If you had a $500-1000 violin, how much money would you spend on strings

December 15, 2016 at 06:51 PM · If you had a $500-1000 violin, then how much money would you spend on strings

Replies (42)

December 15, 2016 at 06:57 PM · I can't say exactly how much, but I would buy something that works well for me under $100. That's why I love Tonicas. They're so cheap and they're really great strings, and they've worked well on every violin I tried them on. They also last fairly long, 6 months+, in my experience.

December 15, 2016 at 07:09 PM · Chinese strings are horrible... Even if I had a violin in that price range I would string it with Dominants.

December 15, 2016 at 07:27 PM · I would install a witner tailpiece and use D'addario helicores. They are relatively inexpensive, warmer sounding than other steel core strings, and will last a year or more depending on how much you play.

December 15, 2016 at 07:31 PM · Well, I am exploring for cheapeast-longest lasting-tolerable sounding strings. So far Warchal Ametyst is the leading string in my experiment. Of course, this depends on what you like, your violin and etc. Personally, I am trying out Dominants right now, I can't wait for these to be worn out and phased out.

December 15, 2016 at 07:42 PM · Give D'Addario Zyex a shot. They have a nice texture and response at a very reasonable price point.

December 15, 2016 at 08:03 PM · I'd buy good strings regardless of the cost of the violin. It can only help.

December 15, 2016 at 09:08 PM · Gautam,

Typically, people start with Dominant or Tonica in order to see if something needs to be enhanced or subdued by a different brand. Most of violins respond nicely to Dominants and those might be the strings of choice for you.


December 15, 2016 at 09:09 PM · I consider Dominants to be the base level - a good starting point against which you can rate other strings. I did try a set of Tonicas on the old beater violin I started on, and they brought out a surprising amount of sound.

December 15, 2016 at 09:36 PM · I agree Dominant G, D, A are good choices all around. Instead of Dominant E, however, I would recommend Pirastro Gold E or Warchal Amber E. Witner tailpiece is equipped with built-in fine tuners for all four strings so the physical side of tuning becomes a piece of cake.

December 15, 2016 at 09:47 PM · I use a violin within that price range. Currently I use Dominants. My former strings was a custom set I ordered which consistedd in Warchal Amber G & D, Warchal Russian A, Goldbrokat E. Eventually I had to change strings and I had a barely used set of dominants to replace them. They're fine, but they lack that special colour the former set had. I'm waiting until they wear out to order a new set, although I'm considering trying the Warchal Amber E and Jargan Forte E.

December 15, 2016 at 11:45 PM · Why does the price of the strings matter? You buy the ones you want. I think of these questions when I look at a case. How much do I want to spend on a box to protect my violin... That seems like the most relevant question when it comes to the price of the violin.

December 16, 2016 at 12:06 AM · Depends on your budget. Dominants are kind of "standard" but I've heard good things about Zyex and they're cheaper.

December 16, 2016 at 12:32 AM · I see some folks recommend D'Addario Zyex,and Kaplan strings. If you like the squeaky feel of wound guitar strings, you will love these strings. They sound adequate, but I took off a new set after one day, because I did not like the feel, surface noise and the roughness of the strings.

I agree with many folks here that Dominant,Warchal and Tonica are reasonably priced, good sounding strings.

December 16, 2016 at 12:39 AM · I'd buy some Dominant strings for ~ $50, but with an alternate E string. Pirastro Gold Label, Westminster, Hill, and Jarger E's are all good.

December 16, 2016 at 12:59 AM · Another vote here for Tonicas. In Australia, Dominants cost over twice as much and are no longer good value for money. The Tonicas sound better, last much longer, and do not have the breaking-in period of the Dominants.

December 16, 2016 at 02:14 AM · Don't forget D'Addario Pro Arte strings, which sound pretty Dominant-like but are much less expensive.

December 16, 2016 at 02:22 AM · Pro Arte sounds like Dominant? I found them to be much warmer. I always thought of them as the poor man's obligato.

December 16, 2016 at 03:48 AM · I am using Dominants now, which I quite like, but I have a set of Tonicas on the way as I've heard they are similar to Dominants and half the price.

