Warchal strings review

July 29, 2011 at 01:04 PM ·

I've been using Warchal Karneol on both my violin and viola this past month, and recently put on Warchal Brilliant on the violin. I've played mostly chamber music concerts with a string quartet and in a violin duo with my wife (who is also trying out the Karneol set on her violin) and here are our thoughts:

I'll start off with the most positive experience: the Karneol set for viola is stellar, especially when you look at the cost vs. performance. It has incredible sounding G and D strings, and the A is clear and not brittle in any way. The C is just okay, but for the most part the set is very well balanced. While I do prefer my previous setup at times, Praistro Obligato C/G/D with a Larsen A, it costs over twice as much ($90 as opposed to $40). Two of my private students have switched to Karneol, replacing Dominant and Helicore and both of them are very happy with the results in the sound that they can produce.

The Karneol set I tried on my violin (by Ran Dim, 2005, shop of William Harris Lee, Chicago) was fantastic. It had a very warm, gut-like sound, which rounds out some of the edges of an instrument that projects very strongly. I previously used Obligato and Vision, and I prefer the Karneol to both of them, although the others have lasted longer without losing their sound. On my wife's violin, a Mario Gadda, it still has warmth but doesn't project as well as her previous set of strings (Thomastik Vision). She is also finding some minor  tuning stability issues as she plays them out. Regardless, we enjoyed them very much, and for $25 it's the best "bang for the buck" violin set you'll find anywhere...it's great to enjoy new strings every two months!

I just put the Brilliant set on my violin, we'll see how it does in concerts next week. It sounds great if you play very, very, close to the bridge. :)

Replies (27)

July 30, 2011 at 05:15 PM ·

She is also finding some minor  tuning stability issues as she plays them out.

So I was not crazy! I mentioned it in a non-Warchal specific thread and was perplexed that nobody else seemed to have noticed it as it was never mentioned in any Warchal reviews. I wondered whether I got a defective set... I loved the sound and complexity of the strings, but the pitch instability frustrated me enough that I went back to Dominants.

horatio, please stop spamming! People who are interested in these products (Warchal, Scott Cao, etc.) will google them and I don't think anyone appreciates seeing the same message repeatedly  (i.e. spams). Apparently your posts are intended to advertise for Audubon Strings.  If you represent the company, please advertise by becoming a v.com sponsor.  You are doing more harm to the business than good right now.

July 30, 2011 at 05:42 PM ·

i've used warchal karneols and brilliants. they're good strings. i agree that, at least on the karneol, there are time i have to keep on slightly tuning, especially the A string and to a lesser extent the the lower ones. they're very nice to the touch. i suspect they lose colour after not too long; i put the karneol's on 3 weeks ago i think and i play around a couple of hours every day and the strings sound more metallic now, there isnt the honey around the metal anymore. it might be the violin though but i think these are the strings. brilliants are good for picking up duller instruments, givingthem a power boost (so they're better for my instrument, at least the lower register) , they help give more volume and bite...the E really is loud in a nice way. but they might not be subtle. karneol's are, i think, more nuanced, sweeter and i think they would work better on already good/decent instrument. they;re not powerful so perhaps (take this with a pinch of pepper since i'm pretty much a beginner) better suited for chamber music, mozart...etc...rather than dramatic romantic or virtuousic music. however, i suspect people successfully performing either would not be looking at the Warchals anyway...just yet   :o)  

July 30, 2011 at 07:14 PM ·

i think writing the above crystallized how bad the sound had deteriorated for me. so i changed the karneols and what do you know, the e is sweet and singing again where it was feeble by the lapse of 3-4 weeks ( think closer to 3 weeks) . the D no longer rasps with a disheartening metallic sigh, the G has more energy where it was flaccid and the A is stronger and with more character where it was characterless...not perfect, but much better. i conclude from this that, if one plays a couple of hours daily over 3-4 weeks, the karneols would be due for a replacement afterwards, the nectar is sucked out of the strings. i must say, the karneol E is very sweet.

July 31, 2011 at 12:03 AM ·

Joyce, I don't really think it's a defect per-se. All strings have a finite life, it just depends on at which points they "hold" before they wear out. With the Karneol set for violin, they sounded great the moment I put them on, and kept their richness and complexity for about a month of heavy playing (4-5 hours a day) before losing it, mainly because of the tuning issues although the sound doesn't fall off too badly.

Even when I was playing on Obligato and Vision I still changed my strings every two months, so I haven't had the experience of playing on the same strings for half a year or longer like some of my students seem to do...

Horatio, thanks for spamming yet another thread. I will make sure NEVER to order anything from Audubon Strings, ever!

December 13, 2011 at 04:14 PM · Hi,

Not meaning to be contrary - I am just really puzzled. I put a set of Karneols on my violin (which has done well with both gut and with helicore - and well enough, though not ideally, with silver spirocores), and found them *on my viola* literally the worst sounding string I have ever had on any instrument. They are ridiculously responsive, extreme bright, yet thin - they sound like plain wire! The (synthetic) A is particularly hideous - three times as bright as Jargar, and much thinner sounding.

It is true that this viola tends to be a little too bright and responsive on the D and A, despite having the soundpost moved endlessly by a top luthier.

I'm assuming that Karneols really *are* good on Gene's viola. Can anyone think of something about mine that could possibly explain the terrible results?

Has anyone else had a bad experience with karneols?

Thanks! Bob

December 13, 2011 at 08:32 PM · Sounds maybe unusual, but I'm sure it can happen. I tried them on a few different violas, and they didn't always produce the sound I was after, but they sounded good, at least.

I've tried Corelli Alliance strings on a viola with very nice results in the past, but they make a really strange, nasty sound on the viola I play on most.

December 17, 2011 at 01:18 AM · While I'm a great fan of the new Warchal Russian A (see separate thread) the Karneols don't seem to be working out for me.

I'm using the D and G. Initially they were far too resonant for my instrument. Then they toned down a bit - for a time they sounded great and I thought I was going to like them. But they have continued toning down to the point that they are now a bit dull and lifeless. My fiddle has a huge bottom end so I'm a bit baffled as to why I'm experiencing this when others like the string so much...

Also, they do seem to take longer than Dominants for the tuning to settle.

Clearly they work for many, but for some reason not for me.

I'm not a pro so they will stay on my fiddle till they wear out, but I doubt I'll be repurchasing.

December 19, 2011 at 08:21 AM · Just a postscript - was playing last night with my local luthiers (who are very experienced and well respected). They are Warchal stockists, and say that in their view the Karneol should be seen as a student string - it works well for toning down bright instruments, but would be a little dull on a balanced instrument. That would explain why I'm not getting on so well with the D and G.

December 22, 2011 at 04:39 AM · Interesting. The "toning down" is quite the opposite of my experience with the Karneol - very, very bright; excessively resonant and responsive, no depth or texture to the sound.

December 22, 2011 at 07:59 AM · Karneols never worked for me either. I also found them to be over bright, or perhaps that word "ringy" might apply here. Too much string sound, not enough "wood" sound. Wouldn't keep them on long enough to see if they toned down.

But they also seemed very bouncy to me. A guy on another forum who pulls no punches with his string descriptions said "like trying to play on rubber bands"

Can't speak for the Brilliants, never tried 'em.

December 22, 2011 at 09:32 AM · Bob

How long did you leave them on? As I said, initially they were extremely resonant - it took a couple of weeks of quite heavy playing till they died on me.

April 28, 2014 at 02:53 AM · Has anyone out there tried Warchal Amber? I was also wondering about Thomastic superflexible.

April 28, 2014 at 08:32 PM · If you bother to go back a few pages you can find a couple of recent threads on Amber.

Superflexibles have been around a long time and used by many, many players. They are also easily available to try yourself.

December 27, 2015 at 05:25 PM · I just found a set of Warchal Brilliant strings among my supplies that I forgot I had. I mostly play Scandinavian folk music--I'm not an advanced player. I play a 1955 Roth Guarneri instrument. If you have used these strings, I would like to know what you think.

