String Recommendations?

June 6, 2023, 9:59 PM · Hi there. I’ve been using Evah Pirazzi Golds on my modern Italian violin, and I’ve loved them. However, due to issues with longevity and also with the extremely high tension of the strings, I’m on the hunt for another brand of go-to strings. In the past, I’ve use Rondos (which used to be luthier-exclusives) and occasionally Dominants when I had to replace a string. I’ve never really been a fan of Dominants, especially on my violin. I was thinking of maybe trying PIs but my violin is already pretty bright. Please let me know if you have any other recommendations!

Replies (47)

Edited: June 7, 2023, 8:45 AM · I thought EP Golds were fairly low tension strings. They work wonderfully on my violin that has never liked Dominants, or green EPs, or Warchal Amber or Timbre.

When I first got the violin I used Pirastro Eudoxas and I thought they were good - but my hearing has weakened a lot (even with hearing aids) in the intervening 70+ years and I prefer the greater power I hear with the EPGs.

Just saying!

EDIT: I previously used the EP Golds with a Peter Infeld Platinum E for several years and liked that very much. I only tried the EPG E string for the first time a month ago after some time with Rondos and then Perpetual Cadenza. That violin is American made (not Italian) but I did have a week to compare it with a modern Cremona-made violin (in home) for a week back in 1974 and the two violins sounded and played identically for me (it was amazing) except my G string was better. So I sent the Italian (Stefano Conia) back to SHAR.

June 7, 2023, 12:37 AM · What didn’t you like about the rondos? You could always give them another try. Otherwise we can’t really recommend anything without hearing your violin first or at least knowing what you want to change. You say you don’t like dominants on your violin. Why? You also say you love the evah gilds you just don’t like the longevity and higher tension. Does that mean you essentially want the same sound but with better longevity and less tension?
June 7, 2023, 3:26 AM · I found PIs had fairly high tension, and a smooth, warm, clear tone.
All these modern strings with "composite" cores deteriorate much faster than the older nylon cored strings (e.g. Dominant, Tonica, Crystal), as well as being more expensive. However, the higher tension absorbs clumsy bowing better..
June 7, 2023, 4:53 AM · On a bright violin Zyexes can work well.
June 7, 2023, 6:20 AM · Perpetual Cadenza (the original Perpetual version will be slightly more high tension than EP Gold.) According to what you are stating, it seems that the Cadenza would be worth trying (lower tension, not too bright but still clear, excellent longevity.) The sound for a synthetic is pretty great, IMHO.

The Dominant in light tension sound nice, but you may not already like their tone, based on your comments.

Of course there are plenty of other lines within brands-just suggesting what I know based on experience and comparing tension numbers on the ones I haven't tried.

Edited: June 7, 2023, 7:01 AM · Curious about your post, I searched for a site that might show strings in order of tension. Hope this is helpful.

I also use the EPG, but they are expensive, and I agree that they don't last long, in particular the A and E

June 7, 2023, 6:57 AM · EP and some others have more than one gauge. Light is an option, but don’t rule out trying heavy just to see if the character changes— especially with the G and E.
June 7, 2023, 7:03 AM · So on tension and tone, Karneols are worth a try.
June 7, 2023, 7:07 AM · At the risk of sounding like a broken record, different strings sound different on different violins, and, thus, it is really difficult for folks who cannot hear your violin with the strings you are currently using to do anything more than make educated guesses. A luthier can hear your violin and give you better advice on how to achieve the sound you seek without the issues raised for you by EPGs. Good luck!
June 7, 2023, 10:13 AM · I totally agree with Tom Holzman's advice.
June 7, 2023, 12:37 PM · On my violin, Rondos have a sound fairly similar to the EPGs, but last a whole lot longer and don't have the tension issues. (Rondos are actually quite high tension, but EPGs are even higher tension. EPGs are somewhat less tensioned than the Evah greens though.)
June 7, 2023, 2:33 PM · THOMASTIK-INFELD Dynamo!
Edited: June 7, 2023, 4:33 PM · @ Christian. Since you have a violin shop it's safe to say you don't pay full price for Dynamos?
June 7, 2023, 5:12 PM · I've heard the Dynamos on two different violins owned by two different friends, and I'm very impressed by them so far!
June 7, 2023, 5:53 PM · Dynamos are your best bet.
June 7, 2023, 5:58 PM · Am I the only person who doesn’t care about the strings I use?
Edited: June 7, 2023, 8:27 PM · I would love to try them. At three different sources they averaged $142 a set.
Is Thomastik or anyone else offering a trial set at a reduced price?
June 7, 2023, 8:08 PM · @Marty - I care, but only up to a certain point. As long as my strings do a fairly good job, that is enough for me. I depend on my luthier to help me choose, and once I do so, that's it.
Edited: June 7, 2023, 10:37 PM · "It's the best sound, so you must pay the highest for the best!"