December 16, 2016 at 04:58 AM · Lydia, and Demian, thanks. I just put Pro Arte in my shopping cart on Amazon(with Tonicas).

December 16, 2016 at 05:07 AM · Expensive strings are not necessary to play good music with great artistry, but there's no need to feel they are a "waste" on an "inexpensive" instrument. Nothing wrong with Dominants, but if you like PIs/Olivs/other expensive options, your violin won't explode for being supposedly "too lowly" for them.

Use whatever works and you are willing to pay for, whether its Dominants, Pirazzis, gut strings, etc.

However, if the question is "what are some great value strings?", then mist have been mentioned above: Tonica, most if not all Warchal's range, Regular Vision, etc. Dominants are not that expensive, but definitely far from the cheapest nowadays (though I am not finding fault with them.)

But again you do NOT need the most expensive strings even on the world's best instruments (indeed, they may care about strings quite a bit less.) Get them if you like them and can afford them.

December 16, 2016 at 09:01 AM · How is the Pirastro Oliv E gold plated string with Dominant A,D,G. Also, should I order weich or mittel E as my Helicore mittel produces a scratchy sand like sound in higher positions(notes higher than D in the E string)

My instrument is loud but a bit warm though, and highly resonant with the Helicore mittel

December 16, 2016 at 12:36 PM · I love Oliv Es (by chance have one on right now), but it doesn't whistle for me. If it doesn't whistle on your violin, it's a great sounding and powerful E (stark/thick particularly delicious to my ear-on that regards, some people find it "too brilliant" or piercing, which is not the case with my violin.) I really prefer it to most of the usually recommended ones, like the Goldbrokat, Jargar Forte, Gold Label, and even Westminster, but watch out for the higher price if that's a concern.

All of the above can be good with Dominants, though. Really have to try them. Of the "regular" Es, I enjoy the Hill. The Mediums I used the last few months were really excellent.

I have not ever used the Titanium Solo or PI Platinum E, being satisfied with all the aforementioned options-old Goldbrokat is a good string after all, which also "goes well with Dominants", in theory.

For lots of power, the Westminster 27.5 is pretty good, though the Oliv Stark is also quite present.

Don't have any experience with Warchal Amber E yet-my bad, probably.

(The Olivs practically need the E fine tuner rubber protectors for a long lifespan, unless you get the ball version. Would just use a Hill fine tuner with the loop Oliv and the protector, if it was me.)

December 17, 2016 at 04:17 AM · To use the analogy, it's not because I drive a cheap car that I would necessarily put on cheap tires, you get what you pay for, and when it comes to tires, it's the only thing between me and the ditch... never mind what the car is worth! For me, when it comes to strings, the same logic applies. Perhaps a cheap instrument may lack the resonance to get the best out of some strings, but to me the dominant factor is what string brings the best out of my instrument. The price is secondary, though not entirely insignificant within reason.

December 17, 2016 at 10:34 PM · My Mittenwald-Strad is in that value category. I've tried various strings and found that the Dominant G, D & A with a Pirastro E bring out the best in my particular instrument. Note, mine is not a soloist instrument, it is just a good sounding copy of a Strad made in the mid-late 1800's in Germany. Age, care, adjustments and the right strings make it my go-to instrument. FWIW: I do have a great Adolph C. Schuster *** bow that I bought when I did own a soloist level instrument that I never mastered. Sold the soloist violin but kept the bow. I wonder: how many of us own bows worth more than our instruments?

December 17, 2016 at 11:11 PM · When I first tried Dominants in the early 1970s they did not work well with the one violin I had at that time, so I stayed with the Pirastro Eudoxas I had been using and even gradually worked up to Pirastro Olives. But when Pirastro Tonicas were first marketed some time later I tried them and they worked fine on that violin so I switched (I still have a set of the gut-core Olives in my case string tube).

When I moved to the SF bay area and started a "relationship" with Ifshin Violins I noticed that they put Dominants on the new violins they were selling, but around 2000 I noticed that they had started also using Tonicas on some of the violins. This tended to confirm my earlier experience that these two brands might form "baselines" for violins with different string-tension preferences (or whatever the differences are).

