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.
From those I have tried:
It's very personal. For me Dominants have always sounded fine after the first couple of days. Didn't like Tonicas though...
Warchal Karneol are similar, more colour too.
Gut strings last until they break, unless you sweat a lot.
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.
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.
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.
Does anyone know who even sells Warchals in the U.S?
@xuanyuan concord music carries warchal
Obligato or Tiranium Solo. Different from each other but at the same time both are relatively close to Dominants, from opposite sides.
I believe the teacher won’t mind the metallic sound of new strings.
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.
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.
Anyway to get Rondos in Southern California?
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.
Dominants are quite neutral. Wondertone Solo and Warchal Brilliant Vintage are quite neutral but more colorful, thus often on my back-up violins.
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).
Hm.. They should give them a name then, it's confusing.
Do gut strings require wrapping the string around the tailpiece? Or is it ball installation like normal ones?
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.
I only use Peter infelds and perpetual. The latter is brighter and takes longer to wear in, but lasts quite a while.
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.
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.
I think Warchal Ambers would be a good choice, but they wear out quickly. How much are you practicing a day?
3hrs a day
My daughter uses Rondos- last a long time and not very expensive through our luthier. Sound great.
The problem with Rondos are: WHERE CAN I EVEN GET THEM? (Sry for capitalization)
Rondos are only available from luthiers and shops that have been approved to sell them by Thomastik representatives.
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.
Is the e string as bad as dominants?
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.
Is conolly music trustworthy? Their website looks a bit sketchy.
For those who have used gut strings, what were they like?
We buy Rondos from the String House, local luthier. They are. Online and I am sure if you called they could ship.
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.
" Is conolly music trustworthy?"
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.
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.
@Thierno, I've always heard that longevity is one of the first disadvantages of gut.
But have you tried it yourself, David? Guts have always lasted longer than the synthetics for me.
Don’t make fun of me for asking... What did Heifetz use?
I was informed that Heifetz used the Tricolore string brand (as Tony Described above) with the Goldbrokat E.
@ 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.
@Andrew "I was informed that Heifetz used the Tricolore string brand (as Tony Described above) with the Goldbrokat E."
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.
Lenzner SuperSolo are not ridiculously easy to find, but if you are heading toward gut they offer an excellent option.
One nice advantage of a gut e is that it doesn't whistle.
I used one when I did a period-instrument Rossini production. Sounded really lovely, was just a little harder to tune.
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:)
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.
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.
Does it work for dominants?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My violin sounds fine with dominants, I meant that they take too long to settle in.
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.
@Chrisitian, Yeah that's what I think too, Titanium solo are brighter, but I've seen claims that they're warm.
Perhaps I was slightly misunderstood when I said "rub the strings". I would under no circumstances RUB them with anything.
Where can one buy the tricolores?
Tricolore replica strings are available from Gamut Music.
Gamut Academie sheep gut strings & Tricolore are equally excellent in my opinion.
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. :)
In this link Elizabeth Wallfisch, the Baroque specialist, discusses the strings she uses: