Viola Strings...Again

June 3, 2013 at 02:40 PM · I am currently playing a 16' Samuel Shen viola. It is a naturally bright instrument. It isn't overly bright, but the right strings can tip it over. I currently have Vision Solos with a Larsen A. It's a great set, by it's tipping the scale of brightness. It has great volume and I'm in love with the A.

I am currently wanting to try out a darker string that wouldn't mute the sound of my viola too much. I was thinking Obligatos with a Larsen A, but I'm not sure if its a good match. Suggestions? I open to other strings as well.

Replies (98)

June 3, 2013 at 03:40 PM · I have slightly nasal viola.

I used all four Aricores for many years: warm round tone with no "grit", and very forgiving of clumsy bowing (almost too so).

Now I use Obligatos: warm tone with more "grain" and responsiveness than Aricore. The excellent A is aluminium on steel, but there is something I don't like about steel strings, and so I use the "Eudoxa-Aricore" A (alumunium on synthetic core)

which to my ears blends best with the Three Obligatos.

I imagine you would prefer to keep your Larsen A

The Obligato C is tunsten-wound synthetic with a round but "focussed" tone. The D is silver-wound which makes it thinner than the more common aluminium: I had to put a little plastic in the groove of the nut to avoid buzzing on the open D.

June 3, 2013 at 05:27 PM · Check out this article, it may be helpful:

June 4, 2013 at 01:52 AM ·

July 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM · I have commented again because I will very soon be getting a new set of stings but I don't know which ones to get. I want to try Obligatos but at the camp I attended, one of the girls had Obligatos and they made the viola sound very muddled even when played by someone else. Not only that, but I would like to keep my Larsen A and try it with Obligatos but i feel like i heard somewhere that that set tends to clash. I am currently playing Vision solos w/ a Larsen and they don't have enough complexity; they are a little too direct. I like the sound but could use more from the overall tone. Please any advice?

July 25, 2013 at 11:09 PM · Obligatos achieve darkness by suppressing overtones basically, so the sound is indeed darker but less resonant.

I would go for passione- darker but can be brilliant if needed- but never evah pirazzi strident. Much wider range if colors than a lot of the popular synthetics.

On a viola I'm playing on, vision solos are sweet, can be loud, a little one dimensional, but do have a dolce-ness weirdly.

I wouldn't do obligato though-passione are expensive but really worth the try!

July 26, 2013 at 04:38 PM · Ryan, or anyone, have you ever used Eudoxas? How do you find they compare with the Passiones?

July 26, 2013 at 05:33 PM · GoStrings has the Warchal Brilliant and Karneol available. You could get a set of each to try and it'd still be cheaper than the Obligatos.

July 26, 2013 at 06:47 PM · I find Visions too bright, have you ever tried Evah Pirazzis?

July 26, 2013 at 09:33 PM · Luis, from what I have heard Evah's ae a bright string as well. I have been thinking about trying them but I'm not sure. How are they?

July 26, 2013 at 09:36 PM ·

July 26, 2013 at 09:56 PM · Hi Nairobi! I am mostly a viola maker. I see that Evah Pirazzis is a very popular choice with professional players. I don't find them too bright, my instruments have a dark sound and they go well with them .

As a maker, what is good about Evahs is that most professionals know them so they can evaluate the instrument, it is hard to try an instrument that is strung with strings you are not used to.

Anyway the string choice depends on the instrument, the player style and taste.

But Alberto Lepage used Vision solo in one of my violas to play Harold in Italy, here a small recording of it:

July 27, 2013 at 12:41 AM · Arifa,

Eudoxas are my friends die-hard go to old faithfuls. Super chocolatey, don't have quite enough power for me- they squak with too much pressure. Gorgeous smooth sound on his viola though.

He does eudoxa c g eva d Larsen a

I know James Dunham uses all passione on his da salo:) sounds great. Look up the Cleveland quartet if you wanna hear.

Ivo can der Werff here at rice also does (giovanni grancino), they both have simply dulcet sound.

Cleveland quartet clip, before passions were around but I believe he had a reason for preferring them now. This sounds great already.

I can send you a link of me playing on a set of evahs anytime if you wish, they are indeed loud and resonant, not exactly 'dark' but certainly more round and less knifelike than the vision solo

July 27, 2013 at 03:08 AM · For what it's worth,

On my actual viola, and a good amount of trial instruments so far, this setup seems the best for focus , power, and with a good bow is capable of all the colors one needs.

