We need an updated string review!

August 7, 2012 at 05:04 PM · At the moment I'm surfing the net trying to find the best deals on strings. With auditions coming up in the next few weeks, I want to have a fresh set on my fiddle.

I'm in love with the new Evah Pirazzi Gold. They are everything I could hope for in a string. However, the downfall lies in the $81.57 a set.

To add to the issue at hand, I need viola strings as well. I don't really care what I use just as long as they sound good. Evahs are on it and I know they work so I prefer to stay with those.

While I want to take the plunge for Evah Gold for my fiddle and Evah regular for my viola, a total cost close to $200 is a bit to much. Looking at all the different options is starting to make me forget what they all sound like. Passions were a past favorite but having prepared the excerpts on synthetics might be an issue of bow response for the actual event. Sometimes I come back to Wondertone Solo - but what if i'm just to stuck on Evah gold for me to like them? Visions (regular/solo/titanium) haven't been on my violin for a long time and don't really remember what they're like.

AHH!

Bottom line - We need a more recent review of strings!

Any takers?

Replies (88)

August 7, 2012 at 05:12 PM ·

August 7, 2012 at 05:29 PM · Darrett, I disagree; of course you should be able to get good sound out of any string, but different strings do different things, especially for different violins.

I'm not in a good position to offer much of a review, having not tried much of a spectrum and having also changed cr/sr recently so it's hard to pinpoint which changes have been string related and which have been other equipment. However, I have fallen in love with Larsen Tziganes on my instrument. I don't know that they would fit every other instrument, but mine has a unique response and the Tziganes really enrich and enliven my sound. They lasted about 4 mo. Of intense playing. I have regular larsens on now and they are fine but nothing special.

August 7, 2012 at 05:29 PM · Darrett, that's really a big generalization! (actually, several generalizations)

Strings are a personal choice, and Dominants are no longer the gold standard. Many people stick with what they know, and habit plays an enormous role in choices

I agree a new review would be great, but I doubt anything like an objective one is possible.

August 7, 2012 at 05:30 PM · There are a couple great threads on here somewhere, can't remember what I searched to find them and on an awkward mobile device right now...may jump back in later with those.

August 7, 2012 at 06:34 PM · Although I do no agree with Darrett 100%, there is some truth in his statement. Here is why:

Until all producers provide string tension charts, we will keep comparing apples and oranges. Although some parameters, such as stability and average life time are worth comparing, all of the rest is just a marketing hype... with new strings getting more and more tense in pursuit for power, choking a few violins and emptying a few pockets on the way. After trying many different strings on my 3 violins, I came to conclusion that, the basic function of the string is more-less the same - to rock the bridge and excite the plates; as long as they do not impede with basic acoustic properties of the sound box, the timbre and other aspects (responsiveness, resonance, clarity etc.) will be there. On a great instrument (such as those owned or borrowed by the musicians listed on Darrett's link), even your average Dominant, with their perlon core and medium tension will do the job. Those instrument would also sound great with pure gut strings (with comparable tension, less stability and less average life time) as they did in the past.

On a less great (average, less than average) fiddle, with a lack of balance, "weak" string, muted sounds, lack of responsiveness.... some strings may make a difference up to a certain point: perhaps to mask something or enhance another attribute a little bit. But even the basic acoustic properties, not to mention high quality of timbre, most of us are looking for, may still remain elusive and beyond our reach.

Strings can not magically make your [whatever_quality] violin sound better than it is. They can only NOT prevent it to sound its best, what is still [whatever_quality].

Also, a review is done based on a specific violin - using a sample of one - not really reliable. This leaves us with only 2 options to find the best match for our violin:

1. spend a lot of money and time

2. find a store with a string lab where you can try different brands for free

Jerry, if you really like Evah Gold, I would say bite the bullet and invest in your audition. After the dust has settled, try out some more affordable brands such as Warchal. You may get pleasantly surprised.

August 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM · @marjory: I would say that Dominants really are still the gold standard - I have seen dozens of violins by makers such as Stradivari, Guarneri, Guadagnini, Gagliano.. and most are still strung with Dominant, although a good number are now strung with PI strings. In my opinion, they simply work to bring out the best qualities of good instruments.

I agree with you in that strings are very personal, though - my luthier remarked that players tend to choose strings based on how they feel when they play, and less on the actual sound, which they tend to fine-tune using post adjustments anyway.

I've tried most of the strings out there, including the new Evah Pirazzi Gold (both the silver G and the gold G) on various violins, and occasionally I do prefer PIs or Visions for certain instruments, or for certain styles of adjustment, and for some other instruments I might prefer gut strings, or even a steel A string, but for my own violin and my own playing, I always return to Dominant strings, which I still see in greater use than any other, even Evah Pirazzi; it's the string of choice of my peers at school, of the professional players I've encountered, and of the top violin shops in New York City.

August 7, 2012 at 10:47 PM · The last time I saw the violins of Vadim Repin, Maxim Vengerov, and Janine Jansen, they were strung with Evahs. It does not seem like absolutely everyone is using Dominants.

I tend to like Dominants a lot, but I've found them to sound and respond a bit mushily on certain violins.

August 7, 2012 at 11:25 PM · Maybe this will help you. Obviously this is very general as different violins will do different things with different strings.

http://blog.sharmusic.com/blog/bid/87064/Choosing-the-Right-Set-of-Strings

August 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM ·

August 7, 2012 at 11:50 PM · Hi,

As a dedicated string nerd, I wrote a variety of posts about strings and a personal review quite a few years back now. I have since changed instruments, and like it has been mentioned, my personal perspective has changed over time, though some things remained.

I think that strings are a personal choice. Also, certain instruments react differently to different strings, and yes, how you like to play also affects what you will prefer. Certain violins also may require certain strings to balance out certain characteristics.

That said, though some people might lean in a certain direction or a totally different one, there are certain string standbys that keep coming back and stay through the time: Dominants, Eudoxa or Oliv have been around for a long time and stood the test of time. Among the newer ones that seem to find their longer lasting place is Evah Pirazzi and the Vision Solo. There are also other companies that have appeared making very good strings, like Warchal, on top of the two giants: Thomastik and Pirastro.

The one thing that many people forget when trying strings is to try different Es with the same set of strings for A, D, G. This is especially true of synthetic strings (Dominants are the best example), where different choices of Es will change the character and response of the whole set. Often, experimenting with this string alone will help you find a compromise that you like. With synthetics, I believe this has to do with the more limited number of gauges available, and the E helps to strike a balance of tensions that works in harmony with the instrument. The list of standard Es has been similar for a long time. Some places like Quinn violins offer special packs of different Es that can help you try them all and find the right fit.

There are people all the time throwing opinions about strings. Companies also come up with new products all the time. Though a review can give you general ideas, only personal experimentation can give you a good idea of what works for you and your instrument. And even here, as one's playing and instrument evolve individually and together, that choice may change.

Regarding going to a shop and trying various strings... My vast experience with strings has shown that this doesn't always work. With the exception of a true miss in fit, it most often takes several hours to find out if a string works or not. This period is required for the instrument to resonate and vibrate with that string and adjust.

Soundpost adjustment, like Brian said above, will do a lot to the balance and response of the instrument. As you are trying to find what is best for the instrument, it will usually involve a combination of adjustment of the post and strings to find something that works in harmony with it.

Cheers!

August 8, 2012 at 12:45 AM · How about Warchal? I've been using them for all of my concerts...and, suffice it to say, they work well. :)

Contact them for a set - you'll be glad you did.

August 8, 2012 at 01:52 AM · Dominants have never been great on my fiddle. I've used many different E's but I was never impressed by them. May I should give them another shot :/

Andrew - I emailed Warchal after we had that gig in Cleveland. Basically I emailed for a trial set (mentioned you had refered me) and he told me that there are sets available for purchase at trial price. Ended up ordering through gostrings. I think I got the "Brilliant Vintage". They didn't last that long at all. After two wees they lost all the sparkle and went pretty dead.

Evah Pirazzi Gold seem to be working for me -Even though the price is pretty steep. But I still think we need an updated review. Yes, strings are personal and specific to the instrument but its nice to have an idea of what you're buying when deciding which strings to pick. Having forgotten what they're like makes me what to just stick with what I know and not have to deal with the trail and error all over again.

August 8, 2012 at 02:47 AM · Hi,

Jerry, I have tried and played on pretty much every string out there except the new Pirazzi and the PI's. Did you have strings in mind that you wanted comments about?

Cheers!

August 8, 2012 at 03:42 AM · Christian,

Actually yes. Vision Titanium Orchestra and Violino. I've heard mixed reviews of the violinos and If I remember correctly the orchestra version of Visions were somewhere between Obligatos and Evah Pirazzi.

Since you've used Eudoxas and Olives - you're just the person I need to ask! A guy whom i've been working with in the Shar Violin Shop for student instruments told me he uses Olives (stiff G silver D and an obligato A) in the lightest gauges and has no tuning issues. Have you had any experience with this? He, like myself, had tried every string out there and was never happy. Eventually he came across this combo and it worked!

Thanks!

August 8, 2012 at 04:18 AM · I've found Violinos to be very Eudoxa-like in sound and response - closer than any synethic I've tried, although I find Dominants similar in certain respects, and I found the previous version of the Tonica strings similar in certain respects, too. On the two violins I tried Violonos on, they were very warm and refined...and not very powerful or brilliant - though not at all dull.

Vision Titanium Solo Orchestra strings reminded me a lot of the Vision Solo strings in sound and response, although they seemed to have a little less punch.

August 8, 2012 at 05:01 AM · apart from the sound and sound quality of the strings, I find that the thing that turns me on or off is the feel of them for the left hand.

I would never buy another set of pirazzis after shaving my index finger in 2 weeks of use. the only callouses I have developed came from these.

I cant tolerate the abrasiveness of the dominants, the grooves of the winding seem magnified. for the same sound I prefer the Warchal or corelli Crystals, though neither of these have lasted long so I dont buy them now.

I have used Eudoxa, Pirastro Passione, and Thomastic Vision (not the titanium). I like all of these for feel, and the visions last ages for me and are pretty stable in tuning within 10 minutes of getting them on, so I think this is where I'll stay.

August 8, 2012 at 09:01 AM · Was a steadfast Dominant and Eudoxa player for many years. Earned some extra bucks on gigs and went through a string safari (20+ brands of G/D/A plus a huge pile of E's).

There are good aspects to all of the different kinds of strings available out there, but I'd also add that many of us have very different playing requirements all across the board. For example, most of my time playing is in chamber music or while teaching lessons. The things that attract me to Obligato, Warchal Karneol, and Eudoxa are probably things that push other people to Evah Pirazzi, Warchal Brilliant, and Peter Infeld.

