Advise - Violin A string

March 17, 2014 at 07:58 PM · violin A string

I practice on with Obligato set (excluding E) and I am not satisfied with the A string. It seems to be unstable,lake of brilliance... I tried Dominant and Eva Pirazzi, yet, it is not good enough. Any recommendation will be appreciated

Replies (28)

March 17, 2014 at 08:43 PM · Try a Warchal Russian A

March 17, 2014 at 09:23 PM · Agreed with Warchal Russian, it's a fabulous string. Go to your luthier though to check out the A - it could be a bridge or soundpost problem since generally the Obligato A is quite satisfactory. Also consider the chrome wound (rather than the aluminium) Obligato A and the Infeld Red or Blue A.

March 17, 2014 at 09:47 PM · Go to your luthier and ask him or her to listen to your violin with the current strings including the A you do not like and get his or her opinion on what string might work better to get the sound you want. You may just have gotten a defective string. I use Obligato strings, and what you are hearing does not sound like a good Obligato A. However, all strings sound different on different violins, so while the Warchal A might be good for you, your luthier, who can hear your violin, will be in a better position than we are to advise you. Good luck!

March 17, 2014 at 10:19 PM ·

I had a problem with the A string once. I switched the tailpiece to a harp tailpiece design, and that fixed the problem.

March 17, 2014 at 10:36 PM · Go to your luthier and ask him/her to check the bridge. If the set up after check generally is correct I would do two very small changes to the bridge.

#1: Increase the height of the arch between the bridge feet very slightly. Five to ten light filings back/forth with filing centered under the D-string. So little wood is taken away that it is barely visible. If done carefully there is no need to remove the bridge. Use a thick paper to protect the varnish. Notice that making the arch slightly non-symmetric is intentional.

Test the violin by playing it. This should brighten the A-string. It is possible that the next step isn't needed.

If the A-string still lacks power the next step is:

#2: Using a small file enlarge the opening in the heart under the D-string slightly. Again: Less is better! Two or three turns back/forth is what is needed.

The two small almost invisible changes is clearly audible. The change is so small that it should be essentially impossible to see the change.

If you want to try this fix and need more information send me an e-mail.

March 18, 2014 at 01:28 AM · Zyex?

give it a week to play-in. First impression sometimes wrong.

March 18, 2014 at 02:26 AM · I love Zyex on one of my violins. Love it, love it, love it!

On my other violin: meh...

March 18, 2014 at 03:35 AM ·

March 18, 2014 at 04:52 AM · If the sound on the other strings is stable the problem is most likely a faulty string. Were you satisfied with the sound prior to installing the present string? Has anything changed since then? Have you maybe inadvertently bumped the bridge? Is the bridge nice and straight? What about the sound post? Has it maybe slipped a bit away from teh bridge? What string are you using? Weich Medium or Stark? Instruments tend to respond differently when changing the tension of the string and there is a significant change in tension from Weich to Stark.

March 18, 2014 at 09:13 AM · Also another thought; your A could sound a lot better if you used a different E string (even though you swapped out the Obligato E). What E are you using?

March 19, 2014 at 08:44 AM · Jargar E string

March 19, 2014 at 09:31 AM · OK. I've never had experience with Jargar Es in combination with Obligato but I should imagine that they work quite well. Having said that, if you are using the medium Jargar, you may wish to try the forte Jargar, and vice versa, just to see if there is any improvement. It's a cheap experiment before you start moving to other options, since E strings are inexpensive but A strings are more so.

March 19, 2014 at 06:21 PM · I dont want to take over this thread but as a side question: does anyone use a different D?

I use the standard set with the gold E but the D doesnt seem to blend in that well the set. I asked my teacher about the G because it seemed too low but she said it was because my D string seems to be more brilliant and bright relative to the other stings. So does anyone swap out their D strings for something else or tried the aluminum D?


March 19, 2014 at 07:30 PM · "From Nick G

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 06:21 PM

I dont want to take over this thread but as a side question: does anyone use a different D?"

Good point Nick. It is a good idea to try tensions going in opposite directions for the D and G strings. I do quite often try a higher tension G if the D sticks out.