Indeed very annoying, especially for a synthetic, to be so pricey. Definitely not meant for me, as I would rather buy gut strings at that price for the "real" experience.

To be fair, they are not the highest tension strings. But then the Cadenza and some others are lower tension. It becomes a business issue for them-they know their reputation will sell these new strings, based on all their past string set "hits" (Dominant, Infeld Pi, Rondo, Dominant Pro, An aluminum D option is thankfully provided-Thomastik tends to do so with many of their lines (very good marketing choice, IMO-options are good.)

I have used Dominant, Infeld Red/Blue, Titanium Solo, and I forget what else in years past, but honestly cannot agree this is fair on the "regular" violinist, unless they lasted years or something, which I *know* they won't because they are not steel or gut strings. Not hating on Thomastik/Infeld. I know violin dealers likely love them-please forgive me for disagreeing with their aggressive pricing scheme.

Buy Perpetual Cadenza at the still expensive price of $100 for a similar concept with even less tension, save $42. Have read that some think Dynamo are like gut. Well, pay less, get real gut strings. Passione are expensive, and so are Oliv-Passione a few bucks over Dynamo, Olive more, but depends on your string choice (rigid/stiff options are hideously more). Eudoxa are $5.00 more than Perpetual Cadenza. Yes, I know "modern" players should not use Eudoxa strings. I disagree, play whatever works for *your situation*. Not being old-school, but it's not necessary to buy every new and expensive product put out as if it must be the best for *yourself*.

BTW, I do have a similar personal "policy" about even gut strings. Passione are fantastic, but I rather pay for Oliv if I am spending over $140 in strings. Nothing against Passione. I would never pay $142 for the Cadenza strings, as much as I love their sound as synthetics-$100 is a lot, but they do deliver on their promise, and last well too.

No offense meant, and I may be the only one with this view in the world-play whatever makes *you* happy. But I feel that by accepting blindly "premium" strings at higher and higher prices, we contribute to the trend-and Thomastik/Infeld will ever be happy to obligue and keep producing a "better" string line at an even higher price.

This is how Thomastik describes the Dynamo sound:

"Their sound will blow away the musician AND the audience."

I will never be convinced of such claims. If you are a good musician, and your audience loves music, they will be "blown away" with even Tonica/Dominant strings.

My current string choice is $177.52-am I an hypocrite? Two are regular (not stiff) Oliv (the G is about 77, the D is $55, expensive) plus a Perpetual Cadenza A and an Oliv mittel E (one can save by making it a Goldbrokat, etc.) These will outlast the Dynamo, and probably sound better together as well-I chose to punish my wallet in this way because of the tone, playability, and what it does for my music playing. But in no way I would pay $177 (in 2023) for any synthetic set in the market, even if all the greatest soloists in the world use it, and Maestro Heifetz himself would approve. I could save by going with Eudoxa, and it would be fine by me too-but the Oliv do last a long while, so they *are* pricey but relatively "reasonable", compared to the most expensive synthetics.

My apologies for my not so positive opinion about a product I have never heard, nor intend to try-"my loss" is your gain, I suppose. I do support your freedom of string choice, and do not believe you must use this or that brand, this or that type of string core, etc. Please do not take my comment personally, and love the strings you do-just as I do myself with my own string choices. Happy practicing to all.

(Mr. Marty, no need to care about strings as some of us do. You can play great music with your more affordable choices. It is self-inflicted wallet-pain, but many of us believe any musical inspiration/ease of play can help a performance in subtle ways even if the audience has no idea of the strings being used. You better play whatever works for you!)

