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Andrew Song
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I've used the (old formula) Tonicas on my instrument (a high end ~1850 German workshop) ever since I got it 4 years ago. I find that they're great for orchestral and chamber music, but I'm about to play a concerto with an orchestra and want a bit more projection out of my violin. I tried Evahs, and they make my violin sound like a cannon: nice a loud, but noticeably brighter and harsher over all registers. I'm using some Obligatos now, and I like the sound they're drawing out of my violin (warmer and fuller compared to the Tonicas), except the A-string has a super-slow response (I think I may have gotten a bad string). Dominant's were too tinny for me when I tried them many moons ago. Also of note, I use a Piastro Gold Label E, no matter what set I've got on.

Does anyone have any suggestions for my next set to try? Since I'm a student, I'd like to not have to replace my strings every 4 weeks, especially if they're more expensive ones like Evahs. I've heard some good things about Zyex: can someone comment on them?

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I'm using some Obligatos now, and I like the sound they're drawing out of my violin (warmer and fuller compared to the Tonicas), except the A-string has a super-slow response (I think I may have gotten a bad string).
I use Obligatos all the time and if anything have the opposite happen, the A tends to "pop", either you're right and got a bad string or your violin just doesn't like that "A". I haven't tried Zyex, but w.r.t. Visions, I found them to be similar to Evahs but even more focused, too much so for me.

Maybe try their new "Wondertone Solos"? They are supposed to be partway between Obligatos and Evahs tonaly.

Most manufactures will send sample sets on request, I think giving them the background story helps too.

good luck.

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Hax - your best bet is to go to your luthier and ask for guidance. Strings sound different on different violins. While the suggested strings are good choices, there is no guarantee that any of them will acheive the sound you seek. Indeed, if this thread goes for long enough, you will probably get a plug for every major string. You need to go to someone with expertise, a luthier, who can hear your violin with its current strings. That person can then make an educated recommendation that will serve you much better than ours.

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Heavy gauge Dominant (stark) are my new best friend. They seem to solve different types of problems on several instruments I have reciently set up and I have switched my instrument to them as well. I do use the Vision Solo e-string still. For me they give a very rich sound with strong projection and the vibration of the instruemnt and the way the bow grabs hold of the strings is very nice. Some clients have noticed that the thicker strings under their fingers are noticeable at first, but they have gotten use to it within a short period of time.

-Peter

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I tried Evahs, and they make my violin sound like a cannon: nice a loud, but noticeably brighter and harsher over all registers.

That may be the experience under the ear, but what do listeners say who are standing 50 feet away? Do the Evahs still sound harsh to those listeners? You may find that whatever that element of harshness is under the ear is just that component of the sound that allows for being heard at a distance and being heard above the orchestra.

The most pleasing violin sound under the ear is probably gut strings on a high arched Amati or Stainer model violin. But most performers who have to project out into a hall don't choose that combination, sacrificing, instead, a pleasant tone under the ear for a tone that reaches the audience.

Concerning Zyex, I like to use them on the violin I have that tends toward harshness to calm down that harshness. I think of them as a rather mellow string, like Obligatos. The new formulation of Zyex might be a bit brighter than the former Zyexes, but still on the mellow side.

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I've used the (old formula) Tonicas on my instrument (a high end ~1850 German workshop) ever since I got it 4 years ago. I find that they're great for orchestral and chamber music, but I'm about to play a concerto with an orchestra and want a bit more projection out of my violin. I tried Evahs, and they make my violin sound like a cannon: nice a loud, but noticeably brighter and harsher over all registers. I'm using some Obligatos now, and I like the sound they're drawing out of my violin (warmer and fuller compared to the Tonicas), except the A-string has a super-slow response (I think I may have gotten a bad string). Dominant's were too tinny for me when I tried them many moons ago. Also of note, I use a Piastro Gold Label E, no matter what set I've got on.

Does anyone have any suggestions for my next set to try? Since I'm a student, I'd like to not have to replace my strings every 4 weeks, especially if they're more expensive ones like Evahs. I've heard some good things about Zyex: can someone comment on them?

++++++++++++++

Only Strings?

Why not try different bridges? (heavy or light) Or put weights behind the strings.

Lighter tailpiece?

