String choice for bright instruments?

July 1, 2012 at 04:36 PM · I need a string that will tone down the brightness a bit. My violin is bright, but I don't mean brightness as defined with a VSO. Also a G/D that can add a little bit of clarity.

My violin is mellow and warm in the lower ranges, and with those attributes it seems it sacrifices clarity a bit. I had a soundpost adjustment and it sounded better. It's not that the lower range was fuzzy, it was just a little bit unclear.

In the upper ranges, it is very clear. I love practicing shifting now, because it's really radiant and clear throughout the A and E strings.

So, I need strings (preferably a combination, but a whole set if one has those attributes) that will add some clarity to the lower ranges, and soften and tone down the brightness in the upper ranges.

I have a full Tonica set right now. The D and A are good, but the G is a little muddy and the E is a little piercing.

I'm thinking of trying Infeld Reds + Gold Label E, or Obligatos + Gold plated E..

Replies (21)

July 1, 2012 at 09:34 PM · Do not use Evah as these are generally designed for instruments that need brightening and more power. You could try Obligato or Violinos. I would use Dominants, with a Gold E, and choose a bow that draws a darker sound.

Cheers Carlo

July 1, 2012 at 10:37 PM · I agree with the suggested choice of Obligatos, which I've used both on violin and cello (I've never tried Violinos). The only downside is that pricewise Obligatos are well up towards the top of the range. But at least they last well. When I used them regularly on the cello some years ago a set would last for two years (just as well, given the cost!).

July 2, 2012 at 10:47 PM · Yeah, I'm thinking of trying Obligatos.

Price isn't much of a problem since I've saved up some money specifically for my strings, but I don't want to blow it all on something really expensive like PI strings. (I've tried them and they sounded really harsh anyways)

My mom can purchase a set of Obligato for me at Shar for $74-$75 (Gold plated E + either Silver or Aluminum D - I've heard the latter is better), or $67 if I get the normal E.

E string suggestions, also?

I've tried Jargar E, Gold Label E, Golden Spiral.. Not sure if there are any to suit the sound I want right now. I was thinking the Obligato gold plated E, but I heard it whistles a lot?

July 2, 2012 at 11:00 PM · I decided I'm going to get Obligatos and a new bow as well.

I have a Presto Audition which suits my needs, but I was trying the CodaBow Diamond GX the other day, and I liked them. I tried about 5 of them and the sound was consistent.

It seems to tone down the volume quite a bit, and the brightness as well, while the Presto Audition seemed to add brightness and made a louder sound, so I'll keep it as my spare bow/use it at recitals or something.

My violin has a lot of power which I like for a recital, but during home practice or at lessons it's a little too powerful under the ear.

At least I know not to try Zyex strings now..

I tried them earlier this year and they were horribly loud. Eeek.

July 3, 2012 at 12:13 AM · So you've been playing for 1 year and 9 months and you've tried out that many string? You know Allan, a lot of what you posted does not seem to match. Unless you have perfect pitch, which I believe you don't have since you have trouble with intonation, you can't really tell that difference as a 1 year(almost 2) level. And bow tryout? Expensive one at that, and you know what you're talking about too. Gosh, if what you said so far are true, you're improving faster than Sarah Chang, Joshua Bell and Hillary Hahn. And really rich too.

July 3, 2012 at 12:15 AM · I can tell if a string is loud and one is not, or one is harsh/bright and the other is warm, but not very much..

July 3, 2012 at 12:26 AM · Not really.. Maybe I'm good but that would be very far fetched.

I don't have some amazing ear or something, but I think I can tell differences in strings and bows. Definitely bows, the difference was obvious considering the last one I had before my current one was a cheap no-name mystery wood bow that sounded scratchy under the ear.

My parents aren't rich either, but they support me at the violin that they;re willing to spend money as long as its for a reason.

And yes, I've only have been playing 2 years this August. Not to mention I played Piano and Viola for 5 years previous to starting the violin.

Maybe I'm just over-reacting or taking it the wrong way, but frankly, I feel a little insulted.

July 3, 2012 at 12:30 AM · Yes, near $800 for a bow is expensive, but it felt more comfortable and there was a /very/ obvious difference in sound over cheaper bows.

While it's probably a lot more than I need, a good bow goes a long way right?

July 3, 2012 at 12:52 AM · Also, the comparison is not realistic.

