should Thomastik abandon this lovely string, whe most folks use the excellent Jargar (or Infeld etc.) anyway. I wonder if anyone has compared it to the (higher tension) Dominant plain steel E?

Simon, you have hit the nail on the head! I have always advocated a progressively longer, lighter stroke as we pass from low to high strings.

As I am now waiting for the men in white coats anyway, I shall also admit to prefering the Dominant A on my viola! I like all my high notes to have a silk-like sheen, rather than a chromium-plated glare. If it's beautiful, there is no need to scream, and if it's not beautiful, there's no need to scream either..

October 15, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Milstein used a Goldbrokat .26 gauge E

October 15, 2012 at 03:06 PM · ah ok, I didn't remember that. I don't like the Goldbrokat strings, but maybe if you have a strad they are ok.

Adrian: Yes, much bowspeed is good, but what do you do when facing legato fortissimo up there!? I had the problem once and since then Eudoxa middle is not useful for me anymore, maybe for bach solo, where it stays first position most of the time.

October 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM · Tell you what, Adrian, why don't you just invite all the V.com Dominant pack-purchasers to send you their spare 'E's? You might get enough to sew a suit of chain-mail armour...

October 15, 2012 at 04:01 PM · Simon, in such cases written slurs are there to be divided, (but not on the main beats): I treat them as phrasing, rather than bowing, marks.

Elise, when I do put on a harder E, my more sensitive pupils wince! And it's not just my heavy-handed viola bowing arm..

October 15, 2012 at 04:02 PM · Adrian, I have use gut Es a lot over the last couple of years and I can assure you the sound they produce in altissimo, in terms of projection, quality and clarity, surpasses that of all the metal Es I've used. The secret of this of course lies in the bowing - the one thing you never do is to treat a gut E like a steel E.

In the first position, the quality of the F and F# is far better than that of most metal Es. Tuning stability is good too, once they've settled in, which doesn't take more than a few hours. Another advantage of the gut E is the smooth tonal progression between a gut A and the gut E.

The main disadvantage of the gut E is that it doesn't last long - perhaps two to four weeks for most, six weeks if you're lucky. This may be significant for those who are not baroque specialists.

Btw, I've never had a gut E break on me - after a while it starts to fray and when the fraying becomes unacceptable under the fingers and tonally then the string ends its days tying plants in the garden. I'll have to try a laquered E sometime to see if they last longer.

October 15, 2012 at 10:25 PM · Yes Adrian, thats a possibility, but when you play in a ensemble or string section wich requires the same bowing it gets impossible. Also I like slow heavy bows from time to time.

October 16, 2012 at 01:41 AM · I just put a full set of obligato's on my violin and they sound lovely. I really like the E as well. It has a nice warmth to it. But it is only my second set of strings so I'm not the best person to talk to. (The first ones were dominants... ugh...).

October 16, 2012 at 02:14 AM · The Obligato E is the same as the Gold Label E

October 16, 2012 at 04:24 PM · I think the Gold Label E and Obligato E are different. Maybe the gauges are slightly different - I don't know - but I felt they sounded very different when trying them on the same violin, one afer another (I tried medium gauge of both).

October 16, 2012 at 08:52 PM · Back when I used to use the Gold Label E a few years ago, I'd use those two E strings interchangeably - the violin shop I went to said that they were identical except for the silk wrapping, and that the Obligato E was slightly cheaper. They said that the Violino, Aricore, and Synoxa E strings are also all the same string.

October 16, 2012 at 10:24 PM · Wonder if Pirastro has just 1 of each of steel, chrome, aluminum, and gold E. Then put different silking on them for different sets.

June 5, 2013 at 07:02 AM · Has anyone here tried the Lenzner Supersolo steel E? It looks like the Goldbrokat E, are they actually the same string with different packaging only. Also is it a good substitute for the Dominant E?

June 5, 2013 at 12:57 PM · I have. It is similar to their Goldbrokat and works great with gut strings. I got it with ball end.

The envelope is in sepia, the thickness is not printed, but it appears to be 0.26. Both ends are wrapped in light yellow, just like Goldbrokat, so it would be impossible to tell the difference.

Many v.commers have advised to use Jargar Forte as the best replacement for not-so-Dominant E.

June 8, 2013 at 08:44 AM · OK, the Dominant wound E is a bit fuzzy at times..

I have found the Tonica wound E (soft) to be clear and silky, less bright than the Eudoxa wound E.

For front desk work with my rather dull violin, I now use the Pirastro No.1 E (Chrome-wound on steel) with the Eudoxa-Chromcor A. This A is very thin, an I add a little plastic in the groove of the nut to avoid buzzing on open A.

June 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM · I am using the E string that comes with the Evah Pirazzi and I have also tried the Gold Label E. They all seems to be quite painful to hold down with the pinky (I need to play a high C, think it's something like 9th position? The first finger is on the G an octave higher than the 2nd finger in 1st position). I measured the clearance between the E string and the fingerboard at the bridge end, it seems to be around 4mm.

Wondering if there is an E string that has lower tension and feels softer on the fingers compared to the 2 strings mentioned above?

June 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Thuan,

Maybe the action is too high? If you are playing on Medium Es, there should be no problem (I play most of the time on thick Es, and I have no problem either.) I feel that if you would prefer a thicker E, but must use low tension Es because of high action rather than because of personal preference, the way your violin should be checked out by a good luthier.

To answer your question, some wound-steel Es are low tension, especially medium or less (the Eudoxa E high tension is not that much high tension, so I assume the medium one to be even easier to play-the tone is beautiful, but I don't love it on high positions.)

Not saying that you are the problem either, but it is worth to mention that you don't need to press the string down to the finger board all the time, including high positions. Just placing enough weight down for the tone to come cleanly is enough.

Hope you find your solution soon. :) Have fun!

June 10, 2013 at 07:17 PM · I know it was already mentioned a couple times but I swear by the Evah Pirazzi GOLD E string I personally use all Evah Pirazzi Strings but I even recommend the Gold E to someone who uses a different brand for the A, D and G.


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