March 19, 2014 at 10:05 PM · Good point Nick; I use Infeld Red normally but I snapped the D string so "accidentally" ended up with a Dominant aluminium D. It seems to work better! The Infeld D was not bad at all but the transition from lower to higher strings seems much smoother now. I am using a Aricore E (same as Gold Label E) and it's a great set. It's dying out a bit though; I am going to change to the classic Dominants and Jargar forte E for the time being due to budget constraints.

March 20, 2014 at 01:49 AM · Nick, I think the aluminum Obligato d might be exactly what you're looking for.

March 20, 2014 at 03:21 AM ·

March 20, 2014 at 09:31 AM · Another aside, sorry I hope this isn't perceived as hijacking the thread - I wonder why a) no silver wound A strings are made and b) no aluminium wound G strings are made? They might (respectively) help violins with brash A strings and dusky G strings. I'd appreciate any insights.

March 20, 2014 at 09:41 AM · We may be the only string maked who use aluminium for violin G string (Ametyst G). We use it instead of steel for the first winding.

However, to answer your question, it is because of the weight (mass). Even in Ametyst G, the (much lighter) alumuinium has to be compensated by extra portion of silver. This is why the string is a bit more expensive.

March 20, 2014 at 09:50 AM · I see; thank you for your prompt reply. So it's to do with the fact that the string tension would be too light on an aluminium G - in that case why are there no silver As? I'm sure some violins could benefit from more subdued A strings, and A strings aren't too heavy in general.

(I seem to have the opposite problem - I just put on my Dominant strings last night on a whim and the A string seems to sound much rounder and less bright than the Infeld Red A. The blend of the set with the Jargar forte E is perfect but I'm not sure if I like the tone, and may need to revert to a steel A at some point. Probably the Russian A...)

March 20, 2014 at 01:47 PM · I love it when Bohdan chimes in on string tech!


March 20, 2014 at 04:59 PM · A G with lots of aluminum would be thick to the point of being unresponsive, I'm guessing, and an A with lots of silver would be thin to the point of lacking body, I'm guessing

March 20, 2014 at 05:57 PM · Another possibility, not yet mentioned, is a plain gut A ("if it was good enough for Heifetz ..."), but a tailpiece with integral tuners would obviously pose a problem.

My ongoing experience of the plain gut A (likewise the D) is that it is stable, projects well, lasts well (significantly better than covered synthetics regarding retention of tonal quality, imo), gives due visual warning when it is about to expire, and is difficult to beat on value-for-money considerations. Being plain gut, it has tonal qualities that are the aim of some synthetic string manufacturers - whether that aim is being achieved is still a matter of debate.

I have used Eudoxas in the past but found that their tuning stability is noticeably less reliable than that of their Chorda equivalents (plain gut A and D, and wire-wound G - the Eudoxa G is flat-wound). I was discussing this with a very experienced violinist last night, who said that in his career as a professional concert-master the stability of Eudoxas was not reliable enough for concerts, especially if he had a solo coming up towards the end, so he changed to synthetics.

March 21, 2014 at 07:21 PM · Silver winding on an A would be so thin that it wouldn't last long.

The A is dominant's best string, and even makes a good substitute for Eudoxa. It also matches that lovely but much maligned wound Dominant E....

However, when I really need a plain steel E, (or the Tonica wound E) I prefer a steel A too.

March 21, 2014 at 11:33 PM ·

March 24, 2014 at 04:49 PM · @Andrew - the aluminum makes this set blend in so much nicer! Thanks!

March 24, 2014 at 08:40 PM · Thomastic Infeldt is an excellent string. The blue one that is. It's a bit thicker and to me that gives a bettet feeling "under the finger" so to speak. Works perfectly with silver Oliv on my violin.


March 24, 2014 at 09:12 PM · I'm also using Thomastik infeldt blue. I like it very much. The only problem I have is that when it's old it starts to unwind suddenly. Not that you can really notice that it starts to sound dull and perhaps out of tune but it just gives up. So I have to plan ahead and perhaps sometimes change earlier than I should have to. But, like you sad Eric, it feels great under the finger.


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