Advice for Strings

June 5, 2016 at 03:16 PM · Hello everyone,

I have a Carlo Tononi Bolognese 1732, allthough I have financial problems, so I am not able to replace strings too often. The last set I purchased was Amber by Warchal. They do have realy great sound, but I didn't like G string on positions after seventh. I think is a good idea to stay in Warchal, because its strings are extremely durable and cheap for their uality. My violin has a brilliant sound, so I need mroe dark Strings. would I go for Brilliant Vintage, or make o combo with amber and Russian A, avantgrade? What do you think about these A? Recommendations for E? What do you think about Amber's E?

Thanks in advance,

Angel Mastorakis

Replies (37)

June 5, 2016 at 03:33 PM · Its hard to imagine a person being poor when they own a $500,000 violin, but I'll go with the story. For affordable strings I recommend Tonica by Pirastro, they are a perlon core alternative to Thomastik's Dominant, but almost 1/2 the price, I have not been able to see deficiencies in their tone compared to Dominant, they are available on line for about $35. I have never tried the Warchal strings, many people are just crazy about them, but I have heard several people complain that some of them don't last that long, same complaint for Evah Pirazzi and Obligato.

June 5, 2016 at 05:16 PM · If I go with the story (there are various plausible explanations, like "bought by parent decades ago when fine instruments could be acquired for modest sums of money"): If you want to stick with Warchal, I would go Brilliant Vintage with the Amber E. It's a nice combination. The Avantgarde A is very nice if you like the Amber E, and it sounds more like a synthetic than a steel string, but whether you like it depends whether you prioritize a smooth tonal transition between D and A, or a smooth transition between A and E; the Avantgarde will be the latter.

June 5, 2016 at 09:56 PM · Some of us are cash poor because we have expensive violins. I drive a modest 8yo Audi as a consequence of my violin buying decisions.

I use PI on all my violins.

Cheers Carlo

June 5, 2016 at 10:14 PM · Hi Carlo, I drive a 26 year old Volvo with 300,000 miles, but my much more successful cousin is a vice president for Audi!! Imagine the headaches he has to deal with with the emissions scandal!! My business must be a breeze by comparison.

June 6, 2016 at 12:45 AM · Another vote for Tonicas : best value strings on the market.

I drive a Toyota Starlet...nothing to do with violin/string choice !

June 6, 2016 at 01:01 AM · I found the Peter Infeld platinum E to really improve G strings on violins where they were weak in high positions. Hard to believe, but I've got these Es on 4 fiddles now.


June 6, 2016 at 01:03 AM · I found the Peter Infeld platinum E to really improve G strings on violins where they were weak in high positions. Hard to believe, but I've got these Es on 4 fiddles now.


June 6, 2016 at 01:04 AM · Brian, in your opinion, do Tonicas last just as long as Dominants, that's the one thing I'm worried about, I've been using a lot of them on my student for sale instruments, and I'm not a player. I love the sound of them, I don't have any problems with that. I've practically stopped buying Dominants.

June 6, 2016 at 01:50 AM · At $40 for the PI E string, though (the most expensive E on the market), they are probably not a reasonable choice for strings on a budget.

June 6, 2016 at 02:01 AM · really? isnt the gold plated evah e the most?

June 6, 2016 at 02:15 AM · Gold plated Obligato which I think is the same?? or similar price to gold plated Evah(same company) is $10 wholesale, that's about $15 retail. Platinum PI is $21 wholesale about $30 retail.

I think that's because the whole string is platinum?? not just a thin plating. Or not, I'm not sure.

Yes the OP was asking for the best budget strings, not the best strings at any price.

June 6, 2016 at 05:08 AM · Tonicas are surprisingly good for their price! And I think they are more interesting in sound and last longer than Dominants.

However, I stopped using them in favor of Zyex, which I've come to prefer, and are also reasonably priced.

June 6, 2016 at 11:20 AM · I also don't think of anything that can bean Tonicas in terms of budget. I now that the OP insists on staying with Warchal, but budget-wise there could be other alternatives.

If the instrument is really brilliant, and someone is in search of something really warm, the Pirastro Violinos could also be an answer, and I once found them priced near the Tonicas.

June 6, 2016 at 02:11 PM · The PI platinum E is platinum-plated. It's a really intense string, though, and on an already-brilliant violin it might be overkill.

I wouldn't use Violinos on a good violin like the OP has. It's really a student string without a lot of complexity. Tonicas are much better at the budget price point. I don't think they're as long-lasting as the Warchal strings, though.

June 6, 2016 at 04:30 PM · Correlli Cantiga are great and inexpensive strings. I find them far richer and more complex than the new Tonica's. They have a dark-neutral sound, interesting complexity, seem to outlast most other options in this price range.

They can be found for under $40 a set. Probably the best deal out there on a long lasting professional string.

June 6, 2016 at 09:38 PM · Corelli Cantiga worked better than Warchal Amber on my violin.

June 7, 2016 at 12:19 AM · I find that Helicores have been an acceptable "utility" set. Not bad. Not great.

The choice helps minimize inventory for my 3 violins but I do stray for a special string now and then.

I also disliked Dominants before Tonica existed!

June 7, 2016 at 01:12 AM · Tonicas last MUCH longer than Dominants. Dominants have a short working life and then they start to sound quite awful (that is, if they don't snap first). Tonicas sound good right up until they break and it takes a long time before that happens.

June 7, 2016 at 03:30 AM · I have to dissent about the new-formula Tonicas. I've tried them on a number of violins and found them a bit thin and brittle sounding on all of them - a bit like the regular Vision strings, but usually less dull than those. The Tonica G especially lacked richness on the violins I tried them on. Just my experience. I really miss the old-formula Tonica strings.

However, I like the new-formula Tonica strings (just d, g, and c) on my viola. Perhaps in part because they're a bit thicker than the violin strings, I don't find them thin sounding, and I enjoy their evenness and fast response.

I see good reviews for the Thomastik Spirit strings, and they're supposed to be darker, and very reasonably priced.

Btw, Lyndon, you must take great care of your car, and you too, Brian. Your Starlet must have been made right around 1980? I haven't seen one in many years.

June 7, 2016 at 04:26 AM · Do the new formula Tonicas say new formula on the packaging, mine don't and I would certainly not call them thin sounding.

June 7, 2016 at 05:20 AM · Some do...

Some don't...

June 7, 2016 at 05:24 AM · Correction: Actually now that I check, mine do say New Formula, not having any problems with them either.

June 7, 2016 at 12:09 PM · @Lydia, you should reconsider about the Violinos. The fact that stores market them as student strings, does not reflect their development purpose. You could search for Stephen Redrobe's info on the issue, who has been collaborating with Pirastro on early 00s when the Violinos reached the market, if I am not mistaken. He also claimed to have used them in a Del Gesu, instead of Olivs, on some occasions. Anyway, even on this forum you may find many satisfied people with this string, who are certainly not students, nor they have cheap instruments.

What I realise is that many mass produced cheap violins are overpowered by tension, or really really scratchy, and that's why Violino usually help leading to the assumption they are a student string. However I am sure you know that results vary, especially on more expensive instruments, like the one the OP mentions. Since it's almost an antique violin, I don't see a reason why a low tension string would not worth a try. Personally I would try play such an instrument with gut, but that would only be my personal preference.

I have tested them in many instruments, of various price ranges. The only common result, was the extremely pliable feel, and a warm impression at the "beginning" of each note. Other than that, it will be a matter of the instrument, and the player.

P.S Being more pliable than most synthetics, and thinner that the other Pirastro composites, they responded better on small nuances, plus they did require a different bowing approach if you weren't to crush the tone. Besides the overall warm impression, I don't see why these features would only appeal to a student.

June 7, 2016 at 01:31 PM · Angel, If you like Warchal strings (I also like them quite a lot) and you have a brilliant sounding instrument that would like to "tame" why dont you try Karneols? They are cheap and very good strings.

June 7, 2016 at 02:06 PM · Gut, pure gut.

June 7, 2016 at 02:17 PM · I agree that Violonos aren't necessarily a "student" string at all - Pirastro described them as sounding and responding the closest to Eudoxas of all their synthetic strings. I actually thought they had a lot of complexity when I tried them. I preferred them to Obligatos.

June 7, 2016 at 02:24 PM · I would also support trying the Corelli Cantigas. I'm playing on what is possibly an 18thC Italian instrument, but equally likely an early 19thC other European, but old. It was overly loud with no sweet spots when strung with tonicas, it was OK with EP's but not worth putting them on a second time. I decided to try Cantigas and Some other brand that was around the same price from Gostrings. That was about 5 months ago, I am just about to change the Cantigas out now so they have lasted well. They have made a much better sound under ear and to the listener than the previous sets.

June 7, 2016 at 03:14 PM · I've tried Violinos on two different excellent violins (one of them owned by me, and another not). In both cases they were pleasantly warm and focused but also tonally entirely uninteresting -- they did not seem very much like Eudoxas at all, although perhaps more Eudoxa-like than Obligatos.

With all strings, of course, YMMV depending on instrument.

June 7, 2016 at 04:29 PM · Tonica's are great strings for the $36 or whatever they cost.

Cantiga's aren't just great for the $40 they cost -- they'd be great if they double the price, or more.

Of course, they may be horrible on your violin! The only way to know, is to try.

June 7, 2016 at 06:40 PM · Pirastro's Aricore? Similar to Violino, but "polyester" (not even perlon).

Lovely sound, and for viola too.

June 7, 2016 at 07:20 PM · PI strings are not an expensive choice if you use the tin E, as they last twice as long as cheaper strings. I change my PI s every six months. (3 months for the E). Dominants, when I used them, three months.

Cheers Carlo

June 11, 2016 at 03:19 PM · Thank you very much for your advices and opinions. About how do I have such an expensive instrument, my teacher's teacher has done a career in Europe as principal violin in Orchestras and teacher in Academies. He inherited many expensive instruments by his teachers as their best student. The violin he most uses was one of Kreisler's violins. he doesn't sell his violins for money, but to be exploited by a musician with respect for what they do. So, he sold me (my now) violin at a rediculous price.

June 11, 2016 at 09:43 PM · Oh it's great that such people give their fellow musicians joy :)

June 15, 2016 at 10:52 PM · I have a very bright instrument, and currently the strings I am using are Dogal Capriccio Soloist violin strings. They are really stellar on my violin! They give a nice warm, focused, round tone, and the dynamic range you can bring on them is incredible! Granted, strings are a personal choice, but I would definitely recommend getting a set!

June 16, 2016 at 10:52 AM · John Pearce Artiste strings are amazing for the money. I think they are about $20 a set from Just Strings. Comparable to Dominants.

October 4, 2016 at 11:50 PM · Pinging this thread.... I installed a set of light gauge Cantiga violin strings 2 weeks ago and am impressed with their performance so far.

They stretched withing 1st 24 hours and the sound changed a bit during next few days. They are indeed as neutral as strings can be. Good response, clarity and resonance. For what it is worth, the other night, one of my fellow musicians could not believe that I did not have gut strings. What I really like is the attack, or the beginning of sound; it has the a feel of gut strings to some extent.

One thing to keep in mind that their medium is comparable to heavy gauge of Dominants - probably at the same tension level as EP or other brands.

I am still undecided if their E string is a keeper, but will give it another 2 weeks before I try another one.

Last, but not the least, they cost only $70 CAD, way less than most of other brands in that category.

If you need an alternative for neutral strings, this is it.

January 21, 2017 at 03:53 AM · An update: It has been exactly 4 months now.... Cantiga's suddenly lost their full sound 3 days ago. I have not clocked the total number of hours, but have used this violin for at least 3 months (up to 4 weeks on and off on viola). This is comparable with other synthetic strings where a life span is approximately 200 hours top.

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