Which strings do you recommend for longevity?

January 4, 2017 at 04:40 PM · Hi, I wanted to buy a new set of strings. I have a $350 violin that is alright. The strings it has are the original ones (not that good), except the A string, which is a Dominant.

I don't want (can't actually) to spend a lot of money, $40 already seems a little expensive to me. Which set of strings would you recommend to me?

I prefer longevity over other aspects, since I can't buy each 3-4 months a new set. May be 2-3 per year, more like 2. I've heard many famous ones:

D'Addario's: Zyex, Helicore, Prelude

Pirastro's: Synoxa, Tonica,

Thomastik's: Vision, Infield, Spirocore, Dominant

I wanna read some opinions :)

Replies (40)

January 4, 2017 at 05:21 PM · hi Tim, the Warchal Karneol seem to last forever and they are not expensive.

January 4, 2017 at 05:28 PM · If you want an inexpensive but decent sounding synthetic, Thomastik Alphayue is under $20 a set, and I've had them last under daily use for 4-6 months in my K-12 program.

January 4, 2017 at 06:01 PM · If you want a sharp sound then go with the steel strings (Helicore and Chromcor are good). They last better than synthetics and are also stable when it comes to pitch.

If you want synthetic ones then the Tonica or Alphayue would be the best given your budget.

January 4, 2017 at 06:23 PM · I think the real point of the question is how long a string lasts before it starts to lose its tone. Gautam has already given a partial answer with steel. Another good choice is plain gut A and D with a wire-wound gut G (some here use this setup for all their playing); but not a gut E unless you're seriously into Baroque and Early Music because a plain gut E starts to fray within a couple of months, so a good steel E would be used.

The basic problem with synthetic cored strings is that, with playing, the interfaces between the various layers between the core and the outer casing start to break down, and the tone therefore deteriorates. People talk about a playing life of up to about 160 hours before the string loses its tone to an unacceptable degree. It also seems that the more up-market (and expensive) the synthetic string the shorter its life, unfortunately.

Gautam, Gene Wie, and others have made good suggestions if you want to keep a useful balance between longevity and cost using synthetics.

January 4, 2017 at 09:08 PM · My vote goes to Zyex, they last forever and sound more interesting than steel strings and their stability is amazing.

January 4, 2017 at 09:53 PM · Warchal's brands. Good longevity with a gradual drop-off in quality, and inexpensive.

January 4, 2017 at 10:36 PM · Zyex or Cantiga.

January 4, 2017 at 10:37 PM · Thank you, got some names here. Another question...

Do you recommend me to buy a complete set of strings or should I pick this A string from this brand, this E string from another brand, etc...

By the way, I can buy $40 strings, the "budget limit" idea I said was more about "don't recommend me $70 sets".

Should I cherry pick string by string?

Wouldn't that "mess" the tensions and balance since I could get a steel A string, synth core G string, gut E string...

January 4, 2017 at 10:46 PM · Go for whole sets first.

January 4, 2017 at 11:21 PM · Tim - you have received some good advice, but maybe you have asked the wrong question. The really crucial question is: what strings will bring out the best sound from my violin? None of us can answer that; only your luthier can after hearing it with its current strings. The bottom line is that longevity means little if the strings that last the longest sound awful on your violin. You want the best sound you can get even if the strings that produce it do not have the greatest longevity.

January 5, 2017 at 12:00 AM · Yeah, Tom, while I was writing the main post I had that in my head, but it's a $350 violin, and I'm not a professional at all, that's why I asked a generic question. I like the "modern science" the Zyex seem to have, hahaha, but there are a lot of brands out there, it's really hard to choose one set.

January 5, 2017 at 05:24 AM · Tonicas are supposed be fairly sound neutral, they are relatively inexpensive (under $40 Cdn), and I've been told they have little break in time and last a long time.

I'm currently working my way through different strings and they are next on my list.

January 5, 2017 at 06:01 AM · Leif, where the heck did you find Tonica under $40 Cdn?! Please send me a private message.

January 5, 2017 at 11:21 AM · Steven

It is 38 CAD at Long & McQuade

https://www.long-mcquade.com/685/Band/Orchestral_Strings_-_Strings/Pirastro/Tonica_Violin_String_Set.htm

and 44 CAD at The Sound Post

https://www.thesoundpost.com/en/store/strings/pirastro-tonica-violin-strings

The latter also provides you with an option to choose a wound E string for another 3.6 CAD. You can also customise the string gauge.

@Tim Ripond

You will have to compromise either on sound or longevity. The best sounding strings are usually made of gut and they sound delicious to the ears with a nice warmth and complexity. They are very unstable and needs constant tuning. They don't last long either.

"Some things are more precious because they don't last long" - Oscar Wilde

Since you have mentioned that you prefer longevity over other parameters, you may choose a nice yet cheap synthetic/steel string that goes hand in hand with your violin.

January 5, 2017 at 11:56 AM · Sorry, Gautam, but gut strings not lasting is a common misconception.