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I've used the (old formula) Tonicas on my instrument (a high end ~1850 German workshop) ever since I got it 4 years ago. I find that they're great for orchestral and chamber music, but I'm about to play a concerto with an orchestra and want a bit more projection out of my violin. I tried Evahs, and they make my violin sound like a cannon: nice a loud, but noticeably brighter and harsher over all registers. I'm using some Obligatos now, and I like the sound they're drawing out of my violin (warmer and fuller compared to the Tonicas), except the A-string has a super-slow response (I think I may have gotten a bad string). Dominant's were too tinny for me when I tried them many moons ago. Also of note, I use a Piastro Gold Label E, no matter what set I've got on.

Does anyone have any suggestions for my next set to try? Since I'm a student, I'd like to not have to replace my strings every 4 weeks, especially if they're more expensive ones like Evahs. I've heard some good things about Zyex: can someone comment on them?

I had the same problem with Obligatos (flabby A--it wasn't just one bad string, it seemed to be a characteristic of the brand on my violin) and I switched to Infeld Reds with good success. Sound similar to Ob's on my instrument (modern bench-made Strad copy, bright and loud) but without the weak A. I don't know how they'd perform as a soloist's string; I should think fine. -Steve

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Dominants do sound a little tinny at first, but the warm up as they break in. It was my understanding - at least at one time that the great majority of concert violinists used them. Don't know if that is still true, but I have been using htem on my Viola for about 30 years and have never liked anything else I have tried (especially Evah's - ouch what a disaster!)

I've been using Infeld Blues on my violin and the instrument really projects well - I play a lot of orchestral solos.

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I've used the (old formula) Tonicas on my instrument (a high end ~1850 German workshop) ever since I got it 4 years ago. I find that they're great for orchestral and chamber music, but I'm about to play a concerto with an orchestra and want a bit more projection out of my violin. I tried Evahs, and they make my violin sound like a cannon: nice a loud, but noticeably brighter and harsher over all registers. I'm using some Obligatos now, and I like the sound they're drawing out of my violin (warmer and fuller compared to the Tonicas), except the A-string has a super-slow response (I think I may have gotten a bad string). Dominant's were too tinny for me when I tried them many moons ago. Also of note, I use a Piastro Gold Label E, no matter what set I've got on.

Does anyone have any suggestions for my next set to try? Since I'm a student, I'd like to not have to replace my strings every 4 weeks, especially if they're more expensive ones like Evahs. I've heard some good things about Zyex: can someone comment on them?

i'm not a professional player but i hear new formula tonica sounds good, more brilliance. pirastro oliv gut string have a good reputation but most expensive string.passione gut string sounds nice but still very expensive. maybe you can try warchal string, vision solo(not vision titanium solo) has a good reputation in europe, and D'addario pro arte with reasonable price and sounds good.

but at the end still up to you to choose string with your criteria sound. :)

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I had the same problem with Obligatos (flabby A--it wasn't just one bad string, it seemed to be a characteristic of the brand on my violin)
I've not had that experience at all, must be the reason they make the chrome-steel A for Obligatos. Unfortunately, the odd sets (chrome A, light/heavy) are difficult to find.
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My experiences have been that luthiers often seem to be up to a decade behind the times when it comes to knowledge of new strings. DOMINANTS became the "benchmark" years ago when they were the ONLY synthetic-core strings in a world of gut or low-low-priced steel ("Red Label").

I have enough violins to know that each instrument can be very particular as to what strings respond well on it a what strings sound right to the player - so I've tried most of the existing string brands and have a variety across the different fiddles for what seems best for each.

If you can record yourself with different strings, you may find what sort of difference the tone quality and volume make from a distance.

The first critical factor in string selection is that the instrument he as responsive as you need for the way you play. Such things as comfortable "forgiveness" in playing harmonics, non-whistling open E string, playing up a couple of octaves on teh G string.

Next, because you will be playing a concerto "against" an orchestra you may need some characteristics of sound that you would not chose for salon, chamber, or at-home playing. You NEED those traveling overtones to punch the violins sound above that of the orchestra.

Unless you have one of the few existing "wonder violins" you need all the help you can get. I have attended concerts by Heifetz and by Perlman and found that their violins really could punch over the orchestra just about teh way the sounded on their recordings (which may have been close-miked). But another soloist I heard (Erick Friedman) did not have that kind of sound, and when he played the Brahms, it was only the overtones that brought his sound above that of the orchestra at critical passages, and it was quite exquisite, compared to a violin sound that might emerge over its entire frequency range because of raw power .

It was that Friedman concert that first taught me the sophistication of successful violin-concerto composition. So, maybe the harshness you heard from the Evahs was just what you need for this gig - it may be that you are just hearing the unfamiliar overtones - and then you can go back to what you like - after this concert. You might try a rehearsal with the harsher strings (if they otherwise respond acceptably for your playing) and get the conductor's opinion.

