Matching strings for an Avantgarde A & Amber E Combination

Edited: May 8, 2018, 12:21 AM · As I have been browsing V.com, Warchal's 2 spiral metal strings, are quite popular. I can also say that I am very happy with them. Surprisingly smooth sounding for metal, and flawless playability.
In a way it is an update of the famous "Russian setup" of 2 gut lower strings and 2 metal top ones.

Happy as I am with these 2 top ones I would like to search for the best possible match for the 2 lower ones. I am now using Tzigane G & D. Tzigane G hast lost some power and response, although I don't know if that came from the 2 new metal ones or that they are on the way out (6 weeks at 3 hours per day). Tzigane D goes very well with the Avantgarde.

I have read many comments of Lydia Leong who experimented with those metal strings and different ones for the bottom 2 (Passione, Tzigane and Brilliant Vintage). I wonder if she would have an update on those experiments. Which was the best combination?
I also read that you were going to try Olivs next, how did it go? I was going to put next Rigid Eudoxas G & D and I wanted to know what to expect.

One more thing I was thinking... I have a PI Platinum E hanging around...Any idea how would that match with the Avantgarde A and Gut G&D?

If any other of those who tried this combination have any input, I would be very grateful.

Replies (20)

May 8, 2018, 1:55 AM · I have tried the Avantgarde A, but must say that I prefer the sound of a gut A. If you are going for the two gut two metal setup I highly recommend that you try an Oliv rigid G and the silver wound D. It is a very good combination on my instrument and they are very long lasting. I currently combine them with Passione solo A and Pirastros platinum E. I haven't tried the PI platinum E. But the pirastro platinum E really lifted the whole instrument.
In my opinion (an a bit of a generalisation, I know) the "high-end" synthetics sound horrible the first week, sound good for maximum a month and then rapidly die. The gut strings take some days to stretch and for those days constant retuning i required. But then they are amazingly stable. And the sound good for a long time - the decline is much slower than for the synthetics. Gut strings have a reputation for tuning instability, but in my experience that is not true - unless you expose them to huge changes in humidity. Contrary to what some would expect on my current setup the Passione A is the least stable. Often when I take the violin out of the case the A needs tuning, but the other 3 strings are spot on!
I have a set of Tricolore on the way now (sitting in Swedish customs for 3 weeks now) - the quest for the ultimate string combination for my instrument must go on.... ;-)
May 8, 2018, 4:00 AM · Thank you Bo. I aim to try the Oliv/metal configuration, but I start with Eudoxa.
I'm curious why do you prefer the silver Oliv D, instead of the Rigid D which would match your Rigid G?
May 8, 2018, 5:00 AM · I did try the Rigid D, but simply prefer the sound I get with the silver. Mostly as I recall it was high up on the string that the silver was clearer. Your instrument - and your preferences - may be different.
Edited: May 8, 2018, 5:52 AM · I'm currently using Passione on the bottom strings plus the Amber E. I'm kind of waffling on it still. The Passione A has a richer sound than the Avantgarde A, but because my violin has a really brilliant E, the tonal break between A and E is huge, and the Avantgarde A masks that more easily.

Tzigane died very quickly on my violin, matching my previous experience that Larsen strings don't last long. Back when they were cheaper, I used Larsens and basically changed them every month. Today's string prices don't allow for that.

Edited: May 8, 2018, 9:29 PM · Perhaps just use warchal amber?
I tried passione before but the response is a tad slower in comparison. The amber actually sounds very similar to passione but with much quicker response on light stroke (for my particular violin).

I think it blends really well with Advangarde and the E string. After all, they were designed to be as a combo. Matching with different string is fun, but unless the instrument had particular false at a particular string (or anything u are trying to achieve), most of the time original combo is often the way to go :)

May 8, 2018, 10:22 PM · The Amber set is very good. For a synthetic. Still prefer gut, though. But Amber is the synthetics I would use if I for some reason couldn't use gut. I have sometimes used Amber A and E with gut D and G and liked it.
May 8, 2018, 10:43 PM · My violin doesn't have special issues. It behaves well with the standard Dominants or Tonicas but I want to experiment with Gut strings in my climate (extreme humidity, but constant).

I also aim for longer durability of strings. Whether because of the climate or incorrect bowing, synthetics behave annoyingly like Bo Pontoppidan described above: "sound horrible the first week, sound good for maximum a month and then rapidly die". There are debates about projection and stability of Gut strings, but most users vouch for the longevity in their tone quality.
Avantgarde A, sounds REALLY good, and it's very long lasting. It is worth (for me) to look for a combo around that string.

May 9, 2018, 12:21 AM · The older, nylon cored, synthetics (Dominant, Aricore, Tonica, Pro Arte) last much longer, or at least die more slowly, maybe because of their lower. tension
May 9, 2018, 5:30 AM · FWIW, Warchal sells an "Avantgarde A Combo" through their online shop that pairs the Avantgarde A with the Amber G, D, and E. I've been thinking about giving that set a try on one of my violins later this year. I live in an area where we have consistently high humidity during the warmer months; one summer I experimented with Oliv and Eudoxa strings, and while I loved the sound of the gut, the awful tuning instability eventually drove me back to synthethics.
May 9, 2018, 7:01 AM · I'm using an Amber E with Pi's (GDA) and like it. I've been playing about an hour a day on average (likely closer to 1.25hrs depending on the week) with this set and my three month string change was due April 13th and they are still going! (I'll probably change strings in a month, which is unusual for me.) Not the same amount of playing that you do, but it gives you some kind of gauge to go on - possibly?

I have the Russian A which I tried with the Tziganes (GD) and Amber E and that was a mistake! It was too bright. But, I may give that a go with the Pi G and D and Amber E next change. I too have a super bright E (which I actually love, but as Lydia said the transition between the A and E is tricky).

May 9, 2018, 2:06 PM · I think we discussed this on another thread. I had been pairing Amber E and Avantgarde A with Vision Solo D and G. Recently installed Warchal Brilliants and I like them -- sound is comparable to the VSolos -- responsive, forward, sweet sounding -- and lower tension which is always good. We'll see if they last as long. I try to weigh cost vs longevity -- if a string lives 20 percent longer, that is effectively a 20 percent lower price.
May 9, 2018, 5:25 PM · I think you have to redo the math on that one. If it lasts twice as long is it free then? ;-)
May 9, 2018, 8:43 PM · The suggestions at the Warchal webpage are interesting. For Avantgarde, it recommends to match with the Amber. For the Russian A (Which is not that different...), it recommends to match with the Brilliant, so I suppose that both options are good mixing and it depends on the kind of sound one aims to create.

I already put Eudoxa Stiff G & Stiff D with the upper Avantgarde and Amber. They are still stretching but (at least at this stage), while the G sounds really good and has no issues, I am struggling with the transition between the steel A and the gut D. My bowing technique is not good enough to make a comfortable and good tone when crossing these 2 strings. I'll keep trying some more days.

May 10, 2018, 5:53 AM · Let the steel A sing without much effort. Use more speed for the D. On some violins it can be darker, but that Eudoxa D is not "muddy" (an old/worn Obligato or Infeld Red are not as clear.) Sometimes the steel A-and even pure gut A-sound much brighter than a wound gut D. You either get used to it and change fingerings taking that into account, or alter your bowing to accommodate this. Or both. Don't press hard on that steel A-use its full power when required, being instead more gentle when intending to blend a phrase with the wound gut D.

Many violinists play around this "problem", others try a different setup. Don't lose heart; the Eudoxas are good, even that Stiff D.

The Eudoxa-Aricore (Polyester) A has an eerie resemblance to the D tone when played one after the other (start G Major on third position on the Eudoxa D, finishing on the G of the Synthetic A-the differences are subtle, even if there; great accomplishment, as even volume remains on a near identical level.)

May 10, 2018, 6:11 AM · I have not found that I needed to change my approach for the Avantgarde A. My luthier did suggest that he should modify the nut of my violin for the thinner steel string if I was going to use it on a regular basis, though.
May 10, 2018, 7:06 PM · Thank you for the advice, Adalberto. I know that the Eudoxas are good and so is my instrument. I am aware that my technique is the one needing improvement. Patience it is, then.
May 11, 2018, 6:28 PM · You are welcome, though I also believe Ms. Leong's account. Violins and players (technique, etc.) are so different from each other.

I found that while the Tricolore pure gut A is different in character than its own wound gut D, I also did not need to do much bowing technique thinking/changing. But I have used many different steel As (ironically, none of Mr. Warchal's yet) and was very aware of the tonal change from D to A.

(BTW, finally tried EP Platinum "Weich" (7.9 kp, thus "Mittel" for all practical purposes) and it is really good and matches well whatever synthetic/gut string may go before it (of course, surely there will be exceptions, but that is my experience.) Loud but not nasty, warm and brilliant at the same time, doesn't lose clarity at the topmost register. I *think* it adds brilliance to the whole instrument, but haven't switched Es around. I would recommend some of you try it and see what you think-maybe worth a new thread.)

May 12, 2018, 12:50 AM · I use the EP platinum E and agree with your description. It is like it lifted the whole instrument when I put it on.
Edited: May 12, 2018, 3:25 AM · A couple of updates. I persevered on the D strings and it turned out good in just some hours. Very, very nice. The Rigid G and D made me look for pieces that were played mostly on those strings.
Then I read Adalberto's comment about the balance between Eudoxa Aricore A and the Eudoxa D and I tried it. It was perfect match. Like the right piece in the puzzle. Beautiful sound, perfect balance in the 3 strings. A pleasure to hear myself and a joy to the fingers. Any position, any crossing brings good sound effortlessly.

After playing a while, I thought about bringing a little more "oomph" to the E. Amber E without the Avantgarde became very sweet and was not easy to do FF from the already sweet Eudoxas. I read again this thread and, although I don't have EP platinum, I had PI Platinum E. I put it and the result wasn't good.

It would be great of someone would compare the 2 platinum Es: Peter Infeld and Pirastro. The Peter Infeld Platinum was completely out of balance in the set, to the point that it felt like scratches in a blackboard, and it also worsened the sound of the 3 Eudoxas. More metallic, nasty brilliance. I went back to the Amber E.
And again, after a while in search of some more power in the E, I finally put the humble Pirastro Gold E (Wondertone). It fit very well with the Eudoxas, bringing some more juice to the high register.
Playing is a complete pleasure now. I am hoping that this has some longevity (fingers crossed), because I truly love to play this combination.

May 12, 2018, 7:18 AM · The Gold Label isn't too humble, just taken for granted a bit. Its tension is normal, at 7.7 kp, I believe. It's pretty good (I never loved the Silvery Steel E in comparison.)

Sometimes heavy strings "awaken" violins, sometimes they kind of choke them, making them too dark. Having used Stark Gold Plated Oliv Es in the past (as well as 27.5 Westminters), I can say that's not always bad. But in my recent experience, my violin seems to be doing better with less tension on the E, so the string is more brilliant than thick and robust-though I don't often use Gold Label, the Mittel falls under this "brilliant" category that brightens and opens up the sound, and some soloists and professionals still use it (it is not a "warm" string at all, IMHO, but easier to match to gut strings.)

Goldbrokat and Hill, both in Medium, also fall into this brilliant/clear/non-choking category.

Some violins and/or players prefer these other popular Heavy Es, and I am in no position to tell them they are wrong. Everyone is different.

I am using the Platinum "Weich" coming from Goldbrokat (7.8), and the feel should have been similar-it wasn't. Not bad but feels like a higher tensioned string compared to the Goldbrokat (the sound is not choked, however, nor does it sound nasty at all-just warm, powerful, and brilliant at the same time.) I would be wary of trying the "normal" EP Platinum E (note that the new Perpetual's Platinum E is 7.9, so virtually identical to the EP Platinum Weich E, unless Pirastro states differently.) A thicker feeling string, despite the relatively low tension, but also feels easy, but more "substantial" under the fingers.

So in short, the true fair test would be EP Platinum vs EP Platinum "Weich", vs Pi Infeld (the latter is rather tight at 8.3kp-have not tested it, and may never do with that absurd combination of high price and tension.)

(If I remember correctly, Mr. Victor seems to dislike the Pirastro Platinum Es vs his favorite Pi version, but you won't never know until you try. If I am wrong, feel free to correct me.)


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