My Infeld red lost their initial beauty after about a month, Whereas my plain gut sounded fine for at least 3 months with proper oiling.

If you mean wound Gut, I point to either sharp nails or corrosive skin as possible causes.

January 5, 2017 at 11:58 AM · A.O.

True. But the OP doesn't want to buy new strings every three months. He wants something that can last at least for six to twelve months.

January 5, 2017 at 12:04 PM · Both for quality and longevity I've been very satisfied with Vision Solo - though I'm still experimenting with E strings. And as has been mentioned, you never know what will work out on a particular violin, so by all means, experiment.

January 5, 2017 at 01:31 PM · Steven J - Tried to PM you but the feature wasn't wasnt working for me this AM. Gautam said it though... Long & McQuade.

Gautam - Love the Oscar Wilde quote applied to strings.

January 5, 2017 at 06:29 PM · Raphael, after how many hours of playing do you change your vision solo? I've heard 120-150 hours in general, but since you have experience with this brand, which I like too, I thought I'd ask.

January 5, 2017 at 06:37 PM · Chicken wire has got a long life span. Sadly, the same can not be said for chicken.

Now, seriously, does the life span depend on overall usage or the string would die even if just suspended on a violin?

It must be different for a soloist, orchestra player, violin teacher or amateur.

Also, do you massage your violin daily with lots of double stops and playing high on all strings... or your dwell in 1st-3rd position most of the time?

January 5, 2017 at 08:41 PM · I've never counted the hours. I'm not one of the frequent string changers, anyway. Unless a string has gone noticeably false I don't change all of my strings more than twice a year. And when I do, I find the new ones a little fresher and stronger - but not usually amazingly different. With Visions, I find that they go down in quality and quantity quite gradually. It also depends on how much and how intensively a violin gets played.

I usually change all the strings in anticipation of a major solo or chamber music event - usually 10 days to a couple of weeks before, so that they are all settled and the pegs are where I want them to be, etc.

January 5, 2017 at 08:58 PM · I don't change my Tonicas too often. I usually wait until one or more strings go bad and change the strings that have gone bad.

January 5, 2017 at 11:17 PM · Thank you Gautam and Leif. I've ordered a set with them.

January 6, 2017 at 01:40 AM · Raphael, thanks. Since 2 hours of practice a day leads to new strings every 2 to 2.5 months using the 120-150 hour rule, I'm glad to hear that you are a little less worried about changing strings that frequently.

I use PI G and PI Silver D along with Vision Solo A and Jarger Medium E; after three months I notice new strings sound better, but not incredibly so (although they do sound a lot better than the used Dominants with a Jargar E I just replaced since I had some Dominants I needed to use up, but I would hope so as the hybrid set cost about 30% more).

I will try Vision Solo as a set again (stock E and a Jargar to see what's better) and see how they sound after a change 4 or 5 months later, if they aren't going false--although if you can go with a change every 5 or 6 months, and you surely play more than I do, then they should last easily that long for me. Although, I just remembered you own several violins, so I would imagine each of yours gets played a lot less than my only violin...

Regarding the Vision Solo E string, what don't you like about the one that comes in the set?

January 6, 2017 at 01:51 AM · It's too expensive and not all that great to warrant the expense.

January 6, 2017 at 01:58 AM · I've found Obligatos to be pretty long lasting. They are darker to start with so don't have a sizzle that goes after ten days like some other strings. Helicores last ages too if you have medium gauge.

January 6, 2017 at 04:50 AM · I picked up a set of Obligatos to try out as well, but that will be down the road. I went for the gold e string, so about $125 Cdn for the set through Long & McQuade. Too pricey for me long term, but I just have to try them at least.

January 14, 2017 at 12:49 AM · Oh, I forgot to ask a question:

Is there a set of strings (mentioned up here) in which the E string is not that good?

What I see a lot is violinists buying sets of strings of one brand but they always buy an E string separately from another brand.

January 14, 2017 at 01:01 AM · Tonicas...buy the whole set : they last a long time and sound very good.

January 14, 2017 at 03:21 AM · Oh yeah. I would hate to buy a set of strings and have to trash the E. I think you're talking Dominants. I've never used them before so don't have any personal thoughts on the E string, but according to rumours, bad Dominant E seems to be the case. Please don't treat my last comment about bad dominant E as something I can really confirm. It's only questionable rumours, so if I were to try some dominant strings, I would try the E just in case it actually sounds good.

January 14, 2017 at 03:25 AM · Strictly based on longevity, and I don't know what others may say, as this brand is rarely mentioned here, on two of my instruments (one violin and one viola), particularly ones that I play in multiple locations--hot, cold, wet, dry, indoors, outdoors--I use PRIM Swedish steel strings. Tune 'em up and forget about it. Six months later, they're still in tune. (Yes, I also have Dominants and Helicore on others, but the ones I want to just pop open a case in any weather and instantly play without worrying a lot about them (or even needing to tune, as they keep their intonation really well--for months at a time!), I use PRIM. They also last for YEARS!!!!!!! They outlast my Dominants by about 5 to 1.