Spirocore C (NOT tungsten, just silver coated)

Spirocore G silver

Vision solo D

Jargar A

July 27, 2013 at 03:20 AM · Thanks, Ryan. The Dvorak is lovely. So how would you compare the Eudoxas with Obligatos? I'm currently using the O's.

July 27, 2013 at 03:35 AM · I can't say I've ever bought a set, but I feel they are more resonant than obligatos, though gut strings aren't ever going to be as stable. I.E. you'll tune more often, I've heard of eudoxas snapping (this happened to my teacher on a live quartet concert...multiple times), and for all intents and purposes inferior to passione. Is there a reason you don't wanna try passione?

Obligatos worked beautifully on an instrument I tried for no apparent reason (instrument was unresponsive and quiet, obligatos were brilliant and open...? Every viola is different), but I bought a brand new set and deplored them on a different instrument.

Try the eudoxa G/D, I think that's all you need.

And don't get the passione a if you go that route, it's terrible.

July 27, 2013 at 03:40 AM · What viola are playing on? Not the maker that matters to much, but if it's older, dominant a tend to work well. Big violas respond better with higher tension in my experience, so spirocore cg and whatever on the top.

Evahs with a Larsen A tend to be "standard" but it irks me when people just do that because its the norm. Good for you for trying! Worth spending the money, as it can make you incredibly pleased:)

July 27, 2013 at 04:14 AM · I'm definitely interested in the Passiones, based on your enthusiastic review. But what A do you use, since you said the Passione A's are terrible?

July 27, 2013 at 04:59 AM · Ryan, I too am quite curious on Passiones vs Evahs vs Spirocores. I made a post regarding the viola strings sometime last month too. Passiones seem to be the best bet. I'm currently using Obligatos w/Larsen A on my 16" Sean Peak viola. Really nice sound, but doesn't project the absolute best. I've heard that Spirocores are a bit too harsh for a majority of the violas. Awhile ago, I tried Evahs w/Larsen A. They were ok, but the tension was too much for my fingers. Great if you a lot of solo work though.

Haha, I actually know Dunham and Ivo too. I knew Dunham switched from Dominants to Passiones, but I didn't know Ivo ditched Evahs. Seems like word gets around quickly at Rice!

July 27, 2013 at 10:11 PM · As mentioned in one of my previous posts, PaSSione start to hiSS after a while. I have been using those strings on my violins for more than 5 years and it took me a while to understand what is going on. Yes, they sound great for about 100 hours, but after that, there is a hissing envelope to the core sound that I find really annoying. The worst of all is that strings are still looking like new, but the good sound is gone. In all honesty, this may be related to excessive humidity we get here in Ontario; the more humid, the more we stretch them to stay in tune and the gut core simply gives in. (Pirastro explicitly states on their web site that these strings should not be tuned on higher frequency than the target; in other words - do not overstretch them)

One could keep the violin in case with relaxed strings during high humidity and use a backup instrument with synthetic strings, or tune to 415Hz.... but this is not always possible and I just hate to spend over $100 on strings for a month of pleasure.

I am back to good old Eudoxa. The issues of stability and gut core remain, but they at least less expensive and quite neutral - they do not alter the sound of your instrument.

July 28, 2013 at 10:32 AM · Arifa, I'd use the mellower-to-my-ear jargar a with the passione.

As for the other inquiry, while spirocores are strong and loud, the tension is so high/they are so thick that it's hard to get the string moving at all sometimes! And forget being even across the four strings. LOUD LOUD soft Screech.

I'm starting to hate those.

Maybe I need to give obligato another try- whats y'all's opinion on fastest responding viola strings? Maybe not helicore, but something nicer.

And +1 on passiones sounding great then randomly kicking the bucket with no warning. They sound great till then. Seems idiosyncratic of pirastro strings...

July 28, 2013 at 10:38 AM · I'm noticing spirocores work great on small violas (15.5"-16" tops) hence, Yuri Bashmet. Larry dutton says 'every viola needs a spirocore c' but they don't seem to work well on the bigger Sacconi and peresson violas I've tried.

July 28, 2013 at 10:52 AM · I post this in every viola string here it is again:

You can skip to page 49 for results.

According to the data. Eudoxas are the most even/neutral set out there, with good bow response. Others tested with particularly good response; Zyex, Dominant, Vision.

July 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM · Seraphim,

thank you for posting it again. It is a great time and money saver. We badly need more reports like that one!

July 28, 2013 at 01:46 PM · Thanks all for your responses!! They have been very helpful and insightful as well. Because most of the work I am doing in the next couple of months will require heavy duty playing and practicing, I am going to go with the Evah's. Once I get some down time I am sure to try the Eudoxa. I tried the C- String before and it was magnificent so I am sure that the rest of the set must follow.

