Bright, long lasting violin strings

April 1, 2017 at 05:27 AM · So I upgraded my violin. Right now it has Vision Titanium solo strings, but from what I have heard so far, I might want something a little brighter, especially in the D which is slightly less lively than the other three. So I have some questions.

-Which of the brighter strings last longest?

-If I'm using a silver D, and it's less lively than the other three, maybe even less bright, would an aluminum D work better?

-Are zyex strings on the brighter or warmer side of the spectrum?

-Does higher tension (not thicker, but tighter, tenser) generally mean brighter sound? And what would each tension have that the others lack?

-Which of the gut strings would be brightest?

-Am I confusing bright with brilliant, or are they one and the same?

-Would I possibly get a more even sound with the "dead" D if I used a higher tension than the other three?

-With pirastro wondertone solo, I'm wondering some specific things about them: How's their response? What's their overall tone? Are they of higher tension? What's their average life span?

Now as far as brightness goes, I have done other things, like moving the tailpiece back to where it's contacting the saddle, and lining the middle of the bridge up with the F hole notches, and it's pretty bright, but these Titanium solo strings I've heard tend to get a warmer sound as they're played in, and they lose the edge and brilliance, and get warmer and rounder. That's not quite what I want, and I've heard they don't last very long. I also need something that will last long, because I am quite cheap, and would rather spend a bit more at once for something that will last, than have to spend twice as much replacing the strings every two months or so. I have also experimented with different E's, and find I prefer gold E's, and among them, prefer Oliv or Obligato, which are the same E string with different wrapping. And I do realize that what may work for you may not work for me, but I think I can still gather what I need based on experience of others.

If I can get all these questions answered, that'd be wonderful. Thanks for your responses.

Replies (59)

April 1, 2017 at 06:18 AM · It sounds like you are fussing with instrument too much. If you move the bridge the distance to the sound post will change. Changing the adjustment on the tailpiece after-length will have unpredictable results. The string-length should be 330 mm. Instead of all that, send your violin to an expert Luthier for a proper set-up and maybe an optimum choice of strings. Instead of searching for strings that sound bright and loud, why not choose strings that sound beautiful? The temptation to use bright sounding strings is a common fallacy. It is the low tones like the fundamental that carries to a distance. The high partials and the white noise dissipate quickly with distance. There is a reason why light houses use very low pitch fog horns instead of piccolos. jq

April 1, 2017 at 06:47 AM · All the setup is fine, and I don't have a luthier who's close.

April 1, 2017 at 12:00 PM · Hello...I will try to answer each question...

-Vision Titanium Solo are one of the brighter strings imo, and they last long...but the case is that you want to swap them. In my instruments they had a rich overtone spectrum, and maybe that's why you want something even brighter. How about PI? They seemed to be brighter then VTS to me...and for some people they solved tension issues like those you have...but they are not cheap. If you try them and want to save, avoid the platinum E string..

-you never know until you try it, but chances are that a silver d should be brighter than an aluminum d.

-supposedly they are somewhere in the middle...but again...you know

- D'addario Pro Arte have more tension than Vision, or VTS as far as I know. However they are slightly warmer/darker and less projecting. So there is no general rule of thumb I guess regarding tension and brightness. Sometimes, lighter gauge strings, seem to be brighter than their normal/medium or heavy counterparts

-I don't use gut strings, but I have read that generally the Olivs seem to be brighter, but someone with personal experience should answer this....

-For me "brilliant" is bright with some sweetness...but hey...we cannot describe sound with words...I am sure everybody here has his own interpretation

-Before messing with string setups that have different tension I highly suggest you contact a luthier. If as you say there is nobody close, try at least to contact them

From my personal experience, since it's a new instrument unfortunately you will have to experiment with strings a lot...at this might take time. Needless to say that while experimenting, the instrument will be changing as well so this will be even more difficult

For the record, did the violin came with VTS strings?

April 1, 2017 at 12:03 PM · In order:

1- plain gut lasts the longest in sound quality and is cheap

2- aluminium is heavier than silver, so the string becomes less lively (and also thicker, which usually equates to less lively than a thin (ner) string)

3- zyex is bright and loud, but can be warm if works on the violin you have

4- thinner strings are more responsive with lesser but brighter sound, yhicker opposite of this (standard, depends on the instrument).

