Is it common for violin makers to set up violins with heavy gauge strings?

Edited: July 7, 2021, 9:03 PM · Is it common for violin makers to set up violins with heavy gauge strings? Will that adversely affect responsiveness/tonal color palette, or is it possible to account or compensate for that in setup?

I recently started trying a modern violin in the ~$10K range that came set up with Dominant heavy strings (except the A--that is medium). The violin with that setup sounds quite nice to my ear and also to someone else who was helping me look; however, I'm not at a high level as far as playing goes yet, and I don't want to end up with something that lacks responsiveness and tonal palette as I start to play more difficult pieces.

Also, I've not seen heavy/stark versions of PI or Dominant Pro strings--anyone have a guess as to why that is? Is there just not a market for them?

EDIT: In case anyone is curious as to the violin in question, here is a video: https://youtu.be/eN6Y2EpXQW0

I understand that it won't really show what the real sound is necessarily like (sounds different when playing at home), but it might give some context to the discussion. Any thoughts on the violin's shortcomings are appreciated!

Replies (12)

July 7, 2021, 8:01 PM · I think those strings might already be heavier gauge than Dominant med
July 7, 2021, 8:38 PM · I know one maker who prefers Pirazzi, which are a little heavier than other good choices. I've found that his instrument does just as well with Rondo and Tricolore (metal-wrapped D). It does respond to good treatment, but isn't that fussy.
July 7, 2021, 8:59 PM · Thank you for the replies! I also wasn't sure whether or not setup would be different for a violin with heavy strings vs medium strings. In addition to the combined weight being heavier for the Dominant stark strings (by about 3.6lbs total), the PI medium strings I put on also appear to be thinner for some strings, so they don't seem to be as snug in the nut/bridge grooves.
Edited: July 8, 2021, 12:15 AM · The heavy gauge Dominant D (whether in silver or aluminum) really has a lot of tension, at well over 5 kg.

Even though it seems to work now, I wonder if it might tire you, and/or if you might come to find that the response is indeed slower than you would like.

You might ask permission to try other strings instead to get a different impression.

July 8, 2021, 7:07 AM · I had seen that! The Dominant heavy D is the biggest added tension/weight (+about 2lbs). I was able to put PIs on the violin, and I tend to think that the D string projects less with the PIs than the heavy Dominants.

Additionally, I think the Dominant D is quite a bit thicker than the PI D, so the bridge grooves fit the PI D less snugly. Not sure if that is a problem or not.

Edited: July 8, 2021, 8:20 AM · If any groove is too big for a lighter string, could that mean that the luthier screwed up?
July 8, 2021, 4:54 PM · I wouldn't think so? It's a perfect fit for the heavy strings that came on the violin. The only reason I wondered if it was an issue is because I thought I saw a thread here that mentioned strings possibly rolling around in the groove and not transferring as much force to the bridge in some cases.
July 8, 2021, 6:06 PM · Alexandru Ozon is an excellent maker. His violins have a very nice sound quality IMO. Good luck!
July 8, 2021, 9:32 PM · I can't think of the last time I tried a non-consignment violin (i.e. one strung the way the owner liked it) that had heavy-gauge strings. It's not at all common (though use of high-tension strings like Evah Pirazzi and PIs is common).
July 8, 2021, 11:04 PM · That's what I thought as well--I really hadn't seen anyone use heavy strings! Is there any quality that heavy strings give that high tension can't?
Edited: July 8, 2021, 11:46 PM · There's no distinction, other than being (presumably) heavier in tension than the medium-gauge strings from the same line.

I think heavy-gauge strings aren't more popular in part because the idea of multiple gauges confuses or overwhelms people, at least more so than the idea of just selecting a different brand in medium gauge instead.

I also think that some strings seem to work better at a certain tension than other strings at a similar tension. In the case of Dominants, I think it's possible that e.g. Evah Pirazzi medium-gauge strings tend to have a quicker response time than e.g. Dominant heavy-gauge strings, and is one reason why many folks might go for the Evahs instead. I'm not sure if this is because heavy-gauge Dominants are particularly thick in diameter (although I remember seeing awhile ago that the heavy-gauge aluminum D looked absolutely huge - more like many a viola C string), or another factor/s.

July 9, 2021, 5:33 PM · Great! I'm glad that's the case. I wanted to use some high tension strings anyways, but didn't want to sacrifice responsiveness/projection/really anything. And yes... I agree that that heavy D is frightfully thick...


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