June 7, 2023, 11:00 PM · Since you're trying things and no one has mentioned them, I'd recommend Warchal Amber strings for a very sweet sound from a synthetic, coming pretty close to gut. The other advantage, you can get them for under $60, half of what these crazy premium strings are going for. The e string is pretty interesting, too.
June 8, 2023, 1:14 AM · I found Warchal amber to sound very thin and worse than Tonica
Edited: June 8, 2023, 5:59 AM · I use Tonica on both violin and viola.
I mighty try something tougher for a concerto. My instruments can take the higher tension, but I will lose the "bloom" on the tone.
Edited: June 8, 2023, 6:36 AM · Warchal Brilliant Vintage strings:

"Especially created for antique violins. Excellent response in all dynamic ranges, including pianissimo. These strings enable older instruments to shine with a natural beauty of sound. They have a brilliant, warm and focused sound despite their lower tension. The Brilliant Vintage set is not intended for baroque instruments with lower tuning."

Warchal offers trial sets of their strings for half-price off of regular price.

June 8, 2023, 12:38 PM · Warchal Brilliant Vintage are what I use on my violin - really nice sound, plenty of volume, slightly lower tension than the average these days. And, George is right - they are less expensive, too.
June 8, 2023, 3:17 PM · Tom, I’m the same way. If the strings are decent and affordable I’ll buy them. I usually play helicores.
June 8, 2023, 7:31 PM · @Jeff Terflinger, I'm employed a violin shop. The price or my employment has no bearing on my recommendation. The original poster described what they were looking for and to me these strings fit the bill. If the cost is prohibitive that's fine. It dosen't change the quality of the product. Unfortunately quality often costs more.
June 8, 2023, 8:54 PM · There's a lot of variables on strings. I started off purely with PIs on my French violin which I like. I then tried dominants but wasn't impressed. I tried perpetuals but they're too bright and harsh. I didn't mind obligato, but they're not very responsive and found they sound a lot better with the PI platinum E string rather than the gold obligato E. I recently shifted to dominant pro and like them despite mixed reviews as they sound a bit more warm and full for my violins than PI and are half the price.

In short I'd recommend giving dominant pro a try, especially if you can get a 20 percent off sale on one of the online shops. Right now they have a deal with multiple e strings and an additional D string.

June 9, 2023, 11:26 AM · One thing to remember is that a luthier can also do adjustments such as moving the soundpost slightly to change the sound. S/he can do this to affect individual strings or overall. I use Obligatos and a Warchal Amber A on my viola. I was trying out a more expensive, larger viola. It sounded better than mine, but was too big for me. My luthier described the difference in the sound quality by saying that my viola sounded somewhat sunnier, and the larger one somewhat warmer. I asked whether he could make mine sound more like the larger one. He told me no problem, he could just move the soundpost a bit. He did that, and it improved my sound. So, instead of trying lots of different strings to get the sound you want, don't rule out other types of adjustments as a possible way of making your current strings sound more the way you want.
June 9, 2023, 3:12 PM · Hi, good afternoon!

Have you considered the Peter Infeld Reds or Blues? They're great value :D

My violin is rather bright and the Reds are more fun to use for me. They're definitely warmer but the tension is a little higher which preserved the brighter tones. I'm currently on Dominants and a Pirastro Gold Label E. I miss the full Reds set with the chrome E!!!

June 9, 2023, 11:45 PM · Every violin is different and so are our collective tastes.

It’s too bad strings are so expensive, otherwise it would be easier to experiment.

That said I finally landed on PIs and everyone who plays my instrument has switched to PI as well. They feel great under my fingers.

