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Steel strings for violins


Regina3000
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I don't remember where, but once, long ago, I heard that steel strings are too strong for some violins. I don't know whether that's true, or not, but Red Label, for example, are not likely to harm a Jackson Guldan, are they? I currently have (old) Dominants on it, and the A string broke. I need to get new strings, and I'm thinking of Red Label because they're inexpensive and I won't likely have to replace those as often as Dominants.

Would Red Label be ok on a 65-year-old Scherl & Roth Karl Herrmann violin?

I'm looking strictly for whether they're safe, and not necessarily for what they will sound like. I know they'll be different than the Dominants, but I'm willing to try them for $20.00.

Edited by Regina3000
typo
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They will not harm your violin. However, most steel strings (e strings excepted) are not so good for classical playing. They give a sound and bow response that most classical players do not much like. Fiddlers often play steel strings though. If you fiddle, then steel may be just the thing for you.

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1 hour ago, FiddleDoug said:

You will be disappointed with Red Labels.

Yes, they are among the worst IMO. There are many other relatively inexpensive strings that last long and sound 100x better. Helicore is a good choice.

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Top quality steel-core strings by Pirastro include Permanent and Flexocor for cello and viola and Flexocor-Permanent for violin. My experience has been that they are every bit the equal of "synthetic-core" strings on the right instrument. But they are not inexpensive strings.

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2 hours ago, Regina3000 said:

I'm looking strictly for whether they're safe, and not necessarily for what they will sound like. I know they'll be different than the Dominants, but I'm willing to try them for $20.00.

There have been classical players incl soloists who used steel strings.  I don't know what brand.  Jargar has been interesting to me because the E string is one of the standards.

If you'd rather have $20 synthetics instead, try John Pearse Artiste.  I think they're as good as Dominants or Tonicas.  Juststrings.com carries them.  They get no press whatsoever.  Maybe a string mafia

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19 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

If you'd rather have $20 synthetics instead, try John Pearse Artiste.

I tried those on a fiddle based on your recommendation, and I did think they were pretty good. I can't really compare to Doms because I don't use them much. 

For metal strings, I prefer Prims much more compared to Helicores.

Red Label strings are horrible.

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

Steel string don't necessarily put any more strain on a violin than synthetic or gut strings.

I agree but when you have big humidity increases the wood expands while the steel strings don't stretch much and the result puts a lot more tension on the instrument which can be harmful.  

Either carefully control the humidity or retune your instrument often if you are using steel core strings.

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17 hours ago, Bill Merkel said:

^Thanks.  How did they compare with the other synthetics you use?

I generally use Evah Pirazzi on my fine violins, but also flavors of Warchal and Larsens occasionally. I have not tried John Pearce Artiste on any of those violins.

I like Obligatos to darken the tone of bright fiddles, but I rarely use them anymore. Kaplan Amo will also do a good job of darkening tone. Kaplan Vivo are synthetic strings that are absolute screamers, very bright, and will out-perform even metal strings in volume and response.

I have recommend/used Pro Arté or Zyex strings as my preferred budget synthetic string, but I will probably buy a stash of John Pearce Artiste when they run out. In my initial experience, they seemed just as good, if not better. I sold the fiddle I put them on shortly after the strings were broken it.

After trying multiple sets on different violins, Ascenté, Alphayue, and Spirit strings were all disappointing to me.

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13 hours ago, Mark Norfleet said:

Another vote for Helicore strings.  I put them on an instrument last week and they work quite well.  They’re clearly durable as well.  The previous set on the same instrument had a lot of miles on them and had no winding breakage.

I always had to buy 2 A strings when I used Helicores. The aluminum winding wore out fast for me. I use Prims now. They really do seem to last forever

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4 minutes ago, bkwood said:

I always had to buy 2 A strings when I used Helicores. The aluminum winding wore out fast for me. I use Prims now. They really do seem to last forever

Sting life seems to have a lot to do with body chemistry, not to mention careful nut and bridge groove shaping.  I don't see this instrument often, but the owner had used and worn the old set so much that I was shocked to see the windings were still intact.  The owner was so embarrassed by how long it had been since any maintenance or adjusting had been done that they had a mutual friend handle contacting me about doing the work, dropping it off and paying for it etc.

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