During the past 20 years I have tried a number of different string brands and mixed and matched up the gazoo! I have 4 different violins now (had a few more in the recent past) and find that there are strings that are bad on some instruments just as there are strings that are good. There may be strings that are "best" on some instruments, but the search for these can lead to significant expenditures, so if you are pleased with your sound I suggest you stick with ones you have. (I'm also a cellist, with 3 cellos and believe me, string searches for cellos can cost thousands of dollars.)

I would go with Rocky's advice "start with Dominant or Tonica." If one of those doesn't do it, try the other. Try alternate E strings. My greatest surprise in the past few years was to find how a Thomastik Peter Infeld (PI) Platinum-plated E string (PIP-p) could change everything about the sound and playability of the other strings on a violin (at least on 2 of my violins) - unfortunately, these are $30 E strings. My other two other violins are great with the PIP-p strings, but they were always great anyway. (The Nickel-plated PI E string just doesn't do the same thing.)

In a round-table discussion of experts published in the Journal of the Violin Society of America a decade or so ago it was clear that Dominant strings were the agreed upon "benchmark" generally used to judge an instrument. A knowledgeable person can probably make reasonable judgements re. the best strings for an instrument based on how it does with Dominants. But there are probably not many people with such knowledge.

I have found that a couple of my violins that sounded grating going up high (2nd octave) on the G string were cured by installing Larsen Tzigane strings (that did not work well on my "good" fiddles). But this G-string problem was also solved by using the PIP-p E string

But, in direct answer to the OP's question: "If you had a $500-1000 violin, then how much money would you spend on strings".

I would use whatever strings were most satisfying to me on that fiddle.

December 18, 2016 at 03:45 AM · I have a $1200 instrument and looking to upgrade. I use gut strings as they will make almost any advancing quality violin sound good. I would recommend synthetic strings. They might be pricy but well worth it. Try the Evah Pirrazi Gold strings from Pirastro. I used to use those.

December 18, 2016 at 03:45 AM · I have a $1200 instrument and looking to upgrade. I use gut strings as they will make almost any advancing quality violin sound good. I would recommend synthetic strings. They might be pricy but well worth it. Try the Evah Pirrazi Gold strings from Pirastro. I used to use those.

December 30, 2016 at 08:29 PM · Well, Dominants are History, I could not stand the sound of them any longer. Pro Arte High Tension has just been put on, this does in fact resemble Obligatos a lot.

December 31, 2016 at 02:13 AM · OK, fine, but I've never yet run across anyone who won a professional audition using Obligatos.

Andrew Victors prior post sums a lot of things up quite well.

December 31, 2016 at 02:49 AM · Dominants are quite 'middle of the road' with regard to their sound characteristics. So if Stven J couldn't stand them and something that resembles Obligatos sounds better to him, then I can see a couple of possibilities, or a combination of those. 1) that his violin's natural tendency is toward resonating quite bright, or 2) that his preference is toward a much warmer sound.

I have a vioin that's a bit on lively and bright side, and Evah Pirazzis were just too ringing and bright, especially at my skill level. Stepping into Dominants took a bit of the edge off and I've had many comments from others about the improvement in the sound.

Every violin is different and what works well on one may not work well on another. While Obligatos may not work well on every violin, some violins may need them.

December 31, 2016 at 03:18 AM · I never liked Dominant's "rough" sound. I'm not quite sure how to express it in words. It feels scratchy. It's not the pre-broken in sound, it's just really edgy.

Leif is totally right on the fact that I like warmer sounds. I know that my previous teachers, and most people in general like the distinct what I call "scratchy sound", but I personally always hated them.

With Pro Arte, I have the heavy tension ones, which are a bit harsh on the fingers and apparently eats up rosin quite fast. I am debating a bulk order on it right now, because I've had them on for only 4 hours so far.

December 31, 2016 at 07:04 AM · Has anyone tried D'Addario Zyex on their violin? If so, could you comment on the sound quality?

December 31, 2016 at 02:23 PM · Just a note to say I spent $0.00 on my violin (grandfather's attic sourced), but I spend hundreds on strings, replacing and experimenting.

The right strings are essential; any instrument is a total loss without them.