June 10, 2023, 11:23 AM · I'm always on the lookout for great strings at a reasonable price. I've had Warchal Brilliant strings on my violin for about 6 months now and they are excellent. They show no signs of fading yet. Powerful, responsive, and balanced. I would rank them up there with the Evah Pirazzi regular (green) strings. I have no complaints. Only compliments! I may try the Brilliant Vintage strings next time just to see how they differ from the regular Brilliant strings.
June 10, 2023, 11:51 AM · There are so many great options available. I think it's fun to experiment with different strings. It's hard for someone else to know what you're going to like. You just have to try them out for yourself.
June 12, 2023, 1:09 PM · I'm currently enrolled in Dylana Jenson's Violin Mastermind program. She uses regular Dominant strings, with both D and G in silver. And she uses a Westminster E (27.5) string. She owns a modern violin made by Sam Zygmuntowicz. And she sounds phenomenal!
June 12, 2023, 4:14 PM · I just got my first set of Tricolores a few weeks ago and love them. They're on a 1924 violin tuned A=440. I didn't like the steel E that was included so I swapped it for a Kurshner light gauge E, so all 4 strings are gut, though the G has a metal winding.
Edited: June 12, 2023, 6:30 PM · One thing I can say for DYNAMO strings - each string envelope is labelled with the string tension in pounds & kilograms.
Edited: June 14, 2023, 3:36 PM · I personally think the gut core strings sound the best and have the warmest sound on a modern setup. There’s a reason Heifetz and Milstein chose to use gut. They wouldn’t sound the same on Evah Pirazzis or Rondos.

If you use a baroque violin and bow you have to use gut. Using synthetic strings on a baroque or modern setup with a baroque bow (which some people surprisingly do today) cancels out any benefits a baroque bow could offer and is not historically accurate. The baroque bow was engineered to be used with a baroque setup and gut strings, not a violin with a longer neck and synthetic strings. End of rant!

I’ve seen Pirastro Passione mentioned on this site a few times. It is a decent string but it is more of a synthetic string in its composition and sound even though it has a gut core. The best sounding wound gut G and D I have tried has been the Pirastro Oliv. In my opinion the Oliv G and D is much better than Pirastro Eudoxa in every respect. However the Oliv A string is a terrible string and the Eudoxa A is far better in sound and stability.

For unwound plain gut, Aquila strings are a cut above the rest. They use genuine sheep gut, not this faux gut (beef gut) nonsense some other string manufacturers use which isn’t as good.

So with gut (unlike synthetic), it’s important to get a certain type of string, because they aren’t all equal in quality, whereas with synthetic strings, they tend to all be on a more similar level.

June 15, 2023, 3:52 PM · "A luthier can hear your violin and give you better advice "
You are right, Tom, it does give me deja-vu! ;)

But where are these luthiers who have tried all available strings - or even 25 % of them - on the same instrument so they know how a change of strings from one brand to the other will change the sound? When I was using Warchal Ambers I had the violin in for service and my luthier changed the E string because he though there was something wrong with it being all curly! He had never even heard about Warchal strings. And I suspect many will routinely slab a set of the usual Evah Paparazzi or Dominant on violins they have for sale.
Here on you can get the experience of some true violin nerds who have real life experience testing many different string brands on their own instruments in a quest for the "optimal" sound. We can tell you what we experienced when comparing EPG with Oliv, Warchal Brilliant with Larsen Tzigane etc.
And to the OP (here's another broken record): you should try some good gut strings! Oliv G and D (I recommend stiff G and silver D) with Eudoxa A as mentioned by Nate. They also go well with the Perpetual Cadenza A in my recent experience. They look expensive, but will last at least twice as long as the modern synthetics so in fact they are lower cost. Don't listen to people telling you that gut strings have tuning stability issues - they will most often not have tried gut themselves. Once they settle in - which does take a few days longer than the synthetics - they are stable enough to last a rehearsal or concert.

June 15, 2023, 4:30 PM · The above rings true-of course no disrespect meant towards Mr. Holzman. In my experience, many luthiers have their string favorites from personal experience, and are bound to recommend what they would use in violins on their shop, based on a wide criteria (brightness, this option; too dark, this other option.) Very really they know and use in their shops every string on the market. So asking others at least gove you another "professional opinion", in case you are not satisfied with your luthier's recommendations for one reason or the other.

(I do believe in supporting your local luthiers, and definitely mean no ill towards Mr. Tom.)

