Kaplan's new Viola string set

December 19, 2012 at 10:08 PM · Has anyone had any experience of the new Kaplan viola string set yet? I know the Kaplan viola A which has been around for some time, but it is only available in long scale. The D'Addario web site does not mention them.

Replies (16)

December 20, 2012 at 04:05 PM · Are they available anywhere yet?

December 21, 2012 at 09:49 AM · There is a full page advertisement for them in the Strad magazine, which implies they are. Perhaps they are advertising a product that cannot be purchased. Would they do that to increase anticipation?

My thought was that whilst they do not appear to be available in the UK, perhaps they are elsewhere, and someone on this site may have experience of them. The UK is not generally the first country that new strings become available.

December 22, 2012 at 05:47 PM · According to D'Addario's Paris-based representative "Launch should be effective in Q1 2013".

December 22, 2012 at 06:18 PM · Thanks Nigel. That's very helpful.

January 1, 2013 at 06:59 PM · Michael, I have a prototype set on my instrument right now playing in. I don't have any written info immediately at hand as they came in plain packets. I'll report back soon...

January 4, 2013 at 09:14 PM · Just to clarify a point you mentioned in your original post, Michael, that "the Kaplan viola A which has been around for some time", the Kaplan Solutions Viola A (KS411 LM) has been around for several years, if that's what you were meaning by "some time".

The new Kaplan A (K411 LM) is however a different string - physically the winding is finer, and the timbre is different too (to my ears). I first saw this new A string in packaged form at Musicora mid-2012 - apparently released ahead of the forthcoming full set. Note that the "S" is dropped from the model number.

LM stands for Long scale (the only length available so far) / Medium tension. The model numbers of the prototypes are: D = K412 LM, G = K413 LM & C = K414 LM.

June 4, 2013 at 07:23 AM · I had the opportunity to try these strings and my overall impression of them is very positive. I have had them on my instrument for about two months now and here are my thoughts:

+The sound is very even across the strings.

+The timbre of the stopped notes in 3rd position is very similar to the timbre in first position.

+They broke in very quickly and aren't fussy at all.

+ They are loud, clear and warm.

+++ The A string is remarkably pleasant. I hadn't used a matched set in some time and this is a very nice surprise.

+They are holding up pretty well

+ The C string was very responsive (see below)

-- The C string broke on me very early on. The D'addario rep seemed to think that this was due to the short string length of my instrument 14.25" coupled with the high tension of a Tungsten wound string.

June 4, 2013 at 08:29 AM · I have been thinking about getting a set. I planned on it earlier, but other things got in the way. What would you say the strings compare to in tone/brightness?

July 23, 2013 at 12:21 AM · Just received 2 sets for a test drive.

July 23, 2013 at 01:09 AM · These are my new favorite set. The Kaplan set seems just as warm, if not warmer than my previous Dominants. The difference is that they are super responsive, and twice as loud. I do like that the A string is a solid core while the rest is stranded steel. This let me not have to replace my A with a Jarger or Larsen.

July 23, 2013 at 03:11 AM · Andreas and Shawn:

what is the vibrating string length on your violas?

Does anybody know what is the string core made of?


July 23, 2013 at 01:03 PM · My viola is a 16" (about 15" vibrating string length). The Kaplan core is a stranded steel D, G, C and a solid steel A. I was very weary at first because I always used synthetic core (Dominant, Zyex, Obligato). I am so surprised at how warm the Kaplans are.

July 23, 2013 at 03:20 PM · Kaplan set:

Compare that to the Helicore set:

July 26, 2013 at 10:06 AM · It's hard to tell a lot when the player is not optimizing either contact point (which on the viola in particular is "everything")or vibrato (which is at least as important a determinant of "warmth" as the string "itself"). Do you feel the Kaplan comes off distinctly better in these clips? How would you describe the difference? Kaplan seems darker, maybe, but what else?


July 26, 2013 at 02:09 PM · Well, you figure its the same player with the same viola, so it's about as fair a comparison as you can get.

I'd say the Kaplans sounded fuller and more resonant than the Helicores.

June 16, 2015 at 10:07 PM · I've had a set of Kaplans for about a year. (they spent 99% of that time in my case, unmounted...)

I tried them on three different violas, but they didn't have partticularly good response on any of them. Once they got moving (I'm refering mostly to the C and G here), they had a tremendous, deep and warm sound, but there was a bit of a lag for a split second.

HOWEVER, last week I put them on my newly acquired Liu Xi 17.5", and they are fantastically suited to this viola. As Shawn points out above, the set is evenly toned across the set. The A has as tone uniquely different from a Larsen or Jargar. The Kaplan A is strong, yet not piercing in any way, clear, nice.

What confounds me is that the vibrating string length on this viola is 390mm, which is a bit longer than the designed length spec'd by Dadarrio (380mm). I would think that would have caused slow response, etc.

The other violas I had tried them on were a 15.75" (372mm), a 16.25 (368mm), a 17" (also a 390mm).

Anyhow, as is often said, you have to find the right strings for the right instrument in particular. On this new 17.5" the same synthetics that sounded nice on the 17" (Brilliants and Zyex), now sounded a bit wooly or flabby. So, I thought a steel core may tighten that tone up a bit, and indeed it has. Yet with that nice chocolate prune sauce slathered liberally on top!

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