5- plain gut is the brighest (especially the A)

6- Brilliant is the sheen we associate woyh metal, whereas bright simply means there are lively upper harmonics. Hence why a plain gut A is bright and a plain gut E is NOT brilliant like a steel E (it is full-sounding and more singing, with organic fuzzy warmth to the sound)

7- you need a thinner string to awaken it, a thicker one will further choke the vibrations

8- Haven't used Wondertone, no comment

For cheap strings that are bright, go for light gauge plain gut (with wound G and steel E- Goldbrokat is great with plain gut). You pay about 60 for double-length of all strings except the G (Aquila brand).

Becaude plain gut is much more elastic, it allows for much more bite and subtlety, and allows the full range of voice inflection (that cannot be done on othrr strings, especially synthetics/metal).

Ex: Try fading a note out by quickly angling the note toward the fingerboard, or playing quietly with a slow bow closer to the bridge. Only works on pure gut, which also has a different playing technique and is fussier, but sounds much better when you acquire the skill.

April 1, 2017 at 06:53 PM · Hermes Papakonstantinou, no, not exactly. So the place I bought this violin from sent me two to try that seemed to match the sound quality I desired, the one I didn't choose had the VTS, this one had Larsen Tzigane. I switched them out, because, from what I could tell, Tzigane were a bit darker, and higher tension.

Speaking of the two I was sent, it's funny, price really doesn't determine quality as much, because the one I didn't choose was an $8000 Italian violin, and mine is a $4500 Bulgarian violin. The cheaper one actually sounded brighter and louder and played more smoothly, even with Tzigane still on it.

A.O., that makes sense, but could I at least use varnished plain gut?

April 1, 2017 at 07:10 PM · A.O., I also must ask as far as plain gut, how about Pirastro Chorda, are they any good for what I've described, because they're certainly easiest to procure.

April 1, 2017 at 07:32 PM · Tziganes are a rather low-tension synthetic. I know they're supposed to be dark, but they're brilliant on my violin, so I suspect their real characteristics are very violin-dependent, perhaps more so than is typical.

I'm always a little bemused by the love for gut in this forum. Here in the Washington DC area -- with two major symphony orchestras plus multiple lesser regional pro orchestras, a myriad of other freeway philharmonics, lots of non-orchestral pros, plenty of adult players, and a zillion students -- the major violin shops have basically stopped carrying gut because there's no demand for it. They've got Passiones (which are hybrids that are rather close to synthetics, let's face it), plus sometimes Eudoxas, and that's it. Even the shop that has Olivs says that they're generally bought only by players who are basically retirement age or older. If you judged by the posts here, you'd think gut was a common choice even for non-period players, and that's just not the case.

If you like gut, of course, good for you. But synthetics are the mainstream choice.

When you say you want something that's brighter, what are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to get more of an edge to the sound? Does the violin sound too muffled, or not resonant enough? I'm wary that these things are characteristic of the violin itself, perhaps optimized by set-up, but not fundamentally altered by strings.

April 1, 2017 at 07:40 PM · Lydia, Yes, a bit more edge, because the VTS start to lose that edge and they get rounder. Listen to the virtuosos, their sounds are generally on the brighter side, even those known for dark sound aren't all that dark. Now as for guy strings, I just think gut sounds so much richer, fuller, and therefore I'm guessing it carries further.

April 1, 2017 at 09:35 PM · Almost all strings lose their edge after a few days, or at most, a few weeks. It's part of the normal breaking-in process. You want roundness to the tone, honestly.

Most soloists tend to pick instruments with a lot of brilliance and projection -- it's part of the fundamental character of the violin. Note that this isn't the same as the bright-and-loud sound that seems to be very much in favor in student instruments these days.

The edge that you hear in a soloist's sound is not just the violin. It's fundamental to their sound production.

April 1, 2017 at 09:51 PM · Ah. Well I mean, I don't necessarily need too much edge, but the overall bright sound is what I like. And that makes sense, that the bright comes with their playing style, where I could play their instruments and it would probably be darker. Also, I upgraded from a $2200 violin to a $4500 violin, I hardly call that a student violin.

April 1, 2017 at 10:00 PM · I'd still think of $4500 as the student price range, but the bright-and-loud seems to be characteristic of a significant amount of contemporary making, whether in the student price range or not. The latest batch of Cremona exhibition violins I tried, for instance, pretty much all fell into that pattern -- bright and loud under the ear, with an easy response and not much character to the sound.

Here's my feeling on the bright/dark characteristics of a violin: If a violin, set up with Dominants, Tonicas, or similar neutral string, isn't as bright/dark as you want it to be, buy something else. Ditto if one string is significantly weaker than the others or is otherwise uneven in response.

And by the time you're in the territory of using VTS, or PI, or Evah Pirazzi, you're probably at about all the brightness a violin is going to give you.

April 1, 2017 at 10:31 PM · Well, around here, there aren't many violins of high quality over about $8000, a similar one to mine, by Angela Moneff was $3800. Now I guess I should clarify, I'm more of an ensemble performer, not a solo player. Yet. So my guess is that this violin should be fine for ensemble playing? But I was thinking about it, and maybe in that case, I don't need the ultra bright soloist sound.

April 1, 2017 at 10:44 PM · @ Darian I guess that the difference could be explained by varying pay grades in those two countries, however I am aware that in this price range we could compare instruments, since prices rise explosively when moving up, which is something that does not necessarily correspond with the difference between two instruments

I second Lydia's opinion, VTS and the rest are definately on the bright, powerful and projecting side of the synthetics. And you say that you were given two instruments strung with no "mainstream" or "middle of the spectrum" strings...which is usually done with certain instruments that need something different than the average synthetic the luthier uses for most instruments...

@ Lydia what you say about the gut strings in your area, is really interesting. However do violinists there still prefer synthetics actually from your experience and conversations with them? It may be the devil inside me, but do you think there is a chance that for example a certain person goes to the violin store and need to get some strings quickly to do their job, so they get what the stores offer? I have no experience in this field, but maybe it could be a hype created by stores and companies to push synthetics in the market and covering the whole situation with the zero demand excuse? Gut strings may cost more, but some professionals claim to change their Dominants for example every three weeks, and that may be weird in the long term...

April 1, 2017 at 10:50 PM · Hermes Papakonstantinou, that is true about prices. I reside in North Idaho, and I got my violin from a dealer in Omaha, Nebraska, so what we have available and consider high quality may differ from region to region. The other thing I'm thinking of is that this violin was made in 2014, and most likely hasn't been played enough to be played in. So I guess it should start to blossom as I play it for a couple years. I did have one string I have gotten good results with I was thinking of trying on this violin, and that is kaplan vivo, but I wanted to consider all my options first. Mainly I'm looking for a bright string that projects we'll, and lasts long. Preferably but, as I love the sound those produce. I do realize gut will be warmer, but from what I understand, it can still sound bright, but if it's also warm, it carries further.

April 1, 2017 at 11:14 PM · You might want to look around this website.

http://www.violinstringreview.com/

April 1, 2017 at 11:18 PM · Leon Sibinski, I already did. I got general ideas of the tone, but they rarely give much info about life span, and reviews for each string yield various results. Hard to tell which generality to go with. It is helpful though, it helped me rule out a few like Eudoxa, which wouldn't seem to match my criteria, or Corelli Crystal, which get reviews saying they're warm to the point of full on most instruments.

April 1, 2017 at 11:35 PM · Shops sell what players want to buy. For that matter, by the time I started playing the violin as a kid in the late 1970s, synthetics already owned the market. Practically anyone who was buying quality strings bought Dominants. Pretty much all the soloists used Dominants. Most people swapped out the E for the Gold Label, and people used other E strings as well, but it was pretty much Dominants for the other strings. No shop had to "push" them. It's just what everyone bought -- older gut players had already switched by then.

It wasn't until the late 1990s that a lot of different types of synthetics came on the market and you started to get the proliferation of choices that exist today. If anything, the introduction of the Passiones has revived interest in using gut. (The rising cost of synthetics may help as well, since synthetics used to be clearly more economical than gut, which is less true now.)

April 1, 2017 at 11:39 PM · That does seem to be the case, doesn't it? Synthetic prices are skyrocketing, and many don't even last that long, it almost seems more logical to use gut.