Thanks again!!


July 31, 2013 at 07:32 PM · How does this sound?

Larsen A or Passione A

Passione D

Passione G

Spirocore C

July 31, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Btw Nairobi, Obligatos and a Larsen A does not clash at all, at least from what I've experienced. In fact, such a combination seems to be pretty popular.

Evahs and Larsen A on the other hand always clash, which is why I'm curious onto why so many people use them together. Their tones just don't fit well with each other.

August 1, 2013 at 12:01 AM · Kenny,I have heard that as well about Evah's and Larsen A. What would you reccommend as a good replacement A then?

August 1, 2013 at 12:04 AM ·

August 1, 2013 at 12:59 AM · The Jargar A sounds highly nasal and annoying on my viola. I used to really like it but I find the power of the Larsen A to be quite wonderful

August 1, 2013 at 01:32 AM ·

August 1, 2013 at 01:47 AM · Hey Nairobi! I too have heard that Jargars are a good replacement. Have you tried a Jargar Forte A? It has a bit more punch to it. Else, the Evah A that comes with the set is a pretty good match. I haven't personally tried the Passione A, but I've heard people use that w/o a problem! It sound identical to the Larsen, but there's something different about it.

Now, you could use the Larsen A. A lot of people use it with Evahs because it does sound good and it doesn't clash as much on some instruments. It's all about experimenting.

I think I'm going to give Passiones a try. Seems to be quite the hot pick right now. Before you pick Eudoxas, I strongly encourage you try Obligatos or Passiones first. Obligatos are probably the most gutsy sounding synthetic string. Passiones gut but they do have synthetic characteristics that make them (more) bearable.

August 1, 2013 at 10:57 AM · I agree with the above post! Eudoxa might be quite a drastic change.

And the jargar a is fantastic!

August 1, 2013 at 10:58 AM · I agree with the above post! Eudoxa might be quite a drastic change.

And the jargar a is fantastic!

August 1, 2013 at 05:12 PM · Does anyone know how good the A and C Passione strings are? Because if they aren't that great, I was thinking about using a Larsen A and a Spirocore C

August 1, 2013 at 05:26 PM · From this site:

"The most favorite viola set of strings (for sure) is Spirocore medium C, G and Larsen A and D strings. "

August 1, 2013 at 06:40 PM · Kenny- For what it's worth, I enjoyed the Passione 'A'. However I personally found the 'C' to be too thick and slow in responding to be very useful to me.

August 1, 2013 at 07:13 PM · Do you think a Spirocore C (tungsten) be a suitable substitute?

August 1, 2013 at 08:10 PM · The Spiro Tung C is my favorite C ever. Clarity and projection are excellent. The sound is different from the Passiones however, it *isn't* as complex or warm...but it's a reasonable trade off in my opinion, especially because in my experience that complexity and warmth doesn't make it much past three feet, and clarity *must* make it to the back of the hall.

August 1, 2013 at 09:00 PM · Amber, what do you currently use?

August 1, 2013 at 11:58 PM · Spiro C(tung),G,D and Larsen A, all medium gauge. Also, regarding Spiros being harsh; it's true in the beginning, though certainly no more so than Evahs. The first few days of a new set are rough, so don't do any recording then.

August 2, 2013 at 12:29 AM · Anybody using the Warchal Brilliants on their viola?

I ordered some, but they were out of stock at that vendor.

August 2, 2013 at 03:45 AM · Amber: How is that working out for you? I know a lot of professionals use them, but I also know a lot of reputable violist from my area that detest them. I've heard they work well on older instruments.

Seraphim: I've not tried them out, but I've only heard great things about them, especially when comparing the sound to price ratio. I'd give them a shot if you're looking for synthetic strings that sounds great for the price.

August 2, 2013 at 04:31 AM · Interested in the eudoxa review as well!

All this talk of obligatos made me get a set...I hate them lol. No response and meh sound. Go gut if you're leaning towards obs.

Just put dominants on with a high tension c, I love it! Super responsive, though not as complex as evahs or passione...

August 2, 2013 at 04:59 AM · I've heard that Spirocore C, Dominant G, Dominant D, and Jargar A is also a pretty popular choice, especially on larger instruments.

Often times it's the instrument that ultimately decides the direction of its sound characteristics. I find that larger and older instruments have innately more color than smaller and younger instruments. As a result, many use Spirocores for the projection qualities.

August 2, 2013 at 02:35 PM · Are there any other suggestions for A's to go with Evah's?

