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Tonica Strings

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I am thinking about trying Tonica violin strings. I normally use Dominant. Can anyone who has used Tonica strings give me your opinion of them and how would they compare to Dominant strings. I am interesed in volume and tone.

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I am thinking about trying Tonica violin strings. I normally use Dominant. Can anyone who has used Tonica strings give me your opinion of them and how would they compare to Dominant strings. I am interesed in volume and tone.

It has been many years since Tonicas were first introduced. They were Pirastro's answer to Thomastik's Dominant strings. The are quite different from Dominants. The violin I was playing when Dominants were first introduced did not find them at all "friendly" (they made the sound too harsh for me) and I had to continue using gut-core (Eudoxa or Olive [definitely not Wondertone]) until I tried Tonicas at their first introduction and continued to use them on that violin for many years until further upgrades in string technology were introduced.

The Ifshin VIolin shop tends to outfit its new violins with either Dominant or Tonica strings depending on the tonal characteristics of the particular instrument, so I would say that while they are both really good (lower cost synthetic-core strings) they are not particularly interchangeable on a given instrument. For me, if I like one of these on a particular instrument, I will not like the other, although there may be many alternate strings that improve on the playing and acoustic characteristics of either on that instrument, chances are they will not be the same alternates for different instruments - and they will all be more expensive.

Andy

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I changed to the Tonica strings for my daughter's 1/4 size violin (as we were not very happy with the Dominant for both her 1/8 and 1/4 size) violin and the difference in sound was significant. We were very happy with it until we started using Warchal strings - great for her 1/2 size violin. After she moved to 3/4, we started using Obligato and stayed with Obligato now that she is on a full size violin. Since the change from Dominant, we have never used any Dominant strings for her violin.

When the strings was changed to Tonica - we noticed that the sound was fuller and less scratchy. It projected well too.

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The problem with these questions is that strings sound different on different violins. I have never used Tonicas, but they could sound wildly different on my violin from what you would experience. Your best bet is to have your luthier give your violin a listen with dominants or whatever you have on it and recommend something that will better achieve the sound you seek. Asking us is not going to provide you with much useful information. Sorry.

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A bigger problem is that all well-informed opinions of Tonica strings must now be thrown out; Pirastro has released "New Formula" Tonica which has replaced the old. I've had a set on my violin for about four days now, and they are continuing to change as they settle in. I don't yet know what their ultimate characteristics will be, but I can say that they are VERY different from the previous incarnation.

I don't want to prejudice anybody for or against these strings by evaluating them during the break-in period, so, I'll report back once they've stabilized.

Rat

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A bigger problem is that all well-informed opinions of Tonica strings must now be thrown out; Pirastro has released "New Formula" Tonica which has replaced the old. I've had a set on my violin for about four days now, and they are continuing to change as they settle in. I don't yet know what their ultimate characteristics will be, but I can say that they are VERY different from the previous incarnation.

I don't want to prejudice anybody for or against these strings by evaluating them during the break-in period, so, I'll report back once they've stabilized.

Rat

Ditto Desert Rat's comments. Tonica has been my standard brand, but I've had the new formulation Tonicas on my fiddle for several days. I'm waiting til they settle in. The "silvery E" string does indeed sound silvery. I withhold more general comment for a week or so.

HS

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Good information. Please keep me informed about the new Tonica strings and how they work out. I have tried the Tonica strings since I first posted and like the tone and projection on the particular instrument I installed them on. I do realize that any brand of sring will not sound the same on different instruments. On this particular instrument, I really like them.

Still looking for opinions on Tonica strings.

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In the past I have found that Tonicas were similar to Dominants, yet darker and smoother sounding than the Dominants. The response was a little slower and not as crunchy as the Dominants. I wasn't aware the formula had changed, I'll have to give them another evaluation...

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A bigger problem is that all well-informed opinions of Tonica strings must now be thrown out; Pirastro has released "New Formula" Tonica which has replaced the old. I've had a set on my violin for about four days now, and they are continuing to change as they settle in. I don't yet know what their ultimate characteristics will be, but I can say that they are VERY different from the previous incarnation.

I don't want to prejudice anybody for or against these strings by evaluating them during the break-in period, so, I'll report back once they've stabilized.

Rat

Hey Rat - How are those new formula strings working out after 10 days ?

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This goes back a couple of years, but I had Tonicas on an instrument, didn't like the sound, switched to Synoxas, and the instrument lit up! I had Tonicas on another instrument and they were fine. My new favorites are the D'Addario Zyex strings. I've used them on several set-ups, and I've been very happy with the sound.

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New Formulation Tonica Experience

I've had them on for about 2 weeks. My fiddle is a nice Mirecourt shop model, imported by Lyon & Healy in 1903. It has a warm sound which I like, but carries quite well.

