Getting to Know the Bow
Violins For Kids
Best Bows to Buy
All About Violin Strings
Violin Strings are something you will replace more then anything else. You will most likely spend more money on these four lightweight wires that come in a small paper package then you will on music, and perhaps even bow re-hairs. And rightly so! Without strings, your violin will not produce a sound...unless you count knocking on it with your fist (which by the way, I don't recommend).
Here's a simple case-scenario to prove my point.
A violinist begins plays at age 5 and plays their entire life until the age of 75 years old. They replace the strings on their violin, like many violin makers and retailers suggest, every 6 months. They will go through 140 sets of strings. Wow!! Let's convert that into dollars. Let's say that this violinist spent average dollar on his strings, $50.00/set, he would be spending $7,000 throughout his life just on strings.
Violinist and parents both know that playing the violin is an investment, certainly one that is worthwhile, but that is a lot of money. More money, in fact, then some people will spend on the violin itself! Finding violin strings that fits your financial needs as well as optimizes your playing and the sound of your violin is not only important but necessary. Below are listed the different types of strings as well as the BEST strings within each category.
Let's make every penny spent on strings worth it! Learn more about violin strings, to find the right one for you.
Attention E String: if your violin has a fine tuner on the E string make sure to get the "Loop End" E. If you do not have a fine tuner on your E string then you will need to get the "Ball End" E string.
Strings were first made from sheep gut, more commonly known as catgut. Today you can still buy gut strings. However, you rarely find 'pure' gut strings. Gut strings now are wrapped in silver wire. The most common string used are the synthetic and solid steel strings. Many of the modern types of strings are also wound with different metals or plated with silver or gold.
Takes a long time to stretch & reach potential
Does not stay in tune
Warm depth with many complex overtones
Pitch is harder to play accurate
Powerful and Rich Sound
Fairly quick 'break-in' time
Relatively stable, and stays in tune
Has warm sound with some overtones
Full and Mellow
Steel Core String
Manufactured before synthetic strings
Very Stable and durable
Clear direct sound, few to no overtones
Bright sound, this is the string of choice for many fiddlers
Inexpensive, also choice for beginner violinist
Synthetic String - Recommended for all! From Beginner to Advanced
Dominant - Don't let an affordable price tag fool you, this is an excellent string. In fact, it is the most universal and widely string used by violinist of all levels. I personally used and recommend Dominants. Itzhak Perlman uses the Dominants as does Hillary Hahn and Anne-Sophie Mutter. Dominants mix nicely with other strings. In fact, Dominant A, D, and G with a Gold Label E is a common mixture of strings. Dominant strings are mellow and full with warm overtones, and are typically priced around $50.00 - $70.00 for a full set.
Thomastik Vision - From the makers of Dominant we get another widely used and well reviewed violin string. These strings have brighter sounds than the Dominant and are said to have a "focused, clear, open and brilliant" tone. They have a quick break-in period and will run in price similar to the Dominant. If you are looking for a more rich, warm sound stick with Dominants, if you want to try something with a little more power (although less dimensional) then try the Vision.
"I use Pirastro's Evah Pirazzi strings on my 1713 Stradivarius. I find that they offer the best comination of power and quality. - Joshua Bell
- After playing on Dominants for the majority of my violin years, I felt like I needed a change. A violin shop owner suggested the Evah Pirrazi. She said that it had a sound that was a little closer to that of a gut, but the advantages of a synthetic. It was a little more pricey than Dominants but not the most expensive string on the market. I decided to branch out and invest in the possibility of finding a new string that I love. It has been 3 years since I tried it, and I have stuck with Evah Pirazzi. I felt like it was a great match for my instrument. Evah Pirazzi strings give more power. You can get a great sound without a lot of effort. It was a great match for my violin. The Evah Pirazzi runs in price $70.00 to $80.00 for a set.
Obligato The Obligato is said to be the closest sounding synthetic string to the gut strings. This means that they offer a rich, warm sound with many overtones but don't have the unstability and slow response of a gut. Many musicians have found that they really like the Obligato Gold E. So, even if Obligato is not their string of choice, they will often atleast use the Obligato Gold E. One major drawback to the Obligato is the price. Typically a set of these strings will run between $70.00 and $100.00 depending on the exact style you choose.
Gut Strings - Recommended for Advanced Player
Piastro violin strings are great for the violinist that is wanting to explore gut strings. Piastro is a well known and respected string company of many years. They have three gut strings in particular worth mentioning.
Pirastro Eudoxa is a gut string. They have a wonderful sound that embodies the definition of gut string; rich, warm and beautiful full sound. The only drawbacks to the Eudoxa is a slow response, and it has been reported that this string can sound a little dull on newer instruments. As with all strings, it is a matter of matching the right string to the right instrument. If you feel like your string would work well with Eudoxa, give it a shot!
Pirastro Oliv is more brilliant than the Eudoxa (probably due to the precious metal in the windings). It also has a quicker response than most gut strings, but not as stable and quick as synthetic strings. Many violinist that switched from synthetic to gut end up playing (and staying) with the Oliv. They are more expensive, but can be such a joy to play on. Oliv strings typically run on average $30.00 per string.
Piastro Passion strings are said to be the best of both the Eudoxa and the Oliv. Pirastro claims that these "modern gut strings have complex overtones characteristic of gut strings, like Eudoxa and Oliv, but with better stability and a shorter break-in time than typical gut strings". Many of the reviews agree, and most musicians seem to like them.
Steel Core Strings - Recommended for Beginning Student and Fiddlers
The most popular and well-known type of steel string is the SuperSensitive Red Label . It is affordable, and durable, and for these reasons is commonly used with beginners and on school violins. It's bright and clear sound is appealing to fiddlers.