Strings on “budget”

February 23, 2018, 2:28 AM · Hi! I’ve been looking at some new strings for my violin as the inevitable time approacheth.

I’ve been playing on my Eudoxas for a while because the luthier who worked on my violin suggested lower tension strings to combat wolftone, which worked fine. The wolftone, combined with a little more care and effort, is pretty much gone. (Now I have a wolftone eliminator just sitting away in a corner somewhere).

I experimented with strings briefly while I was in school (although I did have a different instrument), and I really liked Olivs and Passiones. I remember Passione being relatively low tension (at least It felt so under my fingers) and having nice volume and fantastic colour on the old instrument. Dominants I didn’t like as much because of the steely tint it had. The reason I switched to EP in high school was because I didn’t like the edgy shade. Of course, Passione would be my first choice on my current instrument as well, except that they are quite expensive.

I don’t think I will be spending $100+ on strings for a while since I do want to save up for a few things before I go back to school, and also maybe come up with ways to not spend so much on strings while I’m in school.

I know my violin can project A LOT if I want it to, because I’ve tried the medium gauge EP with Westminster E when I first installed the strings. I loved how it sounded with EP, but there was that killer wolftone that was impossible to get rid of at that C#5 on G-string (which was unfortunate because I was studying Saint-Saens No. 3 at the time; also, good thing I didn’t get the heavy gauge). What I am looking for are strings that are under $100, can project decently, and sound interesting.

I’ve heard good things about Larsens, both the original and the Tzigane (not so much on the Il Cannone) in terms of colour, projection, AND tension. Does anyone have experience with them?

Are there any other brands I should take into consideration?

Unfortunately I don’t really have the concept of dark vs bright sound, but I to describe the sound of my instrument, it resonates quite a lot in a good way, rings for a good while which makes the sound flashy, and is much stronger in the lower register than the higher register. The best string on the instrument (in terms of range) is the D string, which is where I can get the most colour out of it.

Replies (58)

Edited: February 23, 2018, 2:54 AM · D'addario's Zyex are an excellent budget option and they last for a rather long time.

I like them on my violin, but I play viola and my violin doesn't get nearly the love it deserves.

February 23, 2018, 4:46 AM · 1. Corelli Cantiga; might have issues with consistency / QA; the 1st set was beyond any expectations, the 2nd like it was not the same brand / type. This was, by coincidence, mentioned by a guitar specialist in the 12th Fret in regards to their guitar strings...
2. Corelli Alliance - a bit more expensive than Cantiga, but sound indeed reminds on gut strings
Edited: February 23, 2018, 5:00 AM · I also love passiones. I bought Tzigane in Dec to try. They are now my second favorite and project very well. I would say a little less colour than passiones. I would recommend trying them. They're holding up well so far too. I have hands that sweat and eat through strings like crazy. I'm thrilled if a string lasts 3 months. :)
February 23, 2018, 8:38 AM · Gold Label, Eudoxa (I know, same you used), Tricolore (from "cheaper" to more expensive); they are all under $100.00, and you don't need to spend that much to have top-notch, "professional", working strings (as much as I like and have used Oliv, the Tricolore have IME a more open and "alive" tone for much less). There are other gut options out there that may be more affordable (Supersolo?), but I have no familiarity with the others.

No synthetic sounds or plays like gut, even though there are many good options. To avoid the wolf, try going for lighter gauges for them (as generally, the "modern" choices tend to be much heavier than even the thickest Eudoxa gauges.) Some of the aforementioned options above are not so heavy, I believe (Tzigane, etc.)

Even light EP (green) awoke the wolf on my violin. Same with other good sounding options like Synoxa (a bit heavy, even if not hard to play). Maybe something like Aricore tames the wolf, but I have come to terms with the fact that my violin plays and sounds better with gut core strings, not "losing power" at all, so the "only" good thing about synthetics in my view are their different tonal options and often extreme stability. That said, gut's "lack" of stability is often vastly overstated (sometimes by advertisers of their own brand), and more often than not of no concern in a real concert situation. Good luck finding the right, affordable string that will keep your wolf silent.

I have not used light Tonica-or any really, of their modern formula version-in eons, but I can vouch for the quality therein, as well as practical affordability.

Warchal Brilliant Vintage might be worth a try as well (great synthetic, relatively low tension, "lowish" price.)