Someone who stands in front of orchestras 150+ times a year to belt out Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky has significantly different needs from the person whose main daily audience is a microphone in an isolation booth.

Considering cost and longevity...isn't anyone else here impressed with how long-lived and how good D'Addario Helicore sounds on violin and viola for the price that it is?? :)

August 8, 2012 at 12:42 PM · Gene - Helicore sounded monotonus, and overall lacking some warmth, not to say they sound thin, just lacking the "solidness". Good for electric violin though, which I believe what helicore is widely used for.

I'm glad my violin always prefer Dominants than few others I tried like Evah and new Tonica. I shared my opinions regarding modern high power strings to be very stiff under the finger and offer little flexibility on tone color changes.

August 8, 2012 at 01:07 PM · Hi,

Jerry, thanks for the questions, which I will try to answer as best as I can. The Vision Titanium Orchestra are indeed somewhere between the Obligato and Pirazzi. The idea was to have durability and to blend well. However, maybe it was the set that I had but they were not as durable as the Obligato. They were a little brighter than the Obligato, and also felt tighter under the fingers. Obligatos are also good for "rounding out" an overly bright instrument.

The Violinos were originally designed as a warm, quick-repsonsive, low tension string to improve student instruments. They are warm sounding and come in a host of sizes. For that purpose, they are wonderful. However, I think that they don't work so well oustide of that context in which case they seem to lack projection and the brightness needed to open up the sound.

I have tried the Oliv stiff, though not in the smallest gauges on my own instrument (the Eudoxa stiff were not yet out at the time), so I can only comment based on a small amount of experience on other instruments. The Obligato seems to be a good mix for the A string with the Oliv and Eudoxa. I have tried this mix briefly on a couple of instruments other than my own and found this to be true. I found that the transition from the gut G and D to the synthetic A was the smoothness that I have tried in those kinds of mixes. I know a couple of people that use the Oliv stiff lowest gauge and they have commented on the fact that they are more stable once stretched.

If you are looking for things comparable to the Pirazzi gold, then the closest options from what I see listed would probably be the PI from Infeld or the Warchal Brilliant Vintage (which didn't seem to work for you). Bear in mind that I have not tried any of these but the descriptions seem to suggest that they are after similar goals. Hope this answers your questions...

Gene: I have tried the Helicore for violin and viola. I find that the Helicore on violin is quite a good choice for smaller student instruments. Sounds warmer than most any other steel string, they are stable and long lasting. I very much like the Helicore viola strings which I still use on my own viola. They add a focus that I did not find from any other string and they last for an unbelievable amount of time (and the price is good). Definitely not to be overlooked in the viola string category in my humble opinion.

Cheers!

August 8, 2012 at 01:30 PM · Christian -

Thanks for the opinions. I may have to try in the Vision Orchestras again. Violinos always intrigued me. Their low cost and pretty blue package. haha.

I can't see the thread as i'm typing but someone mentioned EP light gauge. Yes, they're easier on the fingers and have a little something more than mediums but still do not lost last longer than 3 weeks. Sad.

August 8, 2012 at 03:41 PM · I bet if they cut the price of your strings in half you wouldn't like them as much. In fact if they were half the price to begin with you might not have even considered them.

August 8, 2012 at 03:57 PM · Christian, I'm very surprised that you felt Violonos lacked range of color. I feel they are a professional quality string that were simply not marketed to their best advantage.

August 8, 2012 at 04:58 PM · Hi,

Andrew, you are right. I changed the post above as I mixed two ideas about different things together. I think that I wanted to say brightness when needed to open up the sound, not color in general. However, they are an excellent quality string and long lasting.

That said, this brings up a good point in that experiences will vary based on the instrument, the type of work one does and in what setting. That all plays a role in our preferences for sound.

Cheers!

August 8, 2012 at 04:58 PM · Oops, double-post...

Cheers!

August 8, 2012 at 10:28 PM · Although I have used many brands (Infeld, Evah Pirazzi, Vision Titanium etc etc) I now interchange between Dominants and Violino as I like them both.

Violino could take more bow pressure and I could play very close to the bridge. I could modulate the sound and I find it a very flexible string. Playing long legato line is gorgeous on this string. The cons for me is the E string goes black/rust? and the response is slightly slower than Dominant. I use Univeral E when the E string eventually rusts.

August 8, 2012 at 11:07 PM · Hmmm, I might check out violinos next time i buy!

August 9, 2012 at 03:08 AM · Hmmm....Violinos....intriguing. Haha.

August 9, 2012 at 03:32 AM · I'm a Helicore user on some but not all my instruments. Sure there are more gutsy strings out there but for the price and longevity they are great. However, the main thing I like them for is speed of attack. Other, perhaps even fuller sounding strings, just don't have the same kind of pop to the attack and I'm sure this is why a lot of jazz and alternative players use them. It's not all about projection, complexity and huge tone. Also, as somebody mentioned, some of us are more often in front of a studio microphone than standing in front of an orchestra in Carnegie Hall.

August 9, 2012 at 05:46 AM · I may end up with 3 sets of strings by the middle of next week...

Shar has 10% off Select Vision sets and Dominants.

GoStrings has 10% off Evah Pirazzi/EP Gold/Dominants

plus the Violinos....

If anyone hasn't checked out violin-strings.com do it now! They have the cheapest prices of anywhere. login password to view prices is violin.

August 9, 2012 at 05:55 AM · I recommend Helicore on nearly all of my students with 1/2 size and smaller violins, and violas under 15". The projection and clarity are usually what are lacking and the strings help quite a bit with that...warmth isn't usually what they need. That and from a price/performance standpoint, they are very economical. Every time I change strings on my own viola, Obligato G/D/A with a Larsen A, I cringe a little bit. :P

I've been pleasantly surprised with how good Thomastik Vision 3/4 strings sound, very full and soft-feeling under the fingers. I also had a student when we were up at a chamber music retreat this summer, left his spare set of strings at home and had one of his current ones start to unravel. Without any string shops within a 2 hour drive, I ended up stringing his 3/4 with a set of Warchal Karneol (full size), and was really surprised at the result. The tone was big, rich, and powerful, I couldn't believe it. In the concert (he was playing 2nd violin) his part in the quartets just soared out effortlessly...he was very, very happy. :)

August 9, 2012 at 09:04 AM · The best choice for me is G-D: dominant, A_E: pirastro chromcore. best selection, advised by my teacher; konzertmeister of istanbul philarmonie

December 25, 2012 at 10:33 AM · I use evah pirazzi strings at the moment. Has anybody tried the new gold evah set an if so how do they compare?

December 25, 2012 at 01:26 PM · Evans Pirazzi... sorry for not contributing anything else useful!

December 25, 2012 at 04:38 PM · I use the Heifetz set, which Gamut produces pure gut strings. and a goldbrokat e.

December 25, 2012 at 05:43 PM · This "quest" will never end. I've been on it for 40 years. Now I've got 5 violins and ALL of them are better than ever with PI strings (with the platinum E -- that does make a big difference). It is hard to find a string brand I have not tried.

I only had one of these violins when Dominant strings were introduced and it was not so good with them (no comparison to how it was with Olive or Eudoxa gut-core strings --although it was not good with the Pirastro Wondertone gut strings available at the time). When Tonicas came out, they were pretty good on that fiddle. And then on through almost all the various brands improvements until Thomastik introduced PI.

Violins I have (and have had) that seemed weak above the first octave on the G string were improved by Larsen Tzigane, but also by a set of PI strings. Otherwise, the Tzigane was not a good string for me on my other fiddles.

My viola has been working best for the past 10 years with Dominant A, D, and G with an Obligato C - at least, that's the way I like it.

As a cellist, violin and viola strings seem pretty cheap to me - even the most expensive of them.

I don't know if I'll be continuing the string quest - perhaps only if I hear something (from someone who knows) that really exceeds what PI can do. And then, only after hearing the difference with my own ears. The violinist in my piano trio has a set of PIs strung on his Rocca, but he's got a set of Evah Pirazzi Gold waiting to try - so who knows.

Andy

January 1, 2013 at 07:50 PM · Can anybody comment on comparing violinos to obligatos? Do obligatos project more than violinos or vice versa? Apart from the price, any other differences?

January 2, 2013 at 01:28 AM · On the couple of violins I've tried them on, Violinos had lower tension than Obligatos and were also warmer, though less dark, if that makes sense. They reminded me very much of Eudoxas in sound and feel. I found that the A cracked easily, but I enjoyed them. I did find that they weren't sufficiently powerful for my taste.

January 2, 2013 at 08:23 AM · Thanks for your comments, Andrew, very helpful. I may try violinos as I have a loud violin and I' am trying to lose the nasally sound I am getting with Evahs.

January 3, 2013 at 08:03 PM · It's been about nine years since I've played the violin, and in the intervening time, it seems like there have been an awful lot of new strings. The guides on the various shop websites don't seem to be fully current yet, unfortunately, so I'm definitely searching for an update, and recommendations.

I own an Enrico Marchetti, whose tone is clear and sweet and brilliant. I'm not one of those players who digs into the instrument, for the most part; I tend to use more bow rather than more pressure, an d tend to avoid going too close to the bridge because I don't really like grit in the sound. My priorities in a string are tonal color and sensitivity, but stability is important, too.

I use a Jargar E string. The open E has a huge tendency to whistle, and the Jargar is the closest thing to taming it that I've found.

G/D/A strings that sound good on this violin:

Olivs -- Fantastic. Rich with overtones, full of power, wonderfully sensitive. But the constant re-tuning drove me nuts, as did the short string life.

Larsens -- Excellent. Lots of projection at the cost of a bit of grit under the ear. The very short lifespan of the G and D annoyed me.

Obligatos -- My everyday set-up. Pleasant, comfortable, a string combo that's inexpensive, long-lasting, and stable. (At other times, I have used Obligato G, Obligato silver D, Larsen A, Jargar E, which is very balanced. Otherwise the A is weak relative to the other strings, beyond the ability of a soundpost adjustment to fix.)

Other strings I've tried on this violin for a length of time (i.e., beyond brief usage of a sampler):

Dominants: They sound like, well, Dominants. Nice, nothing special. Less colorful by comparison.

Infeld Reds and Blues: They sound like loud Dominants. The blues are too bright, the reds are a little dull.

Vision: They sound like really, really loud Dominants. On the plus side, they had more color, but they were harsh. I'm not sure if I really gave these the chance they needed to break in, though.

Evah Pirazzis: One of my friends said, "Sounds like a trumpet." They're extremely loud, extremely focused, and very brilliant -- a clear ringing bright sound with no nuances.

Violinos: Flabby and dull. I kept hoping that they'd break in and sound good eventually. Nope.

Anyone have suggestions? I've read the threads on the Larsen Tziganes, Peter Infelds, and Passiones, but the info in those hasn't been sufficient to guess whether any of those are likely to work on my violin.