December 27, 2015 at 06:51 PM · I think it's really violin dependent because on my violin, Karnoel is very dark, and I hear a lot more wood sound than the string, which is why I'm going for more metallic and bright sounding strings. I do have to agree with tuning instability of Karnoel. They've been on my violin for about a month now, and I am still re-tuning mid-practice.

On my old violin, Ametyst sounded just perfect, although I swapped the E out to Infeld Red E, because that's my favorite E string.

Rick, I am awaiting for a set of Brilliant to arrive, I will let you know after I try them, probably by March unfortunately. I'm on a student budget, must make the most out of my strings.

December 27, 2015 at 08:31 PM · I have been using Warchal strings for quite a while. They last a long time and are inexpensive. The Brilliants are my favorite.

December 28, 2015 at 02:39 AM · @ Rick - Think of them as Evahs. Not identical, of course, but they fill a similar niche. Loud, full, bright, made for soloist. Not capable of as much nuance as the Karneol, but still quite adequate in that department. They seem to like being played with a firm, sure hand. They do take some time to settle in tonally. my D string in particular took a week or two to fall in line. So don't put them on right before a performance.

For what it's worth, my fiddle is dark, resonant, and full sounding. Very much like viola tone on the lower strings. These strngs match it very well. But that's just my opinion. You'll have to see what works for you.

December 28, 2015 at 05:34 AM · I love Warchal strings!

The only "drawback", if it even is one, is that they do seem to take almost a full week to finally stretch out and stabilize. After which point they behave themselves quite well and are very steady in my experience.

December 29, 2015 at 12:07 PM · I've tested the amber set, which is still on my violin, a Carlo Tononi Bolognele (the label is not very clear) 1732. It's the best set Ive ever used. The E is just heaven-sounding. G is full and warm, D and A are in great balance with athers. But there are two issues. 1) The first week the had a REALY great sound, but after that the sound started to get worse a bit faster than the normal, and, in the higher positions (8th and higher on the G, D, A strings) the sound is a bit thin. I've been told that the ideal set by warchal is amber E, Russian style A, and Brilliant (vintage for my violin) G and D. Has anyone ever tested that? What do you think about Russian style A?

December 29, 2015 at 12:26 PM · I have also been interested in trying the Warchal steel A string but what deters me is the thought of adding another fine tuner to my tailpiece.

December 29, 2015 at 03:24 PM · Why you have to add fine tuner by setting the Russian A? Is it so sensitive?

December 29, 2015 at 03:55 PM · Steel strings are more difficult (not impossible though) from the pegs, so a fine tuner for the Russian A is a common option. I didn't use a tuner for my Russian A, and it was fine.

December 29, 2015 at 09:15 PM · I have wanted to experiment with the Warchal Russian A since it was first introduced. I thought it would go great with an Olive G and D because I thought the Olive A was unstable in my useage. Others here have recommended a fine tuner with the steel A. If Seraphim says a fine tuner is unnecessary than I will give it go on my next string order. Trying new strings is always exciting to me.

December 29, 2015 at 09:20 PM · Warchal also has a new steel A, Avantegaurde with helix

December 29, 2015 at 10:02 PM · You don't need a fine tuner with the Avantgarde A, although it would probably be really useful. (I use mine without a fine tuner, but I often wish I had one.)

On a totally separate note: Has anyone had the experience of the Warchal strings sounding increasingly metallic as they age? I've got an Amber E, Avantgarde A, and Brilliant Vintage D and G, and the sound seems to be getting brasher and brasher under my ear. I've had the strings on the violin since the beginning of July.

December 30, 2015 at 12:09 AM · I have been using various Warchal strings for at least two years and they last and last. I have never had a sound quality issue with them. I practice two to three hours a day seven days a week.If I keep them on longer than three months I do find my intonation suffers but it is the same to me with all brands of strings as they wear.

It is good to hear a second confirmation from Lydia of not needing a fine tuner for the Russian A string. When I first started playing in high school I had fine tuners on all the strings. When Dominant strings first started becoming popular I tried them and found they sounded much better after removing the GD and A fine tuners. I would like to avoid not going back and adding one to try a new steel A string out.

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