I know many great performers vouch for the Passione as a modern gut alternative, but I vastly prefer the Tricolore not only because of the price, but also longevity, and simply put, tonal quality. As close to "the best" ideal tone in my head as it can get. I love Heifetz, but it has nothing to do with a legacy-they sound great, and project well, period. "Modern" strings, IMHO (no wolf either, IME.)

February 23, 2018, 9:28 AM · Neither Olivs nor Passiones are actually low-tension. They *feel* low-tension, but the actual tension metrics given by Pirastro make it clear that they're definitely not -- they actually have rather high tension. And they're both really expensive.

Larsens, in all of their varieties, are definitely not cheap either, and more problematically, they tend not to last very long, which means that their effective price is driven up because you have to change them more often. They are low tension, though.

For value, I think it's hard to beat Warchal strings. Tensions are generally low to modest, the sound is good, and they last a long time.

February 23, 2018, 9:58 AM · I've used all strings you mentioned except EP. I play on three fiddles daily, and each has a string combo costing me less than $100. Current 1883 instrument combo at $88.97:

E - Goldbrokat Medium
A - Passione Regular
D - Eudoxa Stiff
G - Eudoxa Stiff

I tried regular Eudoxa only once -- 12 years ago -- but the stiff D-G work better for me. Pirastro recommends stiff for modern players. With my style of playing, the regular Eudoxa tone broke or crushed too easily. The stiff also had better pitch stability, once broken in.

1869 fiddle: Same E + Infeld Red A-D-G. The combo gives me what I'm after with this instrument: sheen in high tones, dark viola sound in low tones. I paid $57.45.

1921 fiddle: Same E + Vision Solo A, Peter Infeld Aluminum D, Infeld Red G. The tension and sound, to me, are excellent on this instrument; but the combo isn't as good on the other fiddles -- tension too high for them. I paid $70.55.

Dominants, which you mentioned, do have a metallic edge for a few days when you start to break them in. I generally liked the one set I tried 12 years ago -- although I avoided the E on other members' recommendations. My only negative: Tones on the G above 5th position sometimes choked up. I was using medium gauge -- thin might well have worked better; but Infeld Red G on the same fiddle was clear in high positions.

Hope this helps. Can't hear your instrument and so don’t know what would work well on it, but this is some of my own firsthand experience. String comparison tryouts, even on one instrument, require time and patience -- far more on three.

February 23, 2018, 12:56 PM · I don't have in depth insights but I recently had to replace my e string and after research, decided to try Larsens. The previous string was an Evah Pirazzi and I do like them. The Larsen E string has pretty much the same sound and projection, it blends well, but also an almost ethereal quality that I'm definitely in love with. Gonna replace my A string soon with Larsen as well because it is unraveling but I've read that the Larsen D string doesn't hold up.

Concerning price, you can get a set from Amazon for $65 with prime shipping. The Larsen Virtuoso's there are $73, they apparently have the same problem with D but reviews of the sound is highly satisfactory.

That's all I have to contribute in my very limited experience with string explorations. :)

February 23, 2018, 3:32 PM · Thank you all for your amazing and insightful replies!

I think the ones currently on the docket are Eudoxa Stiff, Warchals, and Corelli Alliance.

I wish I could somehow get my hands on some free samples of Larsen Tzigane, but we unfortunately live in a non-ideally just society. I now have my reservations regarding both the Larsen brands knowing they don’t last very long.

—although I was under the impression Olivs didn’t really last long either, and since I don’t usually go through strings so quickly because my hands are super dry and I don’t use lotion at all when I play, if the Larsens last just as long or a little longer than Olivs, I might still try Larsens. Unless of course the other strings would last me for a year.

My only reservation regarding stiff Eudoxa is that Eudoxa sounded really boring on my particular instrument (Willow back, spruce top, circa 1880 France). It may have had to do with the fact that my expectations were so high, but even after the hype wore off, I didn’t really like the way it sounded. Unlike EPs, Doxas sounded one-dimensional and the pitch instability was a pain in the neck, probably exacerbated by the fact that I liked EPs so much on my instrument.

As for Warchals, which type of Warchal am I supposed to get? There seems to be so many and as much as I would like to try all of them on my instrument, it doesn’t seem so feasible.