(Don't suggest talking to my local luthier. I can't even get them to do a soundpost adjustment -- they're of the "yeah, it's straight and in the right place" variety. I live in Maryland near DC.)

January 3, 2013 at 08:47 PM · If you don't play with much pressure or weight, the PI or Larsen Tzigane are both worth a try. Generally the Larsen Tzigane are much better than the normal Larsen, especially in endurance.

The PI sound very dark, on my violin dull, but I heard very good soloists playing with them, not dull at all. I think my violin needs a little more tension. Also I am coming from Evah's at the moment but always think of alternatives because i also find them too loud and one sided... but good. About the Passiones, I haven't tried them myself, but a collegue of mine had them on: Same tuning issues as all gut strings, maybe less than Eudoxa but still too much.

A good synthetic string is always more practical than a wound gut string. Of course gut has a special sound, but many synthetics, like the PI or Larsens, try to imitate both the sound and feel very good.

My conclusion on strings topic is, that every string has its good and bad sides, you have to find the right string for you. Like you said, that you don't dig so much into the string and don't want the grit sound. I would totally recommend PI for you even though I dislike them for the two reasons, they maybe good for you!

January 4, 2013 at 08:31 AM · Lydia, I suggest try Warchals. The brilliant set may well suit your style and requirements. I think they are still at a reduced price on Warchal website.

January 4, 2013 at 02:03 PM · Howard, has Warchal solved their durability problem? In reading reviews of the Warchals on this site, people seem to frequently complain that they go dead pretty quickly.

January 4, 2013 at 06:15 PM · Lydia, I never had any durability problems. I used Brilliant Vintage before going onto Evah's (I tend to 'dig in' with the bow). I have put Warchals back on again recently because I love the sound of them (I'll persevere with the bow control). I would also refer you to Andrew Sords comments above (August 8 2012), perhaps he could advise you further.

January 4, 2013 at 09:43 PM · I hate getting in this discussion rather late but I enjoyed hearing what others have had to say. D'Addario strings are the real sleepers! 1/2 the price of most strings out there but... just as good and if not in many cases better @ least for my two violins. Each instrument can be as unique as a finger print and it is nice that we have choices.

January 8, 2013 at 06:26 PM · I thought I'd report back on what I settled on...

I picked up a set of Peter Infelds earlier today, with the silver D and the platinum E. They were quite harsh for about five minutes and then mellowed audibly as I was fiddling with the tuning. By about 15 minutes, they'd settled down into what I assume they'll probably continue to sound like.

I admit that from the descriptions I'd read, the PIs are nothing like what I had expected. They do not have the edge that Dominants, Infeld Red/Blues, or Visions have on my violin. Instead, they sound and feel much more like a Pirastro string. Interestingly, they are even considerably darker and more mellow than the Obligatos that are my "generic" string for my violin, which is typically brilliant.

The switch in strings has totally changed the tonal balance on the instrument. I normally have the sound post placed to favor the lower strings. The A is definitely weak compared to the other three strings now -- this is true when I use Obligatos as well, but the difference is much more stark. (When I've been fussy about strings in the past, I've swapped the Obligato A for a Larsen A.) I figure that I need to give these a week to settle in properly, and then I should go have the instrument set up with a different sound post placement.

The platinum E is very interesting on this violin, where the wrong E string can easily make it strident. It has a wonderful warmth -- a bit like a Eudoxa E that I tried some years back, but rejected because it didn't have enough ring. This still rings. However, it also whistles horribly -- it whistles in ways that I never realized I could make an E-string whistle. On harmonic Es. On fingered Es. When playing open A/E to TUNE, which is practically the definition of "not doing anything weird that might make the string whistle".

My impression thus far is that they are inferior to the Obligatos in terms of projection; they are definitely significantly inferior in volume under the ear, and I'm waiting to find out how easy it is to hear myself in a group. (On this violin, I've had to switch out the Obligatos for Larsens for concerto-with-orchestra in the past, but the Obligatos are plenty easy to hear both under the ear and in the group sound for chamber music and orchestra playing.) I'd like to know how they really project.

The PIs have a very large dynamic range and a nice range of colors. They do not produce as much volume to light quick bowing as I would like -- but they will produce a very overtone-rich sound to serious digging in. While the response is quick, they seem to appreciate a little more weight. For concerto-playing, these may work nicely -- if the sound carries sufficiently.

They feel relatively similar to the Obligatos under the fingers -- soft, easy to stop, easy to shift on. Their clean response can really be heard on the articulation of the left hand, especially in the little 'ping' of fingers lifting quickly off the string. An unexpected bonus in clarity that I haven't experienced with another string before.

I ended up trying two other bows at the shop as well, which was an interesting experiment. With my own bow (a particularly light Claude Thomassin at 56g), the sound is extremely sweet. Different bows produced a tighter, more brilliant sound that I suspect would project better but was less pretty under the ear. (I have not tried my own two spare bows yet.)

Rosin makes a difference on these -- they seem to need a little more grip to sound good. I normally rosin very lightly. The MD Gold/Silver that I usually use doesn't seem to work very well. Jade works better, with a much heavier application than I'm accustomed to using. If anyone has a recommendation for what they've used that works well with the PIs, I'd like to hear it.

January 8, 2013 at 07:22 PM · Warchal briiliants not last? They are among the longest-lived lived strings that I have tried. Way longer than Evahs.

