Thomastik vs Pirastro: Aluminum vs Silver D contradictions
I am sure most of you have an opinion about aluminum vs silver Ds, based on experience and personal preference. That is all fair.
However, Pirastro and Thomastik/Infeld give differing sets of facts on which is the darker or brighter string based on winding. Pirastro usually states that aluminum strings sound warmer, while silver, clearer/brighter. Thomastik gives the opposite account-aluminum mixes well with darker instruments due to its brighter sound and higher bow noise, vs the more refined, "darker" tone of silver Ds, which they claim match brighter instruments better.
Most modern synthetics (and even Passione) only offer silver Ds, but I appreciate brand lines that allow the player to choose. In general, I prefer aluminum Ds because of their higher diameter feels better under the finger and bow-I can play with silver no problem, but find aluminum more appealing playability wise, whether brighter or darker. The bow also easily grips the string much more easily, and thus I find them responsive when they are not overly thick (I know silver is supposed to be more responsive... Thomastik claims the opposite, of course.)
In any case, to all of you with experience with both type of wound strings (not just silver) would you kindly elaborate on your experience, and which brand do you find to be closer to the "truth" regarding their conflicting data?
Thank you very much in advance.
For Pirastro: on their website, all their product lines with optional Ds (such as Obligato) claim the aluminum version is "much warmer".
I’ve found that different instruments seem to respond differently to silver vs. aluminum versions of the same string...the impact doesn’t seem very consistent across instruments.
Adalberto, you always seem to be on the same wavelength as I about strings. I've thought quite a bit about the same thing. I think part of it may just be down to the inexactness of words when describing sound quality. The overtones that may make a sound "warm" to one person might be described as "shimmering" or "bright" to another.
I don’t ever use aluminum D strings. They seem to me to be mostly a way to make sets cheaper for bargain hunters. I have yet to find an aluminum D that I preferred. Top quality sets use silver for a good reason. Aluminum wound strings are more prone to breakage anyway.
When I was still young and at the Conservatory, I "discovered" the Dominant Silver D, and kept using it for a while until I experimented with other synthetics. Once I experienced aluminum Ds once again via Eudoxa about ten years ago, I realized such a string was what I was looking for, and started preferring aluminum Ds as well whenever using synthetics and there was an option.
I don't have enough experience with different types of strings to comment on the aluminum-vs-silver discussion. But I do know that people's perceptions of "bright" and "dark" or "warm" sounds varies quite a lot from person to person hearing the same violin being played at the same time. And I've also noticed in discussions with my wife (she's the real violinist in the family) that what we hear under our ear while playing and what others hear from further away while we play can be very different from each other. So I think any discussion of the brightness or darkness or warmth or coldness of a tone is difficult.
I confess to being a silver wound D lover. On my violin I find that the silver wound Oliv has better response than the gold/aluminium. I also like the overtones from the silver wound D better and especially when playing high up on the string the silver gives much clearer sound.
Silver is denser than aluminium, so the windings would be thinner for the same tension. But there are many factors: the core itself, the "damping" resins (which try to imitate the natural friction of gut strands) and the multiple metal windings.
The “finance manager” at a shop where I once worked got very excited because he found out about a sale on Dominant sets. The boxed sets were cheaper than the strings in bulk tubes, so he bought 50 sets, thinking he’d stock the shop for a while and make a good profit when each set sold. As it turned out, the sale was on the set that has the aluminum D and the regular E. Every time I see a sale on Dominants, it’s on that same set—I know there are a lot of people who make the same mistake, thinking they’ve discovered their strings at a big discount.
Itzhak Perlman and James Ehnes have voiced their preference for an aluminum D, with Dominants and with Peter Infelds respectively.
I agree with Adalberto, in that I prefer the "bow-grip" and immediacy of response of the aluminum D. To me, the silver D's feel like the bow is skating across the string, rather than grabbing.
I've found the silver d sounds less tinny (no pun intended) than the aluminum during the initial break-in period but after a day or two I honestly can't tell any difference - so I just buy the aluminums because they're cheaper.
Mr. Kruer, thanks for sharing my post from the other debate. Nevertheless, this was written 30 months ago. It is true that I had been frustrated by about 15% projection drop of silver Ds (compared to the rest of the set), even before starting doing strings, as a professional violin player. On the other hand, aluminum Ds often sounded harsh and did not last long. This is why we have combined these two materials in Amber D string. But it turned to be a good solution only for those not having a problem with salty perspiration (and therefore facing the short lifetime of the string). This is why we started new intensive research again and we have done an interesting finding. This enabled us to design D string I was dreamed of for years. A silver wound D with gut-like quality texture and enough projection. Timbre D differs from any other Warchal D string. The description wrote by me in March 2018 does not apply for this silver wound D much in fact.