Favorite Strings?

October 17, 2020, 1:08 PM · Hi! I am trying to look for new strings. I have been using Evah Pirazzi Gold for the past year or so and I really like them. However, I have found that the A and E string are not durable and since they are so expensive, I was thinking about trying other types strings. Do you prefer the normal Evah Pirazzi strings or the Gold? Any thoughts on another strings I should try? My violin is quite bright.

Replies (36)

Edited: October 17, 2020, 1:27 PM · I think Evah Golds are slightly better sounding than the regular ones. I used them while in college. They’re very high tension strings which can make some older violins sound choked in my opinion. They’re very reliable and stay in tune but I find them to be rather angular and one dimensional in sound.

I love the Gamut Tricolore or Gamut Academie pure gut D&A with a silver wound gut G and steel Goldbrokat E. Gut has a more warm, vocal sound in my opinion. My teacher, Erick Friedman late in his career used the Pirastro Eudoxa (silver wound gut strings) which have a very smooth sound and are quite reliable.

October 17, 2020, 3:06 PM · Plain gut!

Try an Amber or Lisa E for longevity.

October 17, 2020, 5:42 PM · The aforementioned Gamut Tricolore and Eudoxa are great, modern gut strings-I would take them over Passione/Passione Solo, especially considering cost to benefit ratio (Passione's technology is not too affordable for the purported benefits-though they do not sound bad at all, one may as well use Eudoxa for an even better sound and musical characteristics).

For lower tension synthetics which you may be more used to, Evah Pirazzi "green" weich should behave like most nylon mittel, and not be too bad for older instruments. The sound will be different, but playability will likely be better. Brighter than Gold, but not necessarily worse. Still huge sound. They do not last that long tonally speaking, but I would take them over EP Gold because of the more agreeable, lower tension.

Believe it or not, Dominant are still fine, and come in several gauges, as well as choices for the D string. I like these on "light" gauge, though it depends on instrument and personal taste/usage. Perlon/nylon, as old as it is, appears to have a better feel under fingers and bow than "composite core" modern strings.

I liked the Warchal Timbre strings a lot for their depth and big tone, but they are relatively "slow", even if not too tense. Big, warm sound, and may be good to try vs EP Gold. But I am still not so sure I love them myself (playability medium, sound very good, lasts well.)

Many, many people love infeld Pi as an excellent "modern" string, but I am afraid I have not used them, and likely never will.

Remember not every "most expensive" option must be the best solution for your instrument, your music, and yourself. The only really expensive strings I like are Oliv, but even then some instruments may prefer the other gut core/plain gut alternatives. Priciest is not always better.

Best of luck.

October 17, 2020, 6:19 PM · Warchal Amber
Edited: October 18, 2020, 11:06 AM · I've been looking for "favorite strings" since I graduated from college and started earning my own income 65 years ago. I used Pirastro Eudoxas until 1970 on the one violin I owned during those years.

I currently "support" 4 violins and they have always optimized with different strings or string mixtures. I never could find one best solution for all 4 of the violins.

So my advice is that any string advice you get on line is a "crap shoot." You can get your best advice from a good violin store where the "clerks" are good players by taking your violin and have them play it and make recommendations.

I was recently quite happy for several years with Evah Pirazzi Gold A-D-G topped with a Peter Infeld Platinum-Plated E string on all 4 of my fiddles.

But then I decided to try Warchal Timbre strings. Two of my violins are absolutely the best with those strings they have ever been in the 50 and 20 years I have owned those violins. My two others sounded much weaker with the Timbres. (I did try Tricolore gut strings with Goldbrokat E (the "Heifetz combo") on violins 3 & 4 but they were not a good match.

Nevertheless I decided to bite the bullet and try Warchal Ambers on the third violin and pay the price in volume to my ears as the player. My reward has been a cleaner sound, improved responsiveness and greater access to the overtones via vibrato. I'll keep these on for the foreseeable future. (Violin 4 still has the EPG set topped with PI-Pt.)

Realize that your chose of bow will also play differently with instruments and different strings

Rosin choice can also make a big difference. I have most recently "discovered" "Cecilia Signature Formula" rosin that gives me better sound with all my bows than any other rosin I have tried - and great articulation. (Cecilia is the latest evolution of the Tartini/Andrea rosins.)

Edited: October 17, 2020, 9:31 PM · Another vote for Warchal Timbre. You have to get it directly at a dealer, as most won't sell through the mail. Another like that is Rondo, which may be a little jazzier than you are looking for.

An alternative to Warchal and the Tricolore is the Lenzner SuperSolo. You can get plain unwrapped gut E, A, and/or D. So far, I have only used the plain gut A and had conventionally-wrapped D and G. Their E is a pretty well-known product already. I did find that the Warchal Timbre G made an improvement to the SuperSolo, but the whole set is actually very nice. So much so that experimenting with plain gut D (and E!) might be worth it-- or, in the other direction, trying the wrapped A.

And Eudoxa or Gold Label are other standard options if you are looking at wound gut. Eudoxa takes some of the edge off a Gagliano I sometimes use, although I have since swapped over to Supersolo as above. The Eudoxa wrapped E string is especially nice for calming the neon brightness down a bit, even if it goes false eventually.

As for Gold EP, mixed reviews. One maker I know hates them (on his violins and others'), another has found them a blessing. They might last longer than the regular green label, although I haven't tested that out with any rigor.

Andy's other cautions are worth bearing in mind.

October 17, 2020, 10:29 PM · Titanium Solo with Goldbrokat.
October 18, 2020, 9:40 AM · Thanks for starting this topic - I was really going to ask the same question for the same reason (but its the 'A' that I loose).

It does amuse me, however, that a post looking for essentially soloistic strings has recommendations to use gut which have beautiful colours but lack that 'top of the orchestra' output (correct me if I am wrong with your specific suggestions).

October 18, 2020, 10:28 AM · My daughter uses Rondos with the PI platinum E recommended by Andrew Victor above. Don’t like paying for the E but it makes her violin sound better across all the strings.
October 18, 2020, 10:32 AM · "A & E not durable" - For the A, plain gut is not a reasonable option for most main-stream players doing multiple genres of music. It is the soft aluminum winding that wears out or breaks quickly. So either use a less expensive aluminum on nylon A and replace it as needed, or try a good quality steel on steel A from Warchal, D'Addario, or Thomastik. For the E; a lot of players find that the very inexpensive Goldbrokat E is good enough. It is available in three guages and they even make a gold-plated version. Carbon-steel is stronger than chrome/stainless steel, but it corrodes quickly. For the D I use a silver on synthetic string. For the G; silver on gut.
Edited: October 18, 2020, 11:36 AM · If you use heavy enough gauges for plain gut strings, they are just as loud as synthetic, you can hardly claim that the tone of gut strings is not appropriate for classical music, it was universally used 50 years ago, for all manor of classical music. It was good enough for Heifetz, and other top players.
October 18, 2020, 11:40 AM · I learned on gut Lyndon.
Edited: October 18, 2020, 12:43 PM · Eudoxa can be used as a "soloist" string-so can be Dominant, et. al. Sometimes one does not need the theoretically loudest strings to be heard. In fact, ALL strings mentioned on this thread can work well for that purpose. The player and violin/bow may be more important than merely just using Evah Pirazzi for maximum loudness (nothing against EP.)

No offense is meant, however, and no reason I should expect we must agree on everything.

October 18, 2020, 12:52 PM · I thought it wasn't about being loud. I thought it was about "projecting" instead.
Edited: October 18, 2020, 12:58 PM · I'm far from a professional, but I've seen first hand where the strings make such a difference on a given instrument. My 19th century violin came with EPs, and it sounded good. So good that it won the blind sound test with other instruments with a rather large margin (my teacher used my bow for the test). Then I had a set of Warchal Ambers installed about a week later - and as good as it sounded with the EPs, it seemed to come alive with the Ambers.

I think we can factor out any advanced skill level (which I'm not) as I'm only entering the intermediate level (currently in Suzuki 4 and working on the Rieding Concertino 21 along with it) It really confirmed that strings/instrument combo really matters.

I can't speak personally for the projection, but my luthier observed that for my instrument at least, he noted little difference in projection between the EP and Ambers. What I do not know is how old the EPs were.

October 18, 2020, 1:46 PM · I agree with Lyndon. I find I can get more focus and projection from pure gut A-strings than synthetic or wound gut strings. They also maintain a certain core to the sound at the softest of dynamics - which I find unique.
October 18, 2020, 4:44 PM · I like the Dominants becuase they are fairly neutral (at least on my instrument). I have had good experiences with the Rondos and Ambers too (I'm using Ambers now and I'm happy with them). In the future, I'd like to try the Eudoxa for comparison (I haven't tried gut strings before).
Edited: October 18, 2020, 6:30 PM · The optimal combination of strings, in my opinion, is Dominants for the G, (silver)D, A, and Pirastro Gold for the E string. They are the best for volume, colour, and projection on my Amati. I find standard EP’s loud but one dimensional, gold EP’s more interesting but very short lived.