January 14, 2017 at 03:26 AM · OK, thanks. I'm about to buy the Zyex set as I've read very positive reviews about them (longevity and sound not going worse after few weeks). Problem is, damn, it's $60. I'll have to sell gallons of lemonade :(

Thanks for the PRIM recommendation, I'll take a look at them.

January 14, 2017 at 04:52 AM · Prim are good steel strings. Of course, there are more options, but they are definitely steps above Super-Sensitive and other horribly cheap alternatives. Some professionals still use a Prim steel A to this day, and they will last "forever", by their nature (and of course, some non-classical performers still use a full set, as they love them for their distinct musical purposes.)

They still are steel strings, even if good ones, so unfortunately some of the cons will still apply. The chrome windings will add further longevity to their lifespan, but will also possess a relatively bright tone. I don't have tension information for them, but save for specialized uses for steel A users, I would not go for a full set of "Orchestra" (heavy) tension set-stick to medium or dolce... perhaps medium. They don't sound bad, but are definitely not the warmest.

The well-known and loved by many Helicore are not nearly as long-lasting as Prims, by most accounts.

January 15, 2017 at 01:37 PM · How have you not read bad reviews on Zyex? I bought a set of the new formula and really didn't like them on either instrument (warm-clean and neutral-complex) I used it on. Complete waste of money. They sound like "string" mode on a Casio digital piano. Not very nice. YMMV, but I don't know by how much it could.

And $60 is too much; they're $45 almost everywhere. But again, I'd really advise against them. Even if they last twice as long as nylon or perlon, at twice the price just get two sets of Tonicas or Fiddlerman strings, which both sound infinitely better.

Also, Cantiga owners are reporting similar duration as Zyex with no sound deterioration. I haven't played them yet but Internet says they're fantastic, and a bit cheaper than Zyex.

:)

January 15, 2017 at 03:27 PM · Well, everyone's different, so if you want to try Zyex, go for it. Everyone has different opinions on strings. String choices are a matter of tonal qualities of your instrument, as well as personal sound preference, bowing style, and overall technical and musical requirements. And yes, I have read bad reviews on Zyex strings, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't try them, just in case it actually works.

January 15, 2017 at 04:52 PM · Well, you said I should go for Fiddlerman strings... It's funny that one of the reviews I read about Zyex was from Fiddlerman himself (they YouTube guy). He said he's been using perlon for years, and the time I tried the Zyex, he said he was amazed, and after a month, he found no deterioration in sound as other strings he's been using.

January 17, 2017 at 07:11 AM · Ironically I find Infeld Red E to last me forever. Basically I had an Infeld Red set, A lost its flavour in just 2 weeks, D in 3 weeks and G in 2 months.

Also, possibly due to my violin maintenance at that time(I haven't tried Infeld Red on my current violin yet), D and A snapped somewhat frequently, but E still sound good after 2 years.

January 17, 2017 at 04:11 PM · Ella, that's a fair point. I should have emphasized that reviews of Zyex are ambivalent. Some like them and others really don't. So, Tim, since this is a one-shot deal, it might behoove you to buy a less risky set. No absolutes or disparagement of personal tastes here :).

It's also worth noting that if Pierre recorded that review on his personal violin, then those strings are being played on a 30-year-old, $15,000 instrument that would probably make Red Labels sound much better than most people would end up hearing them.

I do like the Fiddlerman set. Dominant sound for half the price. I can't comment on longevity, as I don't use the instrument they're on every day.

January 17, 2017 at 07:32 PM · Mr. Steven,

Gold-plated Es are highly durable, being than they are chrome-steel, but if you still like it now (after 2 years), try a fresh one and see what happens. They are brilliant and rich, besides being powerful, and (generally) have a positive effect on the other strings. Haven't used one Infeld Red E since eons ago, but if it's anything like the Pirastro, you "should" refresh it some time, as few strings show what they are capable of after so long, regardless construction.

On another subject, I wonder which of the "whistling Es" last/stay "fresh" for longer-the Oliv/Obligato, Infeld Red, Evah Pirazzi Gold-Plated, Titanium Solo E, or PI Platinum E (any other "whistling Es"?) I am assuming the older tech chrome steel gold-plated last longer due to their construction (and barring premature breakage at the fine tuner loop end.)

January 18, 2017 at 01:17 AM · Adalberto, I am speaking from past experiences. I did eventually change the E string. Basically what I did was that I would put on a fresh set of Infeld Red, then as A D and G went, I would put on another set of strings that isn't Infeld Red, and save the Infeld Red E. At some point I would put on the Infeld Red E on the new set, and enjoy it until the set wears down. i would save all used strings, put on a new set, and eventually put on the same Infeld Red E, and enjoy it. It mixed very well with all strings I combined it with.

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