Just because I moved fast doesnt mean in 10 years Il be the next Joshua Bell....Violin probably only gets harder and harder. You can advance fast to a point, but then you'll likely not have the same progress, since it gets harder. If I got to book 5 in 2 years, it doesn't mean in double that time I'll be book 10. In fact, I'm actually finding things challenging now. The first things you learn on violin, and up to book 5, I found easy. Now I have obstacles I am working to get through.

July 3, 2012 at 03:10 AM · Skylar, I have perfect pitch (and I'm wondering if you do too), and as far as I can tell, it doesn't help one to play more in tune whatsoever. You can have perfect pitch but not be able to play an instrument well at all, just as you can see colors but not necessarily draw well.

July 3, 2012 at 03:53 AM · I agree with Andrew. I am not good with intonation, though mine is decent enough and I work on improving, but I can hear different tone colours relatively easily, but I don't always hear them so obviously. I can tell the differences in bows and different strings, and I can describe that my violin sounds bright and radiant, as opposed to my previous, which was darker and duller. It does not necessarily have anything to do with how long one has played, and I've had past experience with strings so...

July 3, 2012 at 04:06 AM · Strings too. I wanted a different sound than the Prelude steel strings I had. My teacher suggested I try other strings, and I did. The differences and sound characteristics in the strings were noticeable to me, and again, you don't need to have played long to experiment with strings.

July 3, 2012 at 07:45 PM · Yoohoo, another perfect pitcher, it annoy the hell out of me when I land the wrong note and know it. Ugh, worse feeling possible. Anyway, sorry for some doubt, it just than we teen awfully love blowing up something right? (At least I do, nothing that some C-4, gunpowder, and a few other chemical can't handle :P)

July 3, 2012 at 07:48 PM · Just a little jealousy mixing in with my post that's all. My mum wouldn't even look at me when I ask for a new bow, and I'm fiddling with Suzuki 5-6. With only 6 months of playing.

P.S mentioning pre-violin music experience would have help. Geesh, people never said the full thing.

July 3, 2012 at 07:58 PM · You know, what exactly is perfect pitch anyways? :P

I've thought it was just being able to recognize what 'note' a sound is. Maybe like, your door bell is a C sharp or something!

July 3, 2012 at 08:01 PM · And once, someone I know told me perfect pitch meant 'being able to recognize if a note you play is sharp (when it should be flat) or flat (when it should be sharp)'

and that doesn't make sense, right?

Any musician will and at one point should be able to do that to be able to play in tune..

July 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM · I think it means being able to know which note is sounding...which key a piece is written in. I don't think it has much to do with relative pitch (i.e. playing in tune).

July 3, 2012 at 10:04 PM · Perfect pitch seems a bit odd..."A," after all is now (usually) 440, but it used to be 415. What would someone with perfect pitch do with that? how would a perfect-pitcher play in a baroque ensemble tuning down 25 clicks? I've always wondered. And what do you do with a piano that is not tuned to "your" range?

Back to the op. How long did you leave a new variety of strings on before you decided you didn't like them? Especially once you move into synthetics, there's a 'break-in curve' where they often sound lousy and not at all in their characteristic fashion. Hope you gave them a decent chance.

July 3, 2012 at 10:12 PM · So far I've tried:

Preludes (I used these always until some time ago)

Dominants

Tonica

Zyex

Helicore

PI w/ tin plated E

Preludes were warm (as advertised) but I wanted to upgrade from a student string to something more mid-range when I switched to my current violin.

The Tonicas I've been using for a while.

I gave each set 12-14 days (about 2 weeks) to settle in before deciding, since people say usually 1 week is good unless you're using gut.

I didn't particularly like Dominants under the ear. They sounded dull (or flat/dead) on my violin.

Zyex was too loud.

Helicores sounded kind of harsh/loud.

PIs I liked but they're really expensive.

So far, Tonica with gold label E or golden spiral E I like a lot.

I had my mom order a set of Obligatos + gold plated E for me, I should get them next week and I'll put them on.

EDIT: Forgot to say, I also practice 2-3 hours daily so I played them a lot + gave them time to fully settle until I decided.

July 4, 2012 at 01:48 AM · I put some Pro Artes on my violin and it took a bit of the metallic edge off. I also had a luthier do some adjustments.

July 4, 2012 at 04:36 PM · I agree with Christian : Try the D'Addario Pro-Artes. They have a reputation for knocking the bright edge off cheaper instruments. They work well on my violins but I think Tonica has the better E string.

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