June 15, 2023, 6:56 PM · "they are stable enough to last a rehearsal or concert."
That's not reassuring whatsoever. Stable is opening your violin two days later and find it in perfect tuning.
Edited: June 15, 2023, 8:07 PM · Mr. Frye,

There is a possibility of the wood shifting a little, and altering the pitch of synthetics. What is so difficult about tuning with your pegs, granted they work properly? Just trying to understand how is it so bad that Oliv (and many other gut strings) can be stable "only" throughout a concert.

For instance, just opened the case and my Olivs were slightly flat. So what? I do not see a problem with that unless the player cannot tune his/her own violin? Not meant as an insult-just do not see a problem that can't be easily solved.

Mr. Bo,

My Oliv G&D are still going strong! I felt the urge to change them because I perhaps "should" last week, but they still sound so good, I am holding on for now. (Using regular Oliv, as stated sometime ago.)

June 15, 2023, 8:16 PM · I’ve never tried gut strings, but with the availability of geared pegs I don’t think we need to worry about the stability or instability of gut strings anymore. I would imagine tuning gut strings with geared pegs to be very easy to where even if the tuning stability is as bad as people say it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
June 15, 2023, 8:45 PM · Mr. Harvey,

Even without geared pegs, I can assure it's no problem! Of course if you have some wrist/muscle problems, I understand. But if the pegs work, gut strings are more than fine.

Some gut strings do shift a bit as you play, but certainly not all, and if they do, there are workarounds. Now, one can prefer synthetics, and that is fine, as they have their pros. I am so used to gut, that playing synthetics has more cons *for me*-I can instantly recognize the benefits of synthetics-especially when new-but also their limits. My favorite synthetic string set is the Perpetual Cadenza, but I would be lying to myself if I stated that they are better than my current Oliv G&D-though like Mr. Bo, I am currently using the Perpetual Cadenza A, as it matches the Oliv lower strings pretty well, and also has excellent longevity for synthetics.

June 15, 2023, 9:02 PM · You bring up a good point Adalberto, but I was referring to people worried that gut strings lack pitch stability despite people like yourself and others that have said that they are quite stabled. As a synthetic user myself I have seen many slack strings due to weather changes. I don’t think it’s a matter of gut vs synthetic I think it’s more weather and how well your pegs are fitted. Either way I still like my geared pegs just due to ease of use. So much that I have them on both of my violins and my viola.
Edited: June 16, 2023, 7:32 AM · Gut is stable in a stable environment - it served me throughout my childhood and early adulthood
I moved
to California
I lived in the upper Mojave Desert for 33 years and I played my violin in environments that varied from my home at 50% RH with year-round humidity control to outdoor concerts with RH as low as 5% in Death Valley and outdoors at dusk near home where the temperature ranged as high as 100°F in the shade to very cool air conditioning at our rehearsal hall where it was so dry I actually saw a bow break as the hairs contracted. I was using gut strings when I moved there in 1962 and used them until I discovered synthetics in the early 1970s.

Those first 8 years were a real battle.

Edited: June 16, 2023, 2:48 AM · Andrew, just curious, what kind of gut did you use in the 60’s? I did an outdoor gig in NY on unwound gut D and A. It wasn’t the most stable. Up at Tanglewood a while back in the (outdoor) Koussevitzky Shed I used Pirastro Oliv G,D, Eudoxa A and steel E. It seemed to work really well and was very stable. So I think wound gut can be good outdoors. Unwound gut is more hit or miss outdoors, but indoors it works out great in my opinion.
Edited: June 16, 2023, 6:54 AM · It is worth remembering that Heifetz, who required unwound gut A and D of his students, also required them to be able to cope with extreme pitch changes. There is one story of his taking a student violin and putting it completely out of tune. Just before the student was to play a Paganini caprice on it to show his ability to adapt, the Dean walked in with a prospective donor. To save student embarrassment and show that he could walk the walk, Heifetz then performed the caprice on that violin. Sweating a little, no doubt. But a useful illustration for the studio.
June 16, 2023, 7:30 AM · Nate, I was using Eudoxa in those days, with some other steel E but I also used Oliv for a while and found I did not like their sound as much on that fiddle - which also did not like Dominant when those strings were first sold.

It was the wide variation in venues that worked against gut strings. I also used gut strings when I first started on cello in 1949. The same variation also works against wooden pegs. I now have geared pegs on all my instruments.

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