My beloved Tonica stark strings......

September 5, 2023, 10:12 AM · There's not much to say:
i found an old (2017) set of Tonica stark (strong) strings i used a lot that time but still in very good condition and i installed them in a violin. The E is the wrapped aluminum version.
Pirastro dismissed making them about 5 years ago.

These are the strings i always liked the best. The medium Tonica strings don't sound like these.

The question is:
is there an actual set of string that "resemble" the Tonica starks? or not? i've never found one in years.
The tension is what i particularly like. And i have no sure data on what the tension was. If someone has this information it would be useful.....

Thanks for eventual help.

Replies (26)

September 5, 2023, 11:21 AM · Have you tried Dominants in their heavy weight? Especially with silver D.
September 5, 2023, 11:26 AM · I'll bet the manufacturer can suggest an alternative. :)
Edited: September 5, 2023, 11:26 AM · @ Stephen: Yes, exactly with the silver D, many sets of the strong Dominants.
They are similar, but not quite. Not so resonant.

And then i can play the Dominants for no more than one month..... after they become dull (for my idea of sound).

Edited: September 5, 2023, 11:28 AM · @Paul:
the contacts i had with the manifacturer both by email and in expo in Cremona were quite deludent.
They seem to be businessmen than do not care for the players.
September 5, 2023, 12:42 PM · I wonder if you can get some of what you need by getting a high-strength E string? That will influence how the G behaves, and might be what you most need. So, for example, Rondo A/D/G with a Goldbrokat 28 might have enough juice without choking anything off.
Edited: September 5, 2023, 2:01 PM · I know what you're talking about, but i seem to "work" better with all the strings at some greater tension. The E is not enough (already tried).
September 5, 2023, 3:09 PM · Have you tried Pirazzi and vision stark? Or the Il Cannone soloist by Larsen? I believe they also just announced a direct and focused set of the Il Cannone as well that might be interesting to try.
September 5, 2023, 3:41 PM · Or, to play devil's advocate-- have you shown the fiddle to a luthier? There might be a setup that doesn't require high tension strings to deliver its best.
September 5, 2023, 4:28 PM · @Stephen: showing the violin to a luthier for this argument is nonsense and out of topic.... :)
In case: i do setups myself. And it's not a setup related issue.

@Christian: trying the green Pirazzis is one of the ideas i've got, really.... But (in other violinist's istruments) i've never really fully liked their sound. And i think i understood they don't last very long.
Anyway they are in my target. The strong variant, obviously.

There is another string i need to test: the Jargar Evokes. I still have to see if their only available medium tension is strong enough. A friend of mine is extremely satisfied with them, and he likes high tension strings like me.
I've never heard or used Il cannone.

In a few weeks i'm going to Cremona at Mondomusica exposition. We'll see if it'll be useful for the strings issue.

Thanks everybody for answering.

September 5, 2023, 8:09 PM · I have a feeling that Pirastro might suggest you try Perpetuals (the mediums, not the Cadenzas).
September 5, 2023, 11:28 PM · Understandable. The evahs don't last long at all in my opinion, but there are plenty of people who still like them for whatever reason. The sound for that first month or so is really something, but not enough to warrant me to change the set every month. I've heard that the viola pirazzi last longer than the violin ones.

The Il Cannone set is a relatively new set, especially the freshly released direct and focused version. You probably won't like the medium tension, but the soloist tension might be right up your alley. As for whether you should do the regular set or the direct and focused set I don't know. In my opinion, the soloist gauge of the normal set is plenty focused, but I guess there were people still wanting more.

The Jargar evoke strings seem interesting. If I was looking to try more strings (which is often) I might be interested to try them considering how affordable they are. They're supposed to be similar to the Pirazzi sound but much longer lasting. As I alluded to before I loved the sound of Pirazzi's but only for the first month. After that, they just seemed to fall off tonally. If they were to achieve the pirazzi sound with better longevity that might just be enough to get me to jump off the Thomastik boat. I have Thomastiks on all my instruments.

Edited: September 6, 2023, 10:48 AM · After seen this video together with me:
video fiddlershop
my friend violinist got a set (i ordered them for him) and installed them on his own. About 1.5 months ago.
He says that he likes them really a lot. And he's coming from decennials of stark dominants.
In some days, we'll meet so i'll test these strings (tension and all) in his violin, which is made from my same luthier and is very similar to all my 4 violin in every aspect.
September 6, 2023, 11:40 AM · A question related to this issue:
if i wanted to start measuring precisely the strings tension myself, is this good for my purpose?,p_564_9650.html

I'm not used to consider the tension in the Newton units, but for example i see at:

values in Newton from 45 to ~85.
So a dynamometer with max 100 N should be right.
Am i wrong? Thanks.

September 6, 2023, 1:12 PM · As long as you can figure out how to measure just the right length of string and tension the strings perfectly in tune and hopefully you can fasten the string to the device without ruining the string for future playing - otherwise the experiment will be much more expensive than the 22 euros for the device.
September 6, 2023, 3:28 PM · You can measure with a dynamometer. However you could also weigh the string and then put the information into a tension calculator. Or, if you want a more hands on method, you could apply weight to the string across a nut and bridge until it reaches the required frequency. With this information along with the density of the string, you can calculate its tension.
September 6, 2023, 5:04 PM · My idea is to measure strings that i already got mounted (for example these Tonica starks) while mounted in the instrument.
And to compare the tensions with others tensions measured while mounted.
September 6, 2023, 7:05 PM · I fear there would be a risk to the violin if you attempt to use one of those devices while the strings are on the actual instrument
September 6, 2023, 7:57 PM · If you had the Tonica string specs, you could look for something with the the same gauge (diameter), length, and material. It might be tough to obtain that information though. It doesn’t look like it’s readily available.

Edited: September 6, 2023, 8:40 PM · @Andrew: in case, i'll be maximally careful. And i need to find a way for not causing damage to the strings wrapping.

@Raymond: eh....... I searched extensively but i can't find the original tension of the Tonica starks.......
On 23rd of september i'll go to Mondomusica expo in Cremona, and i'll try to ask directly in the Pirastro booth.
I've had already a bad experience with them in the same occasion, around 3 years ago. There were 2-3 businessmen or CEOs that could not reply at only one of my questions. They gave me a card with an email address. I wrote, and it wasn't useful at all.
I'll try again.........

I am still wondering how they could drop entire production lines so easily.... My anger hasn't passed in years...... So it seems right to post in public the last reply i got by email from them, regarding the dropping issue:

"We know from other string manufacturers, that they also change their product lines (sometimes under the same name, but with a different material and/or production technique and they are also discontinue strings if they are no longer requested.

This happens in all branches, for example, please try to buy a brand new Golf 1 from VW. Or an Opel Admiral. Or an NOKIA Communicator E90. This is no longer possible because these products have been discontinued even if they were successful.

On the other hand, we are still producing strings since almost 100 years (violin Eudoxa) and no other brand offers such a great product variety. Furthermore the recommended violin Tonica strings in medium are our bestsellers, so it is unlikely, that we will discontinue this string.
Thank you and best regards,

Robert Kanz
Sales Mgr."

September 6, 2023, 10:44 PM · Thanks for sharing Pirastro's response.

I don't think it seems untoward in any way.

I'm guessing that they simply didn't have much else to offer.

I'm sorry that you were disappointed here - I've had a similar experience before. Most recently, I was disappointed that Thomastik discontinued the silver viola D in heavy gauge.

Edited: September 7, 2023, 5:04 AM · Mechanical (spring type) tension meters (dynamometers) are usually not precise at all. I suggest you buying a digital one. Moreover, even if you manage to find the original tension data of the strings, you might be disappointed after finding other strings of the same tension. The string tension (which is almost the only parameter that can be measured by a customer) is just one of many important features the sound and playability consists from. There are even more important ones, such as various inner tensions (pretensions), damping factors of material used (or even of additionally added dampers), torsional stability, surface friction (grip) level e.t.c.
Edited: September 7, 2023, 5:54 AM · Yes, mr Warchal. As a customer only, i saw myself what you wrote about the factor "tension": in fact, using the Dominant stark (with a paragonable tension) did not satisfy me much........
It's clear that the variables are articulated.......

Thanks for writing, and for the advice.

(NOTE: what about "cloning" the Tonica starks..... and calling them for example "Warchal Mediant".... just to use another degree name of the major scale? :) )

September 7, 2023, 6:43 AM · We really don't need to clone any formulas. Our customers are very happy with our unique ones :-)
September 7, 2023, 7:39 AM · I was simply joking....... :)

If i have to admit, i'm not much aware if you have in your products some sets of string that could be comparable as tension and bright sound with the strings in the topic. Any idea?.....

BTW: i see now that your company will be at Mondomusica in Cremona, as usual. I'll surely stop at your booth.... :)

September 7, 2023, 11:19 AM · Visiting us with your violin could solve the problem. Unfortunately the organiser doesn’t allow visitors to bring any instruments into the exhibition halls…
Edited: September 7, 2023, 12:03 PM · I'm not going to bring a violin anyway, because it's a hassle.
In 2019 i brought my violin for testing bows: i asked the organizer weeks before and she sent me a text to exhibit at the entrance. I could make my instrument enter. But then it's too much a work.......

I hope that someone at the booth (i hope yourself ;) ) will show me strings and talk about tensions and sound.......

Several years ago i tested in a violin, there, the prototype of the amber E, with the twist.........

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