Warchal Brilliant Viola Set (Long) Review

February 15, 2012 at 03:51 PM · I ordered (and just got) a new set of Warchal Brilliant viola strings, because I've heard and read good things about them, so I figured I'd give them a shot.

I put them on after a show last night, and played for about an hour to help settle them in.

Initial impressions :

Wow these are some snazzy looking windings.

I really like the C String, it's clear, focused, and warm without losing power. The G, D, and A have a lot of that metallic thing that usually happens to Dominants going on.

After 1 hour, the strings had warmed up quite a bit. There's a lot of sympathetic ringing going on, far more than I'm used to (regularly use Vision Solo + Larsen A). The G has started to sound much warmer, but the D and A are still fairly thin/nasal/metallic. I'm surprised by how fully the strings react to vibrato. Normally an open string sounds richer in overtones than a fingered string, but here the opposite is true.

Next day :

This morning I was rehearsing the first act of Wagner's Walküre, so I figured there would be plenty of "breaking in". The strings still have a bit of metallic ring to them, particularly the higher ones. Tension is very low, but response is a bit scratchy. Piano and pianissimo passages aren't very clean. The transition from noise to tone is rather abrupt, but softening. Tone is glorious on the C and G strings, but open G and D are still a bit nasal. D and A are warming up.

Post-rehearsal I played them in again, and re-straightened my bridge (It had pulled towards the scroll a bit). Sound production is much easier, and very, VERY powerful. There's a lot of warmth to the sound with a lot of focus, and modulation is much easier. Response is still not as good as the Visions, but I like the warmth and color more as the metallic sheen wears off. There's a lot of "glow" to the sound, and it's really very nice.

Overall after 1 day, I think the set is quite balanced, but takes a bit of playing in. Tuning stability hasn't been great, but not awful either (i'm breaking them in with Wagner . . . I can only expect so much). I may need to try a stickier rosin as well. I'm currently using Jade, but I feel like it's slightly unbalanced, and doesn't bite as well as I want.

Will update as the strings continue to break in.

Replies (22)

February 15, 2012 at 09:58 PM · Tuning stability gets better over time. Mine got rock-solid after about 3 weeks.

February 16, 2012 at 01:22 AM · I personally love these strings but my teacher feels that they resonate too much.

February 16, 2012 at 09:15 PM · Thank you for posting this thread, for I'm thinking of getting a new strings for my viola, who's happen to have a little weak G. I always use Larsen A anyway, but I want a good G to balance with the other strings, I sure check this thread often.

February 16, 2012 at 10:47 PM · So a quick update :

Strings have been on for about 48 hours now, they've seen lots of Wagner, about 5 hours of practice, and a performance of The Merry Widow.

Notes so far :

Tuning stability is much, much better now than it was. Overnight helped, but they didn't start to feel stable until about 10 hours of playing and 2 nights. If you need to play on these right away, I'd give it a little bit of time.

These strings resonate like crazy. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad thing. The C string rings when I play the note one octave above on the G string, and my vibrato causes a strange series of overtones and buzzing against my finger because the C string is vibrating SO much. The G is also extremely "touchy" because of the sheer amount of resonance. The sound is still pretty metallic on the upper three strings, especially the G, but the C is pretty warm.

(side note, I had to unwind and rewind the G string to adjust the peg angle, as it was extremely uncomfortable. Removing the tension and adding it again made it go back to it's original, more metallic sound, but it warmed up much faster than it did at first)

I'm used to digging into the strings to modulate my sound and control volume, but these respond to a very light touch, and work very well with variable bow speed.

Attacks are a bit unpredictable. Sometimes they're lovely, but other times (lighter attacks, usually) I get some squeak, or the string just doesn't speak for some reason.

I'm having some trouble hearing myself play in my section. I don't know if it's because of the transparency of the sound, but I'm used to a much "thicker" sound under the ear.

Overall so far : Happy but a bit worried that these aren't going to warm up much more. They feel fairly even in terms of volume, but with the G string much touchier and more metallic than the others, I hope the color evens out soon. I don't know of the A string is going to give me enough warmth and tone either, as it's also still a bit thin.

We'll see what happens to the sound tomorrow.

On the menu : 3rd Act of Walküre, more practice, and a performance of Cavalliera Rusticana/Pagliacci.

If this week so far hasn't broken them in, they might just take a little too much time for me to consider purchasing them again. I'm used to a much quicker break-in period (visions/LarsenA), so if these do warm up and last well, it's not out of the question.

And Elinor, there have been a number of threads on viola strings recently. I've posted in a few of them, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to message/email me. I've tried most of what's out there at some point!


February 18, 2012 at 07:22 PM · Thank you Chris!

I have been experimenting too, but I always have the same outcome with the G. I have 15.5 size viola, the G is weaker, compare with the other strings. I'm since then looking for that G,another hurdle though, is that everytime I find one, it doesn't jammed very well with the others. I've searched the other thread, long before, and I did had a good experience with warchall Brillinat on my violin, so I may try this set, see whats what.

Thank's a lot!

February 19, 2012 at 09:08 PM · Just a quick update :

another 2 days into playing, the strings have warmed up a lot and lost a lot of the metallic ring that was bothering me.

The response is also much quicker. I think the strings just took a bit longer to "break in' than I was used to.

They're quite easy to play, and very clear and brilliant, but with quite a bit of warmth. I'm going to try and listen to another player on my instrument in a hall next week to get an idea about their projection compared to previous strings, but it seems like people around me are enjoying my sound quite a lot as well, so I have to say I'm pretty happy now!

Give the brilliant's a shot, but just be ready to wait for at least a week or so before you make a decision on whether you like the strings or not!


February 19, 2012 at 10:19 PM · Its also great that they cost less than a lot of violin string sets.

February 20, 2012 at 06:26 PM · Violin brilliants are also wonderful strings.

February 20, 2012 at 06:49 PM · Of the two, I like the viola strings just a little better.

November 4, 2012 at 09:09 AM · I have tried since years now almost all the Thomastic infeld,various from Pirastro..Corelli and now I have had warchal brilliants for violin,I bought them 3 and a half week ago..I was imprssed by the rapid response volume of sound,smoothness..but after I have been recorded I listened a terrible sound!!Then I put back the Titanium orchestra which was bought since 4 months ago and the sound was incredible better..although they are not new and I know that Titanium have to be changed after one month or 5 weeks for having the full tonal caracteristics!So the Warchal does not worth as strings..Before 2 years I had Warchal Nemfrit and it was steel..but after I read saying by Mr Warchal that brilliants only are professional I decided to try them;But I regret it..And even there are not cheap strings..40 dollars from violinstring shop and Titanium orchestra are even less than 40(without the E which is expensive and not good).

November 9, 2012 at 10:33 PM · I've been using the Warchal Brilliant on and off for perhaps 3 years now on two different violas. I first tried them when I was playing on a Gagliano 15.25" viola. The viola is a beautiful instrument but with the short length I felt that I was having trouble projecting. Before I found the Warchal strings, I was using Evah Pirazzis. The Warchal strings were excellent on the Gagliano - the best of any that I tried. The C was quite a bit better than anything else.

Recently I've returned the Gagliano to its owner and instead been playing a Lewis & Clark carbon fiber viola. I use the Warchal synthetic core A string, Obligato D and G, and Warchal C. On this instrument, the combination is excellent.

I have found the Warchal strings to take a while to settle in- perhaps more than a week. But they do last a long time and sound very very good.

January 9, 2015 at 03:12 PM · I just received a new 17" viola this week.

I first mounted up a set of Zyex (long scale) that I had swapped around on different violas for quite some time. They sounded warm on there, but lacked some "oompf", perhaps they were just getting too tired after being swapped around a few times.

So, I was considering what to try on my new instrument. With teh price of viola strings, making the correct choice is no small matter.

On my previous viola, I had the Vision Solos. I really love those strings. But they are a bit on the pricey end of the spectrum.

I contemplated dishing out for some Evah Golds, but again, didn't want to spend alot until perhaps I knew this viola's character for a while.

So, I then remembered that the Warchal Brilliants got some good feedback here on v.com.

So, I got the C, G, D, and left on the Larsen A that was on there. They come in two sizes, depending on vibrating string length (NOT body length). With a 17" viola with a 392mm string length, the LONG set was just right (designed for 380-400mm, I believe)

As said by others: these strings take alot of stretching out. A bit surprising for a composite core string, these strings stretch out rather significantly the first half hour you have them mounted up. You will be tuning and re-tuning frequently.

Initial tone: rather bright, my C string seemed to also have a bit of slow response and a sharpish tone. But encouraged by the original review in this thread, I figured I had to stay the course and see how they developed over time.