Not sure what you've read. I have mostly seen them described as long-lasting.

January 8, 2013 at 11:46 PM · So, in a singularly weird fashion... Coming back to the violin four hours later, and the PIs sound quite different, picking up a brilliant edge and losing a chunk of their warmth. I've heard plenty of strings smooth out as they've stretched; I cannot think of another set that's gotten more edgy instead. Now they sound somewhat similar to what Olivs sound like on my violin, without the same warmth or as great a richness of overtones.

I record bits of my practice sessions (iPad Mini + GarageBand, so not a quality mic) in order to find problems not as easily apparent in real-time, so I was able to compare the recorded sound of the Obligatos from a few days ago, to what the PIs sound like now. This turned out to be an interesting experience. The PIs lack the same warmth and smoothness as the Obligatos, but have greater clarity and transparency, but the sound is less beautiful to me. But listening to the playback, there's also a subtle pressure on my ears -- like the kind of pressure that I feel when I use noise-canceling headphones. (This effect does not occur listening to the violin under my ear directly.) Very strange.

January 9, 2013 at 01:45 AM · Ok. I like all of the comments on here. I will be getting a full set Kaplan strings for my viola within the week, and will let everyone know how they are.

But...

can we get someone to compile all of these reviews?

January 9, 2013 at 06:14 PM · I've been using Warchal Ametyst strings for a few years now. I find they don't last as long as some other synthetics I've used, but I really like the sound and feel, and they cost less than other brands, so for me it's worth the tradeoff.

I'm an amateur and don't play all the time - a typical set of synthetics would last me 8-12 months; I usually get about 6 out of the Ametysts. I usually change strings when I start to have a hard time playing in tune.

Edit because I forgot to include my review of the Ametyst strings. I bought them in the first place because I had read on violinist.com and/or on the Warchal web site that they were low-tension. The definitely do feel lower-tension under my fingers than other strings I've used. I don't have to press as hard to get decent contact (I have thin pointy fingertips).

It turns out that I also don't have to press as hard with my bow arm (scrawny arms). I once had a teacher who was always telling me "float your bow" - with these strings I can actually do that.

My violin (1914 Heberlein) used to sound rather raw or harsh, to my ear. I get a silkier sound with the Ametysts. Since I play solos only in church, I am not looking for a huge, brilliant sound to fill a concert hall.

January 12, 2013 at 01:13 AM · Oh-I too am enjoying the Ametyst. Just put them on about 3 weeks ago. They are sounding real nice. I also do like the Karenol , but the Ametyst is really making an impression for me personally.

I would definitely put Warchal strings on your list.

January 12, 2013 at 02:29 PM · I think a new section devoted to reviews of violin/viola accessories (in practice mainly strings) would be most useful.

February 15, 2013 at 05:35 PM · "All the top players and teachers are still using Dominant strings; a few have switched to Peter Infeld or some other kind of Vision, even fewer are using Evah Pirazzi."

I've just used Dominants for the first time (on a violin) - G,D and A. It's taken a while to play them in (about 17 hours of playing) over 4 days but they seem pretty good. (Is this normal?)

I previously had the PI strings on - which I found very good.

July 7, 2013 at 09:53 AM · I would refer to Dominants as the "reference standard", not the gold standard. Doms are perhaps the base by which one may start making comparisons with other strings.

Warchal Brilliants are indeed a bright sound, with power and projection. They were designed for older violins, and are not Perlon core (Doms are perlon). They are excellent strings and have a long life. For me, they are Warchal's best string set.

Comments about shorter life spans for Warchal strings apply to the other sets, such as Ametyst (which are perlon core). BUT the Warchal perlon-core strings last about the same as other perlon-core strings (eg Doms).

As for the metal E string for all brands, please see Warchal's most interesting post about this. Nonetheless, I find the Warchal metal E supplied with sets is a good E, and the sets seem well balanced with the metal E supplied.

July 7, 2013 at 02:44 PM · Typical string discussion. I count at least one vote for almost every brand. I do agree with Ron on the characterization of Dominants as the "reference" rather than "gold" standard. They tend to be in the middle of the spectrum. Once you and your luthier hear your violin with them on, you can discuss whether you want a different sound and, if so, what sort of sound, and your luthier can advise you what to try next to achieve it. However, I do agree that we need a new string review so that we have a better idea what is out there and where the various strings fit on the spectrum.

July 8, 2013 at 01:54 AM · Yeah! Lets talk about strings and where to buy them!

July 8, 2013 at 01:57 AM · How about GoStrings?!!

July 8, 2013 at 02:55 AM · ...You mean NoStrings?

Actually, I would like some direction as to where I can find the freshest strings in the best condition. Believe it or not, I've had more than a couple of sour Dominant strings from SHAR, which surprised me because I assumed they would have a fast turnover. The G and D tend to be twangy and vague on the overtones, on about every other set I order from them. It could just be the Dominant company, but it's a shame because they are so darn nice when I get my hands on a good set.

July 8, 2013 at 03:18 AM · Good one.

Yes, what is now a good option for international shipping? I had just got used to GoStrings :-/

July 8, 2013 at 03:21 AM ·

July 8, 2013 at 05:40 AM · The Violin Channel Store offers free international shipping on all strings.

July 8, 2013 at 08:47 AM · I had been using gostrings for ages, but always checked prices to compare first and they were usually most competetive for me in australia. So its a bit derr now.

but yes, violin-strings.com is good AND they stock the warchals which is good, not all the other online sellers do. So I'll be able to do a little review on the vintage when I have them put on the lucky and serendipitous little violin in a little while. The evah's I bought for my teacher were a good price too.