April 2, 2017 at 12:05 AM · Lydia I am still thinking that this whole thing may work like fashion...not for everybody, but for many people definately. You know the case, many young violinists look up to a certain soloist and want to buy the same strings...But in the soloists part, even now that the Dominants are not the only quality option in the synthetics side, we still see most of them using EP, VTS, PI and Dominants. I am literally surprised when I see something different. And I wonder, how all these instruments, all these different personalities and playing styles get satisfied with such a small percentage of the available choises? It looks like a hype to me. and I get this impression when I want to try a new brand, and search for somebody that uses it, just for fun of course. The other interesting thing is that many chamber musicians, orchestra members and students go with the same combos as the soloists, regardless of their instrument and the need of the certain task. Whereas a few soloists ditch the bright high tension synthetics when playing baroque or chamber music. You are right when you say that the shops stock what the customers ask. But what if it's more profitable for the manufacturers to push synthetics? I have no proof for this but it strikes me as if the "raw" material is easier to find, and the core easier to produce when we talk about synthetics and composites. Of course there is a lot of lab work behind it, but I understand that this happens when creating a prototype. And as Darian says composites and synthetics cost even more than gut nowadays. I get that in the 70s soloists would switch to Dominants since they were more stable in a world were airconditioning was not to be taken for granted, and if they were cheaper than gut it would be a double win for them. But now? For example Tonicas, Corelli Crystal and Cantiga come close to the Dominants, and sometimes are cheaper...I just don't believe that they don't work better for some players...I only recall having seen only one soloist using Tonicas, for a chamber music performance...I also recall a dealer quoting that they prefer Larsens to Dominants but keep using the latter since it's a norm and people are used to it.

April 2, 2017 at 12:15 AM · Yeah, forgive my language, but I say screw the dominant strings. They're dull, muted, grainy, and don't last long or they fray shortly after installation. I think it is merely a matter of tradition why dominants are still the (play on words here) dominant string on the market. If more people were like me and shot for sound, they might realize there are many better options out there. Dominant strings might lose their dominance, and we'll have to start calling them Thomastik Submissive strings.

April 2, 2017 at 12:37 AM · Darian,

I'll let Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, James Ehnes, Shlomo Mintz, Hilary Hahn, and Glenn Dicterow know that they should ditch their Dominants, on your recommendation.

Probably your violin has a dull, muted, grainy quality and this is why they don't work for you. I find that on a superb violin with a proper setup, they are a fine string.

A lot of these string discussions are the same thing -- people buy a relatively inexpensive violin, are unhappy with the sound, and start messing with strings. Then when the newness of sound wears off, they are left with whatever qualities their violin had to begin with, and the cycle continues....

April 2, 2017 at 12:43 AM · No, my sound is fine, I just want to optimize it. Btw, Zukerman already did ditch dominants, he now uses VTS. Zukerman's is probably the sound I'm really trying to come closest to. And I just listened to a masterclass on YouTube with Zukerman, and my sound is similar (not the same, but in tonal quality) now. So that tells me my violin must be fine, and that maybe I just need a bit brighter string, and to work on my sound production extensively.

April 2, 2017 at 01:01 AM · Darian,

Yes, it does look like he switched a few years back but used them for most his career. Here is a video of him playing with Dominants a while back.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5Q0g_Er0Tk

I'd hardly describe them as " dull, muted, grainy..."

April 2, 2017 at 01:04 AM · Dominants are good-quality strings that are neutral-sounding and decent on most instruments. People like what's familiar, and for most working pros, using the same inexpensive, readily-available strings that they've used their whole life suits them just fine. If you're a working pro, especially one without a lot of money, what you do not want to do is shell out money for strings whose performance is somewhat unknown. So the fashions change slowly. There's no real reason for Dominants to dominate their price category from a player-preference standpoint, other than force of habit.

Tonicas are used extensively but not to the extent of Dominants. They became more popular when they were reformulated some years back, and these days, you'll see shops put them on a lot of violins as an alternative to Dominants -- indeed, if you get a rental, they'll often give you a choice of Dominants or Tonicas. They fill the same niche -- inexpensive, dependable, neutral-sounding, decent on most instruments.

When Evah Pirazzis came on the market, they were clearly distinct from everything that had come before -- they were a high-tension synthetic with a good deal of brilliance. They weren't right for all instruments, but some soloists switched, and anyone seduced by a bright, loud sound under the ear found them attractive. And their price-premium over Dominants on introduction wasn't all that large. (You used to be able to get a set of EPs for $50 or less.) Violin shops started to put them on higher-end instruments for sale.

I think of the VTS and then later, PI, as the Thomastik answer to Pirastro's EPs. Those strings got quite a bit of pick-up for similar reasons. When Pirastro introduced the EP Golds, they also got good traction because they had much of the brilliance and projection of EPs while retaining complexity. Now you'll see EP Golds and PIs be the strings most commonly used by shops on high-end fiddles.

