I'm a beginner adult violin student and recent viola dabbler.
My most recent acquisition is a nice juicy 16.25" Tertis styled widebody viola. It came strung up with mystery strings from the Far East. So the first order of business was to replace those, right?
OK, so not knowing the character of this new instrument I went inexpensive and mellow- Pro Arte strings. I had a good experience with these on a previous violin of mine, so I have them first crack at the new viola as well.
No dice. They sounded flabby and the A string seemed to want to quack at me from time to time.
Hmmm, I got a new Zyex A to try on there to tame the quack. Again, no luck. The tone was somewhat different, but still sounded quacky-flabby.
I didn't recall it sounding like this when I first got it...So back on went the set of El Cheapos (available in the finest orchestral outlets only, I'm sure). And hot damn, the viola sounded pretty good again.
So I spend a few nights furiously studying Google results v.com archives, Maestronet, string dealer guides to strings....it appeared that my viola responded better to the brighter cheap steelies it came with.....I ponder a set of Helicores, but I have a set of those on my 15.5"--pretty good, but a hint of raspyness or something makes me want to try my luck with a new contender.
Pirastro Permanants? Not alot of info out there. I like the description, but not ready to pull the trigger on a set that expensive just yet.
Spirocores? These seem to be the standard issue for steel viola strings, no? Interesting, especially with the Tungsten C and silver G....but once you add those in to the set, the price is back into premium range. Also often described as having an "edge". Not sure if that is a plus or minus kind of an "edge".
Superflexibles? Hmm, often described as like Helicores, but smoother....tempting, very tempting. But also some description call them "darker" as well. And since the Pro Artes sounded flabolicious on my axe, I bail on these as well.
What to do? What to do??????
Then a couple of my brain cells bump up against each other and an idea dawns on me: "hey, the viola has sounded best with that craptastic set it came with, and they're most likely made of solid core steel, right?"
So, back to the Internet! A few fevered nights later I came upon a final decision: I shall try out thine most honorable and humble of string sets: DaDarrio Preludes!
I just threw them on tonight, and the initial impressionist very good. My viola is a big wide tank and thus could use some focus and clarity, which the Preludes have in spades. We'll see how it all settles in...
Now, if you're still with me here: The Pro Artes and the Preludes have very similar tension, but one is steel, the other synth. Do some violas simply require steel strings to avoid flabbiness?
Or was my improvement due to simply picking a brighter string set?
I pondered trying a set of Warchal Brilliants perhaps to see if that would awaken my slumbering beast, but the question of steel vs. synth on a viola gave me pause. Cellos seem to fully embrace steel strings, violins look down their noses at steel strings. Violas (as always) are left in the middle wondering what to do..
I'm quite happy with the Preludes so far. And I'll be pleased as punch if these are THE strings my viola yearns for, as a set can be had for $20.
Just looking for feedback, experiences, tall tales, whatever you got out there, lets hear it!
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