As for Corelli Alliance, how long do they usually last? I really like the fact I can get them for less than $50 online, and if I only have to change them maybe twice a year, I would be saving a lot of money as opposed to my ideal policy of 4months/ADGset.

I also did NOT know Oliv and Passione were high tension. That is certainly good to know; I almost invested $100+ to reawaken the wolf!

February 24, 2018, 2:31 AM · I'm currently in love with Warchal Brilliant, and I think it's a good start if you want to try them. I always get the silver D, haven't tried their hydronalium ones yet. Do keep in mind they take about 3 days to fully settle so what you hear on the first day isn't necessarily what will be there once they settle (for better or for worst), you need to give it a few days before you know what they truly sound like. ;)
February 24, 2018, 4:24 AM · Studying music is expensive, and takes a lot of time, and life is too short for playing with bad or old strings. Find a string combination that fits your instrument and playing style and just pay for it. Change it as soon as they start sounding dull.

I hate when I see one of my violas strung with old or bad strings.

February 24, 2018, 7:24 AM · Zyex budget strings?

They cost $60-65, that's a solid middle-upper price. Budget is something like $20-40, and high priced is like $80 or more.

By the way I do have the Zyex and I like them a lot, but I think it's quite difficult to sort strings, really subjective topic.

Edited: February 24, 2018, 11:52 AM · An alternative to the Eudoxa G is the Chorda G, a gut-cored wound G by Pirastro. It has, to my ear, a brighter and more robust tone than the Eudoxa, lasts a little longer, and is less expensive. I find it partners well with the plain gut Chorda D and a steel A and E, a trio of strings that lasts well. If a high tension G wakes up those wolves, then a Chorda G may well send them to sleep again.

I'm not going to recommend a specific steel A and E combination (or say what I use) because their number is legion and personal choice comes into the equation. The 2 steel + 2 gut is a combination well-known to Eastern European players, and others. The idea is to have the tonal division between the two steel upper strings and the two lower gut strings instead of between a steel E and the synthetic or gut A, D and G.

February 24, 2018, 9:23 AM · Oddly enough, sometimes high tension by itself does not awaken the wolf. I can't explain it-I once asked here if anyone had an inkling whether it's the core or the tension, and no one was able to chime in. My last "high tension" gut combo was Oliv Stiff G&D, a pure gut, "heavy" Tricolore A, and a medium (goldbrokat (7.8 kp.) Granted it was not very heavy like a full set of EP medium or higher, but the wolf was fast asleep.

I have used synthetic combos slightly under the tension given above (about 23 total), and the wolf still awoke.

Maybe it's the way gut vibrates, or maybe a combination of both tension and core.I have no scientific proof, and can only offer my own experience.

Also bear in mind that thick can also be *not* really heavy, and medium *can* be really heavy depending on product (indeed the "new" EP Platinum E "Dolce" is "medium" for all practical purposes-the "normal" version is a "stark".)

I use all "Heavy" Tricolore right now, and my total kp "weight" is 22, including a medium Goldbrokat. Heavy in theory, but in practice less tension than the usual "composite core" modern set. Not a dull or super dark tone either. They are all very clear sounding, and produce a bold, non-shy tone.

The EP Green are good, IMHO-they are just very different than gut. I don't find them "too bright"-just loud, and although you can play with dynamic nuances, I find you have to grab the string firmly a lot with them, so they favor a strong "click" bowing approach (so-called "modern bowing technique.") Of course you can play that way with gut to an extent, but with way less bowing effort. So the pros are the power, stability, and own type of beautiful sound, even though it's nothing like gut. I would still try to get light tension EP if I was to use them again.

Eudoxa are great, and beautiful sounding, but not representative of the whole "gut" range. Often people think of Eudoxa when they want something "gut sounding", but there are many other good options that are just as gut-core, and are also very different than Eudoxa.

(I would get Brilliant Vintage over the Larsens, because even though I know they all make good strings, the Warchal represent a good value, and you are not sacrificing any tone while paying less money for them. No offense intended to Larsen users-use whatever works for you.)

Edited: February 24, 2018, 11:20 AM · Pirastro Tonica are very similar to Dominants, but half the price, so worth considering. However, PI strings although pricey, last a very long time, so may not be more expensive in the long term. I have these on half the collection. Very clear at the top of each string.