July 8, 2013 at 06:18 PM · To follow up on Lydia's comments, I just replaced a set of Infeld PIs on one of my instruments. It also changed a lot in the first day or so. I wouldn't say from dark to bright, but when they first went on they sounded a bit loose and twangy. The overtones were fantastic-- playing a G, D, or A elsewhere on the fiddle produced wonderful resonance-- but there wasn't much core to the sound. After a day or two of work, the tone was much more focused and back to its old self.

One thing about the PIs is that while they do fade over time, they don't sound nearly as bad as the Pirazzis when they're due for replacement. That is good news and bad news...

Another point to compare PIs with EPs-- a fine maker I know experimented with PIs and liked very much what the platinum E and the A did. He found that on his instruments, however, that Pirazzis kept a better bottom register.

Finally, about PIs-- the two D strings really do sound different. The violin that I have come to use them exclusively on (although that could change after I re-visit the maker) originally came with Dominants, which sounded a bit too flabby and dull. A PI set, by contrast, seemed a bit too tight, until I replaced the aluminum D with a silver one. By contrast, an instrument where the silver D was too weak perked up nicely with the aluminum.

July 8, 2013 at 06:57 PM ·

July 9, 2013 at 12:42 AM · Well, that's a really easy way to figure out whose violin is worse than yours.

July 13, 2013 at 06:16 PM · I have become a real devotee of the new Evah Golds. I use the silver G (NOT the gold plated - too soft and mellow, I think), and I use a PI platinum E (although I have found the Evah gold label E to be quite nice, surprisingly). I used Obligatos pretty exclusively before that, the Evah greens being way too bright on my violin, and the Evah golds are right in between those two brands of strings.

If I need extra brilliance and projection (e.g. for solo performances), then I go with the PI strings. I love the richness that they have while still maintaining the brilliance and projection needed to be heard.

I do not care for any of the Vision strings, but I have many associates who love the solo version of them. My violin tends to really like and respond to the richer, darker sounding strings.

Dominant strings are also far too bright for me. I find that they are bright without much complexity or richness. They used to be the best strings around, but these days there is a lot of competition for those bragging rights. The classical world is extremely slow to change and embrace anything new, so with most people who were playing (or learning) 30 or so years ago, Dominants are still what they go to. Let's face it.....it is darn expensive to experiment with strings! I've been lucky enough to work in a violin shop, so I've been able to do so at a far lower cost!

I'm interested to know which strings others are using these days. I've been thinking about trying the Warchal Vintage strings.

August 14, 2013 at 02:01 AM · I have found all strings are hyped and create trade-offs, and the balance between the trade-offs is a personal decision: no two people will agree and nobody is incorrect. HOWEVER, I have the new Warchal Amber E for over a week now, and I can say this is the only string that lives up to the claims made by the manufacturer. It's a wonderful E string: no harshness, sweet in all positions (on my violin), has great depth, and in fact increases the depth of the other strings. It's perfect for the Warchal Brilliant set. To me, this Amber E is a new standard. Try it!

August 15, 2013 at 05:57 PM · Dominants.

I actually got to play a nicolo amati violin this morning, and it had dominants on it. They were great. I feel any synthetic that goes for a specific sound will overpower the actual tone qualities of the instrument. For example I tried like 15 violas at a shop, and they all sounded exactly the same being strung with evahs and a Larsen- despite the range being Chinese to Pistucci...

September 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM · Does anybody have an opinion on which rosin is best with Peter Infeld strings?

September 28, 2013 at 03:46 PM ·

September 28, 2013 at 04:45 PM · Thanks, Darrett, I will try bernardel rosin.

March 18, 2014 at 12:03 PM · I find most violin strings flatten in pitch under bow pressure, especially anywhere near the fingerboard. Anyone else had the same problem?

March 18, 2014 at 01:23 PM · Either you're applying too much bow pressure and achieving this effect: http://www.marikimura.com/subharmonics.html

Or, your string is too loose - you might need a higher bridge, or else a higher tension string. You should go to a luthier to examine this issue if this is the case. Common high tension strings are Evah Pirazzi, Vision Titanium Solo and PI (Peter Infeld).

March 18, 2014 at 04:05 PM · Thank you for responding to my request, Aditya, ANY help on this pitch flattening is really appreciated. I have tried PIs and Evahs - no luck. The only strings I find no flattening problem are Pirastro Aricores, but these are dull sounding. Can anyone think why Aricores don't flatten under bow pressure and are there other strings like aricores but with more clarity? I wonder if it's anything to do with string construction as opposed to tension?

March 18, 2014 at 05:06 PM · Your experience with high-octane strings like PI and Evah leads me to believe that it is something to do with the way your violin responds to tension. High tension strings can choke a violin - but having said that, they are designed to withstand *more* bow pressure rather than less. This means that pitch bending ought to be *less* likely with high tension strings. It could well be a construction matter, though. PI and Evah are made with a modern synthetic fibre, whereas Aricores (one of the first synthetic strings available) are made with a polyester core, whilst also being much lower in tension. (Incidentally, Aricores work really nicely on my Chinese Yitamusic backup instrument.)

Aricores don't sound like many other strings; probably the closest alternative is Violinos, which are perhaps a bit more focused, but possess many of the same basic sonic qualities as Aricores. They are really low tension; the G string for instance has a tension of 8.8 lbs (compare this to 11 lbs for Evah, 10.6 lbs for PI; even 9.9 lbs for medium Dominant is high in comparison). Funnily enough, they share the same core as Evahs, so perhaps this will be the acid test for seeing whether it is the core of the string that is the problem.

I suggest you try Dominant strings, preferably with the set's new tin E string, or else with a Gold Label/Aricore/Synoxa/Violino/Obligato steel E or Jargar Forte E string. They are pretty standard issue as I'm sure you're aware, and they are low tension strings using an old-style perlon core. They definitely sound more focused than Aricores, and are somewhere in the middle regarding brightness/warmth. Another you can try is Pirastro Tonica, which I find to be similar in many respects, but perhaps they have a less complex tone.

Ultimately though you will have to experiment some; else you can't go too far wrong by taking your instrument to a luthier. It sounds like you could well need some adjustments.

Another thing you MUST check (possibly before the instrument setup, I don't know why I didn't write this before) is your bow. Is it too loose/stiff? If not, maybe try different bows out to see if the problem is alleviated. Bows can make an enormous difference to response/playability of a particular string/violin.

March 18, 2014 at 06:02 PM · Thanks again, Adiyta. My bow is a 'strong' bow and my violin is a Jay Haide. I will try a violino A string to experiment and dominant as well.

March 19, 2014 at 07:07 PM · I would be scared of how bright my Jay Haide would be if i put PIs or evah pirazzis on it! Im pretty sure they are ideally set up with dominants in mind but I like how mine sounds with obligatos better (although im trying to find a better fit for the D string).

March 20, 2014 at 12:20 PM · Does anybody else have views on strings suitable for Jay Haide violin?

March 20, 2014 at 01:45 PM · Other options in place of Aricores:

DaDarrio Pro-Arte

Corelli Crystal

Both are smooth sounding, easy playing, and only cost about $30 a set (as opposed to the $50-60 for Aricores/Violinos)

March 20, 2014 at 08:13 PM · I am not sure about throwing evahs and PI's in one bucket. To me they are so different. PI's are much more warm and responsive to different bow speeds and pressure, while evah's tend to sound one dimensional and simply loud. I wouldn't recommend evahs anymore unless someone needs loudness and projection and cannot get it with other strings. The PI strings I would actually recommend for playing in a studio for recording, because after a while, they sound very good close up, but begin to lack projection. For playing solo I would take the Larsen Virtuoso, heavy version. They to me have the best playability and much power, but they are not the best string for closed up microphones or small room acoustics. Also the colour range is different to the PI. I am not saying smaller, because they have a different sound.

What matters to me is playability and long lasting sound. At the time I am happy with my PI strings with aluminium D, but I feel, that they start going down slightly in projection and response. But having just small room gig's in near future, I will go with that and try to work around it and get the on the other hand beautiful warmness of the played in PI's out.

Note: String discussion is always very subjective, opinion and taste changes with time. Also technique changes and the setup of the violin. I just lately got a new bridge, because my old one was too low. Strings react totally different now, and I can imagine, that lower tension strings can work very good with higher bridges.

March 22, 2014 at 02:45 PM · Has anyone experienced the differences (if any) in the playability between weich obligatos and violinos? (Sound/projection etc).

March 22, 2014 at 06:32 PM · I have, but it's something you may need to experience for yourself. My description will only help so much...

I've compared them on a couple of violins. Weich Obligatos are a bit more focused than Violinos and are 'darker' than Violinos. Violinos are a bit warmer, fuller and maybe don't respond quite as instantly. Violinos remind me more of Eudoxas (which I don't think are generally "dark," but are certainly very "warm") than weich Obligatos.

March 22, 2014 at 07:25 PM · Thank you, Andrew, for your comments. I wondered about the difference as both strings apparently have similar construction and tension. I have medium obligatos on at the moment and wondered if weich or violinos had more transparency as the D and especially G strings seem a bit dull. Perhaps this will improve with more playing (they are only a week old).

March 24, 2014 at 03:52 PM · @howard - are you using the silver or aluminum D? I just switched over to the aluminum and now they all blend in much better. You can try swapping it out for a dominant or tonica d if you have any laying around to see if you like that better

March 25, 2014 at 08:54 PM · Thank you, Nick, for your input. It is a silver D and I have a dominant and tonica D, so I'll try them with the obligatos. I am trying to find strings like aricores but not so dull.

March 30, 2014 at 07:54 PM · I put old dominant D and G strings on with the obligato A and E. I was pleasantly surprised! Last time I used the dominants they sounded harsh and metallic. They now sound beautiful! Is this normal? I've read before that dominants lose their harsh sound after a while. If so, how long do they usually take to do this? I may be converted.

March 30, 2014 at 08:27 PM ·

April 1, 2014 at 04:20 PM · Dominants tend to lose their metallic edge after 3-7 days, depending on amount played and playing style. As for them sounding beautiful with the obligato A and E, maybe your violin just happens to like the combined tension of all 4 strings and the cores from the dominants. As I said for mine, I found it only necessary for the aluminum D as the original G seems fine to me and I like to just order one whole set if possible.

April 2, 2014 at 11:27 AM · I may try a dominant A if they lose their metallic sound with playing because the D and G sound better than the obligatos on my violin. The obligato A hasn't warmed with playing, in fact the opposite seems to have happened. I mustn't have given the dominants enough time to lose their metallic sound last time I played them.

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