Looking for Viola String Recommendations

Edited: March 3, 2018, 3:38 PM · I recently purchased a viola. The strings on it are old and need to be changed anyhow (I have no clue what strings they are) but do not know where to start. I play violin and always wanted to try viola as well so this is a bit of new and fun territory for me.

What would people recommend as a good string to use as a baseline to start with while I’m getting use to its sound? As I play it more I’ll have a better idea of what my violas characteristics are and can determine another string choice later if need be. I just need a place to start!

Replies (10)

Edited: March 3, 2018, 9:20 PM · Any cheap synthetics e.g Tonica, Dominant, Pro Arte, Zyex, Karneol, Ametyst, etc, are all good choices.
Edited: March 3, 2018, 4:54 PM · I have had positive experience with Warchal Karneol (short length) and Cantiga (light) on my 15.2' viola with vsl of 360mm.

Please remember that knowing the vibrating string length (nut <---> bridge) is of utmost importance in selecting proper string gauge for viola string. Not too many producers (Warchal is an exception) will ask you about this... you may end up spending a lot of money and rejecting a brand or type because of gauge mis-match!

March 3, 2018, 5:22 PM · Thank you both for your replies!

I crossed into the “dark side” with dabbling in viola and now I feel like a a bit like a newbie again!

Thank you Rocky for pointing out the vibrating string length! I had a feeling that since there is no “standard” viola size this would take string selection into account. My new to me viola is 15”.....so on the smaller end of size in the viola world.

I will look into Warchal.....my violin responds well to Warchal Brilliants and Evah Priazza strings do to be honest those were the two places I was thinking of starting as I am familiar with them in violin terms.

But I was drawn to the viola in the first place because I don’t want brilliant so go figure!

March 3, 2018, 6:33 PM · I have 2 16" violas (375mm vibrating string length). I started them both (40 and 20 years ago respectively) with Thomastik Dominant strings. Both violas were pretty good with those strings (medium gauge) although I did mage adjustments and changes over the years.

Dominant viola strings come in full, 14" and 13" sizes. A 15" viola will probably take full-size strings.

Because your viola is 15" and the strings might need to be under less tension* with full-length strings you might want to get some other advice on the gauge of strings to purchase. But mediums might be a good starting point. I just put a light (weich) gauge Dominant A on one of them yesterday and it is great! Don't make the mistake of thinking "weich" strings are weak in tone or power.

* Shorter vibrating string length under the same tension of the same gauge as a longer string will be at a higher pitch and will have to be under less tension to be in tune.

March 3, 2018, 6:36 PM · Warchal Karneol is a great choice for smaller violas under 16".

I currently play D'Addario Kaplan (Forza) on my 15.5" viola, it's fantastic, and quite a bit a cheaper than the Larsens (which I also love but don't buy because their prices are insane nowadays).

Edited: March 4, 2018, 8:24 PM · Just as with the violin, Dominant is a good "neutral" string to start with.

With small violas, the somewhat brighter and more focused Vision strings can be a good choice. I have Vision C-G-D and Larsen A on my 15.75" viola. But be warned: Vision strings have a relatively long break-in time; they sound harsh and metallic for the first several days and take over a week to really settle in.

March 3, 2018, 9:43 PM · Personally, I use a Kaplan Amo C, Obligato G & D and a Larsen A on my 15.5" viola. If you want a rich C string, go for the Kaplan or even the Dominant. The Obligato G String is rich, now that it's broken in for me, very responsive whereas the D is relatively neutral. As for the Larsen A - it's really bright and projecting.

If I were you and not wanting too much of a "brilliant" sound, I would go for the D'Addario Helicores. They're about $50, and in fact, those were the first strings I used when I switched to viola. They served me very well!

March 4, 2018, 6:00 AM · When we were viola shopping last year, Dominant C-G-D with Larsen A seemed to be the most common setup we would see. Not that it's anyone's favorite but I guess since it's such a known quantity it helps reduce one variable a bit when comparing instruments.
March 4, 2018, 3:49 PM · Thank you again everyone! Very useful replies!!!
March 4, 2018, 7:49 PM · kaplan vivo!

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