Cheers Carlo

February 24, 2018, 12:53 PM · Zyex $65.00? I've been paying around $45.00, and they're available at that price from many sources. And yes, they are a favorite of mine too. The Warchal's I've tried are Karneol's, and I was initially disappointed but it took a few days for them to settle in. Since then I've like them a lot, and they are proving to be long lived like Zyex, and are also very reasonably priced. Warchal's Amber E's are very interesting, if you're ever having problems with E string whistling.
Edited: February 24, 2018, 3:50 PM · As much as I love experimenting with different strings, I don't really have the money to change my string every two weeks just because I don't like the sound of them (hence the reason for keeping Eudoxas on my instrument, even though the D string keeps going awfully out of tune every time).

I also love the prospect of enjoying my life to the fullest and I understand studying music is expensive, but I don't really believe it should impose so much on one's life. In an ideal world where everything was free, I would definitely just grab the top-notch ones and change them every couple weeks as soon as they start losing their shines, but alas there are other financial burdens currently in my life such as college tuition (with no promises of financial aid yet so I do have to be cautious) and also allocating funds for other hobbies and self-enriching activities such as books on different subjects, gaming systems, fun obscure instruments like the melodica, etc. Violin is definitely one of my biggest passion, but it is certainly not the only passion. What is also different this time is that I am purchasing the strings (and paying for my other hobbies, albeit slowly) with the money that I earned from my minimum wage job, which makes budgeting a little more important.

I did use the term "budget" rather lightly because I do expect I will be spending somewhere above $50, maybe even into $80 range, though preferably not. If the budget was my sole concern, I would have probably just gotten D'Addario Prelude, which was what my middle school teacher supplied to her students. I do want my instrument to sound good because I like hearing it sound nice, but I also would like to do it without putting myself in such a situation where I have no choice but to drop another interest--it's fun doing more than one thing!

It's interesting that high tension does not always equate wolftone. From my limited knowledge, it happens when the frequency of the sound produced matches the innate vibrational frequency of the instrument body, so I actually wasn't really sure beyond "if it vibrates more, then it is probably more apparent" which I guess it happens more apparently with higher tension strings. I might try Passione on my instrument just to see, but probably not for a while.

Zyex is in the running now that I know they are <$50 and also that many of you have had good experiences regarding the string. Warchals are looking strong and I'm growing more and more interested!

I once read if you don't like Dominants, you probably won't like Thomastik-Infeld strings as much--how much truth is in that? I've been rather curious about PIs but was told to stay away since I wasn't so fond of Dominants.

EDIT; I might also try Chorda somewhere down the road, when I am more independent of the judgements of my instructor that I have stringed my instrument with plain guts. I have always wanted to try them! Warchal Brilliant/BrilliantVintage seems like the contender among the Warchals--I will keep that in mind!

February 24, 2018, 4:16 PM · I read somewhere (don't remember where) that the bridge is part of the wolf problem - something to do with vibrations of the bridge interacting with other vibrations in the system. Seems feasible, but I don't know any more.
February 24, 2018, 5:38 PM · "I once read if you don't like Dominants, you probably won't like Thomastik-Infeld strings as much--how much truth is in that? I've been rather curious about PIs but was told to stay away since I wasn't so fond of Dominants."

I couldn't say I didn't like Dominants, since the overall sound was pleasing to me; but later, when I tried two other string models in the Thomastik family, Infeld Red and Peter Infeld, on the same fiddle, the clarity issue on the G above 5th position disappeared. The Dominant middle-gauge G might have been fine on a different fiddle -- I have two others; but I never tried it on them. I now use IR A-D-G on one instrument and a split setup on another, with PI aluminum D.

Best to take other players' advice, including mine, with a grain of salt. Again, we can't hear your instrument. We may like or dislike a particular string combo on our instruments, while the same combo on yours may deliver what is, for you, a great response. It's so subjective. There's no substitute for individual tryouts -- although, as I said, it takes time and patience and will cost something. The aim is not to hit and miss too much in the tryouts -- you don't want to break the bank. Your teacher and/or a good luthier should be able to help steer you, based on the sound you're aiming for.

Once again, the Eudoxa D, if you're using the regular type, can be a problem re: pitch stability, especially at first. I found the stiff D-G better in this regard and have used them ever since my one unsuccessful tryout of regular D-G. And the stiff give me far more reliable tonal power and endurance during intense bow pressure.

