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Viola Strings Zyex and or Helicore vs. Evahs


Poppiviola
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As a violist currently using Evahs and thinking about trying something new I was wondering how Zyex and/or helicores compared in your experience. I am particularily interested in what you thought of the response of these strings.

I realize that not every instrument responds the same way to different strings, however your experience eill at least help me to figure out which ones to try first. I am farily happy with the Evahs, however as a poor college student, $60 a set seems like a lot to pay for strings and the Zyex and helicore seem more resonably priced. To tell you my very brief sting history the viola had Obligato strings on it when I got it ans I liked the sound but Evahs seem to give it more volume and presence.

Like almost every violist I never seem to be playing loud enough so I want strings that can help my viola project as much as possible and respond well to articulation without sacrificing warmth and tone (isn't that what we all want from our strings?). Anyway your expereince/advice with these string would be appreciated. Thanks

Edit: another question, if I do order one of these what size should I order for my 16" viola 15-16 or 16-17?

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I am a violinist who has used both Evahs and Zyex and assuming they have the same characteristics on a viola as on a violin, they are as different as night and day. Evahs are bright and bring out that quality on an instrument, whereas Zyex are warm and bring out that quality. I hope this helps. You should go to a luthier and ask for some help in choosing appropriate strings in light of the sound you wish to acheive and how much you can spend. Strings sound different on each instrument, and what works in a particular way on one may not work as well on another. A luthier can listen to your viola and make recommendations based on hearing how the Evahs sound on your violin. There may be something that would work better for you and cost less that is not either Zyex or Helicores. We cannot hear your viola, so it is difficult to advise you with confidence.

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If your instrument needs a little warming up Zyex are great- they are extremely stable and very long-lasting, powerful, respond well, and feel good under the fingers. They probably would sound dull on a viola that's already dark-sounding, as is also true of Obligatos. Helicores are more "neutral" and sound good on a wide range of instruments, and are about the most responsive viola strings around. They are also quite stable of course, being metal. I haven't broken any but others report they break relatively easily, and they don't seem to keep their best sound quite as long as Zyex (rather than getting dead like syntehtic strings, they develop a "gritty" sound quality and then start to go false) though they probably last longer than Evahs and of course are a lot cheaper. Stay away from the horrible Helicore A string though (use Kaplan Solutions instead). I would recommend considering a tailpiece with built-in fine tuners if using Helicores; they're a bit of a pain to tune with the pegs (though certainly nothing like as hard as solid-core steel strings would be.)

Personally, on my slightly bright Chinese viola, I love Zyex to death. I have no plans at all to try anything else. On my instruments the mediums go nicely with a soft Larsen A.

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Try this....Evah C, Evah G or Dominant G (they are similar with a slightly brigher sound with Dominants. Dominant D(slightly darker sound than the Evah D) and a Jargar A. Priced like that I think the set comes out a little cheaper since the Dominant C is really expensive and the Evah A's are really expensive (even the steel A). I think the Jargar A is actually warmer in tone than the Evah A.

The Larsen A(in medium for me) is good and warmer sounding than the Jargar A, but it is ridiculously expensive IMO. Plus the tension on that string is the highest I've ever played for an A string. The Evah steel A was second highest and the Jargar A is the lowest tension A of the three. The Dominant A was even lower tension, but it was just way to dull and didn't last very long since it was the only synthetic A I've tried. Up next on my list is a Evah synthetic A. Maybe one of them will be the winner out of my current Larsen A.

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thanks for your suggestions.

As an experiment I put on some corelli Crystal strings last night that had been sitting around unused in my case for about three years (I used these strings briefly on a different viola, but had never tried them on my current instrument). The verdict...definately not good for my viola, while I ended up taking them off this morning (and putting the evah's back on)before they had really broken in because I rememberd the camp placement audition I have on Sunday and didn't want to be breaking in new strings.The impression I had was that the strings (except for the C which I kind of liked) had a really squeaky sound anywhere above third position, I did like their somewhat mellow and more open sound, but this squekiness along with a loss of bite and power that the evah's had made me take them off. I'm not sure if this really tells me anything but I thought I'd share my experience anyway. So far I'm leaning towards trying the Helicore's with either a kaplan solutions or Larsen A (the Jargar seems to be out of stock at shar) but I am a bit worried about tuning them w/o fine tuners, everyone I know with these strings seems to be constantly tuning (although my standpartner at school it a bit obsessive about tuning anyways) and I'm worried that they'll be hard to tune.

