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viola string recommendations


Rix2357
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I know every instrument is a little different, but I'm looking for

some more suggestions as to what strings might be the best.

I'll start off with the basics, my viola is a chinese made

instrument at a 16" size.  Sonically, I think it leans towards

being a little on the mellow side, but not as much as a viola

16.5" that I tried maybe 6-7 years ago.  That was the largest

viola that I had tried.  Most were 16" and a few 16.25".

I guess my question is kind of complex and to first start off with.

 Does everyone try for a set of strings so that the sound

matches as close as possible from string to string or does everyone

compensate for differences in the string sounds?

For the longest of time I've been using Dominants with a Jargar A.

 Recently, I decided to just buy a set of pirastro evah

pirazzi and the three lower strings of the pirastro

obligato.  

For the C string, I found the dominant C to be the brightest and

most powerful of the bunch.  The obligato C was probably the

darkest of the three, but it was maybe a bit too mellow for my

instrument as the sound was not as clear.  The evah C was a

middle compromise and I actually like the sound better than the

dominant C.

For the G string, I didn't have a relatively fresh dominant G,

since I had a bit of a hiatus in playing.  College just didn't

give me enough time for playing in an orchestra and the time needed

for practicing.  This dominant G was installed over 6 years

ago, but didn't see that much play time.  Going from the C

string to the G string, the obligato G seemed a bit too

dull and dark again, but the evah pirazzi G improved on it but I

think something slightly more powerful and brighter would make

for a more even transition if I went with the evah pirazzi C.

For the D string, my instrument really gave mixed results.

 The dominant D and the evah pirazzi D both stood out

when going from the G to the D string.  Keep in mind,

this dominant D is old like the G string.  The evah pirazzi D

was pretty bright., but not as bad as the dominant D.  The

obligato D actually complemented the instrument the best.  It

felt like the best string to bridge from an evah pirazzi G to D and

it really sounded the best.

For the A strings that I tried, I am using an old jargar A vs. the

evah pirazzi.  I think the evah pirazzi was the brightest of

the two and I think a bit too bright and almost harsh sounding.

 It's surprising to me since I thought the evah pirazzi were

supposed to be a composite string, while the jargar is a steel core

string.

Since I have such a mix of strings, I'd like to know if anyone has

some recommendations on if I should try a slightly duller A,

or if a new jargar A would be best.  Also, what type of string

would give a slightly more powerful G?

Any suggestions would be welcome.  If what I described sounded

unclear or just confusing, let me know and I'll see if I can try

and clarify it a bit.  It's really kind of hard to describe

what you hear, and sometimes the differences are subtle and others

just eye catching.

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Violas are very difficult instruments. They sound an octave above the cello, so their soundbox should be greater, but that would render them unplayable... I'm currently making a viola now(a 43 cm. viola, as Michael Tree suggested me) and my head is full of doubts... My choice of strings is A Larsen and the rest Dominants for the violas I make.

When viola strings are old they give a dull, dead soundmainly the G and C strings.

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Rix - 16 1/2 inch viola? Must sound nice. Re: A string - I just realized that the string that comes with the set, a "Mittle," is metal. Also available is the "weich" (or soft), and the perlon center. Now I am using the weich on my viola, but it is a 15 1/2 incher. I changed form the "Mittle," but haven't tried my perlon center A yet.

Someone with a larger instrument than I have would have better knowledge of your concerns regarding the lower strings. Good luck! I will be watching for the answers. Shirley

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Helicores are fairly popular viola strings and might serve your needs well. My viola professor is currently using Evahs for the lower three strings with a helicore A, comming from a full set of helicores. The A seems to blend well with the evah's and surprisingly the Evahs seem somewhat brighter and perhaps a bit harsher than the Helicores (surprising since the Helicores are steel strings).

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Ditto the Zyex and Helicore recommendations- at least one of the two is likely to work well on almost any viola, both seem to give a pretty consistent sound between strings on most instruments, and both are reasonably priced, very stable, and long lasting. (I wouldn't recommend the A from either set, however- Jargar or Larsen should work well.) My Chinese viola benefits from a little bit of mellowing, and Zyex (medium) does that nicely without sacrificing power and clarity. I use a soft Larsen A.

Poppiviola- the Helicore A is reasonably mellow all right, but on both my viola and my daughter's it sounds like a rusty door hinge anywhere above 4th position or so. Perhaps it needs a fine instrument to show its stuff.

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I have two 16-inch violas.

My preferred strings for one of them are:

A - Kaplan Solutions

D & G - Pirastro Obligato

C - Larsen

I've been experimenting with stringing this viola since I got it 10 years ago - and this is the BEST solution I haved found.

My other viola has liked all the strings up through the Dominant and Obligato sets that I have tried. The last and best stringing IT got, however, was a set of THOMASTIC SPIROCORE strings balanced as clodely as possible in tension, this means it had ALL the tensions (low through high such that there was as little difference in tensions between the strings as possible) and there is only one way to do that - I forget what it was, and my granddaughter has the viola now (with the empty string envelopes). Those stgrings are magnificent on that viola, but not good at all on the other one.

I'm really not a violist. I've performed on one about 6 times, but only have about 60 lifetime hours of playing on one. I can "play" it just fine - I just have trouble getting my mind around sight reading alto clef each time I have to.

I'm primarily a cellist and violinist (both of which I have no trouble sightreading any time).; I like the viola because of its similarity in tone to a cello (I think of it as playing a cello under my chin) - just so you knbwo where my toneal preferences are coming from. In fact most cello music is well into the viola's common range (and even higher).

Andy

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As a student, I've used about 3 or 4 of them. Compared to the

Jargar A, the dominant A was just dull and fuzzy. It also didn't

help that I've had 2 of them snap on me in a month. I just don't

think the dominant A is as good as the other strings.

I don't want to nit pick and really appreciate all the suggestions

thrown out, but for those that have tried different strings, I'd

love to know how a string compares to another string. I think right

now, I would really like to find another A string that I like based

on a evah pirazzi C and G, and an Obligato D. I think I'm getting

close to the ideal string set. Right now, I think a slightly less

powerful A than a 6 year old Jargar A would be the first of my

priority. I did like the evah pirazzi A, but I found it to be too

powerful in the medium set. Will buying a weich A make the small

difference so that it isn't as bright?

And as a secondary objective, I'd like to find a G string that is

just slightly more bright and powerful. Going from C to G, it feels

like the C is a little too dominant. Going from G to D, it feels

like the D string is a little too dominant.

Again, I'm not sure if I should strive for tonal balance with these

strings, but it does sound reasonable since it would make playing a

little easier if I didn't have to worry about a string being too

dominant and having to compensate by bowing a little differently on

that string.

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Rix2357,

Yes, the weich Evah A (I'm talking about the synthetic one--there are two Evah A's, one steel and one synthetic) should sound less bright and warmer than the mittel one. Definitely worth a shot. Or, have you tried the mittel Evah steel A? I like that a lot...not so different from your Jargar, but should blend better with your other Obligato and Evah strings.

On my viola, I'm using Evah mittel A (synethic) and weich D, G, and C. I wanted a brighter, more powerful A, so I chose mittel.

This is the only synthetic A I've found that's powerful enough to be an acceptable substitute for a steel string.

Andy

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Aaah, I looked at www.swstrings.com and found out that there wasa synthetic A. I ordered the complete set of evah from sharmusic.com and I guess the steel A is the default string that comes as a set. I found the evah D to be way to bright compared to the G, but a good pairing with their steel A string. When I went with the obligato D, the sound was just more even when going from the G to the D. But as a result, it sounded like the evah A was just too bright overall. I had tried an old 6-7 year old jargar string and found it to be warmer, softer, and less tension than the evah steel A, but still not a good enough match with the obligato D. As of now, I believe the old jargar A is still better than the evah steel A. It's cheaper too which is an added plus.

Personally, I find this string matching pretty interesting, but a bit expensive. I wonder if people would be willing to buy slightly used strings that are still less than a few weeks old. Right now, I have a Dominant C, Obligato C and G, and Evah D that are probably not as good of a match for my instrument. This forum has been real helpful. I wonder if there are any other places I should check that are dedicated to strings and maybe violas? Hmm, a viola forum might be pretty dead because most of us are pretty laid back and probably won't bother with posting sometimes.

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Is there a friendly violin shop near you? They might be happy to help you experiment with different strings to find the right blend, without you having to pay for each string you try.

I personally have found that Dominants and a Jargar A work best on my 16 1/2" viola (no surprise there).

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