Ryan: I completely agree with you with the Dominant C. It's really responsive and big in sound but a tad but one-dimensional. Really fun to play on though.

August 2, 2013 at 06:09 PM · I have today 'off', so I apologize for what I expect will be a stupidly long post.

I think Kenny is dead on, it depends greatly on the instrument. With my old instrument I used Obligatos, Oliv, and Eudoxa and life was good. With the instrument I currently have, gut and synthetics can cause problems with response, clarity, and projection. I never had an issue with any of those things on the old instrument, but they just don't jive with my current instrument.

I would hasten to add the strings you use also depend on what you need to do; What sort of rep do you play? In what ensemble do you typically play?

Spiros, imo, are NOT the string if; You need to blend into an orchestral viola section. If you're in a chamber ensemble and you spend most of your time playing classical rep. in a quartet, again, imo, not a good plan. They aren't the best for recording either. In fact, I've got a session coming up at the end of the month and I will likely throw a set of Warchal Brills or Vision Solo on my instrument. With a mic a few inches away (although room will be micd too) I don't have to be as concerned about projection.

I can certainly understand why some folks would detest the sound of Spiros. Complex, warm, and pretty aren't words I'd use to describe the sound of Spiros. They are focused, strong, edgy, and direct. They teeter on obnoxious. But so do Evahs, albeit in a slightly different way, and a lot of folks swear by those.

What I like Spiros for; If you do chamber or solo and you perform in large spaces and you need something that responds quickly, is stable, durable, has clarity, does well with bow pressure and with 'extended techniques', and projects. For me anyways, they do really well. And they LAST. I can get almost 3 months out of a set before a string changing emergency happens. Rep matters too, 95% of what I do is chamber/solo and modern or 'new' music. Xenakis asks for different things than Beethoven does.

But everyone's instrument, playing style, and the ensembles and rep they need to play is different. I ask very specific things of my strings and for what I do most of the time, Spiros are great. Your mileage may vary. There are a lot of great viola strings out there, experimenting is really the only way to find out what will work for you.

Re; Warchal Brilliants-

I can confirm that, for me, they are lovely sounding strings. With them, everything rings. Even the 'A' string is great, matches the set well, is clear as a bell and beautiful. Also, I think they are a fantastic value for the money.

I don't use them exclusively because; Clarity of C (this is an ongoing issue with *my* personal instrument), projection of midrange, cracking under weight, and durability of the D string. For what I do most of the time, they aren't ideal *for me*. Alas.

My favorite set to play on were Oliv rigids. I *wish* they worked on my current instrument for the sort of playing I do, but they just don't. But on the right instrument AH! Beauty. They feel like silk, sound like silk, project, are warm, complex, juicy, strong and pure. Once they settle they are reasonably stable too. But man, they are e.x.p.e.n.s.i.v.e.

The closest I've got to a gut string that works on my current instrument are the Gold Labels. Go figure. ?? I don't know why that is.

In my experience Eudoxas, Obligatos, Warchal Brills, and Vision Solos are *all* really great strings as well. It all depends on the instrument, player, and the rep. In the world of viola strings, those are the directions I'd steer most folks.

Based on my own experience I can't get behind Evahs, 3/4 of the Larsen set, or Passiones (with the exception of the Passione steel A).

On the right instrument Evahs can sound wonderful. I have used them myself in the past. However, in my own experience, I have had major issues with durability. They die a painful, shrill death and their lifespan is extremely short. For me, they are an appallingly bad value for the money. (also, the C doesn't work for me) If you don't play much or are made of money, go for it! Otherwise, nope.

Passiones. Oh had me at 'stable gut'. They sounded phenomenal for the 20 seconds I could get them to stay in tune. Really beautiful sounding strings, but I've had better luck with Oliv, Eudoxa, and Gold staying in tune than I had with these. The 'c' was horrible when I had to do anything low and fast, but again, that's a weakness of my personal instrument. I had them on for around a month and I recall saying to myself, during a rehearsal of Shosty Piano Quintet when they'd gone out for about the 5th time, 'Yeah, I'm done with these.'

That being said, I think the Passione 'A' deserves a post of it's own. It *does* share some qualities to the Larsen 'A'. It's powerful and projects, but it has a rounder, more 'human' vocal quality to it. Less like a bell, more 'throaty'...and I mean 'throaty' in a positive way. It's a beautiful mezzo soprano sound; brilliant yes, but with some real guts and bulk underneath and surrounding it. I think it's a really valuable contribution to the variety of 'a' strings available to us. 'Dear Pirastro, more of that, pretty please!'

Larsens. *shakes head*. This is an flat out appeal:

I wanted to love the rest of your (synthetic) set for viola, but I don't. It s***s. Dull, waaaay too flexible, and pathetically short lived. I wore the winding OFF of the D string in less than a month at pitch A4. What the heck guys? Make me a set to match your 'a' and I'll buy it! I promise!

August 2, 2013 at 09:22 PM · Wow Amber, that was an excellent post full of great insight! Thanks for sharing. My set of Passiones just came in and I'm excited to try them out. I'll post my response later. I've heard of them being horribly unstable of some instruments (such as yourself) but surprisingly stable on others (hopefully mine). I guess it's just all about luck of the draw!

August 3, 2013 at 04:01 PM · Alright so my full set of Passiones arrived yesterday. I've only clocked in about 2 hours, but here's my initial report:

A String: Very stable (it's steel, so no surprise) and less powerful than than the Larsen A. Makes a very nice sound, almost like a hybrid between a Jargar A and a Larsen A. There is a slight twangy sound that effectively neutralizes the power. Nairobi, I'd seriously consider looking into this string if you end up choosing Evahs. It's not too shrill like a Jargar A, yet it's tone doesn't seem like it'd clash like the Larsen A.

D String: Very full, but still needs to bloom. The upper positions are considerably easier to play on than it was on the Obligato D.

G String: Beautiful Tone, but also needs some blooming to do. The texture of the strings reminds me a lot of the Vision Solo strings. The sound is big and round, though it isn't anything groundbreaking (at least yet).

C String: Tone is also great but it is so freaking unresponsive. Now, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt because I've heard that the C string especially grows more and more out of this state of unresponsiveness.

Summation: Every single string (besides the A) needed constant retuning. Maybe it's because I've never used guts before and am spoiled on the stability of synthetics/steels, but gee wiz. I couldn't play for 10 minutes without something going out of tune. I do realize that a big part of this is also because the strings are stretching, so I have hope that the stability will get somewhat better. The sound in general is big and full, but not so much dark, contrary to what other people have experienced. Again, this could be because the strings haven't fully finished stretching yet. I really do hope they get darker because I love that type of tone. These strings are great so far, but the stability is really a killjoy. Not a huge difference from Obligatos at this point. Hoping otherwise! I'll report later again.

August 3, 2013 at 04:10 PM · Thank you greatly to Amber and Kenny. You guys have given me much insist on what my next combination should be if I don't like the Evah's.

Kenny, I have already ordered the strings with the Larsen A, but if I can't stand the clash (if my viola decides to make one) then I shall order a Passione A. Did you get the steel A, or the wounded gut?

Thanks again!!


August 3, 2013 at 08:40 PM · Hey Nairobi,

The Passione A only comes as a steel core :) Please tell us how you like the Evahs. I hope for your sake that the Larsen doesn't clash!

August 3, 2013 at 08:49 PM · :O at they sell both the steel core and the aluminum wound gut string. I'll make sure to give an update sometime next week

Thanks again for everything.


August 3, 2013 at 08:49 PM ·

August 4, 2013 at 07:57 PM · Hmm to my knowledge and according to the Pirastro website the Passione A only comes in steel!

August 5, 2013 at 06:42 AM · The gut passione A is *(l)awful*...feels sol different when bowing it compared to the others, and squaks with almost any force applied with the beaux. (do)n't get it. Mi? I'd get the steel. By fa-r the better choice.

August 6, 2013 at 04:23 PM · You are saying the Karneols were brighter than the Brilliants?

August 7, 2013 at 01:05 AM · Alright, so the Passiones were pretty stable this morning after about 4 days of constant retuning. The sound became a bit more focused and lively over these past fews day. Unfortunately for my wallet, the strings weren't too amazing for me. I prefer the sound of my previous Obligatos, as well as the stability. Though I was debating whether I should keep them for quite awhile, I decided to take them off. I was planning on putting my previous Obligatos on, but I decided to experiment. I took off the fresh Dominants from my previous viola, slapped them on my new viola, and I was happily surprised. I usually detest Dominants for their metallic sound, and while it's still there, the sound it produced on my viola was gorgeous. Very smooth, not too dark, not too bright. I think the best way to describe the sound would be "lovely". Still a few problems, but I feel that many will go away once it fully stretches. C string is a bit fuzzy. Might invest in a Spirocore C.

August 7, 2013 at 03:13 AM · Kenny,

I just got a 17 1/8th" viola on trial, do you recommend spirocore for the c/g? I've only had luck with those on tiny instruments, but the low end is flabby on this one.

I bought a tungsten c for a diff large viola I tried but it literally wouldn't even speak. It may have been false, but are they a good choice for a particularly large bratsche?

August 7, 2013 at 03:46 AM · Hey Ryan,

Actually, I've never used Spirocores on my own instruments, only on some instruments my friends own. Couple of things I can tell you though:

1. You might need to just play the instrument for a few days or a week (depending on how much you practice) so it can break in. This is especially important if the instrument was just recently made or if it hasn't been played on for a very long time. Sometimes the wood needs to adjust to the resonance that it creates and the pores need to open. Also, if the instrument came from a drastically different climate, you might need to give it a few more days on top of that for it to get acclimated to the environment. Houston (which is where I assume you're located since you're familiar with Rice) is very hot and humid, so something from New Mexico, which is cold and dry, might take some time to adjust.

2. I haven't heard so much of the G string, but, as Amber said, the C string is stellar. Very, very powerful and direct. If your instrument is flabby on the lower end then I'd definitely try the C and G out. I know the many soloists use them because they project very well. Only down side is that the color isn't all there. Most prominent violists, however, have older or more expensive instruments that give great color regardless of string.

August 7, 2013 at 08:35 PM · Thanks.

I'm pondering trying either the Brilliants or the Karneols. They both sound nice, I just need to decide which way I want to go. The Karneols are about $20 cheaper, which is swaying me. But I am intrigued at trying something a bit more powerful, like the Brilliants, so I may spring for them anyhow.

August 7, 2013 at 11:10 PM · Jay, you are right when you say that Evah's darken a bright instrument. My viola is on the brighter side and I just got a set of Evah's yesterday and they have settled in nicely and have definitely darkened my instrument especially on the lower strings.

Kenny: I am happy to say that Larsen A and Evah's have not clashed (so far) and seem to be very cohesive. My viola cooperates very well with the Larsen A so I am glad that Evah's seemed to settle in. They are indeed quite powerful and very resonant. They start off very metallic (especially the g and d) but after about a day loose most of that sound. I am extremely happy with this set and I thank your ll for suggesting it!!

Thanks again!! :DDD


P.S. I have also gathered from this theater that generally (not always) younger less colorful violas (or instruments period) need a set that have more color and older more expensive violas don't need those sets because by aging they have gotten their own color and then you can focus mainly on the power of the strings. Sounds like a good tip for most violas.

August 8, 2013 at 03:20 AM · Kenny...

Wow I needed to ear that! I get frustrated when I practice on an instrument for 2-3 days and it feels...soggy or dull. I'll give it a proper week this time.

The David burgess (brand spanning new) sounds better everytime I pick it up. I nightly write it off, then daily renege on that decision haha. Really fascinating.

Just got a nice viola in the mail (I believe it's 'the one') and tried the spirocores which are amazing (both silver). I'm worried about the tension as its quite old though, and people have mentioned low-tension as a must for older instruments, but I agree with you...Bashmet's Testore and Larry Duttons former Mantegazza were religiously strung with spiros.

I'm having a LOT of trouble with the d however. It doesn't match the power or clarity of the Larsen a or spiros. Visions pirazzi, obligatos failed hard. Any ideas? One passione is silly despite my love for them.

August 8, 2013 at 05:13 AM · Ryan,

Passiones may not be the best option if Obligatos failed majorly. I'm assuming you have a Spirocore D. Have you ever tried a Larsen D? Or perhaps, the ol' Bashmet setup, w/Prims on top. That may do the trick. Who's the maker?

August 8, 2013 at 05:37 AM · Hey- thanks for your help on this, the viola is almost perfect except for the d (which I could live with)

I haven't actually tried sprio d, people said they stink. I'm trying to find prims, might just have to order them. And the passione was a joke haha.

It is a Lotenzo aStorioni, 16", cant read the label but it looks like 1777. best sounding instrent I've tried apart from the niccolo amati ($2.3 million...yeah right...). I like the character of it better actually. I've quite literally never heard anything with a tone like it!

August 8, 2013 at 05:38 AM · With the exception of a theremin of course

August 8, 2013 at 05:41 AM · Sorry for post spamming, but I have a set of most strings that I use on these trials. Does the regular (weekly) winding/unwi don't make them wear prematurely?

August 8, 2013 at 11:18 AM ·

August 8, 2013 at 04:36 PM · Ryan, I know I'm going off-topic, but this is just too alluring:

"I like the character of it better actually. I've quite literally never heard anything with a tone like it!"

How would you describe the tone and character of this new (old) viola? Maybe you could post some clips??? I'd love to hear. You could start a new thread: viola tone and character.

