Your most disappointing and surprisingly-good string?

Edited: December 16, 2018, 4:51 PM · My most disappointing: TI Vision Solo. Complete crap.
My most surprising: Kaplan Vivo-- amazing projection. Lasted forever.

What I use now: Evah Gold.

Replies (37)

December 16, 2018, 5:17 PM · PI E Pt. Wonderful addition to so many sets.
December 16, 2018, 8:13 PM · Can't really say it was disappointing, 'cos my expectations weren't all too high to begin with, but dear god, are alphayues absolutely horrible in every way. Worst strings I've ever used.
In terms of disappointment factor (not necessarily the worst strings ever), Pirastro Chorda.

December 16, 2018, 8:51 PM · I was positively surprised by the bump in color that Warchal Timbres gave to my contemporary violin.

Just recently I picked up a battered old Hungarian violin and thought I'd better go with a bit less tension. Good call... the Warchal Vintage Brilliants sound brilliantly mellow on this old pile of tinder.

My biggest disappointment: Octave strings... gimmicky but I had to try.

December 16, 2018, 10:41 PM · Evahs have been disappointing, Tonicas very good.
December 17, 2018, 3:45 AM · Hmmm. My own experience with Warchals was a disappointment. Pleasant tone on their own, but overtones clashed in ways that made strings seem never quite at home with the instrument, or perhaps with each other.
December 17, 2018, 5:45 AM · @Holly, do you mind telling us more about the octave strings? Personally, I am tempted after I saw a video of it on youtube.

On the other hands, it feels strange why almost no one will recommend putting viola strings (even if it made for 14" instrument) on a violin, but there are things like octave strings you can put on a violin that play even lower in tune.

December 17, 2018, 6:34 AM · I was really disappointed in how Larsen Il Cannones sounded on my violin. They work well on other violins, though, so it's really one of those YMMV sets.
December 17, 2018, 6:41 AM · Larsen Tzigane didn't work for my violin. To brassy sounding, even after a week of settling time. The E string was really good though.
December 17, 2018, 7:39 AM · Sivrit, both D'Addario and Sensicore make octave strings... it is fun to watch them in demos on Youtube... that's what got me so curious. They even ring as advertised ... although it would have been less of a chore to get them to do so with a viola bow than with my heaviest violin bow.

What makes them cool is the mismatch between the big, deep sound you get and the size of the instrument. If you have an idea of what you want to play using octave strings (I clearly didn't) and the other instruments you want to "fit in" with, have some fun.

Caveat: you're not going to mount them on a fine, antique instrument, right? :-)

Edited: December 17, 2018, 9:18 AM · Jargar Forte E - one would think it's the "best E" on reputation alone, but I wonder if violins are setup so that it works with this Jargar, making it more popular than it should be (rather than the string being a natural fit). Sounds good on its own, if a bit stiff (naturally, as it's heavy). Makes the violin be loud/warm on the E, but too warm/muted on the lower strings in *my* experience. Had better experiences with heavy Es with both Westminster and Oliv. Finally, their unforgivable fault is horrible quality control, which shouldn't happen at that price-many (at least 3+!) of the ones I used were defective where you would tune and the loop would get smaller until it finally disappeared, making it unusable (not user error-bad defect corroborated by another customer at the violin shop, when I returned to the shop with one of the bad Es-I always felt as if I was gambling every time I used Jargar Forte, so I won't ever try them again.)

Most surprising has been the Eudoxa-Aricore synthetic (was expecting a bad, dull string, but it's quite good and matches Eudoxa, though of course a bit warm), and most impressive ever the Tricolore pure gut A, which has been one of the few strings I can say is "the best of" rather than "one of the best" (of course my "best" may not be yours, but it's "perfect" for me.)

I generally have found good features for ALL the strings I have tried, though. Always pros and cons, as with most things. Nothing has been really horrible, though I have not played ten dollar sets in eons.

Edited: December 17, 2018, 3:50 PM · I was also disappointed, ultimately, with the Larsen Tzigane GDA on my violin - it was too grumbly/growly (the E was very nice though).

Likewise, I've been disappointed in the Warchal strings (save the Amber E - which is a lovely string).

And, I dislike Dominants on my violin.

I've been quite surprised with the Pi Platinum E! I used to have a lot of whistling problems due to poor bow technique, and was hesitant to switch from the Warchal Amber E to the pricey Platinum E, but... it's been worth it (and it's helped me refine my technique some more). I really like the Pi's in general but I may try the Kaplan Vivo set next - not that my violin needs to be any louder...

December 17, 2018, 9:47 AM · I am always amazed at how fragile Evahs are, and I'm not a hard player but lately I've settled on Tonicas, my teacher is still pushing me to try dominants but I had them on one of my old fiddles and I didn't liek the resonance
December 17, 2018, 10:00 AM · @Holly, Thank you very much for sharing. I only have one violin, if I try those strings I will have to buy another one. If that happen, I probably will buy either a viola bow or a cello bow with it.

The dirty secret is I like the cello the best out of the string family, but it is too bulky to store in a tiny space in the city. Viola sounds nice, but I feel intimidated by the sizing discussion. I have seen a lot of people with small built playing huge viola. While some of them may become the next Lilian Fuchs, but I suspect most of them are getting tendinitis one day. Violin is fantastic. It skips all the nonsense and we can just play music (I think). I am happy with it but sometimes I dream of something with lower pitch.

December 17, 2018, 3:05 PM · My experience is probably more limited than the others.
Disappointing: Dominant, Passione.
Surprisingly good for the price; Goldbrokat E, Warchal Russian A (steel), D'Adarrio NS-Electric (all- steel version of Helicore.)
December 17, 2018, 3:17 PM · Most disappointing: Warchal Timbre. I have liked other Warchal strings, but the Timbre were horrible on my instrument. I understand that others like them.
I have also tried octave strings - not on violin but on viola. I mounted them on a 17" chinese viola that I bought off Ebay specifically for the purpose. And I was positively surprised at how big sound the instrument was capable of in the cello register. Today I have shifted the strings over one step so that it is a viola sized octave violin. For the E I use a long scale viola D string. My son likes to play this instrument with his folk music group.

December 17, 2018, 5:03 PM · Evah's. So loud. Sooooooo loud. Never again.
December 17, 2018, 7:41 PM · Interesting question. The responses merely prove what many of us continue to respond to people who ask what strings they should put/try on their violin: what sounds good on my violin may not sound good on yours. The same strings are likely to sound different on different violins. Under most circumstances your luthier can help you avoid "most disappointing." S/he can hear your violin with the strings you have on and make an educated recommendation concerning what might sound better.
Edited: December 18, 2018, 5:41 PM · Most dissapointing:
Evah Gold - They literally lost zing after 1 single gig. They completely died (about 2 weeks later), becomming so non-linear it was impossible to play double stops in tune.

Thomastik PI - No shimmer, no power. Just an endless fuzz.

D'adario Zyex just E string - No power, no depth, just endless whistle.

Vision - No power, no depth, no dimension.

Regular Dominants - warmth and grit with some focus left.

Vision Solo TI - Power, focus, zing, ring, projection.

Westminster E mid - Power, depth, zing, price.

Edited: December 18, 2018, 10:28 AM · On viola:

Pro Arte: muddy and tense.
Savarez (Crystal, Alliance, Cantiga): a bit dull, thick, and tense.
Helicore, Spirocore: monochrome.
Dominant: not quite nice (except the sweet-sounding wound E !!)
Zyex: rough.

Tonica: like Dominant but "nicer"! And long lasting.
Aricore: sweet and warm.
Obligato: textured and warm (for a while).

I use Tonicas on two violas (and my slightly oversized violin).

Edited: December 18, 2018, 8:46 PM · Most Disappointing:

Pirastro Oliv - These strings had good overtones, but they were harsh on my violin and the E whistled so much. Plus the A string was no good whatsoever and I had to throw it out.

Thomastik Vision - Only lasted a month and had weak tone compared to every string I have used since then. Entirely too one dimensional.

Most surprising:

Pirastro Gold Label - These strings were sublime and the D and G strings would actually cause the wooden floor to vibrate beneath my feet. Warm and balanced set with great clarity.

Westminster E - seemed plain until I tried it, but I was pleasantly surprised. This string is is singing and piercing without being shrill.

December 18, 2018, 7:13 PM · Most disappointing:
Oliv - too much surface noise for my liking, and not worth the heavy price tag.
Larsen Virtuoso - worse than Oliv, extreme surface noise and nasty artificial sound. Do not even think about trying this string.

Most surprising:
Eudoxa - I was surprised that the cheaper Pirastro gut option was warmer, cleaner, and just more enjoyable to play on. Stiff heavy gauge for G and D is probably a must in most cases...

Lenzner goldbrokat medium - I now use a plain gut E by Damian Dlugolecki, but before that I used goldbrokat. Low price and excellent sound.

December 18, 2018, 8:05 PM · Disappointing: evah pirazzi. I think many people have had the same experience that they are terrific (strong, tone) for a couple of weeks but then become very ordinary. Contrary to the comment above, I had much better experience with the Evah Golds, they suited my darkish projecting violin. However, the Evah E (I wonder if this is the same for the golds and pirazzi) is very nice.

Best are my current Jargar Superior. they are expensive but have performed very well on two different violins - the E may be stronger than some would want but its surely soloistic.

December 19, 2018, 12:10 AM · Thomastik Vision - so cold sound on my violin, and last just a few weeks (2 - 3).

Dominants - so popular, so neutral, good strings, but just good

Warchal Amber - cool, I like them, warm sound I love, good reaction, little bit shorter life, but that's life :)

Big surprise:
Pirastro Tonica with Gold Label E - I love them, nice sound, little bit lighter than warchal, but in a good manner, I enjoy them, I am playing on them now, so I don't know the lifespan.

Also going to try Warchal Karneol, Gold Labels and much more others :)

December 19, 2018, 10:26 PM · Interesting question.

Surprisingly good:

- Dominant violin strings (work well on many instruments, easy to play, warm and yet adequately powerful, not too expensive)

- Helicore viola strings (seem to work well on many violas, since they have a fast response; they are still fairly warm, and at a budget price)

Disappointing: Pirastro Wondertone Solo strings were the most bland, colorless strings I'd ever tried. Even more than any steel string I've ever tried.

December 20, 2018, 1:11 AM · Worst I've tried: Obligatos, yuck the muddiest non-projecting pieces of twine I've ever heard. I think the A string was somewhat good, but it was so very quiet it was pointless.

Decent: PI, they are close to Evah Ps for me, but they last a lot longer.

Best: Dominant with Gold Label E, these strings are the most even across the lot and last forever. The evenness of this set really shines on double stops.

Also best: Evah Ps. I would always choose these strings for a performance. They project so well and the sound has such a direct gut-punch while they are fresh. I especially am in love with the G string of this set. The response and punchiness feels fantastic. Like everyone says, they start sounding dull very quickly and are very pricey. The A string also sounds a little too bright on my violin, but it isn't enough to make me drop them from 1st place.

December 20, 2018, 7:39 AM · Most disappointing. I can name two that were a letdown -- for me. I tried both of them about 13 years ago:

1. Dominant medium G. It choked up in higher positions -- above 5th -- on my 1921 fiddle.

2. Eudoxa regular. I tried these on my 1883 fiddle. The tone on D-G would break or crush too easily. Pirastro recommends stiff D-G for modern players. For me, the stiffs are very much better -- bigger, more robust tone and a little better pitch stability. They withstand the intense bow pressure far better than the regulars did.

Surprisingly good:

1. Goldbrokat medium E. I use this E on all three fiddles now. Not sure when I first started, but it was a long time ago. While I like to accentuate the dark sound in the low notes, I also like the brilliance and sheen, without harshness, that I get from this string in the high tones.

2. Infeld Red -- A-D-G. These worked a lot better for me than Dominants on the same 1921 fiddle. The G remains clearer in high positions on this instrument, and they have performed well on the two other instruments I play each day. On my 1869 fiddle, the G gives me a viola-type sound, which I really like.

December 24, 2018, 8:56 AM · Most disappointing:

Dominants: on my violin, they produced a weak,muddy sound that hindered projection and focused/clear/direct sound production.


Evah Pirazzis (wouldn't say surprisingly good cos I expected them to be this good!): simply amazing, brought the best out of my violin. I would say the A and D strings are the standout ones, G is ok but E (silvery steel) seems slightly less brilliant and powerful compared to Gold Label E. Overall a set of strings that are eztremely powerful. For the first 2 weeks, they have a really brilliant, intense sound that slowly fades into a rounder, but equally complex tone. I don't know why people complain about their short lifespan, even after losing the intial sheen an enormous expressive dynamic range is still possible. Also, short break in period and wonderful tuning stability as compared to Dominants

December 24, 2018, 9:07 AM · Surprising -- Warchal Avangarde A. Never would have occurred to me that a steel A would make such a wonderful sweet sound. It's easy to play, projects beautifully and lasts a really long time. Pairs well with an Amber E (on the mellow side) or a Westminster (more punchy but also sweet sounding).

I wish I could find Ds and Gs that I could be equally excited about.

Edited: January 11, 2019, 11:17 AM · It is obvious from the above experiences and my own that most opinions of good and bad strings are totally dependent on the reference instrument's properties.