February 25, 2018, 10:54 AM · If you experiment with different brands of strings you might consider keeping a string journal. I have one for the last 6 years and note the brand, date installed, the date I re-string. Most importantly I note any perceived issues, durability of the "A" string at the contact points, how fast the strings degrade and a grade at the end for sound, clarity and the overall condition. You can also note the string brands you nix and the ones that work the best for you.
February 25, 2018, 12:41 PM · Lydia, I don't really see what you mean about the Passione and Olive strings being high in tension.

I see one exception - the Pirastro website shows the Olive D as being relatively high in tension, with many of the gauges being around 5 kp, although I wonder if that could be a mistake.

But otherwise, for example, most gauges of both the Passione and Olive As are less tense than a medium Dominant A (which is at 5.5 kp), and the Olive Gs are at very low tensions of around 4 kp or less.

February 25, 2018, 3:03 PM · Mr. Holland,

I think she means relatively speaking. I used that Oliv D you mentioned last year (Rigid, Gold/Aluminum, next to highest gauge-not the Silver) and it was very high tension-not a mistake on Pirastro's website info, but also not as hard to play as a regular EP medium. Still, the violin is "feeling" that weight, even if your hand may not as much.

Oliv are much higher in tension than Eudoxa, and so are the Passione. The Gold Label set has great tension balance, and I often use that total kp as a reference. The Eudoxa for some-perhaps historical-reason are very light, but even if I do favor light tension most of the time, they really comes accross as "too light" for me, unless I use "heavy" rigid G(16+) & D(17+). Still, compared to EP medium, the tension offered in either Oliv or Passione is often not a problem for many.

I believe her violin favors light tension strings. So does mine, but gut is kind to my instrument.

(Necessary apologetic note for EP "green": even Medium are not horrible to play, and they do sound good and theoretically powerful, but the bowing requires more energy, and some violins can resonate better without that type of total tension.)

February 25, 2018, 8:59 PM · I think it would be an excellent idea to keep a string journal! I may start keeping track of my strings in my practice journal so I know the context and maybe even keep track of what happens daily!

I think my violin is in a strange place where it has no issue singing at a very loud volume without losing clarity but will encounter wolftone with higher tension strings such as EP, hence my search for a relatively low tension string to combat wolftone (which I guess is something I need to look into further since it no longer seems like it directly correlates to tension) but also try to bring out the best out of my instrument which is its fantastic dynamic range.

I know some people like to use a heavy gauge E string with regular ADG--can that be done in reverse with the G string?

Of course there is no definitive way for me to accurately imagine what each string will sound like on my instrument, but I figured hearing people's testimonies and insights on the instrument would be the best place for me to start!

I might go ahead and try Passione somewhere down the road when I have a little more financial liberty, but for now, I think I will stay away. I may even consider the stiff Eudoxa DG, but I am still a little afraid of it being colourless on my instrument since the A string has never been particularly exciting with the Eudoxas.

Edited: February 25, 2018, 11:00 PM · Tim,

A full set for viola is around $45. Wherever you are buying your strings you are being gouged. Viola strings are more expensive than violin strings, and while I haven't checked the price on them for violin (I buy violin strings like.. once a year?) I can pretty much bet they're at least $5 cheaper.

RE: Warchal - I currently have Brilliante's on my Viola. It took them awhile to settle in but once they did I like them.

February 26, 2018, 8:20 AM · If you prefer gut on a budget, Pirastro Wondertone Gold label are going to be about the cheapest wound gut strings.
February 26, 2018, 8:29 AM · Cassio, you could definitely try a heavier-tension G string, but my guess is that it will make your wolf on the G string worse, not better.
February 26, 2018, 1:06 PM · @Andrew

I meant the other way as in lighter tension G string, so the configuration looks something like regular gauge EAD and lower gauge G!

I will check out Wondertone and Gold as well!

February 26, 2018, 6:44 PM · I’ve actually found that can work usefully - I and a few others on here have talked about being successful with medium Dominant D and A, light Dominant G on certain violins. The lighter gauge on just the G string doesn’t seem to take away too much power, we commented, and it can help with wolves and also make the G string more responsive.
February 26, 2018, 7:28 PM · I am really puzzled. Your violin sounded awful with a nasty Wolf. Your Luthier worked hard and with the Eudoxa's your violin sounds wonderful, yet you now want to step into the unknown and start messing with your strings. It would seem smarter to put a small amount away each week and buy replacement strings that you know will work rather than messing around with a bunch of strings that probably won't and then buying more Eudoxa's later
February 26, 2018, 10:43 PM · good point!!
February 27, 2018, 7:47 PM · As I mentioned in another post, I have found that Helicore Medium Strings are the finest I have found. A very reasonable price too. $27.00 a set. They break in fast, and are very long lasting. Put a Brokat E String on with them, and I think you will be pleased.
February 27, 2018, 9:11 PM · I find Helicores very responsive, but not as full or complex sounding as most synthetics.

A lot of viola players find them useful, since response and focus is more of an issue on there, and cello and bass players do too.

February 27, 2018, 10:17 PM · I don't know why so many people are recommending synthetics, when the OP clearly prefers gut core.
February 28, 2018, 1:35 AM · Well - the OP did ask about Larsen strings....
I get much longer service time out of a Oliv rigid G than I do from the various synthetic alternatives I have tried (EP gold G was wonderful but only for about a month). So even if the price is high the cost is not. My preferred combo at the moment is Oliv rigid G, Oliv silver D, Passione solo A and EP platinum E.
If you want to try Warchal strings (which you should if you want to go into test mode) I think Amber is the closest they have to gut sound. They also offer half price on the first set of any strings when buying directly from the web page.
February 28, 2018, 8:00 AM · The tonal difference between Passiones and Warchal Brilliant Vintage on my violin is almost imperceptible, interestingly enough.

In general, I think Passiones feel more like a synthetic than they feel like a gut string. They have characteristics of both, but in many ways they are more synthetic-like.

February 28, 2018, 8:27 AM · My problem with Passione is not that they sound like synthetics, but that their price puts them above and beyond "budget" strings. They definitely do not sound bad BUT considering Pirastro's own alternatives, I would go to Gold Label or Eudoxa myself for something more affordable while being top-notch tone-wise. Do agree that they are more "like synthetics", playing a sort of "transitional role" for musicians used to synthetics, or another option for gut users who want to take advantage of their stability features. Since I use gut strings that are stable and don't have that technology, I prefer to stick with the other more affordable options that are "true gut" (for lack of a better term-Passione are also gut.) Compared to other gut strings, they indeed are the "less gutty" choice, but do have a nice tone, and would they be cheaper, would be an easier recommendation.

(I admit to like when I see younger or so-called "modern" players using Passione instead of the other ultra-famous alternatives, as a sort of ideal "step in the right direction" that doesn't really exist. Play whatever works for you, as always.)

Brilliant Vintage are good, however.

February 28, 2018, 8:28 AM · I chose passione for the A since I had problems with the Oliv A. Unlike the D and G it never became stable. I liked the sound, though. On the viola I have liked the aricore-eudoxa A, so I will be trying that on the violin next time around. And several other A strings as well.
A professional violist friend of mine reported that when the viola section in her orchestra all switched to passione both colleagues and audience noticed an improvement in sound.
February 28, 2018, 9:04 AM · @rocky: I use cantigas in my fiddle, and I have no problems with consistency. The thing is that they come in different tensions and the sellers dont really differentiate when selling.
Edited: March 5, 2018, 11:50 AM · Sorry everyone for ghosting for a week! I was a little busy with work and other family stuff.

@Matt, I don’t necessarily think no Wolftone=beautiful sound. Rather, no wolftone=functional. I think it’s only natural for me to look for different strings if I am unhappy with the way the instrument sounds, especially since I know my instrument is capable of a lot more, as I had seen when I was playing with EPs. I think you might have misread what I have written because I do say that when I play with Eudoxas, they sound boring. Beyond that, I also mentioned the budget reason, which is another strong factor at the moment.

I’m not strictly set on guts because I know synthetics tend to last longer thus providing a better value for the price in terms of sheer numbers!

I do have to postpone the purchase just because I need a repair on my instrument now which I assume will at least break my bank, but I think I’m strongly considering Warchal at the moment!

Thank you everyone for your insight!

March 6, 2018, 9:00 AM · Mr. Chae,

I have found absolutely no evidence of gut having less longevity than synthetics. I do not know why Pirastro (the most famous gut string manufacturer) and others spread this info as "facts", other than to promote their now more famous alternatives. If you take care of them, they will outlast most synthetics, and only steel wins these "longevity wars", anyway.

Not saying you must use gut-just that the longevity "issue" is overstated and most of the time and IME, player/teacher/luthier hearsay. Not your case, but I have heard other violinists say the same thing without ever having used them. Passione may be among the least long-lived due to the synthetic material on top of the gut core, but even those last well-it's more likely than the winding gets damaged first than the actual "delicate" (it is not!) gut core.

Even pure gut lasts for a long while, IME (never referring to E strings.)

Best of luck with the repair.

(Nothing against synthetics, if anyone is wondering.)

March 6, 2018, 12:15 PM · @Lydia Leong: I believe you are a Warchal fan. Could you please describe the difference between Brilliants and Brilliant vintage...tone, volume, tension. also, easy on the fingers is getting more important to me as I get older and busking with them for 3 1/2 hours per day.

side note: the review on a link about EP Gold's that Roger St-Pierre posted for me said the G was somewhat out of balance, being too strong. I've got an EP Gold (silver) G on the way, but after reading the posts on G lights, I may have been better of with a light G, as I like my G & D to be more like melody strings than Bass strings.

March 6, 2018, 6:30 PM · I recently tried a set of the new composite Zyex with both the silver and aluminum D's. IMO, the E is no good, the A is ok, the silver G is too much (1 lb higher tension than the aluminium) I preferred the aluminum. but over all, I didn't like the feel of them (a bit hard on the fingers) and I gave them away.

My EP Gold (silver) G came in today after my previous post. as per the review that Roger St-Pierre linked me to, The G did sound a bit strong. I imagine it will settle down a bit after it settles in. I had a different E on when I put the G on, but decided to put the EP Gold (steel) E back on, which helped even things out (that's a powerful E). so...first time in a long time I've had a complete set. more appeal for someone to describe the difference between Warchal Brilliants and Vintage Brilliants.

Edited: March 6, 2018, 9:35 PM · I've never used Brilliants on my own violin, only the Brilliant Vintage. Vintage is at a lower tension, and I've got a highly-responsive, antique, heavily-restored violin that seems to sound best without a lot of tension, so they work very well for me.

My experiences with strings are not necessarily reflective of what's going to sound good on inexpensive student violins. My experimentation has been solely on relatively expensive professional instruments.

March 7, 2018, 8:12 PM · I have also not used the original Brilliant set, only Brilliant Vintage. They were really impressive back then. My opinion is that if a violin sounds good with the Vintage set, there's no need to try the regular version for more "oomph" or whathaveyou. Even when my violin is only 126 years old, it sounds so much better and open with low tension strings or gut-it doesn't "choke" with "regular", "composite-core" sets, but the tone is more open, clearer, and brighter (good type of bright) with low tension. There would be no point in trying something like stark EPs (even if they were easy to play, which they are not at that extreme), and some mediums can darken it more than I nowadays like. But perhaps one should heed Mr. Warchal's advice and try the regular Brilliant on a more modern instrument first.

(I believe some good modern instruments can make use of the Brilliant Vintage set quite well, as far as I have read in the past.)

I believe that equating tension with sheer volume is an oversimplification. Stark/Weich doesn't always help maximize/minimize projection for some players and/or violins. It all depends, as it's usually the answer.

Edited: March 7, 2018, 9:30 PM · right now I'm leaning toward the Vintage for my next try out. Simply because I think a bit lower tension might work better for both me and my fiddle. Thank you Lydia and Adalberto for the input.
March 7, 2018, 10:34 PM · I probably wouldn't recommend Brilliant Vintage for fiddling, though. It's not the right kind of sound. I'd probably suggest Larsen Virtuoso for lower-tension fiddler strings.
Edited: March 10, 2018, 7:13 AM · Lydia: I don't (can't) fiddle. I play blues violin. maybe I could use the Brilliants without the Vintage.

here's a 15 year old recording of me doing a song I wrote. the violin solo is at the end of the song. the song is called How 'bout You.

here's another one I wrote (disco) called Why We Dance. The lead guitar in sync with the vocals is me. The violin solo is also at the end. When I performed my 22 songs, I would leave space in the backgrounds from my 2 music sequencers for violin and guitar solo's. I would have to set my guitar on a stand an pick up my violin and visa-versa.

so.... this is how I play

March 10, 2018, 3:14 AM · I am surprised that in the low cost arena, no one mentioned Thomastik's Alphayue. But I think they sound too much like Dominants, which I do not like. My favorite low cost strings are either Pirastro Tonicas (higher tension I think) or Corelli's New Crystal, which are even lower tension than Crystal, to answer the OP's original concern. Light gauge Corelli Mew Crystal are even lower tension. I always swap out the E in any set I try, usually preferring Jargar.
March 10, 2018, 9:10 AM · For someone used to gut or any quality string, I doubt they'll like Helicore, which is a boring, unmusical string with little elasticity. They're like a better version of Red Label. Which is not a compliment...
March 10, 2018, 9:19 AM · I think when you take into account the longevity of genuine gut, you're not really paying more to get genuine gut strings, as they last longer than cheaper synthetics.
Edited: March 10, 2018, 6:53 PM · A few days ago I mentioned on the "The under rated D string" discussion that "I change a plain gut D every year - when I think of it". That wasn't a joke; I have little doubt that a plain gut D will last quite a bit longer than a year.

The reason why plain gut lasts is because the interface between a string winding and the string core (whether synthetic or gut) breaks down with use and the tone therefore deteriorates due to the acoustic energies in the string during playing and the ensuing mechanical forces between the winding and the core, even if the winding still looks ok to the eye. Plain gut does not have an interface to deteriorate.

A plain gut E is a different case. If it is played at lot (i.e. normally) it will start to fray, which is a distraction for the player, even if the tone isn't immediately affected. That is why, when I use a gut E I must be prepared to change it after 6 - 8 weeks, and why in general orchestral usage a steel E is regretfully the pragmatic choice with gut lower strings.

Edited: March 10, 2018, 12:20 PM · Scott, I’m guessing you’d feel the same way about other steel strings, too, and not just Helicores.

A string maker would probably be able to explain this better, but on viola, cello, and bass, focus and core are more of a priority than a pretty, fluffy sound, and synthetics can feel and sound mushy on cello and bass especially, in my opinion. And sometimes on viola too.

I think it’s a question of the needs of a classical violinist vs. classical players of the other string instruments - or even a classical violinist versus a fiddle player.

March 10, 2018, 6:55 PM · In my later years as a cellist I went over to steel strings - Thomastik Spirocores - and was much happier with them. Many years before, my cello teacher regularly used steel strings, Thomastik Ropecore I believe.
Edited: March 10, 2018, 9:47 PM · How long (and hard) did you play in the Eudoxa heavys? It takes a decent amount of playing to break them in. It helps in the beginning (not later) to tune them high and play them down as they drop in pitch and repeat until the string stops stretching tremendously. Then play, really play on them for at least few hours a day for a week and the string will stabilize. If you are a light player, it will take longer to break them in. The heavy gauge may not suit you any way as they take considerably more finger strength to play well IMO. (When I was younger, they helped make me a better player by improving my finger strength quite a bit.) They also do wear on the finger pads more, so you develop hefty calluses. But if you can play them well, they can sound quite rich.

I agree a lot with Adalberto’s comments. Synthetic strings can also get flat and lose their original tone. They just might not pop as quickly. I think it’s more important to match the instrument with the best strings. How much are you really saving? Could you eat in instead of dining out and save the difference? And gut strings do take patience. So in short, they are not for the impatient or those who play lightly.

March 12, 2018, 2:01 PM · @Jane,

I’ve tuned it super high when I was playing with an open F tuning while I was jamming out with a good friend of mine. I do agree the sound opens up a little, but having played on my Eudoxas for nigh half a year, can’t say they displayed as much colour as did EP on this instrument or Olivs/Passiones on my previous instrument.

Out of pocket costs are actually difficult to dissipate over time, especially since I only make about $90 a week. (: I understand over the course of such and such months the difference will not be as large, but it’s that one time payment I really can’t afford at the moment.

March 23, 2018, 4:16 AM · Timothy, yes you should be able to identify strings by the colors of the windings by using charts like this:
March 24, 2018, 12:38 PM · I totally agree with with Scott Cole's post, however, I would not be brave enough to come right out and say so. ;-)

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