String experiment order

Edited: March 10, 2018, 8:43 PM · I have been using the famous Dominant strings for several years... I liked the string so far (wound e is not too bad), but decided to try other numerous brands...

From other posts in, I learned that e string affects tone quality of the ADG strings or whole instrument.

Question: does this mean I should try various e strings (possibly with different tensions) AFTER I find some suitable ADG strings?

(I play chamber music in a local church, thus no need Solo-level projection. I think my instrument has neutral tone. Prefer warmer tone, but going to try both brighter/darker strings)

Don't have time/money to try all of them... any advice is welcome. Thank you :)

Replies (8)

March 10, 2018, 8:04 PM · I'd start with cheaper synthetics and go from there. Opinions on strings are extremely controversial for several reasons:
1. every violin has unique traits that players choose to change in different ways
2. every player has personal preferences for sound
3. every player has a sound that's unique to them due to extremely subtle (and largely visually invisible) differences in bow technique and
4. hand perspiration concerns
Edited: March 10, 2018, 9:12 PM · If you are looking for a moderate string upgrade, you might try the Obligatos. A lot of people like them who upgrade to them from Dominants.Shar has a string chart of brightness, warmth, etc, but it’s a rough guide IMO.

People commonly replace the Dominant E. Choice of string partly depends on what strings match your violin well, and what appeals to you. And of course if you have financial constraints.

Not to sound like a string snob, personally I think Dominants are overrated and overpriced, but I also don’t bat an eye paying for a full set of Eudoxa or Oliv strings and switching out the E string and sometimes the G string for heavier gauges. I’m told that gut strings are rather passé because of their tuning instability, which admittedly they are fickle right when they are strung but do stabilize as you play them in. People say they are sensitive to stage lights but I haven’t noticed that much playing at Hill or Calumet or maybe it didn’t bother me to retune. Over the years, for the lower strings I’ve tried some of the newer Pirastro synthetic core strings including Evahs and Passiones (I forget the rest) as they came out but they haven’t match my violin well. I finally just got around to getting a set of the Peter Infeld Pi with a Platinum E but haven’t put them on yet.

Also, different E strings wear out or pop more quickly. The golds and platinums. Personally, again, I’m not bothered by how often I replace strings or the cost. I play pretty hard when I do, so I go through them. (Kind of like rehairing bows.) They are the string I buy most.

People like a wide range of Es. Decent ones can start from a couple of buck up to $30. E strings depend a lot on what you like - if you aren’t sure like you say in your post, your best bet is to start trying some out. Some popular ones (not in any particular order) are Hill, Oliv Gold (short life), Gold Label, Westminster, Goldbrokat, Jargar and I’m probably forgetten a few. Non-whistling Es are Warchal and Kaplan Golden Spiral. If you start with less expensive ones which cost a few dollars, then you can try more.

Here’s a recent thread on Es.

March 10, 2018, 9:39 PM · Start with the E string. Then choose a set for the G/D/A. I wouldn't try mix-and-match on the G/D/A between different brands until you've exhausted other possibilities.
Edited: March 11, 2018, 1:21 AM · Similar opinion from my side. If you basically like your dominants, then try Kaplan golden spiral or even Eudoxa E, but if you want to go warmer then try a set of Obligato, give them some time to settle in (at first they can sound a little bit metallic when brand new) and then see if you want any different E. Kaplan spiral gold might be a good choice again, in my case Pirastro no. 1 worked best. (Mainly for whistling than for tone, I have to admit...)
With different strings you will have rather small changes in your violin sound. Eventually shrill sounds can be caused by a slightly leaning bridge. If there is something you dislike, and got a good Luthier nearby, then get your instrument checked. This can save you some money (compared to buying various string sets), and your Luthier usually can advise you which strings to use.
March 11, 2018, 1:14 PM · There is a lot of personal experience with strings on multiple threads here. To experiment on your instrument, start cheap, then move up in price as needed. The three different gauges of the Goldbrokat E-string are about $2 each. We are seeing a lot of yes votes for the Warchal Amber E. Nylon core strings that are cheaper than Dominant, and in my opinion better, are Tonica, Corelli Crystal, D'Adario Pro-Arte. For steel strings D'Adario Helicore also makes an all-iron version called NS-Electric, I think they sacrificed some volume to get a more mellow sound. I wouldn't buy any synthetic string that costs more than real gut. One trick,short-cut, to find out if your instrument prefers low,med., or high-tension strings is to tune the medium string up or down a 1/2 step, one at a time, and as a set, and see how your instrument responds. jq
Edited: March 11, 2018, 7:19 PM · Thank you all for the reply.

Correct me if I am wrong, isn't it make more sense to try ADG strings (or a whole same set of strings - I prefer simple solution if possible!) before adventuring E strings with different tensions because E strings affect the others? Or maybe the order does not matter? :)

So far I have an Tonica set (slightly brighter, cheaper than Dominants), an Tzigane set (darker, not so much expensive than Dominants), and 3 steel medium tension e strings from different famous brands. Don't plan to mess around the strings once put them on except the e strings.

March 11, 2018, 7:19 PM · I would also suggest first swapping the E string that you currently use, it can change your whole experience, plus experimenting with the E is way cheaper than trying whole sets. With Dominants I prefer the Pirastro Gold Wordentone E, or the Eudoxa aluminum wound E (for a darker combo in my instruments). Obligato Gold plated E is also good but sometimes whistles. Evah Pirazzi E (the silvery steel I guess) gave much more power than the rest. The PI platinum E is excellent but is more expensive than the others.

Otherwise if you want to begin with the less expensive synthetics, Pirastro Tonica (maybe brighter than the Dominant) would be a good bet if they match your instrument, like the Corelli Crystal (but these are really warm and dark in my opinion). If you live in the US or can get access to them give Fiddlerman Strings a try as well. I really liked their value for money.

Since you are willing to experiment without being unhappy with the Dominant I would insist on trying different Es first. Or if you are experimenting for the shake of experimentation...give gut core strings a try...

March 11, 2018, 9:42 PM · I'd experiment with E strings first, since it's way less of a hassle than trying full sets or GDAs together. Goldbrokat and Gold Label are popular E strings to go with Dominants. You might also try Pirastro Universal E.

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