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For about four years I have used strictly dominant strings on my newer Chinese Violin and have been rather pleased with teh durability and the relatively low price. However, I am interested in trying something else just to see what kind of difference there will be in the sound of my violin. If you were previously a dominant user who has switched strings, what did you switch to. Any suggestions on some new strings to try and where the best prices are would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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All violins are different, and there is no such thing as an ideal string apart from the violin on which it is played. So I am somewhat reluctant to make any recommendations, though I went through the same process as you are now embarking upon.

So let me tell what I did, knowing it may have no relevance whatsoever to what sounds best on your instrument. I too was not unhappy with Dominants. But I found when I changed just the E string, both the E and the other strings sounded better! I tried the Wondertone Gold Label (NOT gold-plated), which gave me a full-voiced "soloist" tone, but which I found difficult to control; a Hill E (currently my favorite), very smooth in tone and good to the touch, and which brought out the best in my other strings; and the Westminster E, somewhere between the other two.

I then tried Obligatos. Initially, they were a revelation -- got all kinds of new, supported dark tones on my lower two strings. The E was horrible. But after about 3-4 weeks, the lower strings became really tubby, almost like a wash-tub! Ugh.

Tried Violinos. I don't believe they sound much different from Dominants actually.

Then Evah Pirazzis -- I consider these absolutely perfect for my violin (except for the E -- I took it off immediately and put the Hill E back, and immediately the other strings sounded better.) Full, rich, robust, and long-lasting. I'm staying with these, but I would note that these are very high tension, and need some getting used to. My daughter found that Evahs, she gained in power but lost in suppleness of sound, and prefers Infeld Blues, which I haven't tried.

Oh -- I wouldn't ignore Helicores. Some classical players, even advanced ones, look down on them because they are steel rather than synthetic core. However, most of them haven't tried them, so they are speaking out of ignorance. You might be pleasantly surprised, and they last a very long time, and are almost always "true".

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I went from Dominants to Corelli Crystals. They seem to have a little darker tone which works well on my fiddle (a late 19th-century Markneukirchen Amati copy); I've gone through a couple sets and I'm pretty happy with them. I'm now using a wound E string (Pirastro but I don't remember which one) to get rid of squeaking on the open E string (I play Scottish fiddle style where open are E's used a lot). -Steve

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I've used Dominants for years on all my fiddles and violas. But recently switched over to Larsen strings for both violins and violas. I really like the sound as I play mostly Irish music - a luscious and lively tone that brings out the finer qualities of this kind of music! I've also had good experiences with Pirastro and Helicore. There's a really good article on how the bow produces sound that touches on the type of strings by Dr. Norman Pickering. I've found it particularly interesting in a variety of ways. I'll post the link here:

Presentation on How the Bow Produces Sound from a String

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