Warm/Dark Strings

December 1, 2017, 9:42 PM · Hello all, my friend has a very bright violin and we're looking for some strings to tame it down as much as possible without sacrificing tone. Dominants, Obligatos, Pro Artes, Zyex, Warchal? How do these stack up and compare to each other? He's fairly new so a warm/dark sound is much easier for him to play.
Thank you

Replies (32)

December 1, 2017, 10:14 PM · You might want to search the site for similar threads if you haven't already. There are generally some strings that fit your needs (I've heard Obligatos and Pro Artes fit the bill, but have no firsthand experience to back it up). Opinions on strings can be quite controversial for a multitude of reasons.
December 1, 2017, 10:27 PM · I have and thank you for your input:) I've noticed string companies change their formulas over time, so I was curious about the latest into, if possible.
December 1, 2017, 11:17 PM · My favorite for warmth with strong sound are the Larsen Tziganes.
December 2, 2017, 6:21 AM · I've had only good experiences with Pro Artes, but I would recommend getting a different E string. The Pro Arte E whistles quite often.
Edited: December 2, 2017, 7:31 AM · Pat, do not waste your money on marketing hype.
A different shape and thickness of violin bridge can affect sound colour dramatically. It has been extensively written about here and discussed a lot.
2nd: a different bow can make a lot of impact on sound timbre.
Even if you find "darker" strings, they will filter high overtones and you will lose a part of sound to gain more on the dark side. Check with the equalizer on your stereo system - it works the same way!
Also, to paraphrase Valentina Lisitza "I can aways make a dark [piano] violin to sound bright but never a bright one to sound dark"


December 2, 2017, 6:58 AM · I recommend Obligatos with a wound e string, Obligatos are darker, and a wound e string is less bright than an unwound.
Edited: December 2, 2017, 8:22 AM · I think it is a tricky business. The starting point is for the advisor to know what strings are on the fiddle now. But I agree with Lyndon about the characteristics of Pirastro Obligatos - and a wound E being a good "dark" combo.

The problem is to know (approximately) what frequencies the violin's "corpus" will "support." If you put dark strings on a violin that doesn't support those frequencies (and some VSOs are like that) you can get a mess. Alternatively, you can get the analagous problem with bright strings on a dark fiddle.

Rocky's idea to "un-refine" the bridge might do - and/or move the soundpost further from the bridge foot.

Edited: December 2, 2017, 7:44 AM · We can't hear your friend's instrument; but, even if we could, our responses to it, and our recommendations, would probably be as individual as we are. Better to have your friend visit a luthier or another experienced player and have this person play your friend's instrument for him at a distance of 10-20 feet.

Different violins respond differently to the identical string combos. What works great on one fiddle may be disappointing on another, as I know from firsthand experience. I practice and play each day on three fiddles, dividing the time about equally. Each one has a different string combo. Take it from me -- a new string combo on even one instrument typically requires, at least for me, a long tryout and a lot of patience; so just imagine what it's like with three.

Of the strings you listed, Dominants are the only ones I've tried so far. I put Dominant A-D-G + Pirastro Gold E on one of my instruments 12 years ago to try them out. I liked the overall sound -- it struck me as warm and dark on this instrument. The only negative was that the G tended to choke in high positions above 5th. It was mittel (medium) gauge.

Haven't used Dominants since then. I soon went to another Thomastik model for this same instrument -- Infeld Red A-D-G -- plus Goldbrokat medium E. I liked the result much better. No choking on the G. This instrument was more powerful with Reds than Dominants. BTW, I started using foam earplugs, L/R, dB -33, very soon after switching to Reds. Won't practice or play without them -- I guess that's for another discussion.

December 2, 2017, 8:31 AM · I second Obligatos.

Also, try a wire sliding mute and put it near the bridge rather than on it. It doesn't mute it but takes the edge off.
A rubber band around the bridge can also tame harsh violins.

December 2, 2017, 9:22 AM · Aricore -warm gut-like tone. Looser feel. Pro-Arte - ok on a budget. Obligato- Not as dark as Aricore, but fantastic responsiveness. Corelli crystal- fatter string like Dominant, but warm and less $$&. Kaplan Amo- my current choice- extremely responsive with a wider dynamic range. E strings- Warch amber- current favorite, Pirastro gold, Goldbrakat is cheap but good, Kaplan Amo.
December 2, 2017, 11:30 AM · I'm not sure of the current strings, as they're from the saler. I'd say they're some sort ot steel core string though.
December 3, 2017, 10:35 AM · If the obligatos are too bright, consider their darker sibling violinos.
December 3, 2017, 1:19 PM · Another vote for Aricore, warm and sweet.
Polyester core, less tense and longer lasting than the composite cores of Obligato and Violino.
Edited: December 3, 2017, 1:39 PM · And polyester is not a "composite"?

Obligato/violino have the same core material that is described as a "synthetic". Polyester is a synthetic substance, too.

Edited: December 3, 2017, 3:54 PM · A few years ago, Sharmusic constructed a coordinate graph comparing many strings based on having several of their people play, change and then rate each brand of string according to a pretty well thought out criteria.

It's about as comprehensive and 'objective" as something like this gets as hardly any individual or group could do what they did. Having tried a few strings based on their chart I found it pretty good in predicting how a new string will sound compared to the old. If you haven't seen the chart I encourage you to (and find its corresponding study) if only for the wonderful array of adjectives they used to describe a string and its sound.

December 4, 2017, 4:15 PM · Duane, Pirastro describe their core materials as "polyester" (Aricore), "nylon" (Tonica), or "composite" (Violino, Obligato, & Evah)

All are synthetic. The composites are often brighter, tenser, shorter lived - and expensive.

December 5, 2017, 4:35 AM · Duane, the term "composite" refers to combined usage of multiple materials. So polyester is certainly not a composite, as it is a single material. Carbon bows are sometimes referred to as "composite" bows due to the combination of carbon and epoxy (or similar binding agent).
December 5, 2017, 5:10 AM · Warm and dark is good when the sound is focused, otherwise we will have a hollow, unfocused sound that will not project.
December 5, 2017, 5:43 PM · On my violin the Peter Infelds PI (with aluminium D) have a very warm and gutsy lower register with a still projecting quality. I would disregard the E-String though.
December 7, 2017, 6:19 PM · An article from this site had a few good suggestions.

"D'Addario Pro Arte strings sound dark and smooth, They are used best on bright, rough-sounding violins."

I ordered a set, should be here tomorrow, I'm excited to see if they're any good, many Amazon reviews said they accomplish the task well.

You can read the full article here:


December 7, 2017, 6:33 PM · Simon, the Peter Infeld strings have three E string options. Which one are you talking about?
I have found the PI Platinum-plated E string fabulous on every violin I've tried it on especially for what it does for the lower strings. You can keep the other S string options!
December 9, 2017, 8:53 PM · Tonicas I heard were pretty dark. Eudoxas I have on my violin now are pretty dark, too, but that might just be because I switched from Evahs and Olivs.
December 10, 2017, 1:59 AM · Maybe your violin is pretty dark????
December 10, 2017, 3:26 AM · I use a lot of Tonica and they don't make the sound dark unless the violin itself is dark.
December 10, 2017, 7:18 AM · Old Tonica were warmer-I used them once or twice too long ago to remember. I do recall, however, people complaining online about the new Tonica formula losing some of that "warmth" (even if Pirastro disagrees.)

I would still recommend them on a budget-they are not "cheap", just affordable.

Aricore and Obligato for "warmth", as aforementioned.

Budget "warmth" idea: Tonica wound E is still on production-get a medium wound E tonica and medium Tonicas for almost nothing. While new Tonicas are not "warm", wound Es tend to "warm up" the whole instrument, for better or worse (they sound good, however.)

(For the best "gut emulation"-use gut core strings. But gut is not necessarily as dark sounding as many would have you believe, IME & HO.)

December 10, 2017, 7:21 AM · +1 on Adalberto’s comments
Edited: December 10, 2017, 4:28 PM · I wouldn't call Tonicas dark, either. Or particularly warm, on a variety of different instruments.

I would have called the old formula warm, but not the new one.

They're rather neutral. More focused than last time, and probably a bit less full.

December 14, 2017, 10:16 AM · So the reviews on Amazon said D'Addario Pro Arte give instruments a warmer, darker sound. So I tried them. Of course it will vary depending on the violin, one size does not fit all, but on my violin they just sound cheap.
And there is an infinitesimal flaw in the A string that my finger gets caught on, making shifts difficult and choppy. So disregard my earlier post, these strings aren't dark, they're cheap.
December 14, 2017, 11:04 AM · Heeding Andrew Victor's long time recommendation just ordered two PI platinum E strings for $25 each on sale. It seems a huge sum to spend for an E string but looking forward to giving it a try.
December 16, 2017, 11:23 AM · About PI platinum E: on my violin that string is too strong (18.3 lbs). It gives a strong tone, yes, but lack of resonance on the E. Some kind of choking effect. The E doesn't sing like a bird on MY violin. For the PI strings G,D,A: I use strong version (26,7 mm) of Gold label. My violin likes that string better. Even the medium is ok.
December 16, 2017, 11:36 AM · FWIW, I tried the Evah Pirazzi Platinum E on my violin with PI lower strings (because it was cheaper than the PI platinum E) and it was a complete disaster. The E was unbelievably brash, whistled like crazy, and would often give this unusual squawking sound if you pressed even the slightest bit too hard. I can't recommend it. Not sure if the PI platinum is better but I'm not minded to try it at that price.

Darkest and warmest strings that I've tried on my violin are Aricores by some margin. Obligatos and Pro Artés are also pretty dark, and have a little more vibrancy. Violino strings are softer and warm as well, but not as outright dark.

Bear in mind that different violins will respond differently to particular string brands. My violin is neutral to dark already, so I prefer quite neutral strings.

December 16, 2017, 6:23 PM · Don’t ignore the rosin. Some sound brighter and others darker. Some work better with different strings and can realy sound and play differently

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