August 8, 2013 at 07:00 PM · I'll try the belcantos! I have a good friend who owns an instrument shop, and he let me try everything I could think of today! Wound up with:

Spirocore tungsten C

Dominant g

Evah d (hate it, but it was better than the alternatives)

Larsen A

Thoughts on others:

Spirocore chrome C G D - AWFUL. no articulation cheap sound not punchy or loud. Worst strings I've tried.

Passione full set - yummy colorful sound! Too quiet. Speaks with no effort, feels sticky when playing, squak with too much pressure, not loud enough. Waiting for the passione solo that that violinists just got! Heard they're unbelievable.

Vision- overly bright, total waste.

Vision sol c g d- ok, but no variety in color is achievable. D is too thin and sounds weak

Evah- I want to like them (full set) but the delay in response is annoying. A little hesitation before the note speaks. Most intriguing synthetic core sound imo. High tension c was surprisingly nice! A was too strident

Obligato- not for me, really cool sound, too mellow though. C was awful, but on the right viola the g and d would be an option!

Dominants - <3 (except the awful c)

Ordered kaplans and bel canto

August 8, 2013 at 07:07 PM · Darret,

If that Peccatte was in Chicago, I tried it too! Then one I tried was $260k so maybe a different one. The amati was at this shop too (take a wild guess...) and it was magnificent. Too bad it'll probably end up in a glass case. It was 1 of 6 known nicolo Amatis, mr tapping had it in takacs (or if I'm confused, then whatever quartet. Was it Juilliard? Oh well it was his). Price tag is unreal for a classical musician, gotta have some crazy sponsors.

Yuri Bashmet was actually looking at it the day before I was there haha. Just missed him.

Arifa I'll post it in here, don't want the onslaught of viola jokes :)

August 8, 2013 at 07:10 PM · Just got a violin bow today. Eugene Sartory (sp?). But it has solved every articulation problem and is louder and clearer than a Peccatte that was loaned to me, and just as colorful. I've been converted.

August 8, 2013 at 07:43 PM ·

August 9, 2013 at 04:05 AM · Larsen A with spiracores - chrome D and silver G and C.

August 9, 2013 at 04:54 PM · Strange inquiry, and forgive me if this is not allowed, but does anyone ever trade strings on this website? Like, strings that've barely been used for someone else's, either for trial or for keeps? That'd be very interesting as I'm willing to swap out barely used Passiones for Evahs.

August 10, 2013 at 03:53 AM · I'm down! I have 45+ strings in my backpack right now even haha, most lightly used. Some unopened ones that I bought and never got around to. I can mail them! You want pirazzis?

Also, this tungsten spiro c feels so stiff, does it really change drastically? If it doesn't open up I'll ditch it (still day one, got another one earlier today since the previous one endured a bridge feet adjustment and really wore out.)

August 10, 2013 at 04:08 AM · I'd really love to try passione on this, I have an unused evah D A and g, as well as high and middle tension C's.

Also got dominants, solos, lots of slightly used spiros in different windings, and plenty of different A's. and helicores?

August 10, 2013 at 05:07 AM · Off topic- I thought my viola was having setup issues, but it's actually a 'bois d'harmonie' tailpiece that was string incorrectly from the dealer!! I'm mad, tons of money on strings, bridge, adjustment, sleepless nights, bad practice...

How do you string

I have no idea.

August 10, 2013 at 05:03 PM · Dang Ryan haha. Yes, please email me what you have available. My full set of Passiones have only about 4 hours clocked in!

August 13, 2013 at 04:13 PM · So I'm in love with the passione, and tried evahs afterward and just couldn't bear it.

They are by far the most responsive string on my viola, resonant, colorful, brilliant. I now understand how primrose could play so fast. I believe he couldn't on evahs or obligatos.

I was worries about projection however, so I just sent an email to Pirastro on behalf of violists imploring them to make passione solo for viola. I think it was persuasive, but I don't have my hopes up lol.

August 13, 2013 at 04:22 PM · Ryan

Gut strings sound the best on your viola. I had a feeling that synthetic strings would be too much. Thank you for asking Pirastro for the passione solos. They sound exciting :)

August 14, 2013 at 01:41 AM · Why doesn't anyone use dominants on viola? They seem popular amongst people like perlman, Hahn, zuckerman used to...they sound heavenly on the fiddle my first violinist plays on. Are they not colorful or projecting enough? I used a Dom D for about ten minutes today until I could find a different one on sale and loved the response! Vibrato worked well. May have been hollow, but again, this sounds great...

