If not Dominants then???

June 5, 2019, 6:05 PM · Flew put from Portland, Oregon this morning, currently hung up in O'Hare waiting for the last stage of my trip that keeps getting delayed. So I've been thinking on my next set of strings as my current spare set of Dominants were all installed while I've been out of town.

I prefer warm over bright strings, and my Chinese workshop intermediate level violin is on the warm side. Piastro Gold E works well for me.

There are a lot of options out there, I've seen all of the charts which are frankly confusing to this returnee.

What would be a good next set to try? I like having a spare set in case a string breaks so it would, in theory, have to play well with the Dominants and P. Gold E.

Suggestions? Thanks! Meanwhile they just delayed my flight yet again...

Replies (24)

June 5, 2019, 6:12 PM · Consider Obligatos.
June 5, 2019, 6:13 PM · What have you used besides dominants? Obligatos are typically warm strings. I have them on my Chinese workshop viola and they're great on there. But have you tried a good set of brighter strings like Vision Solo or Evah Pirazzi? You might like the extra sizzle you get from them.
June 5, 2019, 6:15 PM · PI strings might suit you. They are like a better version of dominants. Although I don’t necessarily peg them as a warm string.
Edited: June 5, 2019, 6:42 PM · I have wondered if I should try a decent bright string, all I've used are Dominants and the Gold E (hated the Dominant E). Good thing to consider Paul and Duane. I should at least try the extra sizzle to be had from brighter strings - only way to find out if they would work.

Christopher- what are PI strings? Unsure what the initials stand for.

June 5, 2019, 6:45 PM · Cantiga medium light.
June 5, 2019, 6:45 PM · Vision Solos are thought of as warm for some people rather than bright. I haven't tried them personally, but I think they could be a good match if they are in fact warm. I've been trying many different strings lately while being in college. The ones I have tried so far are:

Daddario Kaplan Vivo
Larsen Il Cannone
Pirastro Tonica
Thomastik Dominant

Given all these sets the ones I liked the most were the vivo and dominant. They were all good, but the il cannone are very bright which is not waht I wanted and the tonica were neutral, but a little too clean so they sounded brighter than the dominant. The vivos are very nice although bright, so I think I'd like to try the Kaplan Amo. The Vivos felt very nice under the fingers and projected very well. They also have a nice lifespan. I took them off after 2 months to try the cannone, but I could have easily left them on for another month or two. I tried the dominants as they were what was on my violin when I bought it 2 years ago, but I don't like dominants that much. Trying them again I see why they had them on there. They give my violin a nice warm sound on the G and D strings but the A is still a little bright and I used the westminster e with them.

I'm also looking for a warmer sound and I plan on trying the kaplan amo, vision solo, and warchal amber. So maybe one of those would be good to try.

June 5, 2019, 7:02 PM · I've 4 fine tuners, does that decrease my options with the two types of string ends?
June 5, 2019, 7:08 PM · Obligatos or, if you basically like the Dominants but want something a bit warmer, Infeld Red.
June 5, 2019, 8:01 PM · PI = Peter Infeld
Edited: June 5, 2019, 8:21 PM · I used the same combo you mentioned -- Dominant A-D-G + Gold E -- only once, 13-1/2 years ago, on my 1921 fiddle. The overall sound was good on this instrument. My only gripe was the mittel (medium) G response above 5th position. The above-mentioned Infeld Reds gave a warmer, more powerful sound on this same instrument, and the G gave better response in high positions. FWIW, the E that I now use is the Goldbrokat medium.

The Reds have especially pleased me, too, on my 1869 instrument. The Red G brings out a viola-type sound in the low notes on this fiddle -- I hear this live and during playback. I have also tried the PI -- D-G only so far; and Vision Solo -- A only so far. I was pleased with all of these.

Now, these aren't recommendations but only my own personal experiences. How any of these strings would work on your instrument is anyone's guess. If you can, see a luthier or another experienced player and do some testing. Regarding fine-tuners: I have to pleased ignorance -- I use a fine-tuner only for E.

EDIT: Ever since I first tried the Reds, I have used foam earplugs, L/R, dB factor: -33. Now I'm so conditioned to the added protection that I can't practice or play without plugs, whatever the string combo.

June 5, 2019, 8:34 PM · If you have a tailpiece with built-in fine-tuners you have to get ball-end strings. I recommend ball-end for other tuners as well. If you have such questions one thing you can always do is call Shar and ask for advice about your particular setup.
June 5, 2019, 9:56 PM · Thanks everyone! I wasn't sure if all string sets were available with ball-ends - shows you how much I know. I appreciate the ideas and things to consider, and will also discuss with my teacher.
June 5, 2019, 10:03 PM · @Lydia Leong

I have always wanted to try the infeld reds since I have come to like the dominants, but still wanted a warmer sound. I didn't try them because of the mixed things I had heard about the strings, some good some bad. Do you have any experience with them? I've heard that they either don't last long, or they just aren't good strings. But I have read reviews and now Jim's experience that is making me reconsider...

June 5, 2019, 10:51 PM · Warchal Amber is good set, you can swap the A for Russian style steel A which is very long lasting.
June 5, 2019, 11:16 PM · I've used Infeld Red (and Blue) in the past. They are warmer-sounding Dominants, more or less; they have a similar feel to Dominants (same manufacturer, too), with a similar lifespan. Red and Blue are designed to be swappable, letting you customize the combination on the instrument for darker and brighter sounds on individual strings.

I wouldn't recommend the use of a steel A if what you're looking for is a warmer sound. (And I do like both Warchal steel A strings, but I like their brilliance.)

June 5, 2019, 11:29 PM · I’ve tried Infeld Reds on a few diffferent instruments.

They do indeed feel and respond much like Dominants, but they are indeed a bit warmer and also very slightly more focused.

In general, they were a bit less projecting than Dominants, and on one violin, they sounded very choked, whereas Dominants didn’t.

I’ve read that Spirits sound and respond similarly to Infeld Reds - and they are cheaper!

June 6, 2019, 1:34 AM · Hmmm I might have to try infeld reds then. I have tried spirit before and I liked them but they didn't seem to last that long to me. But if I liked spirit then perhaps I will like infeld reds.
Edited: June 6, 2019, 4:53 AM · PI strings are Peter infield strings. They’re made by Thomastik, the same company that makes dominants. To me, they sound like a midpoint between Dominants and Evah Pirrazi strings. They’re louder than dominants, but not as bright as Evahs. I will say I’ve heard that these strings have the biggest dependence on the instrument. I think Lydia mentioned one time that they sounded terrible on a certain instrument of hers, but great on another. Also, I personally hated how obligatos sounded on my violin. I think they are such low tension that they just sound muddy, I think the A string was decent though. My teacher uses vision titanium solos and loves them.
June 6, 2019, 11:34 AM · Spoke to Luthier today when picking up my violin from the shop, he suggested that I give a set of Evah Pirrazi a try the next time I'm ready to change strings. He said that they are richer on the low end and brighter for A/E and he thought they would match my violin well.
June 6, 2019, 12:26 PM · To comment on Obligato: they are not "low tension"-perhaps only so in relation to EP. They sound fine, and only sound dark after their initial sheen/edge is gone. They are medium+ tension. I think regular Dominant mittel maybe be less tense than regular Obligato (there's no more weich/stark Obligato sold.)

If I want warmth without muddiness, I prefer any gut strings set or combination. "Warm" synthetics tend to sound too dark over time *for me*.

June 6, 2019, 2:12 PM · Catherine - speaking to your luthier is the right thing to do. Different strings sound different on different violins. So asking questions about which strings to use, when addressed to people who cannot hear your violin, is likely not going to be very fruitful. As you can see, you have gotten a half dozen different, well-meaning recommendations, but from people who cannot hear what the current strings sound like.

Evahs tend to be quite bright, and, as your luthier stated, may be a good choice. Enjoy!

Edited: June 6, 2019, 3:23 PM · The main thing to watch for with EPs-- apart from whether they are too high-tech sounding for your taste and technique-- is how quickly they become useless. Unlike a lot of strings that will fade gently until you have forgotten how good they can be, Pirazzis will fall off the cliff quie noticeably. It can become impossibly to play double-stops in tune, etc. But if you like them and they work for your instrument, enjoy them!

Another option to try if you're willing to spend EP money and don't mind Dominants is Rondo. Only available from a small number of luthiers, but a big step up from Dominant without having too much tension.

June 6, 2019, 3:28 PM · I was using PI for a while with a Jargar E, but just switched to Passione G and D, Evah Stark A and Kaplan E, which my violin likes and seems to be a warmer set-up. It took a minute to feel the set-up out in terms of bowing pressure, but I like the gut G and D.

My violin HATED dominants when I tried them after first buying my violin.

Edited: June 7, 2019, 9:35 AM · Hahaha Christian - my violin hates Dominants too.

I have used PI's to great success on two violins - I LOVE those strings. They are clear, project well, and are easy to bow with. I'm so in love with my PI set I got the PI rosin and it may be my favorite rosin. Leaves little to no dust no matter how much you rosin your bow, wipes of the string easily, and is not gritty under the ear.

My luthier recommended Evah's to me for a former violin, and I never got around to trying them. It was on the dark and muddy side - needed brightening up.

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