Cheers Carlo

October 18, 2020, 9:35 PM · I never had any problems playing as the soloist on gut strings. The violin can only be so loud anyway.

Plain E strings are bloody awful, though, and I can't recommend them to anyone ever.

October 19, 2020, 5:16 AM · One of my violins really seems to like PIs. Other than that I seem to have pretty much settled on Evah Pirazzis. I've tried Passiones and Olivs; between the two I preferred the Olivs. My more folk-oriented fiddles do fine with Helicores and Prims.

Not really a classical player, but I'm getting curious about more traditional gut strings anyway.

October 19, 2020, 11:15 AM · Just out of curiosity, can anyone name a current star classical (not baroque) concerto soloist that routinely plays on gut strings? I'm genuinely interested.
October 19, 2020, 11:15 AM · Plain gut E strings can be difficult, although my experience has been only good. I did a Rossini opera (4 shows) with all-gut E/A/D, and had a wonderful time. Apart from being a bit of a pain to tune at the beginning, the E did just great. By contrast, my stand partner did lose about one string per night, but he blamed that on his toxic perspiration. He was also using Pirastros, and not one of the other good US sources.

N.b, Toscha Seidel said you'd have to be crazy to use anything but a gut E. Of course, he then went on to have some mental difficulties of his own, so take that for what it's worth.

Edited: October 19, 2020, 12:41 PM · Elise: It's true that current mega-star soloists don't use gut strings, and it's totally understandable - for all their beauty they can be a bit more troublesome and soloists who are constantly travelling, changing venues and locations would prefer a quick to change, predictable and easy to find synthetic string. Most of them seem to stick to something that works for them - that's why even now many still use Dominants.

There are still a few who do use gut. I've been bored this year and have already researched this :) I've seen Ilya Gringolts use it and he endorses Passione and Oliv, although I've also seen him use a wide variety of other synthetic strings. Victoria Mullova uses Oliv in a video from this year (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehiXLHPOBtQ&ab_channel=MozartfestW%C3%BCrzburg) is still using it.

Frank Peter Zimmerman used Oliv G and D with a Dominant A for a long time, and in this photo from a masterclass less than a year ago appears to be using Passione G and D (https://www.folkwang-uni.de/fileadmin/medien/aktuell/WiSe-19-20/2019-11-22-_Workshop_mit_Frank_Peter_Zimmermann-web-_16.JPG). I've seen him also use Pirazzi Gold in concerts. I suspect there might be more soloists who enjoy gut strings when they can but switch to synthetics when they have a heavy touring schedule.

There are some non-violinists who use them.
I've seen violist Lawrence Power recently use Olivs on the middle strings. Endorsement here: (https://www.pirastro.com/public_pirastro/pages/en/Lawrence-Power-for-Passione-Oliv-and-Eudoxa-Oliv/).
Cellist Steven Isserlis uses gut strings and endorses Eudoxa (you can read his post about gut strings here https://www.facebook.com/stevenisserliscello/posts/708600582521573)

Now, I'm not sure we are doing a favor to the original poster in getting on a gut tangent :) Unfortunately for him quite a number of gut enthusiasts hang out here. As much as I love them I won't pretend that they will make him happy or meet his expectations. Gut strings are different enough that a player who's never used them might bounce off hard. I would recommend - if he wants something warm on bright violin and likes Pirazzi Gold- to try Warchal Amber. Not too expensive, durable, and one step down the spectrum towards warm/rich. If he likes the sound and wants to go all the way, a "real" gut setup that's not too expensive or hard to find and practical once broken in would be Eudoxa stiff G and D with Passione (normal) A and Pirastro Gold E or Goldbrokat E.

Edited: October 19, 2020, 2:05 PM · To be fair, I know most soloists wouldn't have problems projecting over orchestras with those gut strings either. They likely got so used to their brands since childhood, they see no reason to switch. It works for them, and the strings are reliable enough.

Of the soloists who do experiment with gut back and forth, sometimes the reliability and "easy power" of something like EP makes them go back to them.

Passione are used regularly by many, and some soloists have used it, as was suggested above.

As Kruer mentioned above, Zimmermann seems to use them while also playing in tune. I consider him among these "stars". That it is difficult to play in tune with gut strings is *really overblown*. I think it is the main marketing ploy of Thomastik until today (that and that gut strings "break quickly"-hardly ever true, unless you refer to gut Es.)

Most of my favorite performers use EP or Dominant. I have no problems with it, but it doesn't mean that I must use what they do, or that they could not use even Eudoxa if they wished. I mean, they were popular in another time, and I assume people did play in tune before Dominant?

Gut strings are not readily available throughout the world everywhere nowadays unlike synthetics, so I imagine some players feel safer sticking to their old reliable option.

No animosity intended-I even have Dominant on right now. Happy practicing, and stay safe.

October 19, 2020, 3:05 PM · A couple of years ago, as an experiment, I chose not to change my gut E every few weeks, as I usually did with a gut E, but to keep it on, and on, and on ... just to see how long it would last in some sort of playable condition.

As I expected, after four weeks that Chorda E started fraying, but that fraying was normal and nothing to worry about. Several weeks later the fraying was getting noticeable to the eye and a bit of a nuisance under the fingers, and by that time I would normally have replaced the string but it was still playable and stayed in tune.

A while later and six months into the experiment, the fraying E had got to the stage where I decided I really would have to change it very soon before a concert coming up shortly. The decision was taken out of my hands at the next rehearsal when the fraying suddenly propagated rapidly along the whole length of the string from the nut almost to the bridge, making the string unplayable. I stopped playing immediately and changed the string for a new one.

After that I started using Ambers, which I enjoyed immensely. They last well. A few months ago I transferred them to my Jay Haide (noticeably improving its tone, btw) before I gave that violin to my daughter to take back to Belgium with her. She is a cellist who is now following her Dad's footsteps in playing the violin and needed a reasonable and well set up instrument (thanks to my local luther) to replace her first violin and take her further along the road.

Am now down to one violin, my 18th c Anon which is currently strung a la Russian - Eudoxa G and D with steel-cored A and plain steel E, a combination I have used before with great enjoyment. I find it gives matched projection and tone from the two upper strings and great supporting resonance from the lower ones.

Edited: October 19, 2020, 7:11 PM · I'm not sure how much my opinion on viola strings matters, but I've been very pleased with the full Kaplan Amo set I am using now (trying them for the first time). I previously used Vision Solo with Larsen A, and was happy with them as well, but Vision Solo may not work as well on a bright instrument; I think the description as "the poor man's Evah Pirazzi" (green) is apt. My viola is in the middle of the bright/dark spectrum and takes a wide range of strings well. My string selections do take into account the need to project in solo passages, as I am principal violist in one of my orchestras.

I've been using full sets of standard Visions on my violin since the year they were first introduced. (2007, I think?) But I haven't tried many brands on violin. My violin is on the darker side and benefits from bright-ish strings.

October 23, 2020, 3:01 PM · Now here's a first: I followed the advice on this topic! By background I have a modern Luiz Bellini (1991) that came with EP golds on (which I also had on my previous violin). While they are reliable, loud and balanced I was struggling with playing quietly and expressively and thought the G and D were, lets say, boring!

I did exactly as Trevor suggested: put on Eudoxa stiff G and D with Passione (normal) A. I left the gold E as its the best E I have tried - full of power and almost whistle proof - and I still want access to that 'I'm here' :)

The Eudoxas were just amazing - granted they have only been on for a day and I have no idea how they will mature - but the change in tone was positively delicious. All three new strings were qualitatively different from the EPGs in one particular property - the sound point. Whereas the violin volume seemed rather insensitive to where the bow made contact, the gut core strings made this dramatically better. Although I obviously only have an N of 1, I wonder now whether this is a general difference between gut and synthetic strings. And maybe why the EPs seem so much louder - later I need to test whether they really are at the sound-point next to the bridge.

So that's the good news - which is most of it. I only have one gripe: I don't like the Passione A string. Its sound is fine as is its responsiveness - its its 'surface'. I keep getting ugly crunching sounds that I don't get with any of the other strings. Thus, can someone suggest a better gut-core 'A' to try?

Edited: October 23, 2020, 3:42 PM · Passione is a gut/synthetic hybrid, try the Eudoxa A which is pure gut core. Or if you want to get serious try an unwound pure gut A from Gamut.
October 23, 2020, 3:48 PM · Apparently, I'm going serious down a ramp, not a precipice! I've been this route before - somewhere there are wound gamuts in my deepest violin box but goodness knows where. Right now I'm happy to stay with the wound strings. What is the winding on the Passione? I want to avoid that - or maybe it has an odd finish...
Edited: October 23, 2020, 4:28 PM · If wanting to stay wound gut, all the other Pirastro options you have yet to try, with the exception of Passione Solo, which will likely be even "crunchier".

I think both Passione are decent for your purposes, but they do not sound as fine as the Eudoxa, aa you probably experienced.

The only wound gut A I have not used from Pirastro is the Eudoxa, but do have a new set on my violin case, including the A, for later use.

