I liked the Zyex, now which one should I try?

Edited: May 10, 2018, 10:45 AM · Hi, I bought a D'Addario Zyex (synthetic core, aluminum or silver winding, rich and loud) set last year and it lasted until today, when the A string broke; that is 1 year and 3 months. They costed $68, which is pretty much the max amount of money I'm willing to spend. I know I should replace the strings more often, but I can't spend that much each 5 months or so just to have a little better tone when the strings still work perfectly fine.

Before Zyex I used D'Addario Prelude $24, and the Zyex are notably better. I'm a student (not hardcore) and also like to try new things, so now I'm looking for the next set to try. Since I like D'Addario, I'm thinking about Kaplan, but I'm not sure.

Which set would you recommend to someone that liked the Zyex?

Also, for what I can tell, Zyex don't seem to be pretty popular, I'd like to love why.

Replies (32)

Edited: May 10, 2018, 11:16 AM · Just because one string broke you don't have to change the whole set. At concordmusic.com a Zyex set costs about $45 to $48 (depending on which D string you choose. An A string alone costs $11. That online dealer is just one example Most other dealers charge about the same amount. Look into swstrings.com and sharmusic.com as well - in fact just google "violin strings" and see what comes up.

When I find strings I really like, I may stop experimenting for years.

May 10, 2018, 11:29 AM · I've been using Zyex for years now, and I've periodically tried other strings but I always go back to Zyex. I've kind of concluded that Zyex "ain't broke, so don't fix." If you paid $68, I don't want to say you paid too much, but you could've paid a lot less. I've been paying around $44 for silver d sets.
May 10, 2018, 2:16 PM · i use corelli aliance vivace, they last for a very long time(my set is about one year old and it still sounds like i just broke them in. they hae a warm and rich sound, like a gut string but they responde very fast anyway. i'm not shure because of currencies but they should be pretty much in the same pricerange as zyex but you would have to look that up they are the bes G D A strings i ever had. the e string is totally acceptable but for a little bit more you can get something like a goldbrocad e string wich will totally be worth it. but you should definetly try them
May 10, 2018, 2:39 PM · I agree with Mark. If you like your strings and you don't want to spend for "premium" strings (Evah Pirazzi, etc.) then you should stick to what you have.
May 10, 2018, 3:22 PM · I pay around $40 for a set of Zyex. Although personally I have gone over to Chorda gut strings, if you like the synthetics and particularly Zyex, you will also probably like Tonica strings by Pirastro. About same price as Zyex and really stable with fine sound, very durable and reliable, and easy to play.
May 10, 2018, 4:09 PM · Wait, my set is 1 year and 3 months old, one string broke... how is it possible that you say I just need to replace the broken string?

I've read here that strings should be changed each 5-8 months, depending on how many hours you play and all that. I've read orchestra players change them each 3-4 months because they notice the tone goes bad after that time. I've read here that sets that have been there more than one year should be replaced as a whole, not just the broken string.

Am I not supposed to change the whole set after more than 1 year of use with one string broken?

I've thoroughly tried just 2 sets really, D'Addario Prelude and Zyex. There are dozens of different strings, how am I going to stick to one set already if I've just tried like a 3% of the market?

I don't think buying Zyex again is a good option, I need to experiment and know other strings, right?

May 10, 2018, 7:02 PM · No, you are not supposed to experiment. You are supposed to practice. Changing the strings, the setup and all the rest may be for fun or curiosity but only as long as they don't mess with the main task: Practice.

Lots of famous and not so famous violinist never change their strings model or do it just a couple of times in their lives. And when they ask them about that, their answer is "I don't have time for that. I have to play." There might be actual reasons to change like when one is in need of a particular quality that the current strings don't have (could be projection, durability, ease the tension for the left hand...), but if you have found a set that works for you, as you say: If ain't broke, don't fix".
Bear in mind that continuous jump of strings is actually wrong. A violin set up is (or should be) made for a particular string combination. When professional violinists change strings, that comes with a luthier re-setting the instrument for that new tensiĆ³n and sound balance. That's why so many times we read here "that particular set didn't work in my violin". Most likely is not the violin, but the setup that is made with a different string tension in mind.