December 31, 2016 at 02:51 PM · I have used Zyex on my violin and viola... since our instruments are not identical, take my comment with a grain of salt.

First of all, tension...

light = medium Dominant

medium = heavy Dominant

Keep this in mind if you want to avoid choking your instrument.

E string is a bit of a disappointment; does not match the rest 3 in quality.

They are, in my opinion, "no frills" strings. On a louder side, but will not transform your violin's sound into something else.

There have been moments when I noticed a bit of warmth, but most of the time, they are just plain.

Zyex core, allegedly matches natural gut, but I have not noticed any similarity in sound or response.

The core is quite durable, but the winding will show signs of wear after a while.

My recent discovery is Corelli Cantiga. Probably the best bang for the buck .

Just a general observation: the longer I use synthetic / composite core strings, the more I appreciate gut strings. Whenever I switch from my violin strung with gut strings to another with synthetics, there is a bit of shock and disappointment when it comes to sound production. If one can afford gut strings and is willing to live with relative instability, it is well worth exploring this path.

December 31, 2016 at 02:56 PM · Obligatos are like vampires -- they suck the life and joy out of an instrument! Agree with David -- no one I know uses them.

Dominants take a little more finesse than some of the newer synthetics -- the gain is more variability and warmth in the sound. They have a little more of a mid-range push than Pirastro synthetics, which can make them sound edgier up close. There are lots of great options out there though today.

Rocky -- I agree, the Corelli Cantiga strings are a steal for the price, and great strings at any price.

December 31, 2016 at 05:33 PM · On my previous (very good) violin, Obligatos were excellent; they had warmth but still enough brilliance to get good punch. Blended well into an orchestra section, but enough volume and projection to carry a concertmaster's solos or be easily heard in a quartet. Non-ideal for concerto-with-orchestra (I switched my strings to Larsens, and eventually EP Golds for that) but otherwise great for anything else.

EP Golds turned out to be better in the end, but before those became available, the Obligatos were a perfectly fine option for that violin. I still think they're a great string for anyone who wants a more gut-like sound.

December 31, 2016 at 11:22 PM · Lydia said: "On my previous (very good) violin, Obligatos were excellent; they had warmth but still enough brilliance to get good punch."

That's the thing with strings -- some violins will react completely differently to a set than one might expect. Hence why we always say -- you've got to try X string on your own instrument!

EP Golds I could get behind though -- very good strings on many violins in my experience.

January 1, 2017 at 01:02 AM · I was wondering when EP Golds would come up in this discussion! I have a set I am saving for last...they sound excellelnt on the YouTube video sampling 17 different string sets on the same violin.

January 1, 2017 at 02:49 AM · Tasmin Little uses Obligatos, and she's not the first soloist I've seen using them.

They don't suck the life out of all violins.

I suspect that they might tend to work better with older instruments than newer ones.

January 1, 2017 at 05:26 PM · Andrew -- you're right, it looks like Tasmin uses Obligatos for the lower two strings, with what looks like a Dominant light-guage A string and some sort of gold E string. Still, she is in the minority with her Obligatos, by far.

Erin -- you'll likely enjoy the EP Golds!

January 10, 2017 at 08:24 AM · I start with Dominants. As long as they sound and feel good on that instrument, I stop there. However, EVERY instrument is an individual. Some instruments sound better with certain brands of strings. Some are brighter, some are tinnier, some are rich, some are thin, some are warmer, some are darker, some more melancholy. Changing the brand CAN change the type of sound the violin produces, It takes some experimentation (and guidance from a very knowledgeable luthier). Experimenting like that can be expensive as you go through brand after brand until you find the sound you want. (And of course, your technique also has an effect on the sound, but I was just taking about basic sound as affected by strings,)

January 10, 2017 at 02:43 PM · @Andrew


so does Julia Wedman. They are clearly visible using a scordatura on the cover of her recording of "Mystery sonatas" by Biber.

Obligatos work miracles on a very bright or strident violin. They seem to filter certain frequencies, thus on other violin may negatively impact the sound. They also blend nicely with gut strings.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

ArmSymphony AI Violin Competition
ArmSymphony AI Violin Competition

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

AVIVA Young Artist Program

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine