Differences among dark sounding violin strings

January 10, 2014 at 06:03 AM · I need information regarding the differences among dark sounding violin strings.

Replies

January 10, 2014 at 09:10 AM · Zyex, Obligato, Violino, Aricore, going from "complex to "smooth".

(I use Obligato on my rather nasal viola).

Edit: I forgot Pro Arte, smoother still than Aricore.

Other Edit: I replace the chrome-on-steel obligato viola A with the Eudoxa-Aricore alu-on-polyester A: Sweet, singing tone right to the top!

January 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM ·

January 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM · Zyex were loud and brash in the past; I don't know when they changed their formula, with a darker (?) packaging (I am colour-blind..) and a darker sound.

And they are half the price of Obligatos!

January 10, 2014 at 11:04 AM ·

January 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM · I'm not sure how to classify "dark", but if you are looking to tame a bright sounding violin with some mellower strings. D'aDario ProArtes are easy playing and smooth sounding on a lot of violins.

On one violin I have that is particularly strong sounding and bright the ProArtes were still a bit too strong. What I found that worked well on that violin was a set of Corelli Crystal light gauge. On that violin they give a very resonant and full sound yet tame a lot of the excessive brightness much better than the ProArtes (which only come in medium it seems).

The other benefit of these two string choices is that you can get a set of either one for under $25. So you could try both for less than the cost of a single set of Obligatos, etc.

I tried Karneols. They sounded horrible on one of my violins, very flabby G and D. But I put them on another violin and they sounded great. Warm and even tones on that instrument.

I have a set of Violinos. They are very nice sounding strings, but on the violin I have them on they are actually rather bright, not the dark, mellow tone that is often attributed to them.

Every violin responds differently to a given string set. You simply have to try them all out until you find what you like.

January 10, 2014 at 11:16 AM · Hi,

We are talking about totally different strings both in sound and materials. Of the ones listed, the Obligato is the darkest sounding. It can choke some instruments (some of the brighter strings do as well) but, they have a rich sound color reminiscent of gut strings in some ways under the ear. They are also among the longest lasting strings on the market once installed. The Infeld Red are like a louder version of Dominants, higher tension, a little bit darker but with less variations in color but good response to dynamics and bow pressure. The Karneols are reminiscent of Dominants in feel and response, but somewhat less tension and a rich sound. They respond well to bow speed more than pressure in my experience.

In the end, choice of strings depends ALWAYS on the particular instrument and what you are looking for.

Hope this helps…

Cheers!

January 10, 2014 at 03:22 PM · Hi,

Thanks for the information. It helps me a lot in choosing string.

January 10, 2014 at 05:17 PM · "The Infeld Red are like a louder version of Dominants, higher tension..."

I found exactly the opposite. Softer sound, didn't last as long, less tension.

January 10, 2014 at 07:53 PM · Hi Scott,

Our contrasting experience showcases well the fact that the violin always plays a huge role in our experiences with strings…

Cheers!

January 12, 2014 at 09:26 AM · My post will echo most of the above - I have experience with Obligato, Infeld Red, Zyex and Pro Arté (G and D only), so I will give my personal experiences, but bear in mind your instrument will probably respond differently to the strings. I will refer to them from the point of view of an Italian violin with fairly high arching, a strong, projecting, sweet sound with an even tone between the different strings. It probably lies in the middle of the spectrum with regards to brightness/darkness of tone.

Obligato

This was the first "dark" string that I tried, having previously used Tonica, Oliv and PI strings. In general, Obligatos tend to impose their sound on most violins, giving them a sort of "processed" sound by suppressing high frequencies. I used them with the gold E string and I found that instead of suppressing the high frequencies they actually ADDED to them, as it felt like tension had been released from across the top of the body of the instrument compared to the strings that I had used before. They were rich as I expected; I did not find them overly dark. They were certainly darker than the previous strings I had tried, but they sounded sweet, ringing and even from string to string. I did not need to work too hard to project the sound for solo work, and they blended well in chamber and orchestra situations. I was really quite impressed. However, the gold E snapped very quickly: one after 3 days, after which Pirastro sent me a replacement, which broke after 4 weeks. I kept the G, D and A for longer, and used them with a Wondertone Solo E, which worked well with them. I swapped all the strings over to my spare Chinese violin once I felt the sound had deteriorated enough for the heavy playing I was about to put my violin through at the summer 2013 National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain residency, after 8 weeks in total.

