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Kicking the Hornet's Nest - Thinking About Dominants


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A lot of drum banging earlier for one string over another.....

(too much percussion on a string site?)

Anyway,

I 'll keep beating my little drum  for the D-Addario Zyex.

Hold pitch from first tuning, flexible sound, little wear or breakage, long-lasting and very reasonably-priced.

What more can I ask?

Dominant is not indomitable!

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I'm hardly an expert, but I definitely think it depends on the instrument itself. There are some violins that sound great with Dominants. I've seen a few in person that really came to life and sounded more vibrant and powerful once they were switched over to them. My own violin had old Dominants on it for a long time, and I was never a big fan of how it sounded with them on. It almost sounded like they limited the dark/rich spectrum on my violin. I switched to Warchal Amber strings awhile back and it sounded a MILLION times better. I think Warchal Ambers suit a certain type of violin the same way that Dominants suit another, and my violin was a lot happier with the Amber strings. (A Glass violin, used for both classical and fiddle style playing).

All that aside, I've never been a huge fan of the Dominant E string on any violin, really. Most violins equipped with Dominant strings that sounded great had the E string switched out with either a Hill E or a Pirastro Gold E.

Dominants are decent. They aren't perfect, and they definitely suit some instruments better than others, but there are definitely worse strings out there. In a perfect world all violins would have strings suited just for them, I think.

 

Sorry, what is a "Glass violin" ?

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Dominants are a well established, superbly balanced string. If a violin does not work with Dominants ( or Tonicas ) the problem is somewhere else. Or it's not quite a violin. Just looks like one. It is often more beneficial to learn how a proper violin should sound through registers than to beat it down to the level of one's prejudices. This idea of "it doesn't work for me or my violin" has potential for a lot confusion as to who exactly the guilty party is.

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... My own violin had old Dominants on it for a long time, and I was never a big fan of how it sounded with them on. It almost sounded like they limited the dark/rich spectrum on my violin. I switched to Warchal Amber strings awhile back and it sounded a MILLION times better.

 

I don't think this is a fair comparison.  Old Dominants (how old?) versus new Warchals?  I would hope that any comparable quality new set of strings would sound a million times better than any old, worn out, tired, fatigued old set of strings... ^_^

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Most of my violins go out the door with Dominants, because it's a good string, still much used in the classical pro community, and it's so familiar to most players that it can serve as a "standard reference" string. If a violin has Dominants, most players will have an idea what the difference will be when they switch to some other string, which might be their personal favorite.

 

Except for the E. I don't use those either.

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Dominants have a distinctive sound which, for me, cloud the actual characteristics and capabilities of individual fiddles. I hate trying out violins strung with Dominants at auction viewings because I find they have a certain tonal texture which homogenizes things. Yes, Dominants provide a standard - but its a pretty blah standard.

I once had someone tell me that Dominants have a tendency to "bend and instrument to their will." If I remember correctly this person liked that about Dominants, but I can see that being a problem too.

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Dominants are a well established, superbly balanced string. If a violin does not work with Dominants ( or Tonicas ) the problem is somewhere else. Or it's not quite a violin. Just looks like one. It is often more beneficial to learn how a proper violin should sound through registers than to beat it down to the level of one's prejudices. This idea of "it doesn't work for me or my violin" has potential for a lot confusion as to who exactly the guilty party is.

 

Okay, but don't you think that strings provide a powerful tool that allows us to move an instrument's tone in a direction or to bring out colors that might be hidden behind the string? I admit it is possible that the string brings it's own colors to the table as well. I don't agree with the suggestion in a couple places here that if a violin doesn't sound good with Dominants than it must either be a bad violin or a bad set up. I have spent hours adjusting violins with Dominants only to find out that it really just needed a different string set. I have also had violins come in with set ups done by veteran luthiers known for their set ups and have a violin sound much improved just by changing the strings. 

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I have very much enjoyed this discussion. For whoever said I'm disguising a desire to bash Tomastik by questioning Dominants, it simply is not the case. The most prevalent strings in my shop and showroom are Tomastik strings. I'm a huge fan of their luthier sets known as TI and Rondo. The TI is supposedly a variation on the Dominant, I find it to have a rounder sound tonally (which I prefer). The Rondos are supposedly a variation on the PI strings (which are also great), but are more affordable and generally bring more vibrant and refined tone qualities to the table. Tomastik also now has Spirits, Visions in 3 different varieties, Infeld Reds and Blues, and Alphas. Aside from the Alphas which I have only tried on a fractional violin thus far, I think all the other strings have their place. I am actually to the point now where among the 40+ violins in my showroom right now, I only see one with Dominants. They're just not my go to and I was mostly curious if anyone else felt the same way. Curious because I still see them everywhere and they still come standard from many distributors. Thanks for all the excellent insights and opinions, this is such a great group of people.

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Okay, but don't you think that strings provide a powerful tool that allows us to move an instrument's tone in a direction or to bring out colors that might be hidden behind the string?

 

Actually, I don't. But you shouldn't place any weight on my opinion. I think that strings which move the tone "in a direction" ( past what the usual adjustment culprits can achieve ) come with other shortcomings I find very objectionable. Like it's always " in a direction". It's harder to modulate the timbre. Or they don't sound well in both small and big spaces. Or, they're too "crispy". Or too clean, or too resonant. Makes for good sound but not interesting sound. And so on. Doms hit a lot of targets pretty nicely and record well. That's why they're so popular. Notice something : in an emergency one can change a Dom with almost any other brand of string and won't be a complete disaster. That's because there is a bit of everything there.

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As of 1985 the dominant strings shown in the Bein and Fushi catalog were usually the starks. Their sales people at the time said they were emphatically better. Lately I have been thinking about the effects of heavier gauge and heavier tension and not really hearing  the results I expect from some strings marked as such. In particular the Jargar "dolce " cello strings which I assumed were heavier and therefore mellower but it turns out they are thinner and brighter. I still use regular Dominants with a gold label E as the standard stringing  for student instruments in my showroom but usually put Evahs or vision titanium on my own violins.

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