My most pleasant new string experience was the Peter Infeld Platinum-plated E string. I found it to be very good on all 4 of my violins - especially for the way it enhanced the sound and response of the lower strings (Peter Infeld, Vision Solo, and Evah Pirazzi Gold) on all 4 of the violins despite their different tonal qualities.

My most unpleasant string surprise was a set of unvarnished Tricolore strings with Goldbrokat E on my primary violin - I finally removed them and replaced them with the PI-Pt-E and EPGs. By the way, the PI-Pt-E so overpowered the Tricolore set that I had to replace it with the Goldbrokat, which matches the Tricolore lower strings.

Pleasant reprise: after a 5 month hiatus I tried the Tricolore/Goldbrokat set on my #2 violin and it is incredibly good on that violin.

Greatest good string surprise (so far) has been the Warchal Timbre set on my #1 and #3 violins. Not as good on #2 - still deciding on #4 - not sure my next trial on that one. EDIT: JAN 7: Violin #4, following Thomas's opinion and Lydia's suggestion I replaced the Timbre A with Warchal Avantguard, a better balance and smoother sound on this violin. I'll stick with this for a while. I also moved the soundpost a little closer to the bridge - it can take it with these strings.

By the way, the Peter Infeld-E was not strong enough to match the Warchal Timbre A-D-G but replacing it with the Timbre E made a perfect set on violin #1. (The Timbre strings were actually well matched on all 4 of my violins, just not optimum on #2 and perhaps #4 >>> SEE above EDIT!!).)

I have had my violins for some years - so I have had a lot of string experience with each of them (with my cellos and violas too).
#1 - 67 years
#2 - 44 years
#3 - 18 years
#4 - 50 years

January 5, 2019, 9:23 AM · Thomas, if you like the Amber E and Avantgarde A, try the Warchal Timbre D and G. That's what I currently have on my violin. The D is a particularly good blend.
January 5, 2019, 9:55 AM · Not mentioned here but remarkably good: the new Thomastik Rondo. A/D/G, anyway. For the E, I prefer the PI platinum to Rondo.
January 6, 2019, 2:36 PM · Impossible to answer, except with reference to a specific violin. For example, I used Infeld Blue on a dark sounding antique for years, they really woke it up. It sounded well balanced with them. The same strings were dreadful on a bright modern instrument. They made the violin really metallic and aggressive. So is it a good or bad string? It all depends...
January 6, 2019, 8:13 PM · Surprisingly nice: Wondertone Solo (WS) G, D, and A, pleasant and colorful tone with a lot of depth; I am really surprised for the unpopularity of these strings. They are the default and on 1/3 of my violins. I recently replaced EPG, had been strung meagerly for 2 days, with WS on my best violin (an old Italian). I use Larsen Tzigane E to pair with WS G, D, and A because

Surprisingly disappointment: Wondertone Solo advanced steel E, squeaks all the time like a trapped mouse.

My favorites are Passione, EP, Vision Solo (VS), EPG, and once again WS.

For the obvious reasons, we are all clear that there is no answer for the best/worst strings...

January 6, 2019, 11:52 PM · Ms. Zhang,

Also, they seem to have a nice tension balance. Tempted to try these with their steel A (5.5 kp for steel isn't too bad) and your disliked "advanced steel", 7.7 kp E... but I do find it hard to stop using gut strings, even if only for a little while.

22.2kp is not too heavy, and seems attractive-in theory at least.

January 7, 2019, 5:00 AM · Hmm, most disappointing strings on my violin has to be the dominants, they just did not suit my violin at all. I now use Warchal Amber with my violin, and it sounds wonderful!
Not tried enough strings for the viola, but so far the most disappointing strings would be the ones it came with (factory steel), but I am trying Larsen D and A. So far not all that impressed with either of them... They don't seem to shine in the same way they do on other violas. Perhaps there is still some settling in to be done. Who knows! The C and G are Warchal Brilliants, which are in fact, Brilliant!
January 7, 2019, 9:26 AM · @Zhi-Yi Zhang: how was the longevity of wondertones in your experience?
Edited: January 7, 2019, 8:28 PM · @Carlos, they are overall pretty good. I am an amateur, and do not play everyday, and I have several reasonably decent violins for me to enjoy myself interchangeably. They could last for quite a while, often >6 months, especially G and D, and never break.

WS A string, while sounds the most beautifully among all As I have used, may not last as long as WS D and G, because of slightly easier unravelling. This is not a surprise as I believe it is the common phenomenon for the majority of, if not all aluminum wound As of any brand.

I usually change WS A one more time in between the changes of all G, D and A.

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