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Poppi, if your viola doesn't sound good with Corelli, forget about Zyex. These are relatively thick strings that are extremely loud but difficult to control on p or pp (hard to get them to speak at low volumes). Since you liked Evah, your best solution would be a Larsen set ($90.00), which is very expensive. You might use Helicores as a cheap solutions during the year, but for solo recitals/audition, put the Larsens on! You will not regret it!

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Most people who set up violas would suggest that you try helicore next, except possibly on the A. It seems to have become the default approach. They have a beautiful ring, lots of volume, fullness, depth on the lower strings, etc. They are very inexpensive and long-lasting (although I was interested to see the comment below that they don't sound optimal for long - that might be true). I use only wound gut on my violin, and I shocked myself when I went to helicore for the viola - I never thought I would use metal - but it turned out to be awfully mellow-sounding metal (on the viola, that is). Although it is true that every instrument is different, as mentioned below by Steve they "sound good on a wide range of instruments". I find some slight but noticeable oss of range in color and artistry in my playing on helicores as opposed to gut. In terms of making the viola simply sound good, helicores are great, but they have just the slightest bit of "genericness". Feedback on my playing from my wife suggests that the helicores are best in some music and the gut better where the highest level of expression is needed.

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D'Addario came out with the Kaplan Solutions Viola A and they have been doing very well for lots of players. D'addario puts alot of effort in developing their strings. Vision Viola strings are out now and they boast to have a Vibrant but warm tone that projects. I have yet to try these out but I will do so soon. If you are looking to save some money without sacrificing tone and from what you describe, I would say go with the Kaplan A Solutions with the helicore D, G and C. They are an all metal string and they will feel different then what you are used to but they will be bright, clear and projection that you need without sacrificing the response. Good Viola strings are pricey. Too bad all strings couldn't be priced like Guitar strings! They have it lucky!

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Thanks for your replies everyone. I went ahead and ordered the Helicore set plus a Larsen A so we'll see how it goes when i get them. At $45 it's still $15 less than the evah's and once I know which A works I won't have to buy the other which will bring the cost down even further. Ken, where have you seen the Vision viola strings? I did an online seach and was unable to find them, I would be interested in trying these at some point if they're not too expensive.

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I disagree with Kolovrat's comments about Zyex--I find them to actually be relatively thin (though a bit hard in feel), find them to be fairly powerful.

I find them to be refined and warm in sound quality--but not overly so--they're quite a bit more brilliant than Crystals, Pro Artes, Aricores, etc., in my opinion. Not so different from Dominant--but less gritty, and a bit warmer and more refined.

I do also enjoy the light gauge strings on violin (I find the medium gauge violin strings are unusually heavy).

The thing that I don't like about these strings (and I don't like one or two things about most strings) is that the change in volume as you move closer to the bridge seems somewhat unlinear. Gets loud pretty suddenly. I remember I had this issue with Pro Artes, as well, years ago.

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Thanks Michael, It is hard to say what the price will be but it may not be much cheaper then a Evah. They have done very well in market studies and just as Michael said, they will be available to every shop as of April 1st. Please contact your favorite shop and ask them for Vision viola. Good luck with the set of strings that you purchased.

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barsky- to clarify my comment on Helicore life, that was only in comparison to Zyex, which in my experience are really exceptional in thar regard. Compared to the general run of strings Helicores also sound good for a long time. For example- I know from experience that violin Evahs start to go "dead" fairly quickly, even more quickly than perlon strings like Tonicas in my opinion, and if that's also true for the viola version it would have to be a consideration given their steep price. Helicores (with a Kaplan Solutions A) sound wonderful on my daughter's viola, and they're pretty good on mine too, just not quite as good as Zyex.

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The Helicores are much better than Evahs on my stepson's viola. His viola came with Helicores and we liked the sound when we bought it. When a C unwound I put on Evahs to try. It was immediately very aggressive and "in your face" as he pointed out. Evahs might be good for Bartok or Schnittke, but with his high school quartet playing Mendelssohn and Mozart the Helicores work much better. I am going to try something else for an A now instead of the Helicore.

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