You have particular needs, as I have mine (for example, due to either climate or chemistry, aluminium wound strings barely last a month, and avoiding aluminium really narrows the choice of A). If Zyex works, stay with them. In your case I would change the whole set now, but keep in mind Andrew advice for the future. And just change the A string maybe half way (6 months?) compared to the rest.

The reason why Zyex is not talked so much? The string topic usually comes because somebody is curious about a particular string but is expensive to just try if it doesn't work, so advice about it is necessary to make the decision. That's not the case of Zyex or Tonica or Helicore and others... They work very well, they are cheap. Conversation ends fast. Other low profiles that may fit your needs are the good steel ones: Helicore or Flexocore. Steel with warm sound that lasts more than any other, they are easy to play and although they are more popular with folk violinists, it is not unheard of classical ones using them. But then, you will have the doubt: Is your setup right for them? (bridge thickness and density, soundpost position...)
If it ain't broke...

May 10, 2018, 9:48 PM · what make of fiddle do you have, would you say it's a decent fiddle with a proper set up? string height, nut height good? Tonica was recommended but I'd be careful about those as they have a significantly smaller diameter than Zyex and could cause intonation problems, like say if the nut is too high, among other things.
Edited: May 11, 2018, 12:00 AM · Yes, my violin is properly set up, string height and all that checked by a luthier. It's easy to play.

"I shouldn't experiment, but practice"
Ammm... how about both?
You talk as if trying out a different set makes you unable to play the violin. Experiment and practice are not opposed things in any way I can think of. How are they opposed in your perspective?

"Once I find a working set, I should stick with it"
Well, in my current violin I've just tried 2 different sets, Prelude and Zyex. If I don't try different sets I won't be able to know which one fits better. The Zyex work in my opinion, but may be Dominats happen to work better. By your logic, I liked the Preludes and I should stick with them forever, since they work. But I tried the Zyex and I like them more.

By the way, trying out a new set means I will use it for the next months or even year, like the Zyex. May be you understand that trying them means I will play with them a few days and change for another, which is not the case. I wish I had hundreds to spend and try the most relevant sets, that would be very useful.

May 11, 2018, 12:12 AM · You asked if you are supposed to experiment. I said that you are supposed to practice and only experiment as long as it doesn't conflict with practice. If you are able to do both, cheers!

My point is simply that string experimentation is not in the required tasks of a violinist. Just to play, and play well and that is a result of practice. And I go back to the many virtuosos who never, or rarely changed strings in their long careers.

Do you want to try other strings? Then do it. It is fun. I do it. But it is not (as it sometimes seems from the threads of V.com) a necessary step.

May 11, 2018, 12:37 AM · Well, if what you say is right, top violinists or professional violinists in general terms have a favorite set of strings, and the question is...

How did they all got to the conclusion that Evah, Zyex or Obligato are the best strings for their violins?

At least you should try a bunch of sets to see or hear which one suits your violin and your taste. And since violins respond differently to strings, once you change your violin you start all over again, don't you?

I've heard several times "for this particular violin of mine I need to use sweet, dark strings because it's already too bright". One must have tried several sets to conclude "this is the set that goes the best with this particular instrument".

May 11, 2018, 7:25 AM · A very affordable set to try is Warchal Ametyst.


More light and singing in quality than the robust, warmer sound of the Zyex (I'm a fan of Zyex as well). I found them to be quite pleasant and resonant when I had them on my violin (I now play only viola, so can't use the Ametysts on that).

Edited: May 11, 2018, 10:19 PM · Tim: over the years I've tried nearly every single set made by Pirastro, Infeld and D'addario (including steels) and spent hundreds of dollars. Partly because it took me many years to find a fiddle that I was completely happy with (I now have 2 and my searching is over) but every 2 or 3 years I would make a horizontal trade or a slight trade up. and invariably, I'd have to try 2 or 3 different sets on the different fiddles. Fortunately, after a while I got to know what sets would prolly work on what fiddles, and what sets prolly wouldn't work.

I agree somewhat with Carlos, but it sounds to me that you have enough wisdom not to go NUTS with it.

If you've only tried Prelude and Zyex, well, there's a whole world of strings out there, and IMHO, finding just the right strings can make a world of difference.

unfortunately, if you always plan not to go over $60, you may be limiting yourself, although I'm sure some of the recommendations made in your price range would be well worth trying.

May 12, 2018, 3:50 AM · IMO fhe Zyex strings are as good as any other string out there although I am a Warchal fan. I have never had a lot of money so have learned to spend time checking prices from many sources before I purchase anything including groceries and gasoline. I buy my strings when they are marked down on sale and from sites that charge no shipping fee and tax as this saves me a lot of money which can be spent on other niceties such as a new cake of rosin Or shoulder rest.
May 12, 2018, 8:21 AM · Years ago the printed SHAR catalog had an interesting feature. Each issue featured the strings used by several of their employees. Most of these were using mixed sets. I believe they may also have described the instrument each of them played. Mixed sets were common. Personally I used mixed sets on my violins for at least 30 years until about 5 years ago when I moved from Peter Infeld, to Thomastik Vision Solo, to Evah Pirazzi Gold - but I've kept the same Peter Infeld platinum E on throughout that evolution - and have no sonic reason to ever deviate from my current setups.
Edited: May 12, 2018, 12:53 PM · Many folks find Zyex brash and loud, but if they suit your violin and style, keep them.
Remember that they are in the high-tension "composite" category. If you go to Dominant or Tonica, they are nylon-cored with noticeably lower tension: more responsive but also needing a more refined bow-sroke.
May 12, 2018, 7:57 PM · "The reason why Zyex is not talked so much?"

The reason is they're just not very good.

May 12, 2018, 9:27 PM · I find Zyex... weirdly plastic-y, I suppose is the best way to describe it. There are people who like them, but I think there are plenty of better strings on the market. They are supposed to be pretty durable, though.

Back almost 20 years ago, it was relatively cheap to buy strings -- even Evah Pirazzis were about $45 for a full set. Back then I didn't mind changing strings every 6 weeks to 3 months -- basically as soon as they stopped sounding their best. So I tried a lot of different sets as I changed, plus I had local shops that carried "tester" strings.

Today, strings are relatively expensive -- two to three times those old prices. I still occasionally go to shops that have tester strings, where the set-up can also be altered for those strings if necessary. If I try a new set outside a shop, I will generally give them a week to settle before bringing the instrument to my luthier for an adjustment. But now I only change strings every 4 to 8 months or thereabouts.

By and large, I prefer to settle on "good enough". But I get curious about new sets.

May 13, 2018, 5:40 AM · Hi,

As a professional, I thought I would answer this. Some professionals experiment a lot with strings, some don't. It depends on the instrument that you have and you. In the past, I tried a lot of different string sets, now, quite a bit less with the instrument that I have. I do have a default set that I use for my instrument, but sometimes I will be recommended that I try something. In the end, for me the choice is what's best for the instrument to make it sound its best.

As for frequency of changing strings, I now do about 2 months. Some people change more often than that and I used to as well, but I find it destabilizing for the instrument. It's a balance. But, after a while, not changing strings is injurious to the instrument and its resonance. Again, it's about what is best for the instrument and the music.


Edited: May 13, 2018, 9:38 PM · true confession time: a few months ago I heard there was 'new formula' Zyex on the market. it was many years since I tried Zyex so... I tried 'em with both the silver and aluminum D. I gave each D about 45 minutes along with the rest of the set (sans E)

I just don't need a week to tell if strings aren't going to work. off they came and mailed to a guy on another forum who used them.

Edited: May 14, 2018, 7:55 AM · Lydia wrote, "Back almost 20 years ago, it was relatively cheap to buy strings -- even Evah Pirazzis were about $45 for a full set."

That's how I feel about groceries! From 1997 to 2017 the CPI went up 53%. On your $45 strings that would be $69 now. Shar is asking $82. So yeah, more expensive, but not by leaps and bounds. Not like Caymus wines over the same time interval. :)

I'd like to also offer the following opinion, which I fully expect will be objectionable to some. While it is known that there are some string sets that are brighter, darker, rounder, etc., there's is no violin pro or violin teacher or luthier or shop proprietor who can tell you which set of strings will sound especially good or bad on your violin. On the scale from completely random guesswork to mystical clairvoyance, any of these people are, at absolute best, 10% along on this particular question. When they hear your violin and say, "Oh, with your violin you should use Peter Infeld strings," they're only saying that to make themselves sound knowledgable, or because they like the sound of Peter Infeld strings generally. They do not know at all whether those strings will be a particularly good "match" for your violin. I'm aware this type of insight is ascribed to some (and claimed by others), but if it were possible to blind-test it somehow, I predict that preferences would not deviate significantly from chance.

May 14, 2018, 7:53 AM · "...after a while, not changing strings is injurious to the instrument and its resonance?"


May 14, 2018, 7:56 AM · Scott, you can file that in the "pros know" category. (Look under B).
May 14, 2018, 8:52 AM · Try some Larsen strings, i heard they were good even though I haven't tried it
May 14, 2018, 11:22 AM · Actually that's very true, Scott. When a set of strings is old enough, like 8 months or so, the violin syncs its harmonic vibration to a longer frequency due to the length of the string and the hide glue can be damaged. Besides, the lower plate responds differently and it could resonate with the ribs, and that would make the sound post to move, or the plates unglue from each other, or the neck slight bend towards the scroll.

Sorry I had to say it. Old strings actually really do cause damage (small and over the years) to FRETTED instruments, because the metal of the frets gets scratched due to the little dust that starts coming from the strings when they are old and start to become rusty.

Edited: May 14, 2018, 12:09 PM · Scientifically speaking, the above post is codswallop, (although in all honesty, I've never seen a cod walloping..)
May 14, 2018, 12:17 PM · Hi,

Scott, I will explain what I mean. In my very humble experience, I find that past a certain point, when strings don't work anymore, the instrument seems to be affected and pick up on it. It always seems to take a while for the instrument to resonate properly again with new strings, and not just the newness and settling in. It seems that the instrument has to open up again. In speaking with some soloists colleagues, some have a felt a similar way, which is why they change strings quite often to keep them both, and their instruments at constant peak sound. Could all just be illusion though...


May 14, 2018, 12:30 PM · I vote for illusion!!
May 14, 2018, 1:36 PM · "when strings don't work anymore"

Do you mean when the strings are worn out? Naturally you'd want to change them.

I'm not sure I buy the argument that the act of changing the strings has a positive affect on the resonance. It would be hard to tease that out from the newness of the string.

I've found that the lowering of tension for a short time does restore the resonance--for a short time. Which is possibly why violin dealers sometimes keep their stock tuned down a large amount. You tune it up and it sounds great for a few days, then calms down. Same thing happens after major shop work.

May 14, 2018, 3:17 PM · On the violins that I have, the "resonance" after bringing loosened strings up to regular tension sounds a bit boxy to my ears.

I tried Zyex once and never wanted to buy another set. Kaplan Amo or Vivo sound much better though not cheap. Cantiga is my favourite cheap set.

May 17, 2018, 11:50 AM · Christian, I know what you mean about the strings and top sound, I really believe it depends on the fit of the post, as string tension loosens due to age and weather changes, the post can move micro millimeters. I have noticed this on some violins with a looser post placement that even after one string e-string change may sound different. I'll have to gently pull the post tighter again to get the sizzle again.

In regards to zyex and similar strings, perhaps Corelli Cantiga are similar in tug and feel, yet with slightly less tension. Kaplan Amos are good too, with a thinner diameter and overall faster response.

May 17, 2018, 7:56 PM · I've been looking for more responsiveness in my viola. Presently I have Obligatos. Recommendations?

PS a micro millimeter is a nanometer. Just saying.

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