With the escalating cost of synthetics, I bet that far fewer players want to take a gamble on strings with likely-unknown results. When I could experiment with a pack for $50 or less -- and also therefore saw no reason not to change strings as soon as they started to fade in quality, around the 3-month mark -- it was easy for me to go through a bunch of different brands to figure out what I liked, including frankensteining different string combos. Now that a set costs me around $120, I am much more likely to only change every 6 months or so, and to stick with what I know will work.

Now, if you decide to try a string right when it's launched, you might be able to get a tester set. So in that case you can afford to have a situation where you put the strings on, decide they're terrible on your violin, and get rid of them immediately without wasting a ton of money. But if you're a working pro, you probably don't want that to be a frequent experience. (I suspect that people with two violins might test strings out on their non-primary instrument first.)

(By the way, Larsens are great-sounding strings, but their D and G longevity is terrible -- about three weeks of casual playing. Even back when they were cheaper, I found this to be unreasonable despite how much I liked the sound. Most players want more longevity. The short lifespan of EPs / EP Golds gets tolerated to some extent because the strings don't actually go false or break, so people who aren't paying attention can keep them on the violin forever. Dominants tend to go false and break/fray, by contrast, when it gets time to change them.)

My guess is that manufacturers price strings for what they can reasonably sell for. Olivs and Passiones are priced equivalent to high-end synthetics, notably.

Not everyone wants to constantly fuss with their strings. Most people settle on a combo that works for them and then move on with their lives. Higher-end instruments also don't need the same optimizations for strings.

April 2, 2017 at 01:17 AM · Lydia said:

"I think of the VTS and then later, PI, as the Thomastik answer to Pirastro's EPs"

Vision Titanium Solo (and Orchestra) are an older core design, and were actually available before Evah Pirazzi.

Vision Solos were the Thomastik competitor and "answer" to EP's. The regular Vision strings are based on the same core and were introduced a few years earlier -- they are inferior to both Vision Solo and Vision Titanium.

I believe the Peter Infeld strings share a similar core tech to the Vision Solos and Visions.

April 2, 2017 at 01:22 AM · True. I have my favorites so far that worked on my previous fiddle that was just a pain to try and get brilliance and projection out of. From that violin, I learned a few sets that suited me well: D'Addario Kaplan vivo (lasted longest), Larsen Virtuoso, VTS, Pirastro Black label (no longer being made, unfortunately, shame because they were my favorite by far, and they sounded good until they frayed). It was funny, when the G started to fray on my black label set, I went and told my mom, "Mom, I need new strings, my G string is fraying." She told me that the way I said that was funny because there's another type of g string other than what we put on a violin.

Anyway, those have been my favorites so far, but they're all about the same price, $70-$80, and that's a lot to try them all again on this violin. I guess I could try dominant strings, but in my experience they do not last long, especially the windings, which like to fray quite quickly.

April 2, 2017 at 01:34 AM · Lydia my thoughts are somehow close to yours. And I insist there is a kind of a fashion thing. I agree that the soloists don't have the time to mess with an instrument that works well...And many people would follow the rule "if not broken why fix it?". I recall however, when I got my first more "expensive" violin, I almost instantly went to change the dominants with a high priced composite, just because I've heard of it. And it took me long to understand that the EPs, Obligatos, VTS are not the only great strings out there...

Darian. I am sure you are aware that each string model has an extremely different impact on every violin. I understand your rage about the Dominants that you did not perhaps like, but it's not a reason to turn them into dust. They actually do work for most instruments, and they have left a huge timestamp in the violin history. Also, before ditching them especially on a new instrument it would be fun to mess with gauges, maybe your violin would respond better to the light version for example. Also, changing the E string with a different tension E, could do vast changes in your whole setup...It was mentioned above, and I have to say it again, regardless of the fact that you want to find really bright strings :) Your violin is new, and will develop significantly. Maybe it would be wise to have a string set in the middle of the spectrum for a few months, to understand it better, and monitor the changes. It would be cheaper that way, and since we brought the Tonicas to the conversation, they are brighter for some instruments than the Dominants. On my main instrument they sounded great but less complex or grainy than the Dominants, that's why I am still using Dominant GDAs...(yet willing to go gut this time). Another not so expensive option, that is supposed to be really brilliant is the Synoxa, by Pirastro and somehow rarely mentioned

April 2, 2017 at 01:45 AM · Hermes, yes, I used Synoxa on my past violin, and really liked them as they were bright without high tension, they were pliable like gut. However, they were a bit dull. Although now I attribute dullness to that violin, as it was not very responsive. But with that violin, I was changing strings every few weeks because I was not satisfied with the sound. This violin I should be able to tolerate various string types without thinking the tone is uninteresting or dull. I guess I will go with Tonica, if they are slightly brighter. I also like pirastro strings much more that Thomastik Infeld strings. About how long does a set of Tonicas last? Is it fair for its price?