Infeld Red

This is now my string of choice (though I don't have them on at the moment due to budget constraints). I find it difficult to find fault with these strings for my particular instrument. Again, I didn't really find these to be "dark" strings. They were more focused than the Obligatos, and I found them to have more projection and complexity as well, whilst sacrificing some richness. However, I didn't find this a problem as the natural tone of my violin was rich enough for me already. Some find the tension too high; I found them quite manageable and not overly tense. Often people match a different E string with the set; I found the standard E to match very well. It is one of the warmest E strings out there and well worth a shot in my opinion. They last a long time; I used them for 14 weeks including on the NYO residency where I was playing 7 hours a day.

Zyex

For a cheaper string than the other two, you can't go too far wrong with these. These strings are more direct sounding than the other two - they don't have as many complex overtones, but they are full and quite warm, while again not being particularly "dark". They are very pitch stable and last a long time. I didn't really like the E string as it sounded tinny so I swapped out to a Golden Spiral heavy E which was a good match for the medium Zyex. The G string was a little bit dull sounding, but the set lasted a long time. It had a really good range of dynamics, far superior to the old Zyex set (I don't think anyone stocks the old set any more).

Pro Arté G and D

I didn't use these for long - my Oliv G and D had just run out and I needed to put on some spare strings but didn't have any new ones so I swapped these off my Chinese violin. They were virtually unplayed but had been stretching for 2 months so I don't know whether this had an effect on the sound. Personally I found them to have more of a processed sound than the Obligatos - they were "smooth and dark", as they are often advertised. There was little texture to the sound, but they sounded was quite full and strong. I thought these were low tension strings but they felt quite tense compared to the other strings under my fingers. I used them with a Warchal Russian A and a Goldbrokat .26 E (a weird combination, but this is what I had on with the Oliv G and D). They were very pitch stable. I reckon they would be good for brand new, bright sounding instruments, eventually moving on to one of the other strings I have mentioned above once the instrument has been broken in. The tension might be a problem, though - perhaps Aricores would be a better bet (I haven't tried these).

January 12, 2014 at 10:06 AM · Hi Aditya,

Thanks for the information. You play many pieces in youtube. Could you inform me which ones you play using Obligato and which ones using Infeld Red?

January 12, 2014 at 10:40 AM · Hi, thanks for your message. Most of the performances I have on youtube are using my old violin, on which I didn't use Obligato or Infeld Red as it was already quite dark toned (however, when I played Messiaen Theme and Variations, I used the Pro Arté G and D with a Helicore heavy A and Kaplan Golden Spiral heavy E). I used Obligatos for my performance of Dvorak Romance in F minor, and this is on my current Italian instrument:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et2jAyuWeSg&list=UUzJF-0orsiwaSNMCmK6uMvw&feature=c4-overview

I do not have a recording of my violin with Infeld Reds on it.

January 12, 2014 at 05:57 PM · Aditya,

Great and quite objective post about different strings!

"Processes sound" is the exact term for some of the new generation strings.

In the lack of resources to acquire good sounding instruments that match our internal concept of sound, we keep reaching for strings as a quick fix.

Nothing bad about that, but I am afraid that this tendency, encouraged by string producers, together with digital recordings, will gradually bring a totally new "fashion" of violin sound. In fact, this has already happened. Long gone is the era of Heifetz and Milstein when pure gut strings mixed with metal E and wound G were the setup of preference.

January 18, 2014 at 04:50 PM · Hi, how is Evah Pirazzi Gold compared to Obligato?

January 19, 2014 at 01:14 AM · Septohadi - Christian has made the only really crucial point. While you have received a good deal of information on different strings, none of it has any necessary relevance to how the strings would sound on YOUR violin. What you need to do is take your violin to a luthier who can hear it with the strings you have on it. Then you can explain to the luthier what sound you are seeking, and the luthier, based on his or her expertise, can suggest the strings most likely to produce that sound. While strings have a general effect on a violin, e.g., making the sound brighter, warmer, darker, how they would sound on your violin is entirely a guess by anyone who cannot hear the violin. For example, the difference in general between Evahs and Obligatos is that Evahs give a brighter sound and Obligatos give a warmer sound. But what either one would do on your violin is very hard to predict without hearing it with whatever strings you have on it currently. Good luck!

