Looking for Warm, Direct Strings w/ Higher Tension

March 15, 2019, 9:41 PM · It's time to change strings and I feel like experimenting. So far I've had Helicores which are too bright, but I like their feel (high tension), and I have Fiddlerman strings on them right now which are supposed to sound like Dominants, but are half the price which have a decent tone, but lack volume and dont feel quite right to my bow (low tension)

So I'm looking for some strings that are as warm or warmer than Dominants, but have a more direct, louder sound.

The strings I'm thinking of trying from my own research are D'Addario Zyex, Red Infeld, Larsen? Tzigane, or Evah Pirazzi Gold.

My violin has a natural neutral tone I think. It's not particularly dark or bright from what I can tell.

I'm saving up for a Scott Cao 850 Ex-David Guarneri copy with a wonderful dark sound I tried at a shop the other day, but I won't be able to afford it for a few months, so I thought I would change strings in the meantime.

I'm also interested in trying a different E string in combination with a set.

Let me know what you think.

Replies (11)

Edited: March 15, 2019, 9:47 PM · Dude. Plain gut.

Here are the gauges that work really well for me (keep in mind I probably like them even heavier than you want them):

Wound G .90mm
Plain D 1.16 mm
Plain A .86m

All from Gamut strings. They are a bit more expensive outright than the synthetics you looked into (excluding EP gold), but if you oil them every week you can easily get half a year of top performance out of them.

March 15, 2019, 10:48 PM · You might like obligatos, or perhaps warchal ambers, or infeld reds. Probably infeld reds are your best bet because they're also made by the same company.

Something to note though: to you, dominants might only seem "warm" because they are not as bright as helicores. They not exactly a "warm" string as much as a neutral string.

Also, depending on your violin, strings that were warm on another instrument might just sound dull on yours.

Experimenting with strings is expensive because toy might end up trying quite a few sets before you find "the" set that works for your violin.

March 15, 2019, 10:53 PM · (He's too new, and thus may fail to appreciate those Gamut pure gut choices. Indeed, even experienced players are not guaranteed to adapt to those.)

Evah Pirazzi Mittel, Vision Titanium Solo, Vision Solo.

The EP Green (regular, mittel) are among the "loudest" strings, and with a Goldbrokat Medium instead of Silvery Steel E or Gold plated option, not super expensive. For their "bright" reputation, they have lots of bottom and "low mids". The Stark Evah Pirazzi may be too "brutal" for a beginner to play on... should be loud and warm, but needs lots of bow weight. .more than you would realize, I'd wager.

(Incidentally I remember trying Dominant Stark *eons* ago while in music school, and even those felt "too heavy". You can try those for that "higher tension" feel.)

EP Gold (as you thought.)

Infeld Red are strong but a bit dark-sounding as I remember them (been quite a while...).

Obligato with non gold plated E (use Goldbrokat, Gold Label, Hill, etc.)

Gold Plated-Es are warm and brilliant at the same time. I like them, but for beginners, they can prove challenging because they need good bow control to avoid whistling, and some violins do whistle more than others.

Watch out for string "sets": Obligato and Infeld Red "come" with the aforementioned gold plated E. A great number of classical violinists do not use set Es, for better or worse (some set Es are quite good, but the "standards" tend to work well.) "Foolproof" Es for beginners are Gold Label E & Goldbrokat, usually in medium gauge. Tha Kaplan Golden Spiral Solo E is still used, though who knows, maybe D'Addario uses a similar steel E for many of their lines (tin plated, and similar to Gold Label E.)

(D'Addario business people and CEO-you commited a crime in killing the Kaplan gut string lines. Should have sold it to someone if you didn't want to deal with its production. I do not take your "Kaplan Vivo/Amo" seriously. They are really D'Addario strings, which can be fine, but not "true Kaplan". Kaplan is dead, and you killed it-the steel E doesn't count.)

You may try a heavy Westminster E too for a very robust, thick sound that may also warm up the rest of the strings. Sometimes they also "wake up" an instrument. I have used them a lot in the past, but my violin may prefer medium or even lesser gauges at this point.

Worth noticing that most tonal deficiencies, barring a bad instrument with decade old strings, are the player's problem to solve. IME, most beginners tend to play too softly, and when they think they are being loud they really aren't.

And of course, never forget the bow and applying rosin.

Best wishes. My opinion is not absolute, and may not apply to your violin.

March 15, 2019, 10:56 PM · I agree with Mr. Williams, not finding Dominant warm, but more neutral+ (they are edgy too.) More upper mids than many of the "warm" options like Obligato and Infels Red.
March 15, 2019, 11:23 PM · You should indeed give Obligato a try. It's quite expensive though.
March 16, 2019, 6:36 AM · As I say in response to all posts asking for string recommendations, you should go to your luthier and pose your question. You have gotten a number of well-meaning recommendations about strings that might produce a warmer sound. However, different strings sound different on different violins. Your luthier can actually hear your instrument with the current strings and make a good guess as to what will work best for you, at least a more educated recommendation than we can. Obligatos are a standard to try when you seek a warmer sound, and I use them on my violin and viola. However, they might sound awful on your instrument (or great). Go to your luthier, and good luck!
March 16, 2019, 6:54 AM · Since different strings sound different on different instruments a luthier is just as likely as any of us to take a guess at what any particular string will sound like on your violin. And it’s likely they will have a particular interest in selling a certain brand that they carry.

Trying strings out for yourself is a fun hobby, albeit can get a bit pricey.

Strong, warm strings? I’d recommend starting out with the aforementioned Kaplan Amo. You can check out a review on


Usually, powerful strings tend to lean towards the bright side. The Amos Dona pretty good job of retaining warmth along with the added horsepower.

March 16, 2019, 7:09 AM · Alliance, Cantiga, PI are tense and smooth.
Edited: March 16, 2019, 8:44 AM · If you have access to good luthiers (who have years of experience from work on hundreds of instruments) get their advice, as TOM HOLZMAN suggested.

This string testing game may be fun, but it is EXPENSIVE. I have 9 bowed string instruments including 3 cellos and 2 violas, so one string change inning on all of them is at least a $1,500 session at the lowest possible (internet) prices. From 20 to 50 years of maintaining this "collection" I have learned from first-hand experience that it is nearly impossible to find a string combination that best suits all instruments of a certain genre (and new string brands keep coming to market). (I have a cubic foot drawer of strings - past and future - that attest to this.) I have also learned that an experienced musician or luthier can save one from expensive bad choices.

Edited: March 16, 2019, 9:51 AM · Pirastro Obligatos are nice and warm but can be unfocused on some violins. Thomastik Peter Infelds are deep, warm, and powerful but also brilliant + very long lasting, Tziganes are a tad warmer and more complex but they don't last as long before dying. Zyex are very loud and direct and warm, but aren't as refined as the other strings if you like strings that respond well to volume changes. Plain gut probably would be best for the sound you want, but its a big change from synthetic and I wouldn't advise it for everybody.

As for E strings, Westminster E sounds awesome with powerful strings like the obligatos, and usually makes the other strings sound stronger/warmer, it is a Strong E string. I believe concord music has combination sets where you can get a set of strings with your choice of e, usually for a discount. I Hope this helps in some way !

Edited: March 16, 2019, 10:39 AM · Russell--I was looking for the same type of string as you and I settled on Infeld Red for my old violin and have been happy with them; I have Obligatos on my new violin. I tried Kaplan Amo and was not pleased.

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