April 2, 2017 at 02:20 AM · Aluminum is actually a much lighter metal than silver - that's why an aluminum-wound string will be thicker than an otherwise similar silver-wound string. You need more aluminum than silver to achieve a certain weight.

I found Wondertone Solos to have a brilliant sound, but with less color, somehow, than any synthetic string I'd ever tried. They sounded brilliant but somehow just dead. The tension felt moderate.

You have a number of options if you're looking for bright (or "brilliant") - aside from what's been mentioned, Infeld Blues could work well. Kaplan Vivos could also work well, as may Evah Pirazzis.

Of the Pirastro gut strings, I've actually generally found Gold Label to be the brightest. Not powerful, but rather bright.

I've used Evah and Vivo in light gauge in the past, and enjoyed them. There was less brilliance than with the medium gauge, but more color and they were easier to play.

April 2, 2017 at 02:24 AM · Tonicas are great value for the money.

But nope: Vision strings became available in 2004. Evah Pirazzis became available in 2000.

April 2, 2017 at 02:35 AM · Andrew Holland, thanks, that helps a lot. It rules out Wondertone solo, and I have noticed that when I used Kaplan Amo light gauge, it was much more colorful, but not as brilliant (even though they are a warmer string), and smoother. And I also remember now inquiring Pirastro about which of their gut strings was most similar to Pirastro Black label, and it was gold label, as both were under the category of "wondertone" but black label was discontinued, damn it! But I guess then I should go with gold label when I want gut. I also do have an old set of evahs somewhere I'll try out, and some ep golds (with gold sound g) I'll try as well. But I guess Tonica is what I should go with until I've played this violin in more and become more acquainted with it, then I can tailor my string choice to what I'll need then. Who knows how this particular instrument will evolve, it may brighten, it may warm up. My hope is brighten. Then I can use less extreme bright strings.

April 2, 2017 at 03:40 AM · If tonicas work for you and you like them...and the price remains the same...then you could be one of the luckiest violinists here...It's a great deal for the money. In my experience, they take a few days to settle but last longer than the other Pirastro synthetics I tried. I never recall taking them off because they were dead, I wanted to try something new instead.

Since you prefer Pirastro to TI, then Tonica is perhaps your best bet if you go with synthetics. I found it's a little more clear and focused than the Dominants as well. Actually even if you don't find they are the best for you, you would have a pretty decent set as a spare

Here in Athens they are available even in straight form for around 30 euros. And to be honest I was stunned that such a low priced string came in that form. In that price, I would not bother for longevity, but they do surprisingly well.

April 2, 2017 at 04:01 AM · Hermes,

Good to know. Yes, TI strings all have that similar grainy quality, it seems. Even when I hear others who use them, I hear it. I can sometimeshear it in Perlman's playing, but you rarely heard it with Heifetz because he didn't use them. It's a seemingly consistent thing.

Now that I hear myself, I realize my problem may be that I pay WAYYYYY too much attention to sound quality. Of course not paying attention to sound specifics never made a successful violinist. So I like pirastro for their smoother quality, and that each string seems to be aimed at a specific sound quality with little variation.

How about the Tonica E, any good, or should I use a different E?

April 2, 2017 at 04:59 AM · Heifetz insisted on using gut though...and you can hear it on his sound I suppose...

I do this too about the sound quality...it is sometimes obsessive...but you know, from a looong distance, it's mostly the violin not the strings (yet you "could" spot gut, synthetics or steel core...in most cases) But the violin is just under our left ear...so...you know...We have to enjoy it.

The tonica E simply does the job...It's a typical good pirastro E. No reason to swap it imo. No whistle as far as I remember. There is a wound E option as well, if you prefer wound Es...

