New strings?

March 19, 2020, 4:23 AM · Hi everyone, I have found strings to be an inconvenience due to how quickly they start sounding horrid.(Evah Pirazzi cough, cough) I am now looking for a new set that is similar to Dominants in tension, so it won't bother me. The reason why I can't use Dominants is that I have lessons with my teacher every 3 days, and I don't want them to hear the horrible metallic sound of the strings. I know every violin is individual, but I would like to get a general idea of what each set brings to the table before buying something that won't last.

Replies (71)

March 19, 2020, 5:05 AM · From those I have tried:
- Aricore: warm and sweet;
- Pro Arte: warm and louder;
- Crystal: warm but dry.

And maybe Violino.

I use Tonica.

March 19, 2020, 5:38 AM · It's very personal. For me Dominants have always sounded fine after the first couple of days. Didn't like Tonicas though...
March 19, 2020, 6:30 AM · Warchal Karneol are similar, more colour too.

Remember new strings take a few days to settle and break in too!

March 19, 2020, 8:44 AM · Gut strings last until they break, unless you sweat a lot.
March 19, 2020, 9:21 AM · Cotton's right. I'm using Pirastro Chorda plain gut A and D which have just now entered their 3rd year of use. The wire-wound gut Chorda G won't last that long because there is a layer between the gut and the wire; I expect to get about 9 months out of it before the tone starts to fade. As for the gut E, fraying is the annoying problem, so at about 2 months it may need changing for that reason (the tone is still there, though); hence I rarely use a gut E now, but use instead Pirastro's "gold" E which is available in more than one of their brands.

In case anyone is wondering why I'm not using other gut brands, it's simply because they're not conveniently available where I live, whereas Chordas always are, in at least two violin stores near me, and that brand does what I want. Other brands of gut are of course available on-line, but I prefer to buy violin strings etc in person across the store counter, where I can discuss the purchase and get further advice if necessary.

March 19, 2020, 10:44 AM · Obligatos have lower tension, and a darker sound than either Evas or Dominants. When I was using them, they lasted a long time. Check out Warchal Vintage strings as well - those sounded really nice on my violin, and they lasted nicely as well. Right now, I've got Vision Solos on my fiddle, and I like the responsiveness and volume, but find them a bit "bright and metallic" for my tastes. I do plan to try some gut strings next, staring with Passione.
March 19, 2020, 12:47 PM · If you’re looking for sets that feel similar to Dominants, I’d recommend Evah Pirazzi Gold or TI. Both are great sets. The Evahs are a little pricier, but they work well and seem to last a little longer than the regular Evah sets.
March 19, 2020, 2:43 PM · Does anyone know who even sells Warchals in the U.S?
March 19, 2020, 2:54 PM · @xuanyuan concord music carries warchal
March 19, 2020, 3:00 PM · https://www.concordmusic.com/collections/warchal-violin-strings

They carry all the Warchal strings up to AMBER. They do not sell Timbre. At least not yet.

They are a great company They have a 10% sale on right now. I've been dealing with them for years.

Edited: March 19, 2020, 10:40 PM · Obligato or Tiranium Solo. Different from each other but at the same time both are relatively close to Dominants, from opposite sides.

@Rich, what strings do you mean with "TI"? Toamstik Infled have many different sets of strings.

March 19, 2020, 6:04 PM · I believe the teacher won’t mind the metallic sound of new strings.
March 19, 2020, 7:08 PM · TIs are part of Thomastik's "Luthier" sets. They are an inexpensive string designed for use on rentals, I think. If you want a high-end set, try Rondos. Very nice.
March 19, 2020, 7:08 PM · Thomastik's own Infeld Red and Blue, designed to complement Dominants too, I remember. I think they are great strings, when they work on the instrument.
March 19, 2020, 7:23 PM · Anyway to get Rondos in Southern California?
March 19, 2020, 7:36 PM · Already mentioned by others; Nylon core strings that I think are as good or better than Dominant, and less expensive are; D'Addario Pro-Arte. Corelli Crystal, Pirastro Tonica, Warchal Karneol.
March 19, 2020, 8:10 PM · Dominants are quite neutral. Wondertone Solo and Warchal Brilliant Vintage are quite neutral but more colorful, thus often on my back-up violins.
March 19, 2020, 10:19 PM · TI is the Thomastik-Infeld luthier-only set. They’re not terribly expensive, but they’re quite nice. Rondo is the solo version (higher tension).

Warchal’s Timbre strings are another luthier-only set. They’re supposed to be pretty warm. I’ve only installed a set but haven’t played on it yet.

Edited: March 19, 2020, 10:46 PM · Hm.. They should give them a name then, it's confusing.
March 20, 2020, 1:12 AM · Do gut strings require wrapping the string around the tailpiece? Or is it ball installation like normal ones?
Edited: March 20, 2020, 7:48 AM · They have a knot to hold them in the slot, if you pay extra the supplier will tie the knot, that's what I suggest, its not easy to do.
March 20, 2020, 7:32 AM · I only use Peter infelds and perpetual. The latter is brighter and takes longer to wear in, but lasts quite a while.
Edited: March 20, 2020, 9:09 AM · A gut E needs a loop to hold it, a knot is unreliable. Making the loop only seems difficult if you've never seen it done or described (as with most techniques in anything), but for me the E-string loop is essentially a non-slip "surgeon's loop", which is a reef knot in which the free end is passed through the loop one extra time, giving that extra amount of friction. As an aside, I always tie my shoe laces with the surgeon's loop; it's easy to make, and easy to undo, but never comes loose when walking.

Getting back to the gut E, it is important to remove the stiffness from the last 1 to 1-1/2 inches of the new string before making the loop. I do this by bending the string to and fro along that length with my fingers; it takes only a few seconds. I suggest you first practice making the loop with ordinary string of about the same thickness as the gut E.

I use a loop both for the gut A and D, although some prefer a fat knot rather than a loop for the D.

Googling "how to tie a gut string knot" will come up with videos and more information.

Edited: March 20, 2020, 10:22 AM · I've found if you just knot the end of the string a couple of times then the string will sit even in a modern-type tailpiece with the hole-and-slot design. Maybe an E does need a loop, but I never use gut Es personally. Only plain A & D, and wound G.

March 20, 2020, 7:42 PM · I think Warchal Ambers would be a good choice, but they wear out quickly. How much are you practicing a day?
March 20, 2020, 8:27 PM · 3hrs a day
March 20, 2020, 8:47 PM · My daughter uses Rondos- last a long time and not very expensive through our luthier. Sound great.
March 20, 2020, 8:50 PM · The problem with Rondos are: WHERE CAN I EVEN GET THEM? (Sry for capitalization)
March 20, 2020, 9:35 PM · Rondos are only available from luthiers and shops that have been approved to sell them by Thomastik representatives.
March 20, 2020, 11:30 PM · I searched for Rondos and bought them online from a music store in New York (Connolly Music). (I’m located in San Diego). Love them but do not know how long they last as I’ve had them for a month.
March 20, 2020, 11:33 PM · Is the e string as bad as dominants?
Edited: March 20, 2020, 11:41 PM · My previous strings that I had on my violin (that was in my case for years) were dominants. The Rondo e string sounds much better - not so brash sounding. I read somewhere that Rondos sound good on older violins - my violin over 100 years old.

March 21, 2020, 1:20 AM · Is conolly music trustworthy? Their website looks a bit sketchy.
March 21, 2020, 4:36 AM · For those who have used gut strings, what were they like?
Edited: March 21, 2020, 7:00 AM · We buy Rondos from the String House, local luthier. They are. Online and I am sure if you called they could ship.
Or call luthiers in your area. Or email Thomastik and ask for dealers-luthiers in your region.
We replaced the E string but that might have been our violin.
March 21, 2020, 6:58 AM · I like Vision Solo. I use a Goldbrokat E with the set. I don't know about tension but they are similar in character to Evahs.
March 21, 2020, 7:36 AM · " Is conolly music trustworthy?"

I've only ordered single Rondo strings from https://www.connollymusic.com/thomastik/rondo-luthier-strings, but they seem to be legitimate and shipped fast.

Edited: March 21, 2020, 7:47 AM · Gut strings have a lot of texture to the sound. The response is also a little different. It may or may not take you a while to adapt, and so you might crunch a little when you've just put them on. In my opinion they pull the best, sweetest sound that a violin can produce. None of the brassiness of synthetics and steel, although they are a little less powerful in terms of sheer volume. Nonetheless I've been able to project over an ensemble with gut strings just fine.
March 21, 2020, 8:04 AM · I would say almost all gut strings last longer than synthetics. They usually have a slightly slower response than synthetics unless you stick to plain guts, which just have a different response that takes a little getting used to. Since they are lower tension, usually you have to use more bow with a lighter hand. Gamut Tricolore strings are probably the best ones for modern playing, they take about a few days to fully break in and they are pretty pitch stable and go strong for many months until they break. They have a very pure and noble, but also very projecting sound that has many colors. Heavy gauge seems to work best on most violins for modern playing, but your mileage may vary. Personally, I’ve only had a problem with the plain gut D string, which was hard for me to get used to, so I got the gamut gimped D string, which has a quicker response and a brighter sound.
Edited: March 21, 2020, 1:46 PM · @Thierno, I've always heard that longevity is one of the first disadvantages of gut.
March 21, 2020, 2:08 PM · But have you tried it yourself, David? Guts have always lasted longer than the synthetics for me.
March 21, 2020, 2:58 PM · Don’t make fun of me for asking... What did Heifetz use?
March 21, 2020, 6:53 PM · @Xuanyuan Liu

Gut (wound G, plain A and D) and Goldbrokat E.
You can actually hear the squeaks only plain gut produces in his recordings.

Posing a question myself here, so I do not open a new string thread:

Now for more knowledgeable in the field of gut strings - For some reason I managed to tame the ferocious D somewhat, But A started acting up. Everyone tells me 2 months will not destroy an A string, so I am trying to make it work.

It sounds like I was playing a rope, not a string - skipping and fzzzzing most of the time. The string is oiled, has no rosin buildup and bowing area is free of oil. My technique is good enough to tame the freaking D and A is only slightly frayed.

What I did notice was that string became significantly thinner in the general bowing area. Is that normal? I thought a string looses it's cross-section shape over the fingerboard, not where it's bowed.

March 21, 2020, 9:33 PM · I was informed that Heifetz used the Tricolore string brand (as Tony Described above) with the Goldbrokat E.
Edited: March 22, 2020, 5:35 AM · @ David and Xuanyuan, I’ve found wound gut (especially by pirastro) to last shorter than synthetics only because the windings were so fragile that they began to come unwound in a matter of weeks. Plain gut has always lasted longer for me.

Also, @Tony, I’ve never had that problem which you describe in the bowing area, but if that string sounds like a rope and has lost material it’s probably done and needs to be changed, unfortunately.

March 22, 2020, 5:53 AM · @thierno
Well in these times it’s bad to be on your last gut A, but that’s what I did.... ditched the ropey sounding A and the new A is glorious. The lain A lasted less than 2 months. And it died in really wierd way.

I have plenty of synthetics at home, so they should last for a year or so....

March 22, 2020, 6:08 AM · @Andrew "I was informed that Heifetz used the Tricolore string brand (as Tony Described above) with the Goldbrokat E."
fwiw: -
https://www.violin-strings.com/string_faq/famous-violinsts-string-brand-choices/
March 22, 2020, 12:01 PM · If metallic sound of breaking in strings bothers you a lot, I’ve found that Vision and Vision Solo Strings tend to have a much shorter break-in period than most other strings I’ve tried.
Edited: March 22, 2020, 12:24 PM · Lenzner SuperSolo are not ridiculously easy to find, but if you are heading toward gut they offer an excellent option.

Pure gut A, if you want, and wound gut D and G. I've even seen gut E and D on certain websites, but have no idea how good those are. But Heifetz used a gut D, and Toscha Seidel used a gut E.

March 22, 2020, 12:28 PM · One nice advantage of a gut e is that it doesn't whistle.
Edited: March 22, 2020, 3:46 PM · I used one when I did a period-instrument Rossini production. Sounded really lovely, was just a little harder to tune.

Seidel supposedly said you'd have to be nuts to use anything else. Then he wound up suffering from his own mental illness, so perhaps there is a lesson there.

March 22, 2020, 2:37 PM · I've been using Vision Solo (not titanium, they are too nasty) with a Pirastro gold label E, or sometimes the Peter infeld platinum E if it is not the end of the month and cash reserves are low:)

For most students whose instruments are not the best, the regular Vision set is very affordable. Also, it is good to ask your local repairperson about the best strings for the instrument. They of course can also do adjustments on the instrument to get the optimal sound.

I would also advise replacing the e string once every month or so. They are the most likely to go false.

Edited: March 22, 2020, 8:52 PM · Gut can last a very long time. It is the same kind of complex protein polymer as in our tendons and ligaments, which last a life-time if not abused. It is made of high-sulfur amino acids with a three- dimensional structure held together by partial electrical charges, giving it a natural elasticity. For my number 1 violin I use a silver wound gut G, a silver wound nylon D, steel A and Goldbrokat gold E. Aluminum windings wear and break quickly, and sound like they are made from recycled beer cans. Titanium sounds harsh to me, not better than carbon steel. Maybe Titanium comes from scrapped Russian submarine hulls.
March 22, 2020, 6:10 PM · Here is advice on the Warchal website about breaking in new strings. It's in the Timbre section, but I've found it works for Amber.
https://warchal.com/timbre-strings.html#timbre3
March 23, 2020, 1:52 AM · Does it work for dominants?
March 23, 2020, 2:10 AM · @ Xuanyuan
This “technique” along with gentle rubbing of the strings to warm them up (and stretch) was suggested to me the late luthier Vilim Demšar more than 25 years ago. We all had dominants then :)

It actually works on gut strings as well. I installed a plain A yesterday morning and it was playable within half an hour and 95% stable within 2. Only normal retuning required in the evening... And the string developed it’s characteristic human voice the same day.

Oh, and also from the same luthier: if your (synthetic) strings seem dry and sticky under your fingers, rub your left hand through your hair behind the ear. Natural oils from your scalp lubricate your fingertips perfectly. This does not work on gut that well (or my scalp is not oily enough). For gut its’ eiter sweet almond oil or (as I found out recently) pure shea butter.

March 23, 2020, 4:20 AM · Thanks Tony!
March 23, 2020, 6:58 AM · Unfortunately, most of the handling recommendations are not transferable from gut strings to synthetic ones. I suggest you never oil or rub any synthetic strings. Or, at least, do not rub nor oil our ones, please.
Edited: March 23, 2020, 8:20 AM · Oil will get under the windings of synthetic strings and saturate the core. NOT ideal! It does work very well for gut strings—just don't use so much that the string is dripping with it.

I imagine you could use a moisturizing cream to make your hands glide more easily on synthetics, if you wipe off the excess.

March 23, 2020, 1:18 PM · Moisture is to be avoided with synthetic strings, as it causes the cores to degrade faster and encourages the windings to tarnish. Sweat does get into strings because of contact, something that is unavoidable, but it does mean that it cuts down the life expectancy of the string. Players who have sweaty fingers tend to need to change strings much more often.

With that in mind, it’s good to eschew any other contact with oils or solvents.

Edited: March 23, 2020, 4:10 PM · On a violin that sounds a little bit rough with Dominants, do you predict that Titanium Solo sill make it better or even worse? Generally of course.
March 23, 2020, 4:27 PM · I thought titanium solo was brighter/more harsh than dominant? At least that's what I've heard, but that doesn't really match thomastik's own tonal chart.
March 23, 2020, 4:31 PM · My violin sounds fine with dominants, I meant that they take too long to settle in.
March 23, 2020, 4:45 PM · Any solo string will be brighter and harsher than Dominants. If you look at the string tension chart from violinstringreview.com, you’ll see that Dominants are actually at the lower end of the tension spectrum.

As to whether the sound will be better or worse, a lot depends on the kind of sound you desire, the setting in which you’ll be playing, and the way the instrument is set up.

Edited: March 23, 2020, 5:13 PM · @Chrisitian, Yeah that's what I think too, Titanium solo are brighter, but I've seen claims that they're warm.
March 23, 2020, 6:22 PM · Perhaps I was slightly misunderstood when I said "rub the strings". I would under no circumstances RUB them with anything.

Perhaps I should have said - do some empty shifting on them - maybe 10 times or so. My experience with Dominants and Visions was, that they physically warmed up just a touch, relaxing them and help them reach pitch stability faster.

Oil on synthetics is a bad idea. It's even a bad idea on wound gut. I found out the hard way. Anything with metal around is a no-no for oil.

However - in my experience - plain gut strings become so much more enjoyable to play when they are oiled - far less squeaks and other artifacts. The response is better, the feel is better.

March 23, 2020, 8:24 PM · Where can one buy the tricolores?
March 23, 2020, 9:52 PM · Tricolore replica strings are available from Gamut Music.
March 24, 2020, 12:19 AM · Gamut Academie sheep gut strings & Tricolore are equally excellent in my opinion.
Edited: March 26, 2020, 3:55 PM · I started out with Pirastro Eudoxa gut strings and several years later switched to Dominants. I used Dominants for over 30 years but switched to Warchal Amber strings in 2017 and was (and still am) very impressed by their warmth, complexity, responsiveness, and longevity. I'm very happy with Warchal Amber and I recommend them to my students. I'm curious to someday try the Tricolore gut strings to see what the fuss is about, knowing full well that I won't sound like Mr. Heifetz. :)
Edited: March 27, 2020, 7:59 AM · In this link Elizabeth Wallfisch, the Baroque specialist, discusses the strings she uses:
https://www.pirastro.com/public_pirastro/pages/en/Elizabeth-Wallfisch-00001/

I use Chordas on my baroque setup. They stay in tune, last well (insofar as gut Es ever last!), are oiled regularly, and give the sort of tone and response that appeals to me. The tone can be changed as the occasion demands according to the type of bow I use - for instance my snakewood baroque bow gives a brighter tone than does its brazil wood brother. Another reason for using Chordas is that where I live in the UK they are immediately available over the counter from at least two nearby violin stores, both of which employ luthiers, as well as online from thestringzone.co.uk. Other brands of pure gut aren't quite so easily available, so I prefer the initial purchase of a new brand to be face-to-face so that pros and cons can be discussed.

In view of the notorious bug that is doing its rounds internationally (the British PM has now caught it) there will be no orchestras or other ensembles in the UK until September at the earliest, so I'm spending useful time in catching up on my baroque repertoire and working on new pieces.

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