Question about string upgrade

Edited: June 27, 2018, 11:29 AM · When I brought my Tony (violin) out from under my bed after 38 years, I had a little work done on him and the luthier put Dominants on him. He didn't ask me--I wouldn't have known what I wanted, as I was like Rip Van Winkle LOL, having been out of it all for decades. And since Tony is not a fancy violin, he probably figured that a student setup was what I wanted. But the E string in particular is just awwwfffuuul. I can't hear it without wincing. So I definitely want to change that and am wondering if I should just upgrade them all?

I asked my teacher and she said this:

"An inexpensive but very good one is the Lenzer Goldbrokat. It’s less than $2 but is really good.
-Evah Pirazzi is a good brand for all of the strings, but I recently noticed how much I like the Evah Pirazzi gold E.
-Pirastro Gold E is also common. ($5ish)
-Hill E is also also common
-Kaplan non-whistling E (closer to $8)"

When I pressed her she said that the Evahs would be her choice, esp if I wanted to swap them all over. I know they are pricey, but I get paid on Friday, so what the heck. Just checking here to see if this makes sense or if anyone has other opinions I should consider. I've only been playing again (after 38 years off) for 2 months and needless to say, I do not have grand ambitions, but I'd like to sound as good as it's possible for me and Tony to sound. :-)

Replies (17)

June 27, 2018, 11:33 AM · I am a huge fan of the Warchal Amber E... Switched to that after getting away from using Dominants, and have tried other strings but I like that one the best. I don't recall the cost so you'll have to look it up.
June 27, 2018, 12:20 PM · Evahs are great strings that burn twice as bright but last half as long (or less). I wouldn't recommend them to my beginner students for that reason. If students in the advanced stage want to pump up a violin and understand the ongoing cost of monthly replacements, that is a different situation.

Dominants are classically good when setup correctly and combined with a good E string. The most commonly used upgrade E is the Pirastro Gold Label E. Note that this string is not actual gold, it's just part of a set called "gold label". The Hill E is also great.

Edited: June 28, 2018, 10:29 AM · Ditto on Warchal Amber E. Another advantage of the cheap Goldbrokat is that you can buy, experiment, with all three gauges, discover which one your violin prefers. Some violins prefer a wound E.
June 27, 2018, 1:43 PM · That makes sense. My teacher didn't really recommend that I swap them all out. Just suggested the Es b/c I asked about them. It was me going all crazy, thinking that new strings will make me sound like Hilary Hahn LOL. Joke. Don't worry.

So if I want to get all new strings, what is my best choice for each string? I do NOT want to replace them monthly LOL.

June 27, 2018, 2:03 PM · That's a tough question to answer Elizabeth. There have been many threads here that have discussed this topic at length, and it's highly personal to the player/violin. You could ask your luthier for different string recommendations or you could start experimenting with different ones at each string change. Right now I'm using Pi's with a Warchal Amber E and all have been on my violin for 6.5 months (longest I've ever let a set of strings go without changing since my return to the violin). I really like them - and I am due to change them ASAP.
June 27, 2018, 2:06 PM · What are Pis? Piastros? or Pirazzis?
June 27, 2018, 3:59 PM · Pi - Thomastik Pi strings.
June 27, 2018, 4:24 PM · Glad to hear that you are starting up violin again after a many year hiatus. IMO Dominants are as good as any string out there and my advice to you would be to keep them on your violin for another 3 to 9 months until they start getting tired and then swap them out with your next choice of strings. I think Dominants are universally considered the benchmark for which all other strings are compared to for better or worse and a good starting setup for you and your violin. You can then alter the setup as time goes by if you think it need be.I willfurther say thaf I also am not a fan of Dominant E strings and prefer to use other brands of E strings.
Edited: June 27, 2018, 4:31 PM · Well, if it is Tony, then it can sound good only with Tonica!
Edited: June 27, 2018, 4:47 PM · Pi= PI = Peter Infeld (from Thomastik). Expensive brand, with a lot of virtues that may be overwhelmed by its idiosyncrasies. Superb and expensive platinum E-string seems to work well with a lot of other sets.

Another option for upgrading Dominants (except the E, which needs other brands) is Rondo-- available only directly from a handful of dealers. About as expensive as Evahs, but more "woody" and relaxed.

June 27, 2018, 5:45 PM · I ended up just getting a Goldbrokat E. My teacher says that the Dominants are fine for the other strings, esp as they are new. When I need to change them, I will think about something else.
June 27, 2018, 5:46 PM · Basically, exactly what Jeff said LOL. :-)
June 27, 2018, 6:08 PM · Elizabeth, if the Dominants are less than two years old and you don't play that much, they probably have life left. Dominants are nice all-purpose strings. But a lot of people (including you, from the sound of it) don't like the Dominant E.

So rather than replace all your strings, treat yourself to a few E strings and see what you like. My favorite E strings are Westminster medium gauge (very powerful and warm) and Warchal Amber E (a non-whistling E with very nice warmth. Lots of people love Goldbrokat, Kaplan, Pirastro Gold Label. You can afford to experiment with E strings because they're usually $4-7.

If you need to replace your strings, I'd discourage you from buying Evahs because they're expensive and don't last long. Pirastro Tonicas are really nice all-purpose strings, they cost less than half what Evahs cost and last twice as long. If you want to spring for a premium string, Vision Solos are maybe a better bet because they have good longevity.

June 27, 2018, 6:10 PM · See above, Thomas! That's basically what I ended up doing. :-)
Edited: June 28, 2018, 7:34 AM · A great conclusion, Elizabeth. Dominants are an interesting string as they are used by beginners, but also used by some of the top violinists in the world. Many Strads wear Dominant strings (though usually with an alternate E).

It is great that we have so many string choices available to us, but for many this can lead to overload. There are only a few string sets that I see (predominantly) onstage professionally in the violin section -- Dominants, Evah Green and Gold, Vision variants.

In any case, it is great that you are getting back to violin playing after your long break. Best luck to you as you pick up your violin studies!

June 28, 2018, 9:35 AM · I definitely prefer the new E! It doesn't make me wince LOL. :-)
Edited: June 28, 2018, 9:46 AM · Just to say that I'm a fan of the Dominant aluminium-wound E!
(Not the plain steel one.) But we have to bow it differently, with a longer, lighter stroke. Then it sings sweetly, rightup the fingerboard.!

Other good wound E's are Tonica, Pirastro's No1, and Eudoxa (the brightest).

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