One last thing, Tonicas have been changed the last years...So ask for the "new formula" tonica. It will be characteristic in the ball end silkings. They are both red/white but the new formula has a larger red area at the end of the silking. http://www.pirastro.com/public_pirastro/export/shared/.content/images/anspinnungen/Flyer_VLA-Tonica-NF_Anspinnung_EN.JPG

April 2, 2017 at 05:02 AM · I'm sure that's all I can get from Amazon, the new formula.

April 2, 2017 at 05:38 AM · Great...let us know of what happened...

April 2, 2017 at 05:59 AM · Okay, I will

April 2, 2017 at 06:07 PM · Lydia Leong, I thought about how you considered a $4500 violin a student quality, what if I told you it was made by Vlado Tilev?

April 2, 2017 at 06:39 PM · I don't think every $4500 violin is a student violin. The price to quality ratio really varies, and this is also dependent on currency.

April 2, 2017 at 06:41 PM · Double post, sorry.

April 2, 2017 at 07:03 PM · I'll try to get a sound sample here, maybe a more experienced ear can tell me if this instrument can take me through a professional (ensemble, not solo) career.

April 3, 2017 at 02:19 AM · In general, instruments at the $5k price point and below are student-grade. Most such instruments are workshop instruments (both old and new), although you will sometimes get apprentice luthiers and the like who sell instruments at that price point. I imagine there are individual luthiers in Eastern Europe especially, who might sell instruments primarily targeted at a lower-cost local market rather than marketing globally, too.

The quality of such instruments varies a lot. What is considered a good enough instrument for professional use varies with the area of the world that you live in. (There was a recent thread about this; I believe someone asserted that in their part of Eastern Europe, it's relatively rare for professionals to own instruments in the $10k+ range -- whereas in the US, most performing pros will own $10k+ instruments.)

If your teacher is an orchestral violinist, he can probably tell you whether or not your violin is good enough to win (and keep) a job on.

April 3, 2017 at 04:10 AM · Well, I guess I should go to eastern Europe, then :) Although my teacher (I'm no longer taking lessons, but intend to when I can afford it) told me a good professional violin might not be too much over $2000. He said that's about what he spent on his pro viola that he uses in the symphony.

I'm also imagining that the reason for owning $10k+ instruments probably has to do with the sellers being greedy. If that's not it, it's probably because price seems to be based on maker and origin, not sound.

And as I said, what we have available around here rarely surpasses $8000, and even that price ceiling is quite ample. I don't think I've seen one locally over $6,500.

April 3, 2017 at 04:39 AM · Are you intending to become any pro of sorts? If so, you should probably consult an expert and let them hear the violin. Then, they can judge whether on not it'll suit your needs.

April 3, 2017 at 04:50 AM · It depends what you mean by a "professional" instrument. Good enough to be used in a classroom as a music educator, for instance, or good enough to be used outdoors at a wedding, or maybe even good enough to be used as a paid non-principal ringer in a community orchestra, is different than good enough to be used to win a professional symphony audition.

(From Googling, it looks like you're living rather far from an urban center, where the local symphony is a community orchestra. It would not surprise me if most of the players there are playing instruments under $10k, and likely most under $5k, if they're like most community-orchestra players.)

You would be wrong about the $10k+ instruments. It sounds like you haven't really played instruments in the $10k+ range, so you're understandably speaking out of a lack of awareness of what's out there. The next time you're in a major city and have some time, treat yourself -- go to a violin shop that has an abundance of high-quality instruments (not just a handful, but lots), and ask to try things out. (Say, Bein & Fushi in Chicago.) Not all instruments by a great maker will be great, and you'll find huge variance in sound quality in every price range, but as a general rule of thumb, the higher the price, the greater the probability that the instrument has better playing qualities.

If you plan to leave your hometown area, you should be aware that your competition is often on significantly higher-priced instruments. Around my city (Washington DC), kids playing reasonably seriously at the high school level are often on $20k+ instruments (most teachers will encourage $10k+), and it's not unusual for the competition winners to have $100k+ violins. You don't need that yourself, but it's certainly an advantage for the students whose families can afford to invest like that.

April 3, 2017 at 09:53 AM · Think of it this way: A very good instrument takes about 300 hours of work (talking about a violin). Simple ones start at maybe 80 hours, only talking about completly handmade instruments.

The luthier also has to pay at least (!) 2000$ for some good wood.

I dont live in USA so I dont know what a luthier gets payed there, but in Germany it is roundabout 50$/hour (which is really not much considering how much money he has to spent to keep his buissines alive).