The Gold Label A and Oliv A have both worked well for me. The Eudoxa A is the lightest one even on 14 gauge, but the Gold Label and the Oliv are both relatively light. Check the Pirastro page to see which tension may be better for you. The Gold Label is 5.5 kp but very easy on the fingers, as gut is more pliable than even nylon.

I wish I could let you know how is the current market Eudoxa A, but I want to use my new, current strings until they no longer sound good.

Some players in the past used Synoxa A as an alternative to gut strings. It is clearer than the Eudoxa/Aricore A. I have used both, and prefer the Synoxa sound... but that's me and my violin. (Eudoxa/Aricore wasn't bad, though.)

Another option are Gamut's Tricolore plain gut As. They also offer the Tricolore as a brand-historically-correct wound gut string (silver D, aluminum D, aluminum A) though I only used the G, aluminum wound D, and the excellent plain gut A. Great experience with Tricolore.

In the end, my most honest recommendation would be a Gold Label/Oliv/Eudoxa wound gut A, or Gamut/Tricolore (or Dlugolecki's) plain gut A.

(Some members of this forum have used Eudoxa G&D with Chorda A, and believe it has worked well for them.)

October 23, 2020, 4:20 PM · What's odd about Passione a is not the wrap, which will be aluminum like everyone else, but the core which is not pure gut, but a gut/synthetic hybrid, I can only assume its the core that makes you not like it.
October 23, 2020, 4:32 PM · It probably is the synthetic material cover over the gut core. I have studied a broken string. They are basically genuine gut, but with a super thin synthetic cover that probably is used to account for the stability, and silver/aluminum windings. I do not dislike them but know the Eudoxa have a much more beautiful tone.
October 23, 2020, 4:53 PM · Another option for pure gut A is Lenzner SuperSolo.
Edited: October 23, 2020, 8:51 PM · Hello Elise - if I may I think I'm the one responsible for the combo with Eudoxa and the Passione A, so let me give you some tech support.

I have one bit of advice about the Passione A - wait!
In my experience every wound gut A string needs at least 2-3 days of stretching in before the responsiveness becomes "normal." During these 2-3 days the string will tend to crunch with too much pressure and squeak with too little and be rather unpredictable. I've observed this with all the wound gut As, by the way (Passione regular and solo, Eudoxa and Tricolore, all in multiple gauges- I'll just assume the oliv A behaves like this too). Once broken in after a few days I've found that even if you remove the string and put it back on the string remains "broken in."

I suggested the Passione A because in my experience it is noticeably more stable than the other options (once broken in) while possibly having the least compromise terms of sound (I don't like the Passione D at all although the G is nice and strong, not too gut like though). It also matches the Eudoxa As in tension. I'm speaking from the perspective of a professional orchestra player, so I do need to worry about stability. For what it's worth our concertmaster also uses a full set of Passione - he said he used to use Eudoxa with a plain gut A back in his (drier) home country.

Especially these days you might not be travelling around with your violin and you might be less worried about tuning stability, so try the Eudoxa as well, it has a lovely sound. Try the plain gut As as well - the Tricolore is amazing, I have one although I'm too leery to use it at work in my tropical city.

For what it's worth, I have a show today - my violin currently has Tricolore light guage G, Eudoxa stiff highest guage D, Passione lightest gauge A, and Oliv e. It sounds crazy but it works, and my colleagues agree.

The Tricolore "Heifetz" set is something you can try if you want to go even further - it has a plain gut A and D, although I've also used the wound gut A and D. In my experience it is a more edgy, more focused sound than Eudoxa or Oliv - perhaps more solistic, though Oliv and especially Eudoxa will be more warm and probably better for playing soft. Even the Tricolore wound set in light guage was too tight for my violin, at least in D and A. My violin is atypical, although if your violin had response issues with EPG lower tension options might be better for it too (Oliv and Passione will have much much higher tension D strings that could choke it up). The Tricolore G string though is a keeper for me, just super strong and rich and focused at the same time.

October 23, 2020, 9:02 PM · Thanks for all the advice guys, I'll hang on for a bit and see if the Passione A settles. Else, there are a few options!

At this point I don't really want to go back to play gut but who knows after this experiment.

Edited: October 23, 2020, 9:52 PM · Since I started to use synthetic-core (and even some steel-core) strings 50 years ago I have switched back to gut (Eudoxa, Olive, Passionne and finally Tricolore) at least 6 times. After having exprienced the newer-tech strings on my violins I just could not stick with gut even though I continued to try until about 2 years ago (the last time).

Besides I have always been playing in an orchestra and I chose strings that let me hear my own playing more clearly (and louder).

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