Vision Solo vs Amber vs Brilliant Vintage
I've been using Vision Solo strings for right at a year, and while I do like them, I've wanted to try Warchal Amber to see how they compared and was planning on doing that this fall. As noted in another thread I upgraded my violin this weekend from a 2014 Chinese workshop instrument to a mid-late 1800's violin. We moved both my strings (mine were newer) and tailpiece (my teacher's suggestion) from my first violin when I traded it in.
The voice of my new violin is very different - much more resonant, rich, and complex, and has a warmer yet clear tone overall. That is with the Vision Solo strings.
Given this violin speaks in such a different way - would you go with Brilliant Vintage over Amber or...? I'm also going to ask my luthier but I'm curious to hear the collective wisdom from here as well. My teacher is unfamiliar with the strings in question.
Glad to hear that you have found a better violin than the previous one you were having issues with. Did you change out the tailpiece or did the shop do it for you, because if you or your teacherr did it the string afterlenght could have been changed for the better or worse. I like all of the strings which you have mentioned and cannot say that one is superior to the other and currently use Amber and really like them. I tend to buy and try what is on sale.
I would choose Warchal Amber or Warchal Timbre strings. However my experience with many strings has been that some instruments respond and sound better with Warchal strings and some do better with the "older" string brands. I find these two Warchal brands speak more cleanly than other brands I have used and engage well with a sensitive bow (at least on 3 of my 4 violins).
Jeff- the luthier switched out the tailpiece as well as the strings. I've spent a fair amount of time playing it this weekend - really more playing than actual practicing (did get back to that last night) and noticed that my strings weren't staying in tune quite as well - not as bad as new strings but it was interesting. It did start easing yesterday so hopefully the strings will have settled in today.
Andrew - hadn't considered Timbre, will look into those as well. Thanks!
Timbre are warm/clear/power, while Brilliant Vintage, as I remember, were clear/power/warm (it's the first time I have classified strings this way, for brevity's sake and lack of a better way to place their sound characteristics). The latter are still warm, but the timbre are really rich and nice. They are not a direct replacement for gut as advertised (please take no offense), but are excellent, top quality strings.
I've ordered the Ambers, I've been wanting to try them anyway and based on Andrew's comments, and others, they seem to work well for a good number of older instruments. I did find a US source with free shipping that is slightly less than the 50% trial discount from Warchal. Thanks for the advice! It will be interesting to see how the compare on my new instrument with the Vision Solos that are currently installed.
I have a blunt recommendation: If you're going to try a bunch of string sets, try them in rapid succession when they are *brand new* -- i.e. either give them all just a few minutes on the violin, or change them no more than a week or two apart.
How does Brilliant Vintage differ from Brilliant?
Andrew - apparently the Brilliant Vintage has lower tension than the Brilliants and are supposed to be better for older instruments.
Warchal Amber are excellent strings. They provide exceptional tonal color, complexity, and responsiveness at a reasonable price. After using Dominants for over 30 years, I switched to Amber strings several years ago and never looked back. My Dereck Coons violin came with Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold strings. They were wonderful, but they wore off sooner than I expected. I am currently experimenting with Pirastro Eudoxa Extra-Stiff strings and have had mixed feelings about them. Playing on gut strings required some adjustments in my playing. In the future, I may experiment with Rondo strings by Thomastik-Infeld after I wear off my Eudoxa strings. But I'll probably go back to the tried-and-true Amber strings again once I'm done with my experimenting.
Do you have a particular reason for wanting a lower-tension string? If not, you could try one of the other Vision flavors -- standard Visions are very inexpensive and quite good on a lot of student violins, and they are lower tension than the Solo. (Nothing in the Vision line is more than moderate tension, from what I recall.)
Lydia - part of it is wanting to try Ambers in particular... I'm getting it for about half the cost of the Vision Solos. The other reason is the new violin is from the 1860's, and I've read that they often perform better with lower tension strings. My luther said sometimes this is the case, sometimes not. If the Ambers don't work out then I will likely just return to the Solos. I DO like them, or did on my last violin, and I get about 8 months out of them. Well, I did on the last violin :-)
Just FYI, the Warchals you are considering are about equal to(and possibly slightly higher than) Vision Solos in tension, and higher tension than Dominants.
I've been wanting to try them as they are supposed to feel/sound like gut. I did think the Vision Solo was higher tension than the Ambers, so if they are about the same and my violin doesn't like them then I will know it won't be due to a difference in tension. I know the Brilliant Vintage has a bit lower tension than the Ambers, according to the chart I saw earlier.
You can't try brand-new strings in rapid succession because strings need time and playing to break-in. And it is very important to hold-off on an opinion about a set of strings until they are broken-in.
Thus my suggestion to wait a week between changes. Possibly for many strings, just two or three days. I find the Warchal strings hit stability very quickly, for instance, and what they sound like when brand new is pretty much what they continue to sound like.
Lydia, good point about the inability to truly compare between old and new strings.
I just started using the Amber strings this year. I like them so far (I was using Rondo strings previously but wasn't able to purchase a new set earlier this year). Amber seems a bit warmer to my ear and not as focused in sound; although, the Amber G seems a bit clearer to me in the higher positions. I think the Rondo E was more powerful sounding than the Amber.
Warchal give advice here on how to play in new strings quickly:
That’s interesting Trevor. I’ll try that next time.
My Amber strings arrived pretty quickly, and as my new luthier wants to keep an eye on my violin for now (it was "hanging around" for years on consignment - apparently waiting for me) and asked me to allow him to change the strings so he could check out my instrument and make any needed adjustments - so I did. It is the first experience either of us has had with the strings - he told me he's been asked about them but this was his first time seeing them.
If your violin is a dud. no string will be magic. We must assume your violin is decent and will respond differently to different strings. This could be an incorrect assumption.
Rob - my last post was to describe what happened when I installed Wachhal Amber ;-)
Just for the record, Vision Solos are not a low cost string, they'll run you $85-90 a set. Wait for the 20% off sales and you can sometimes bag a set for $65. They are relatively high tension, loud and brassy like Evahs. Nice way to brighten up a dark instrument if that's what you want. Also long-lasting, very tune-stable.
Unfortunately, Warchal may be among the few affordable strings out there. Pirastro and Thomastik (and most other brands, actually) have been competing with each other to see how high they can charge and get away with it. Even the "value" Gold Label gut strings set costs about $77.00 nowadays-the Eudoxa, a bit more. Dominant are no longer "value" strings either (the non-solo Vision are affordable, though.)
I used Vision Solos on my first violin for almost 2 years, but am now using Ambers on the violin that has replaced it. The Ambers sound great, indeed better than the Solos did on my "new" instrument, and the fact the Warchal strings are less expensive than Vision Solos is icing on the cake :)
My standard go to string for student and intermediate violins is Tonica, a couple of them I "upgraded" to Warchal Amber at twice the price, I couldn't help but think the Tonica sounded better, the Amber sounded thinner, less resonant, but I could be wrong, on one violin the Amber sounded really good.
Lyndon - I do think for these strings it really matters. My 2014 intermediate instrument loved Vision Solos - those strings really opened it up and there was more resonance and projection.
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