(Another) String Recommendation Question

April 27, 2023, 3:01 AM · I've been using Warchal Amber for a couple of years now and at the beginning, I was really happy. I'd switched from Larsen Tzigane which I found had a short life. The Amber sounded complex and appealing but recently. I've become a little dissatisfied with them.

I find the tone on the G string is just not quite there for me now, especially when playing up the fingerboard. I also find them (again, the G is particularly problematic) less than responsive - a fast piece of Bach will leave them struggling.

I also find, on occasion, they can sound a bit scratchy and harsh on my violin, which is a three-year-old instrument that is settling in.

So I thought I'd ask here if anyone has experienced anything similar, and if so, what strings you moved to as a less harsh, scratchy alternative?

Replies (9)

April 27, 2023, 3:28 AM · Depends on you and the fiddle and the rosin, doesn't it?
harsh and scratchy sounds like the problem I was having for a while until I switched from (too much?) Hill Dark to Guillaume. But you have far more experience than I do.
April 27, 2023, 4:05 AM · Thanks, Gordon. I have used Andrea rosin (the same block) for three or four years now, and I'm quite careful about how much I apply. The bow was rehaired six months ago so in my head, rosin and bow aren't part of the problem.
April 27, 2023, 7:11 AM · @Tony - you might want to consult your luthier on this question. S/he can hear your violin with its current string and your bow with its current rosin and suggest helpful changes including strings that might work better for you. We can only guess because we cannot hear you playing your violin. Better to let someone with some expertise listen and make suggestions. Good luck!
April 27, 2023, 7:26 AM · Luthier is a two-hour round trip away so I'm trying to avoid that if I can.....
Edited: April 27, 2023, 9:55 AM · When I have that sort of problem the first thing I would do would clean my bow.

First approach to that was to use an old,(clean and dry) toothbrush to separate the hairs and remove excess rosin.

I'm not ashamed to confess that my next step is often to clean the hair with alcohol. After using this approach for almost 50 years I finally found confirmation from British bow maker Andrew Bellis (google him! http://www.andrewbellis.com/ ). I use the "alcohol swabs" sold in drug stores (for preping skin for injections) to avoid dripping or splashing alcohol on sensitive surfaces.

Finally, I know some violins are very sensitive to the strings put on them (and some are not). Every violin I have had the past 30 years has sounded very good with a Peter Infeld Platinum E string and Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold A, D and G strings. That particular E string seemed critical to the instruments' overall sound, although it is not a good "plucking" string (in my opinion) compared to the Amber E.

I had found a Larsen Tzigane set good on a couple of violins that had problems up the G string.

April 27, 2023, 1:32 PM · Sounds like either your sound preference has changed meaning the Ambers no longer give you the sound that you seek, or your violin is out of adjustment and needs to be taken to a luthier to get sorted out.

Another possibility could be old strings. Depending on how old your Ambers are it could be time for a new set. Could also try a different rosin or even a new Cecilia (Andrea) solo cake.

Edited: April 27, 2023, 2:33 PM · I prefer Guillaume rosin, just like Mr. Shumway, but if Mr. Leatham has been using Andrea rosin for years he should be aware of the issues with that particularly edgy rosin (nothing wrong with it, that is what sets it apart.)

As Mr. Harvey mentioned in his second option, I *think* something may have misaligned over time in the violin itself. The Ambers do not strike me as the sort to be harsh at all-though that depends on what one considers "harsh" to be. If anything, it should be a bit muddier/darker over time (the lack of clarity in the uppermost register tends to be common even with some otherwise good synthetic G strings.)

I would suggest a good gut core G, but I know my advice is likely not popular. :) Would suggest for Mr. Leatham to try other Gs to determine whether this harshness goes away. It may not be the Ambers. However, many "clear" synthetic Gs tend to be deemed "harsh" as well-especially new-so sadly we are limited in our recommendations, not knowing what level of harshness would be deemed acceptable (in general, my favorite Gs are not too dark, so you may also find them harsh-even the lovely and warm Eudoxa G is rather clear on the higher positions, despite all that "thick" richness... it should be definitely less harsh than an Amber, yet clear on top, therefore my earlier recommendation for this type of string-though your violin may disagree!)

Hope this problems gets sorted out for you!

April 27, 2023, 4:26 PM · Many thanks for all the advice. The ambers are actually a new set - I put them on because I wasn't happy with the sound of the last set (I originally assumed the problem was that the strings had gone dead), but the new ones haven't fully solved the problem. They've been on for around a month and I play for about an hour and a half every day, so I think they should have settled by now.

I have now recalled that I once faced this situation before and it turned out to be an old block of rosin. When I look at my current block, I notice it has suddenly started flaking so I've ordered a new cake which should arrive tomorrow.

I also very much like Andrew's idea of cleaning the bow - I'll do that as soon as the new rosin cake is here.

If these two things don't restore my sound, then I'll make a pilgrimage to my favourite luthier and see what she says.

Thanks again everyone

April 27, 2023, 4:27 PM · @Tony - you may not be able to avoid that trip. As you can see, there is at least some possibility that the solution you seek is an adjustment rather than new, different strings. A qualified luthier can tell you what you need better than we can. You can spend lots of money trying new strings and find that none really achieve the sound you want because the choice of strings is not the problem. So, in your place, I would invest in the roundtrip to the luthier. If it has been several years since you have been there, it is likely that you do need some adjustments. Good luck!

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine