Good E string combination

March 10, 2020, 1:14 PM · Hello colleagues and friends, I was wondering what usually a good combination between E string and the rest of them. Usually I use dominant and Jargar blue. Thanks

Replies (42)

Edited: March 10, 2020, 3:16 PM · Dominants and Goldbrokat, Dominants and Pirastro Gold E. I think those are the most used combinations.
Then there's Obligato and Pirastro Gold E (or even Goldbrokat too) if you wnat a warmer/darker sound.

Goldbrokat is lower tension than the Pirastro Gold, so it's probably better for older violins. These E strigns are known for blending well with almost anything.

March 10, 2020, 3:52 PM · Dominants and Priastro E seem to be a standard set up in my musical circles, however, there is a growing support for Warchal Ambers with a Hill E.

Strings are definitely a personal preference, and what works on one violin, will not necessarily work on another.

Edited: March 10, 2020, 4:16 PM · I used to have Obligatos with Hill E. Warchal Ambers are a cheaper alternative to Obligato, right?
The problem of Hill E is that it doesn't come with the bridge protector tube.
March 10, 2020, 5:05 PM · Bridge protector tube is not needed if the bridge is protected with a piece of parchment.

I have tried several E string combos and A pattern emerged.

Westminster E - is very powerful and almost overpowers many sets. Goes well wit bold, powerful, neutral strings (VS OR VSTI). It makes other strings sound a bit deeper and darker.

Goldbrokat - is very sweet. Makes other strings sound a bit brighter. Has decent amount of power and blends well with almost anything. I felt it a bit too zingy when used with Efrano pure gut set, but that’s after playing a gut E.

Corelli cantiga E - most colorful. From dark to bright in an instant. Intense ringing, good power, bit also sweetness. Like the best qualities of westminster and Goldbrokat were mixed together. Unfortunately it lost the ‘zing’ too quickly for my taste.

Efrano pure gut E middle - Incredible power and sweetness. Never expected this kind of power from gut. Most complex of all E string, no question. Does not whistle. It barks if you strike it wrongly. Very delicate to control in higher positions (tone wise and volume wise).

In my opinion Westminster and Cantiga are not overly prone to whistling, but when they do - they do it with a vengance. Especially Cantiga is stubborn like hell. When it starts it just never stops...
Goldbrokat on the other hand does whistle, but can be worked to somehow cease that, however the tone that “should whistle but you forced it not to” is not very pleasant. This is especially noticeable because normal sounds from Goldbrokat are like liquid gold.

I have several Goldbrokats and Westminsters in my violin box at any time just in case, but I have never broken an E string.

Edited: March 10, 2020, 5:27 PM · @Tony Piece of parchment, most people don't have it and from my experience, the bridge protector tube helps preventing whistling. I also heard a maker say it on youtube.
What's your opinion on the Pirastro Gold E?
Edited: March 10, 2020, 8:07 PM · In almost 20 years of violin playing I don't think I've ever had an E string whistle, and don't even know what it sounds like. I've used many brands over that period and am currently using Goldbrokat and Warchal Amber Es on my two violins. What causes whistling?
March 10, 2020, 8:30 PM · Trevor,
the whistle occurs when your bow doesn't quite strike the string correctly and the string starts to vibrate on its longitudinal axis. Or at least that's what I read somewhere. It sounds at a very high harmonic, anyways, and you have to restart the string to recover.

I also very rarely have an E whistle on me. Some Es are more prone than others, but it really just comes down to technique.

March 10, 2020, 11:43 PM · What causes E-string whistling? The two causes that I have observed are 1) Moving on a down-bow slur from an A-string note to open E too lightly, without enough force to start the E vibrating at its full length. 2) A finger on an A-string note accidentally touches the open E. The Warchal Amber E works. Another advantage of the Goldbrokat strings is that they are cheap. They also make a gold-plated version.
March 11, 2020, 5:45 AM · @David
The tube protector can make the E string less whistle prone, but when it does it takes away the ring and zing. The interference with the string's vibration might help with whistling, but takes away the magic and power.
Have not tried Pirastro gold E. I have a predicament for all things Pirastro, as EP Gold longevity was such a disaster for me...

The string rotates along it's axes instead of Helmholtz motion.

I have 2 relatively bad fiddles that never whistle. I have 2 relatively good fiddles that both whistle. I feel that this has as much to do with technique as it does with the instrument and setup:

E string whistle in a violin is like a tire skid in a car:
If your car does not have the power it will not skid when accelerating. F1 (on the contrary) will go berserk. Like F1 driver you need to controll your E string... But some are just not controllable... For me, PI platinum E was really the worst whistler ever.

Edited: March 11, 2020, 6:57 AM · Whistling is not just uncorrect technique, it happens when you do everything right and it happens to the best. Sometimes to avoid wistling you have to play actual "wrong" technique.
Piratro's Es have a very small tube, the Gold E with the tube has a lot of ring. You don't need a big ass tube like Tomastik put on their strings, I don't know why they do it. Doesn't the parchment take away some bridge vibratoion, or slightly affect it too? Everything has its downsides.
March 11, 2020, 7:36 AM · I would assume anything between the string and the wood changes the vibration. Correctly installed string with tube (no overhang on the vibrating side of string) does perhaps the least damage.

The tube is usually vinyl, parchment is animal skin (i think), when compressed under a string, the probably act differently, but it's probably not noticeable.

On my better fiddle (which is whistle prone) a choice of correct E string (plain steel) does far more good than the tube (tested). Unfortunately I have to avoid coated strings.

March 11, 2020, 7:52 AM · Parchment has no effect on the sound at all, when done correctly. It perfectly takes the shape of the bridge and has an immeasurably small weight.

The tube might have some effect but it's unlikely anyone could detect it.

Edited: March 11, 2020, 8:07 AM · Immeasurably small weight but still something that's there.
If it's unlikely for anyone to detect the effect of the tube, then there's no reason not to use it. If it helps with whistling, there's something positive there. The parchment is just one more thing for you to be dependent of a luthier. All E strings come with a tube, even the most "high-end"/expensive ones, it's a standard, there must be a reason.
March 11, 2020, 8:33 AM · Hm? Parchment is a 2-minute DIY anyone can do. You don't even really need the special animal hide, as any thick wax paper will do. Cut out a little square, add a drop of super glue, and bam—parchment.
Edited: March 12, 2020, 1:06 PM · Thank you all for the explanation of the whistling E phenomenon. I have my Suzuki-trained teacher to thank for not experiencing the whistling first hand.
March 11, 2020, 10:19 AM · You can't add parchment without first lowering the e string groove the thickness of the parchment paper, then if you ever need to adjust the string heights, you're screwed without completely redoing the parchment.
March 11, 2020, 1:10 PM · I think Lyndon has a good point. However if your playing is entirely in the lowest octave of the strings the effect of the slightly higher E string should be minimal for the left hand. If it doesn't bother your bowing it should be entirely OK.

String parchment is available in different thicknesses. Many decades ago I was able to purchase individual parchment patches for violin and for cello (from a Johnson strings catalog, I think). But my last parchment purchase (about 20 years ago) was from my luthier (Ifshin Violins) and he sold me a single piece that had a range of thickness from which I cut little patches for my different instruments.

March 11, 2020, 1:22 PM · "whistle occurs when...the string starts to vibrate on its longitudinal axis".
I'd describe it as torsional oscillation (the other two are transverse and longitudinal oscillations. Transverse is the normal vibration. Longitudinal is probably impossible on a violin). I've never had whistling on plain steel Tonicas or Dominants. I wonder if wound strings can suffer from it more.
March 11, 2020, 2:49 PM · Rather the opposite. Wound E strings have less tendency to whistle. I think the less uniform surface on the wound strain helps the bow grab it. Probably the same effect that causes the Amber E to not whistle. The little waves left after stretching the spiral out helps the bow grab the string. I make a similar spiral on whatever E string I put on my violin. It even prevents the gold plated Oliv E from whistling.
March 11, 2020, 2:55 PM · @gordon

I do not think so. I did however notice, that VSTIs become prone to “whistling”. The sound becomes hollow, unintelligible high pitched mooo or swquawk, but that’s pushing string well after it’s death. First they die by becoming dull and impossibly gritty, then they moo.

Very much fun on stage.

March 11, 2020, 3:38 PM · Not an answer to the OP, but the worst whistling that I've ever encountered with an E string is the Peter Infeld Platinum. Changed that out, and have not had a whistle since.
March 11, 2020, 3:56 PM · It seems a common practice to mix in different E strings, yet I have wondered why we do/have to do that. In theory string makers go to great lengths to balance all the strings in a set and one would think an entire set would be optimum, yet it rarely is.
Edited: March 11, 2020, 4:15 PM · Lyndon

that may be true if your E string is already very high, but I find that the string sinks into the parchment a little, making the added height negligible. Or maybe my parchment paper is particularly soft—I dunno.

And yeah, I meant torsional motion, Gordon. My wording was a bit vague.

March 11, 2020, 4:47 PM · I find that the little tube to prevent whistling actually changes string height a little. My violin’s bridge is already pretty short though, any change would probably be more noticeable. This is with pi platinum e, paired with Evah Pirazzi gold.
March 11, 2020, 4:48 PM · What a world!

I've had plenty of whistling E strings in the past but never with a PI-Pt E string on 4 different violins. Never with Warchal Timbre or Amber nor with Goldbrokat.

March 12, 2020, 5:10 AM · This may be a good place to post this link. Obviously it must be taken with a pinch of salt, unless the claims have all come from interviews.
March 12, 2020, 5:49 AM · @Gordon
I tried Heifetz - like combo. It's great, but I have hard time in making D string speak. Perhaps my technique sucks.

In any case - when i came back to modern strings, my playing was cleaner and more sonorous.

How to make plain D speak... that's the question!

March 12, 2020, 6:28 AM · I love my Dominant D.
I'm less happy with my Dominant A.
My Dominant G sounds nice in low positions, but high positions are very tricky and all in all it seems to have quite low tension.
March 12, 2020, 12:38 PM · A vote for Jargar Forte "E". It looks like I'm alone on this one.
March 12, 2020, 1:13 PM · @Tony Anzlovar.. try the heavy gimped D string that Gamut strings also makes. It’s a part of the Academie strings line instead of the Heifetz set. I also had trouble with the plain D from the Heifetz set but the gimped one has a much quicker response and a brighter sound, even though it’s slightly lower tension. Hopefully that helps you
March 12, 2020, 1:47 PM · @Thierno
Thanx for the info. Only Aquila makes gimped D in EU. I need to find out where to get them. On the personal side... are you from Slovenia?
Edited: March 14, 2020, 8:41 AM · I think E strings generally are less prone to whistling than they once were back in the 60s and 70s. Better materials and long experience by manufacturers, no doubt. That said, I gave up on gold-plated strings long ago because of their proneness to whistling. The common tin-plated brands seem good.

The Goldbrokat and Wondertone Gold Label are popular for a good reason--they're true, fairly durable and not expensive. I will also mention that the E supplied with the Vision Solo set is very true, especially durable, and again, not pricey. Thomastik's platinum E is a gimmick--a waste of money--IMHO. Mine was shrill and whistled, too. Aargh.

March 14, 2020, 10:14 AM · @Tony
No actually I was born in Amsterdam, raised in Los Angeles. My roots are Surinamese and Guinean though. I have yet to try Aquila gut strings, I may do that next just to see how they compare.
March 14, 2020, 10:53 AM · Golbrokat E (gold) has been my favorite E string lately. I use it on 2 of my violins where I use Obligato G,D,and A. I find the Obligato E string not quite matching the other Obligate strings, at least on my violins. I have another violin where I use Pirastro Oliv G,D, and A, with an Evah Pirazzi gold E string, although I may try to use Goldbrokat on that too.
March 14, 2020, 11:14 AM · Re whistling, it is often caused by a twisting force on the string when the violin bow is moving from lower strings to the E. That's why whistles can be such a problem when you play Bach with chords that involve an open E. It's not necessarily faulty technique. In fact when you try to prevent whistles by landing HARD on the E -- that can give you the wrong sound.

If you are having whistling problems, I'd recommend a Warchal Amber E. First of all it's a lovely string, a big sound but more rounded sound than, say, a Westminster or Gold Label.

The Amber E is very unusual -- manufactured with a little helix that extends from bridge to top of fingerboard. When you install it, the helix MOSTLY straightens out. It helps give the Amber its nice roundedness but it also does a great job of preventing whistles. The little bit of coil left in the string helps cushion the twisting forces of the bow.

March 14, 2020, 12:35 PM · In our shop we have
E from the whatever set
Dominant carbon steel, tin-plated
Gold Brokat, both 26 and 27 weights

Which one we use depends greatly on how each sounds on the violin in question, which is always quite different, and the preference of the player, which is another big variable. #2 and #3 get used the most often.

March 14, 2020, 5:20 PM · This has been an interesting discussion. There have been some great inputs. Ordabek, I will give you my suggestions shortly but first some background.

I started playing violin in 1961. At that time violin strings were not a topic of very serious discussion. The e-string was bare steel. The a-string started as a pure gut string but transformed by 1963 to what was referred to as a wire wound gut string. The D and G strings were wire wound gut. Buying these strings at a shop that sold violin strings was a very simple process. The strings were stored in tubes right in back of the front counter. You told the shop owner what string you needed. He reached into the tube and brought one out. The only complicating factor was buying the a-string. You needed to let him know if you wanted wire wound or normal.

You had no idea who made the strings and for that matter even cared. Gut strings on a violin have always sounded quite good. There was never a need to discuss how often you as a violinist needed to change your strings. The nature of gut strings took care of that for you. They broke. You changed them right after they broke. For me because of play time in practice and in youth orchestras, the a-string broke about every 3 months, the d-string every 6-months and the g-string every 9 months.

I played violin from grade school through college. My e-string during this period broke two times. I replaced it with another bare steel e-string. The sound remained the same, dependably predictable. In my experience with these 1960 – 1970 e-strings they never “whistled”. I do not remember any of my fellow violinists at that time talking about or having problems with an e-string “whistle”. It was not an area of concern.

Now shopping for violin strings is like going wine shopping. There are so many choices and so many different manufacturers. Having tried many varietal choices, I can say with certainty, stick with the bare steel e-string. I did not know what an e-string whistle was until I bought a set of Infeld Reds that included the gold plated e-string. I soon discovered exactly what violinists on were referring to. This string whistled like the Pied Piper. Not exactly, the Pied Piper probably sounded a lot better. I changed back to a Pirastro bare steel e-string and all went back to normal.

So here is my suggestion to you, Ordabek. Purchase a name brand company's bare steel e-string and you will do fine. Bare steel is bare steel. The bow grabs it nicely and it vibrates predictably. In the end it will sound like an e-string without the whistle and you will be happy. You are not going to drink it. You are only going to play it. Enjoy your new e-string.

Edited: March 14, 2020, 9:20 PM · Larry, I love gut strings personally! Olives strings, I used to play on them, but I remember I took couple orchestra auditions where the tuning went both directions because of the temperature from the moment when you walk from your warmup room to backstage and then to the stage, yeah, it was not great in that matter. Yes, I will try it and will let you know. Please, keep sharing your stories and experience, I enjoy reading them! Cheers colleagues and stay safe with corona virus ?? thing ????
March 15, 2020, 12:13 AM · E strings are best chosen by getting a huge sampler and trying them one after another. They're personal and somewhat unpredictable.

My technique is somewhat at fault for causing whistles, but I used to own a violin that whistled like mad on the E. Adjustment could tame that somewhat, and gold E strings could really amplify the tendency (and platinum Es could really, really do that!); the Warchal Amber E finally tamed it.

I've continued to use the Amber E on my current violin simply because it both sounds nice and is well behaved. I haven't gone through the whole extravaganza of trying a dozen different E strings because I'm pretty satisfied with how it sounds.

March 15, 2020, 7:14 PM · In wake of the Corona virus I figured most gigs will be cancelled, so I can safely go back to my experimenting with gut strings.

I found out that Goldbrokat E whistles far more when paired with plain gut strings than it does with synthetics. This leads me to believe, that the rest of the set also affects the E string's proneness to whistle.

On the other hand, it might be the different technique of bowing on plain gut. I am still getting used to this. With guts & steel combo every string needs completely different bowing. Chords and double stops become really complicated.

March 16, 2020, 1:44 PM · With as an overall lower tension set-up with Dominants in G, silver D, A, I find with varying instruments in the shop I'm able to find a generally happy tonal medium with either:

optima goldbrokat 24k gold plated e for a warmer and sweetly focused fundamental

pirastro gold label or goldbrokat normal e for a neutral and punchy tone

warchal amber or timbre e for a sweet and thick sound

thomastik pi tin e for a compact and focused sound

Yet with if you have an unlimited budget, try everything!

March 16, 2020, 3:01 PM · I think maybe anything but the daddario anti whistle e should be good.

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