300h*50$/h+2000$=17 000$

The luthier also must be able to pay for his store and tools.

So the 17 000$ are without any extras to big names.

The luthier I got my violin from starts selling his violins at 21 000€ (a bit more than 22k$). He once told me he earns about 3000€ per violin after paying for materials, tools and his atelier. 160 hours per month are considered to be a full time job at my country. Which makes him earn less than 2000€ per month, not much for the work he does!

Finding a very good violin below 20k is hard, at least in Germany. I was looking for a new violin for over 3 years and it was already hard to find one in the area of 20k.

From what I know from my area, any instrument below 10k would make it quite hard to get into any professional orchestra.

Most solists I know (not talking about world class players) play on either 100k+ instruments or a few of the modern makers that are not quite that expensive (von Baehr, Schleske, Greiner, Rittwagen, Beare, Hargrave and some others), at least not yet!

April 3, 2017 at 02:07 PM · We've diverged enough from the string topic that you might want to start a separate thread on what constitutes an acceptable professional instrument, Darian. You would likely get more discussion participants.

April 3, 2017 at 02:25 PM · Of course I should also take into account that I'm only 17, so I probably don t need to worry about a high, high quality instrument yet.

April 3, 2017 at 02:26 PM ·

April 3, 2017 at 02:38 PM · Your instrument should be adequate for college if you're going into music education. Whoever you study with then can tell you when you'll need another upgrade.

April 3, 2017 at 03:41 PM · In NYC, Passiones are not uncommon, and Eudoxa and Oliv are not a hard find in shops.

Yes, synthetics are mainstream, and why not? But many players don't need a mainstream solution. I wish I was exaggerating, but there's no synthetic that sounds or exactly plays like gut. Some-or many-in the audience won't care, but it should matter to the artist.

As for shops, it is just convenient, practical, and economical to stick to the "tried and true". While the stock is generally still limited, I admire many local shops for stocking gut and some steel As. They get my business, as I generally try the shop first, rather than going online (though finding the right gauge in stock can be a challenge.)

Speaking of which (and quite unfortunately), anyone knows of a shop that carries non-Pirastro, non-period performance gut core strings in NYC? Tricolore and the such. Again, I am not referring to baroque strings, for which I believe we have more options.

I am using synthetics, ATM. I am not that old myself, but after using gut, you really come to appreciate its qualities-in my case, it has not much to do with "golden age violinist hero worship", but more about the true advantages of using gut strings. I try a lot of gut and synthetic types as well as steel Es, like many of you.

Sorry, OP-didn't mean to hijack your thread. Best of luck.

April 3, 2017 at 05:03 PM · Actually, you got us back on topic.

April 4, 2017 at 10:17 PM · Not sure if it was previously noted. Though in terms of soloists, aside from their supreme technique and multi-million dollar instruments, tend to change their strings way more often than any of us ever would. I believe I read once that Hillary Hahn changed strings a couple days before each concert.

April 4, 2017 at 10:37 PM · Well, apparently soloists are not the frugal type with strings.

April 5, 2017 at 02:05 AM · I splurged and bought a set for Evah Pirazzi Golds and they're amazing. Been using Dominants for a couple of decades and I'm so happy to have made the switch

April 5, 2017 at 02:38 AM · Well, the top soloists tend to get in about 150 hours of practice and maybe 30 hours of concert playing in each month, so changing strings every 2 weeks to preserve tone quality after about 100 hours of playing is a good beat (since some new synthetics like standard Evah or Infeld Red last maybe a month or so before becoming terrible).

My infeld reds kept their tone for about 2 weeks, compared to the 6 months for my plain gut G and D, 3 months for the plain A and 1.5 for the E (and you still have ignorance about expensive and short-lived gut)! :D

April 5, 2017 at 03:03 AM · The initial sound of the Infeld Reds (and Blues) -- the first week or two -- are the sound of them before they break in, and they can be a bit metallic and harsh during that time, much like Dominants can. Their "real" sound is what they sound like after they break in. They last a fairly long time after that -- about equivalent to Dominants.

April 5, 2017 at 04:13 AM · Huh? Then I gues they were too full for me, I though they had lost their sound. :)

The joys of plain gut... :D So glad I need not anything else for beautiful sound and control, tbough the very gets on my nerves a bit. :D

April 5, 2017 at 01:45 PM · A.O., then change them, if you're not satisfied with the sound, get the next set you wish to try.

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