January 19, 2014 at 05:48 AM · Hi Tom, unfortunately there are no luthier in my town and the strings available is very limited. So, my trial is based on all the discussion in the internet and then I buy the strings from another countries. That's why I ask more specific. Currently I use Dominant G, D, A, and Gold Label E. I am looking for a litle bit warmer and sweeter sound. Right now I have infeld red, Obligato is on the way and I need information of Evah Gold.

Thanks,

Septo

January 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM · Haven't used Evah Gold on my current instrument, used them on my old dark-toned violin and they seemed to brighten up the lower end and make it less wolfy but they didn't have a lot of character to me. They seemed a bit dry and colourless, but they were easy to play. Didn't last that long though. I used the silver G.

January 19, 2014 at 11:58 AM · As a general matter, since your basis for comparison is Dominants, Obligatos are most likely to achieve the sound you want because Evahs tend to make the sound much brighter. However, what will happen on your violin is anyone's guess. Good luck!

January 19, 2014 at 01:36 PM · This may or may not be of any help:

http://youtu.be/v791WWrn2gg

May 16, 2014 at 10:19 AM · Hi folks,

I tend to use Pirastro strings on all my instruments. I've been trying to find something darker especially on the G. I've used the Evah Gold and they are beautiful strings but they are now on my electric accoustic. I Tried the Evah with the God G which is darker but didn't suit my accoustic Da Salo so I have that on my electric violin. After some research I went to the Olice Stiffs. Well what a difference. Certainly darkend the instrument but is somewhere between dark and warm which suits me. Only problem I have is that the A strings seem to deterioate on the Olives at the top nut. Beustiful Dark gut strings though. Needs a lot of tuning.

May 16, 2014 at 09:06 PM · These are my own personal experiences and observations, which could be different than yours. To me, the following synthetic strings have "dark or warm tonal character" to them:

Supersensitive:

sensicore- most similar in projection and feel to dominants with rich undertone. They are nylon core strings.

D'addario:

Zyex-powerful, soloistic sound with brilliant overtones and smoothness. They are punchy with a warm core to the sound

Warchal:

Karneol- colorful sound with rich tonal character.

Thomastik:

infeld red-powerful, open warm tone with brilliant overtones

peter infeld pi-soloistic power, focused warm tone, with lots of color modulation and overtones

Pirastro:

obligato- rich, powerful, warm with color modulation

tonica- lighter tension, full, medium darkness with brilliant overtones

violino- rich and open. I'd associate these strings as not soloistic quality

aricore- dark, focused, not soloistic quality

Corelli:

cantiga- powerful, lighter tension string that produces warm overtones and brilliant harmonics.

Larsen:

Tzigane- focused, open tone, with gutsy character.

I'd like to try the Warchal Amber, but haven't yet. I'll wait until they resolve the e string issue.

May 19, 2014 at 04:25 AM · For what it's worth, I recently tested Obligato, Zyex, Infeld Red and PI strings. I made sure they each had a few days of playing time on them. The violin I am using is a fine modern violin - Guarneri model. I also recorded various excerpts with all the strings, using high quality equipment. It was fun :)

Obligato - definitely less bright, but didn't sound dull or muffled. Still has a big sound, great response in low dynamics and enough sizzle. On my fiddle though, the sound was easier to crack in high registers.

Pi - overall the best, Focused, powerful, great response in all positions. The more I press, the more sound I get. only complaint is that the upper strings felt too sharp, surface-noisy with a complete PI set

Zyex - very impressive. Especially the A string. Warm but focused sound, not shrill, great response in all registers. Not as sophisticated of a sound as Obligato for example, but easier to play on. For the price/longevity it's really great. It's my go-to set for summer traveling or the weeks of dungeon-practice-time for learning new repertoire. G string didn't excite me so much.

Infeld red - thin sound, not really that warm or dark as advertised. Dominant is better.

Finally, what I use now, seems to sound the best for my instrument and playing style. I also like evah pirazzi on the D,G strings.

E - Prim Lisa

A - Zyex

D - Thomastik PI

G - Thomastik PI

Hope that entertained someone :) That's all.

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