Day two the tone had mellowed somewhat, becoming more even and rich. Still re-tuning from time to time. Strings are nicely resonant. They are also more powerful than the Zyex set (used, as stated above) that had been on there before. I measured ~90dB for the Brilliants via my iphone app, where the Zyexs were about 85dB. The C string response was no longer an issue

Day three, slight tuning needed. The response of the strings has improved across the set.

I am adjusting to both a new (and larger) instrument, as well as a new set of strings, but I am quite happy with how these strings are suiting the viola so far. As I found with the Brilliants I tried on my violin last year, the Brilliants are a very full sounding string, providing lots of power. But it is not a sharp, overly focussed tone that one may conceive of in regards to the set name. More like "brilliant" as the sun shining in through a large picture window on a winter's day. There is a bright character to the strings, but also a certain richness supporting it. Again, the sound is very "full", it is certainly not monochromatic.

I will also be trying out some different A strings with the set: I currently have the Larsen A on there--no issues, sounds very nice, as the Larsen always seems to do.

I also have a Kaplan A from the new Kaplan viola set I will try on there.

And I am also interested in trying the synthetic core Brilliant A that is designed to go with the set (they also have a steel core option A as well).

Overall, I'm very happy with these so far. I imagine they still have a little ways to go until they are fully settled in, but the direction they are headed as far as tone and response so far is looking very promising indeed!

P.S-At least in the US, the Brilliant viola set is quite reasonably priced. You can also get a good deal direct from Warchal website for a "trial" set if you have not purchased from them before.

January 9, 2015 at 05:51 PM · "I just received a new 17" viola this week."

That deserves a thread of its own! :D

January 9, 2015 at 06:07 PM ·

January 9, 2015 at 07:44 PM · Since I'm a proud Papa, here's a shot of my new viola with the Brilliants mounted up (the windings are very nice)

January 9, 2015 at 07:53 PM · Lookin' good!

January 9, 2015 at 07:56 PM · I know this is a viola Warchal testing ground, but I have to give my feedback on my violins with these strings.

On my 19th century Viennese the brilliants sound great and didn't take all that long to brake in. I put them on the day before the rehearsal and on the rehearsal they were pretty stable.

On my modern violin, the ambers are fantastic giving it the warmth I sometimes feel it needs.

The amber E-string is nothing short of amazing, no even if you try and a sound to die for.

The true really incredible string from Warchal that takes the crown, is the Avantgarde A string. I put it on my 1857 Guarneri Vuillaume and it really bridges the sound between the D and the E strings. It is a metal string, but don't let this scare you as the quality is better than most, giving the A string a kind of brilliance and directness that is not achievable with synthetics.It does possess a true soprano voice. Relatively easy to tune without a tail-piece tuner. Coupled with the amber E, they give the violin a sound that has to be experienced to be believed. I also tried the brilliant G and D on it but they sounded rather metallic, so I'm sticking to the vision titanium solos for the 2 bottom strings.

January 9, 2015 at 08:55 PM · New Years day I replaced my Larsen Virtuoso violin strings with Warchal Brilliant strings. After three days they stopped stretching and stabilized. They are wonderful, love how they sound, and really happy with their cost.

January 9, 2015 at 10:10 PM · I picked up a Brilliant A today (synthetic core). I'm going to give that a try.

The steel core A has about 18lbs of tension.

The synthetic core has about 14lbs (if I did the conversion correctly...)

As far as Brilliants on the violin: on the violin I tried them on, they reminded me very much of the Larsen Tziganes.

January 11, 2015 at 01:59 AM · First impressions of the Brilliant A are quite positive. It is bright and rich, as opposed to the usual laser focus quality that a steel core A brings. Certainly nothing flat or dull about it. Clean and clear, with a full sound.

Definitely a nice match with the rest of the resonant set.

The usual steel core A often clones the particularly focused character of a violin E. Why go there? A Viola is all about filling a room with sound, not shooting to the back of the hall like a lightning bolt. Be different. Try a synthetic core A. Give it some time, as it is a different quality than you may be used to, but viva la differance

Two thumbs up on this set so far.

Rich, full sound?


Easy response?


Reasonably priced?


Quick tuning stability when you first mount them?


But they are worth the couple of day wait. :^)

January 15, 2015 at 04:14 PM ·

March 4, 2015 at 11:49 AM · The Brilliants are still going strong. Very nice resonance and response.

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