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Quality string recommendation
looking for an alternative string, for a good instrument
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Hermes
Agrinio, Western Greece, GR
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November 7, 2014 - 7:57 am
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Hello everybody, and this is my first post here... (so I am using this opportunity to introduce myself as well)

I live in Greece, I am finishing my architecture studies and I play the violin for as long as I can remember myself. Right now, I am trying to get both my diplomas (in architecture, and in the violin)

Recently I found an instrument that I really liked, and I got it, it was built in the workshop of G. Kaiming, and it has pegs, fingerboard and bridge custom made by a French luthier, Sebastien Seixas, living now in Athens, and it is from him that I bought it.

I love it, and I also like the procedure of its opening up, and gradually "maturing". Anyway, when I first played on it, it had Dominants on, but I thought it needed a bit more power and brightness, and then I tried some Vision Titaniums.

Again, that was not enough (I mean all these were good, but something made me think that it could deliver more) and I tried the Evah Pirazzi Gold set (with the silver G) 

It was great. I love the projection, the action time and the response. But since it is a new instrument, I would like to experiment a bit, without loosing the above.

 

Any suggestions? I have also discussed it with a few people and they thought of the regular Evahs, the Peter Infelds (in which they gave enough feedback since I live in europe) but how about Zyex? Cantiga?

 

P.S I know, it's just paper talk, if we don't listen to something, it means nothing, but I am just looking for opinions :)

Sorry for the long post...

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MrYikes
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November 7, 2014 - 8:31 am
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Hi and welcome.  We are glad you are here.

I have heard many taut the Warchal strings especially the Amber.  I have not yet tried them, but I have tried the Jargar e string and believe it to be one of the finest.  Happy hunting.

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Hermes
Agrinio, Western Greece, GR
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November 7, 2014 - 8:49 am
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I cannot find the Ambers here unfortunately...but I would really like a feedback first, I have no exprerience with Warchals at all.

 

For the record, I have not tried the Jargar E but maybe I should.... If I had to replace the E , my go-to string used to be the Pirastro Gold Label. However the Vision Titanium Orchestra E, was also good, extremely soft to the touch, yet projecting.

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Uzi
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November 7, 2014 - 11:13 am
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Violin strings are so dependent on the instrument, the player's technique and the player's ear that recommendations for someone else and someone else's instrument are rendered meaningless. However, if you search youtube with the search string "violin string comparison" there are several videos that have side by side string comparisons on a single instrument with a single player. 

Having said all that, if bright and powerful is what you're looking for, you might try the Larsen regular. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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Fiddlerman
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November 7, 2014 - 11:34 am
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If you want the cream of the crop and can afford it, I would try Larsen Virtuoso and Evah Pirazzi Gold.
What price range are you interested in. We ship worldwide btw. :)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Hermes
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November 7, 2014 - 12:30 pm
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Uzi, as I said, I am only asking for feedback, and opinions, and I know that it all depends on factors that cannot described just by words...I love such videos (like those you mention) but unfortunately there seems to be just comparisons, (if we can trully notice the difference) and they usually do not state why they would change a set for another. Thank you for your suggestion though.

Pierre,  I am on Evah Pirazzi Gold right now with the silver G, and I would like my "expreriments" to be close to this if possible (at least regarding the power, projection and response). right now, they've been on my violin for about three weeks, and they are still ok, even with 3-4 playing hours a day.

Is the Larsen Virtuoso lifespan any close to this? And how is it, (generally of course) compared to the Evah Pirazzi Gold?

 

PS. Unfortunately, I live in Greece in European Union, meaning that if you ship me strings in the price range I am interested, VAT, customs fees, and officer/handling fees would be added, almost doubling the price... But thank you :)

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cdennyb
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November 7, 2014 - 12:37 pm
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Sounds like to me you've tried enough strings to get what you really want as far as sound projection, perhaps it's time to think about bridge work or moving it to a different location very subtly. Bridge location has a lot to do with projection and from the who's who list of strings you've tried so far that would be my take on the situation.

hats_off

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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DanielB
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November 7, 2014 - 2:26 pm
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I think that the recommendation for quality strings should be "YES!"

Trying any good quality string is pretty much always a pretty good idea.  Even if it's not exactly what you hoped for, then you have an idea what they are like. 

If somebody gets a second-hand or very inexpensive new violin, almost any known brand of strings will likely be an upgrade.

But even sampling some lower quality strings can be useful.  For instance, I've tried Rotosounds, which are seriously inexpensive.  While I can't say they are great, they could be enough to get by on for a while, if someone was on a very tight budget.  They hold up well, and their "economy" grade ones are probably the least expensive silver plated strings on the market.  Or if someone just wanted to try a set of strings that wasn't made in the orient, well, they are manufactured in England.  They are actually used by the Royal Philharmonic and the BBC Orchestras too (presumably the only-slightly-more-expensive "professional" ones, I would guess).  So not the worst string on the planet.  Which can be good to know, since at this moment, you can get either Rotosound "economy" or "professional" violin strings for under 10$ USD a set on Amazon.

Pierre doesn't carry Rotosounds, but he DOES have d'Addario Preludes at about 14$ right now, which would also often be an upgrade from old used strings or the ones that come on inexpensive violins from the factory.  Again, maybe not what Hillary Hahn uses or something, but def not the worst in the world either.

With violin strings, you never know how they'll work out for you until you try them on your violin and with your hands and tastes.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Hermes
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November 7, 2014 - 6:28 pm
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cdennyb

Indeed, I've tried many brands, but not in this particular violin. To be honest, my previous instruments were not something special, so I had not really exprerimented with the most high-end strings, the "cream of the crop" as fiddlerman said before, but maybe now it's the time. As far as the bridge is concerned, you're right, and of course I should discuss it with my luthier, when I get the chance to visit him again. However, my main question is "which -according to your personal experience-strings to try, in order to suffer the minimal loss in power & projection possible, compared to my existing set up" ( I know I ask too much). Meaning that besides the fact that a bridge-soundpost check is always welcome, I liked the projection at the first place, I just do not want to mess up with strings that lack it.

 

All these, together with what DanielB said, (and I cannot disagree with anything) apparently leave numerous options. I wish I get the chance to try every string existing. But of course, I'll never manage that :P

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DanielB
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November 7, 2014 - 7:44 pm
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I'll just toss in another 2 cents worth of gasoline on the fire to think about.

For all that people still obsess over them, "power and projection" are not the holy grail that they were a century ago.  (picks up a tennis racket to ward off the rotten tomatoes)

These days, comparatively few gigs involve playing to a concert hall with no sound reinforcement.  A hundred years ago, that was the standard, and so power and projection reigned supreme because they were how you got heard.  Being able to play loud enough so that people in the back of the hall could hear you was a paramount consideration.  The world has changed. And it will continue to change.

A sound and tone that are good are maybe more important in these days of recording and of most venues using sound support.  Who knows?  Maybe even a tone that is more warm, complex and intimate may be what you can really make work for you personally as an artist and use to get listeners.

All I'm saying is that while power and presence are still considerations, they may not necessarily be your prime ones.  Give it some thought.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Hermes
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November 7, 2014 - 9:45 pm
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DanielB said

All I'm saying is that while power and presence are still considerations, they may not necessarily be your prime ones.  Give it some thought.

Unfortunately (and its unfortunate, because you're right, we are in the 21 century, most of us rarely play in concert halls, and when we need volume we could rely on some good amps) I have no other choice. As I mentioned at the start, I am planning to participate in diploma exams. And in most cases in greece, this examination is in form of a recital, usually held in a large hall. So I have to rehearse with pianos, and small ensembles, and amplification is not allowed...That's why I was after projection in the first place. 