Personally, these days I really am liking the new Vision Soloist strings that seem to do a good job on a variety of fiddles and hold their intonation well over time and temp/humidity changes.

Andy

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  • 4 weeks later...

An update!

My obligato A eventually settled nicely and it turned out to work quite nicely with my instrument. Pirastro was kind enough to send me a set of Passiones to try out (as well as some Evah/Oliv rosin), but I wasn't blown away by the strings. Quite a bit of volume: more than the Obligatos, less than Evahs -- the G and E strings were my favourite, the A was in the middle of the pack in terms of quality, and the D was the weakest of the bunch, in my opinion. I used the 13 1/2 gauge strings that come in a set.

On problem I'm having with the Obligatos now is that they seem to die off fairly quickly. I'm at week 5 with my Obligatos and I've noticed they've lost a bit of their response and warmth. I could replace them, but at ~$90 CAD a set, switching strings every month isn't something my wallet is looking forward to.

Does anyone know of an Obligato-like string that's either a bit more durable or a bit cheaper? Zyex were brought up earlier in this thread, but I haven't had a chance to take them for a spin yet.

Thanks for everyone's help!

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An update!

On problem I'm having with the Obligatos now is that they seem to die off fairly quickly. I'm at week 5 with my Obligatos and I've noticed they've lost a bit of their response and warmth.

How much are you playing? I get about 4-6 months out of a set of Obligatos before I find they are losing it.
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Haxx ~ As a result of a reply toyour original posting, I tried Zyex on my old small (high end) viola, and I am still quite pleased after about a month - they do seem warmer, which may not logically seem to be what I needed, but my long-time faves, Evah, just didn't keep their punch on this viola.

I'm thinking that because of the age and quality of our two different instruments, it might be worth your while to try the Zyex. Or not - I'd rather not pay you back if they don't work for you! :)

This has been an interesting thread - string discussions can be boring and fairly useless, but the answers here have been in terms of sound and instruments - good - so thanks to all from me, too!

Shirley

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An update!

My obligato A eventually settled nicely and it turned out to work quite nicely with my instrument. Pirastro was kind enough to send me a set of Passiones to try out (as well as some Evah/Oliv rosin), but I wasn't blown away by the strings. Quite a bit of volume: more than the Obligatos, less than Evahs -- the G and E strings were my favourite, the A was in the middle of the pack in terms of quality, and the D was the weakest of the bunch, in my opinion. I used the 13 1/2 gauge strings that come in a set.

On problem I'm having with the Obligatos now is that they seem to die off fairly quickly. I'm at week 5 with my Obligatos and I've noticed they've lost a bit of their response and warmth. I could replace them, but at ~$90 CAD a set, switching strings every month isn't something my wallet is looking forward to.

Does anyone know of an Obligato-like string that's either a bit more durable or a bit cheaper? Zyex were brought up earlier in this thread, but I haven't had a chance to take them for a spin yet.

Thanks for everyone's help!

My luthier recommends changing strings every 120 hours. While this may be a bit conservative, it works for me as a good rule of thumb. Your Obligatos should last at least that long.

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How much are you playing? I get about 4-6 months out of a set of Obligatos before I find they are losing it.

Not that much...~15 hours a week?

My luthier recommends changing strings every 120 hours. While this may be a bit conservative, it works for me as a good rule of thumb. Your Obligatos should last at least that long.

I'm at around 80 hours now, which still seems quite low. The 120 hr number is a good rule of thumb, though...

After cleaning the strings thoroughly with alcohol last night, I can feel a bit of the response and warmth return to the string (I think it's time to ditch my 3-year old Tartini Mini block...sigh...). I'm a bit more satisfied with the sound now, though I'm still noticing a slight deterioration in quality since they were fully settled into my instrument.

Thanks for the tips, everyone!

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Haxx - One comment about cleaning your strings - my luthier uses "Rosinol," which I believe is mostly naphtha, as it does not injure the finish. I've used this for years, and it works marvelously. Alcohol scares me. Though I know this is in common use.

Continued good luck, and thanks for starting this thread.

Shirley

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Haxx - One comment about cleaning your strings - my luthier uses "Rosinol," which I believe is mostly naphtha, as it does not injure the finish. I've used this for years, and it works marvelously. Alcohol scares me. Though I know this is in common use.

What is this "rosinol" you speak of (and where can I get some)? A google search doesn't yield much...

Many thanks

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