August 14, 2013 at 01:44 AM · Nairobi,

Thanks for your kind words! Unfortunately they aren't working that well now as it is 100 degrees and 100% humidity here in Houston...they are more capricious than I can describe...

I have evahs on now. Does the c string response get better? How long to break in? Cool sound, but idk if they're 'it'. I can live with them. Not like the spirocore which made me alter my contact point by an inch to make it even move.

August 14, 2013 at 02:32 AM ·

August 14, 2013 at 02:37 AM · Ryan,

The C definitely gets better. It takes about three or four days of serious playing, but it's a good C. Jargar A I find can be very nasal where as a Larsen A has that power and evenness, but Evah's can clash (althought it didn't with mine thankfully). I hope everything settles for you!!


August 14, 2013 at 03:20 AM ·

August 14, 2013 at 03:24 AM · Darrett

Isn't it amazing how different strings can be on different violas? I have actually meant quite a large amount of violas in the last week that have a Larsen A. I think it was here I that heard about using a Jargar. I like keeping what you say in mind because I am sure that the viola I have now is not my final.

Thanks for your response!


August 14, 2013 at 04:45 AM · I'm in a tizzy as I'm playing a concert this Friday for the person helping with the finances for this viola...but can't even choose a string set, let alone give them time to settle.

I tried the vision solos today, and the D literally wouldn't speak. My luthier let me try two and adjusted for them, but no dice. I deplore those strings.

Someone said zuckerman switched to vision solos for the cgd, but I can't imagine he'd use those. Terrible.

Just recorded with evahs, they sound so dull. Why is the viola such a pain?! But when it works there's nothing better...guess that's been carrying me through.

I love this thread! You guys are great and our composite experiences are very valuable.

The inconsistencies of all these strings- passione exempt- are strongly leading me towards Dominants. I do have a couple solo performances (with orch) and am worried about projection though. Ugh.

August 14, 2013 at 04:52 AM · In fact I hated the vision solo on my vla so much I never opened the C. Totally new. Up for grabs.

Although some kind if lightly used...anything would be appreciated in return:)

August 14, 2013 at 05:17 AM ·

August 14, 2013 at 06:02 AM · On what Darrett mentioned about Vision Solos and Evahs, my previous instrument loved Vision Solos to death. It sounded like a louder, warmer version of Obligatos. It also hate Evahs because it made the instrument sound like a violin that just so happened to have a C string. Some people dig that, but I personally do not. However, today I slapped on a set of Evahs on my newer instrument that previously had Obligatos on and, surprisingly, it only brightened the sound marginally while adding depth, clarity, and projection. On the same note, the viola hated Vision Solos. So I can testify to what Darrett said.

On the mention of Dominants: I whole heartedly agree that the strings are underrated, though understandably. Some instruments sound fabulous with Dominants, particularly older or more expensive violas. It's similar to the case of Spirocores. Such instruments already have color and depth to the point where the strings have less influence on anything besides tone and projection. Since color isn't an issue, Dominants provide a fuller tone, while Spiros deliver projection. I agree, Zukerman's viola boasts a beautiful sound with Dominants on. Does anyone know who was the maker of his instrument?

August 14, 2013 at 01:16 PM ·

August 14, 2013 at 08:17 PM · What is the fine tuner trick?

I'll go with dominants. This viola flat-out rejects solos.

August 15, 2013 at 12:28 AM ·

August 15, 2013 at 12:54 AM · Is that similar to stringing the c on the g peg? I know primrose did this

August 15, 2013 at 01:05 AM ·

August 15, 2013 at 02:23 PM · Well I wasted $500+ on strings and adjustments this summer only to learn that freaking dominants make my viola sound like a storioni...

Evahs, ESPECIALLY vision solos were just choking the hell out of it. The d wouldn't speak and we tried two. It literally didn't make noise.

Kenny claimed everything but the unused set of vision solos. Anyone? Just pay for the shipping or something if you want em. Or send me an encouraging email.

August 15, 2013 at 02:25 PM · Dag yo, wish y'all were here to drop these knowledge bombs on me like 3 months ago.

August 15, 2013 at 02:42 PM · Ringing em up and stringing em up was only stringing me out.

Id even pay to give em away, doms all the way, no doubt.

Everyday doomed to play on pirazzis- thats what I'm not all about,

Cool story bro, but a storioni? Yo, it should sing- not freak out and shout.

August 15, 2013 at 03:06 PM · This has been a great thread with much knowledge shed on viola strings :). I am so happy that I have learned what I did plus some extra! Thank you all and welcome to the archive :D.

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