But of course, this not my only aim. I would never ignore the other aspects, such as resonance, tonal spectrum and playability. What I said it that I do not want to loose the existing power, exploring the different tonal ranges every string offers. For example, I find pirastro violino a particularly interesting string, and extremely soft, and have used it in one my violins. But I would not do it right now, to my primary instrument, for the reasons I mentioned above...

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happyjet
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November 9, 2014 - 12:04 pm
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Try Pirastro Tonica strings. They work well on my violin.

Playing a piece is easy... Playing it right is not...

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Hermes
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November 10, 2014 - 8:32 am
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happyjet said
Try Pirastro Tonica strings. They work well on my violin.

On one of my violins, they also worked well. Actually I find them a quality string despite their low price, especially in the EU, and that they are close to the Thomastik Dominant, (to me, the most noticable difference was in the G) yet I needed some more "character". 

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bfurman
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November 14, 2014 - 12:09 am
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You're probably not going to get more power than the Evahs can deliver, although the Zyex are also powerful and will probably last longer.  Maybe Wondertone Solo?

I think cdennyb got it right....  Or just try different E's.

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Barry
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mostly everyone has already covered all the basics.  It really comes down to time and money. Try different strings, record yourself often as you progess. Playing style plays a big part as well as what sound you are trying to achieve.

By recording yourself, you have an audio record for comparison. A hard bowing fiddler may find that helicores will be a better choice, where a classical player may find a synthetic core string to their liking.

 

Its really a question only you can answer with time and experimentation

There is no shame in playing twinkle, youre playing Mozart

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Hermes
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November 14, 2014 - 10:29 am
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@Barry You're right. Recording, (and I will add, with everything you can, microphones, laptops, even cellphones) will tell you a lot about your sound. Last time I did this, probably a few days ago, I paid some more attention to the sound quality, and not to what I was trying to achieve in my playing, as I usually do. Then it was almost clear that my previously beloved Evahs, where not that "right" for my instrument.

I had some spare Dominants, and I put them on, leaving the Evah Pirazzi Gold E in place. It was a good combo btw, but I felt it was lacking a bit in depth and in volume. I talked with Pierre, and following his advice I put Obligatos, and I recorded myself again. And voila!

For the time being, these are my strings, and I am happy with this. (I even kept the E) :D

They only "drawback" is that my instrument is new, and constantly changing, I may need to experiment a bit more in a month or so, but next time it will for sure involve recording and getting someone else to play with my instrument as well...I may even got the chance to visit my luthier till then...

@bfurman I was always curious about the Wondertone Solo...Have you tried them?

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bfurman
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November 14, 2014 - 1:16 pm
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@Hermes

Unfortunately, I haven't tried the WS on my own instrument yet.  I'm merely curious about them at this point because of the way they compare to Tonicas in general.  My own journey has led me to the Tonicas because they are well priced and relatively free from their own color.  Serendipitously, I found that my violin opened up under the reduced tension, and there is actually more warmth than with the previous set (TI Reds), which are known for their warmth!  Go figure....

I've used the Zyex on a heavier instrument, and they are powerful.  They were a nice change from Dominants for that violin.  But the tension is high, and every instrument will react differently.  Those Larsens that Fiddlerman mentioned above seem very promising, but I have no personal experience at all with Larsen or Warchal strings.

Glad you found success with the Obligatos.  Your luthier will save you time searching.

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Hermes
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November 14, 2014 - 10:08 pm
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bfurman said
Serendipitously, I found that my violin opened up under the reduced tension, and there is actually more warmth than with the previous set (TI Reds), which are known for their warmth!  Go figure....

Same here...Obligatos on my violin sound pretty much resonant and full and with enough power, rather than mellow or dark. To be honest, when ditching the Evahs, I thought I would loose all three things...I was wrong :)

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Fiddlerman
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November 15, 2014 - 7:17 am
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I agree. Actually Evah's are probably over rated though I know they work for some people. Personally, I prefer the Evah Gold if I'm to do Evah at all but many less expensive strings are better.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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