Strings similar to Helicore but cheaper?

May 3, 2023, 4:19 AM · Violin string costs may not be such a big deal if you play one instrument all the time, but it adds up when you have a bunch of them and most like Evah Pirazzi. However three of my instruments work best for me with Helicore violin strings. I find they have a fast response and a clear fundamental without being harsh, and I like the feel - I'm a fiddler aware of tone rather than a classical violinist. I've tried other rope core strings in the past (Spirocore etc), but nothing very recent. Does anyone know if there's a string now available with similar properties to Helicore that costs less (I'm in UK)? Thanks, Max

Replies (19)

Edited: May 3, 2023, 7:31 AM · Check out the string charts: -

It looks like D'Addario Preludes are your best bet.

(There are those "Red Labels", but I don't who makes them.)

Edited: May 3, 2023, 1:29 PM · I agree that Helicores might be the best steel strings. They are not expensive compared to the rest of the market. I use them on 2 out of my 4 violins. For classical playing I often see them on Violas, Cellos, Basses. A slightly cheaper version of Helicores is D'Addarrio NS Electric. They are all steel instead of a mix of metals. The windings at the tailpiece and peg box look exactly the same. They are designed to be used on violins with electromagnetic pickups. On an acoustic violin they sound more mellow and a little less loud, which is not a problem when using a microphone. Unlike the Helicores they are only available in medium gauge.
May 3, 2023, 11:29 PM · Red Labels are crap (and plain steel), whereas Helicores are high-quality ropecore steel strings. Ropecore has a meaningfully more complex and malleable sound than plain steel. At as little as about $30 per set online, Helicores are some of the cheapest decent-quality strings around.

Edited: May 4, 2023, 12:28 PM · Right now is having a closeout sale on RED LABEL strings - as low as $18 for a set . Not much left.

Just saying! I have no commercial interest in Concord Music, but I have bought a lot of strings from them.

I remember Red Label strings from the late 1940s. I know the music store in my central-Maryland city sold them as well as the gut-core strings I did use. I may have bought one set back then.

I never used Helicore strings except on a 5-string viola I once had, but I did recommend and string Helicore cello strings on a number of students' cellos on which they worked quite well. The real boundary for their use (in my opinion) is whether one's instrument can deliver more than the strings can produce.

In my opinion, another very good (but costly) all-metal rope-core string choice can be Pirastro's Flexocor-Permanent violin string and related Permanent (and Flexocor) cello and viola strings (2 different brands). They can produce plenty of overtones for delivery by the right instruments.

May 4, 2023, 12:18 PM · Super Sensitive is now owned by D'Addario, who makes Helicores.
May 5, 2023, 3:43 AM · At this point, i'd like to divert a bit and ask:
any substantial difference between the medium and strong versions of Helicores?

I'm aware of the usual differences in sound and playability when speaking of normal synthetic core strings. But, these ones in particular?.......

Edited: May 5, 2023, 10:40 AM · I've tried both the medium and strong Helicores on a couple of instruments. Since Helicores already tend to be particularly responsive in medium tension, they were still relatively responsive in heavy tension, but the sound was a bit darker and fuller. And of course your instrument itself might have a preference for more or less weight.

I would add that I don't think they're a direct substitute for e.g. synthetic or gut strings - I think they still really have the sound and response of a rope core string, and if you're ok with that, then they can be a good choice.

May 5, 2023, 10:48 AM · The choice of thin-medium-thick gauge for any brand of string depends on the construction and response of the instrument. I have one violin that prefers the thin gauge and another that prefers the thick gauge. A Luthier might help. The player just needs to experiment ($$). Start with the inexpensive ($2) 3 versions of the Goldbrokat E. Be careful not to put all heavy strings on a violin that is very old, fragile or previously damaged.
Backstage, before a concert, I asked Mark O'Connor if it was true that he used the heavy (Helicore) steel strings. He said "Yes". I said " they don't seem to slow you down". He just laughed.
May 5, 2023, 10:50 AM · Red Label strings sound like they were made from recycled Bud-Lite cans.
May 5, 2023, 1:55 PM · Nevertheless, Bud Lite has achieved amazing popularity, so lotsa empty cans to make strings out of. ;_)
May 5, 2023, 5:16 PM · In Europe D'Addario strings have never been particularly cheap.

I was trying to collect an idea on a maybe excessive tension of these heavy strings.
I could be interested to test them in a particular violin, that i'd like to open a bit.
This violin now has Cantiga heavy on it, but i want to absolutely avoid strings that are more tense than these, especially in higher strings.
The problem is that i can't find a way to measure Cantiga's tension. I even asked them at the booth in an exposition. They told to write to a person and gave me a card. He never replied :)

May 5, 2023, 5:20 PM · Helicore strings are only $46 at Fiddlershop.
May 5, 2023, 6:03 PM · Marco, for what it's worth, I did find that Helicore heavy strings worked well on a violin on which other heavy-tension strings don't, I think possibly because they're particularly focused and easy to play to start with.
May 5, 2023, 7:48 PM · Andrew: i'm more worried about my fingertips health than how that violin reacts..... :)

John: I live in Italy. Fiddlershop sells from the USA.

May 5, 2023, 9:47 PM · Have you tried Thomann. They have Helicores for $53 and I believe they ship to Italia.
May 6, 2023, 5:47 AM · I have multiple sources for buying the Helicores, that is not a problem (even if they are more expensive than in US).

I only was wondering about tension and thickness of the stark version, that i believe i've never seen........

I don't like strings that are too much small in diameter. And i tend to prefer more tension. But in this particular (new) violin i leaved the strings heigth more in the versant of normality......

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