The new Tonicas have a very bright and ringing quality. Folks used to a warmish sound from the old Tonicas will not find it with these strings, IMHO. The E has low bow noise at the upper range, but the overall impression is too metalic for my taste. (An unkind judge might go so far as to say they tend towards the banjo.) Good volume and projection. I infer that the designers were striving for a more soloist quality.

I played at a wedding in a heated tent where the heater cycled on and off periodically. I found the strings more temperature sensistive than the older version, so frequent tuning was required. No opinion about humidity sensitivity yet.

As has oft been said on these fora, different instruments can make a world of difference. I prefer the original Tonicas. If they do not continue to be made, I'll need to either stock up while they are available, or find a new "standard" string. I do not think it will be the new Tonicas, but I'll withhold final judgement until I've been using them for several months.

HS

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Howdy all,

Sorry to take so long getting back to you on these strings; I've gotten bad colds three times in the last month and I simply can't stand practicing the violin when I'm congested; it kills my ears.

I had the NEW Tonica's on for about a week just before Christmas. I was scheduled to play in my church's Christmas Eve service, and the strings were still stretching out of tune (especially the D string) and they still had a very metallic harshness to the sound that would have been inappropriate for what I was playing. So, I re-installed my previous strings a few days before the service and then switched back to the new Tonicas afterward.

So, all told they had about two weeks on my violin before I finally gave up and took them off yesterday. I really wanted to like these strings, as I've found Pirastro's quality control and customer service to be outstanding. My favorite string set has been Violino for quite some time.

Anyhow, here's the scorecard:

Pros:

- Volume & Volume Control. These strings play FF easily, but they also play PP easily WITH a similar tone quality. Just as advertised.

- E-String. The "Silvery Steel" E has a very nice, slick feel and didn't squeak for me.

- Quality. Typical of Pirastro, they seem to be manufactured to a high standard.

- Resists "Cracking". If you play with a heavy arm and cause other strings to go into "crunch mode" when playing FF, these may be your next strings.

- Cost. Mine were and evaluation set, but from the MSRP, it looks like the typical internet price of the New Tonicas will be right around $40 USD.

Cons:

- LOOONG settling period. After two weeks, I was still bringing the strings up to pitch every time I opened the case. I could live with this if I liked the sound, however.

- Brightness. This is a matter of taste, of course, but the excessively chimey, metallic brashness was the deal-breaker for me. I think some people opt for bright strings to avoid muddiness when playing up the neck on the lower strings, and these strings certainly were not muddy, but the harshness, especially of the A string, was unpleasant.

- Weak Low Frequencies. This was weird. In addition to being bright, these strings seemed to stifle the low frequencies. On the G string in first position, the core note was present, of course, but there was no low "growl" to the sound.

- Bland Tone. Again, this is subjective and instrument-dependant, but the sound was fairly one-dimensional. (I hated Evah Pirazzi strings, by the way.)

- Response. This was surprising to me, given that one of the selling points of this string is quick response. I play with a light touch, but I've never had my bow skate so much on the string before initiating the note. It was akin to having too much rosin build-up on the string.

Oh well. Pirastro's still got my business through Violino, though I'm suspicious that they may be phasing them out. If that happens, I suppose I'll take Andrew Victor's advice and try the Obligato Weich set. However, my next experiment will likely be the reformulated Zyex. Having used D'Addarios Guitar and Mandolin strings for many years, I have great respect for that company. The fact that their prices are based in reality is also a plus.

Rat

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Hi All. Two weeks ago I fitted Tonica strings (New) to a students new vln. She was here today and she has reported that she liked the strings.

However, made comment on the "E", saying that it was thin (in build) and at times she felt it was not under her finger. Her previous vln had been fitted with an aluminium wound "E" which was much thicker.

Both agreed that they were pleasant and likeable. I will continue to use them but may use an alum wnd "E" instead.

I also wish to try a Kaplan viola "A" but have not been able to source them here in Australia.

We have an abundance of fine strings so a brand suiting your needs can be found.

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Hi All. Two weeks ago I fitted Tonica strings (New) to a students new vln. She was here today and she has reported that she liked the strings.

However, made comment on the "E", saying that it was thin (in build) and at times she felt it was not under her finger. Her previous vln had been fitted with an aluminium wound "E" which was much thicker.

Both agreed that they were pleasant and likeable. I will continue to use them but may use an alum wnd "E" instead.

I also wish to try a Kaplan viola "A" but have not been able to source them here in Australia.

We have an abundance of fine strings so a brand suiting your needs can be found.

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Merci all for you opinions of Tonica strings. The Tonicas I installed on are the original Tonicas with the aluminum wound e. The strings really sound good on this particiuar instrument. Sounds like the NEW Tonicas are brighter than the originals. I will probably try them on a darker instrument.

Any other experiences and opinions on the Tonicas, both original and new would be appreciated.

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