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Quest for Strings: High-responsive strings for a sonorous/dark violin


Vafan
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Good morning! Maybe someone has an (alternative) idea: I am looking for highly responsive strings for a sonorous/dark/warm violin. It's a Guarneri model by a local maker, made in 2011, which I bought some months ago. It likes Dominant and even more Rondo, but I miss some responsiveness under the ear with the before-mentioned strings. I also tried Warchal Brilliant, which did not work at all, and some used Dominant Pro, which were OK, but way better on another violin (19th century French Strad model). To my surprise, Corelli Alliance Vivace work pretty well (with Eudoxa E) and show that kind of characteristic which I am looking for pretty much already. They are rather neutral and the violin remains nicely dark, yet these are quite responsive.

Based on the strings which I mentioned, does anyone have an idea for another alternative that might be rewarding to try? I wouldn't mind trying a brighter string as well. I have liked Peter Infeld PI on new violins (though never tried them on one of mine), and was also thinking of trying some Larsens, which I did not have on one of my violins yet.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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2 hours ago, Vafan said:

 I am looking for highly responsive strings for a sonorous/dark/warm violin. It's a Guarneri model by a local maker, made in 2011, which I bought some months ago.

You cannot go far wrong with Eva Pirazzi for modern strings. I have a set of Passione and don't really like them, though they are not so different.

My only qualification to answer is that I have a DG copy, with moderately thick plates and dark sound. Gut strings sound nice, and the lack of fast response is a challenge for me rather than a fault in the instrument. The uncovered gut D is hard work. However, if I were playing the romantic virtuoso repetoire, responsiveness would matter more.

Somewhere I posted about about when Il Cannone was played in RAM, London. I was at the back of the hall. Vengerov, using modern strings, did not get much out of it. Peter Shepperd played it with gut strings, and it sounded better. He said it was hard to play.

My DG copy likes a strong, heavy bow.

In terms of speed of response, it has also occurred to me that the person who made the instrument is not necessarily the best person to handle setup.

Perhaps you cannot have everything. There is a lot to be said for having a new violin which is a Strad model :D

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Thank you for your ideas, John! I am using a modern bow from stiff wood (5.900 Lucchi), which works well with it. Concerning the idea to have another luthier do the setup is something which I have not yet considered, and I will keep that in mind, and definitely give it a try!

Concerning Evah Pirazzi strings, my experience is that they indeed sounded glorious (on my Miremont), but even though I don't play _that_ much, they just lasted about six weeks before they lost all their glory within a few days... And for that, I consider them way too expensive... So I would prefer a different product :)

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45 minutes ago, Vafan said:

I don't play _that_ much, they just lasted about six weeks before they lost all their glory within a few days

That's a pretty common observation of Evah Pirazzi strings amongst people who play professionally.

I do a lot of sound adjusting and have for decades.  In my experience, unless you get really lucky with a given set of strings, the best response, sound and playing characteristics only comes from careful and dedicated adjustment with the strings, bow and shoulder rest that are normally used with the instrument.

That said, PI and regular Infeld are about the cleanest sounding strings I've worked with.  There are a lot of good strings out there.  I don't think there's any single best string for any desired result as individual player preferences and instrument qualities can vary so much.

Good Luck with your quest.

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Derek, yes that is true. Coincidentally, I am using them ("Perpetual Cadenza", there are two Perpetuals...) since two weeks now on my French violin. They need some more time to break in (3-4 days), but they are ok to nice from the beginning. I really like them so far, though they are expensive. They made a good development within the last two weeks! I am using the whole set with the E string, which seems quite good. They were recommended somewhere else as not as aggressive compared the regular Perpetuals (which I don't know yet).

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1 hour ago, Derek Law said:

I have heard the Pirastro's "Perpetual" strings last longer than Evah Pirazzi, for those who have tried, is that true? 

So far, that has been my impression, particularly with the A strings. Ignoring changes in sound for a moment, the Evah A's tend to have winding separation at the upper nut and the bridge rather quickly.

The regular Perpetual is quite a lively string with little built-in damping, so those who prefer a fuzzy sound (is that what some people describe as a warmer or more nuanced sound?) may not like them at all. They also can do some weird things, like give the mild impression of a wolf when a fingered note corresponds with another open string, or the octave. This doesn't bother me at all, but it may some people.

Opinions from another forum:

https://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=2076

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Thanks guys. I took a look at the specs for Perpetual Cadenza - sounds like that is the lower tension version - I guess it is the Evah Pirazzi Gold equivalent for the Perpetual set ... so confusing now with all these product variations. But I am not complaining about having choice ... just that it gets expensive to try different sets; always dreaming that better accessories will improve sound, while it is just more practice that I really need.

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Thank you all :) So I'll consider setup by another luthier (there is an apparently very skilled guy living just 500 meters away), and I'll give PI, Vision Titanium Solo and Larsen Tzigane a try!

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18 hours ago, Vafan said:

Concerning Evah Pirazzi strings, my experience is that they indeed sounded glorious (on my Miremont), but even though I don't play _that_ much, they just lasted about six weeks before they lost all their glory within a few days... And for that, I consider them way too expensive... So I would prefer a different product :)

Eudoxa strings last well, if not as well as unconvered gut.

With respect to string windings coming loose, I have mixed experience. Perhaps the cutting of the nut and bridge vary. However, my experience of this has changed over the years, so I wonder whether some players get more life out of strings than others, as seems to be the case with bow hairs.

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I may be way off here as I don't work on violins but rather mandolins .... Mandolins that are "dark/ warm" are usually lightly built and generally do well with lighter gauge (lower tension) strings. I don't remember I've seen tension charts on violin strings (not that I have looked for them on those few sets that came through m hands).

 

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I guess if this thread continues for long enough, every available brand of string will have been recommended...:D

I don't totally agree with what has been said about Evah Pirazzi. I've found that they retain their general quality for an acceptable length of time. I do agree with Mr Burgess about the A string. it's a PITA. I have found that Evah Pirazzi Gold do go off pretty quickly. I used them a lot in the past, but only rarely now, for that reason. 

 

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1 minute ago, Bodacious Cowboy said:

I guess if this thread continues for long enough, every available brand of string will have been recommended...:D

Agreed, I find these string threads fairly pointless.
While the suggestions are made with the best intentions, it only shows what other people like, and offers nothing as to how strings will sound, or respond on the OP instrument. It’s just an expensive shopping list based on guesses.

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3 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

Agreed, I find these string threads fairly pointless.
While the suggestions are made with the best intentions, it only shows what other people like, and offers nothing as to how strings will sound, or respond on the OP instrument. It’s just an expensive shopping list based on guesses.

Your point is understood.

Many of the posts are thought out, in that rationalized suggestions are offered. I have not tried the newest strings that are marketed, so was hoping to hear the latest feedback. I can try the strings at home, but unless it's possible to get to a larger space, it's not a complete test. Have been playing more outdoors. My playing is horrible. 

The OP lays out a request, a string that is "highly responsive." Knowing nothing of the instrument/ set up/ player, many of us are at a loss. Guarneri, heavier plates? Not the Warchal Brilliants but the Alliance Vivace with a tighter Pirastro e- string.

Some clues. Does immediacy = highly responsive? Many of us would like to examine the post, why not? the whole set up. I have a guess as what Maestro Morel would do. But if we are to only change strings...

One suggested higher tension while I might suggest actually slightly lower tension, overall for an older instrument. But this being a newer instrument, we will assume the graduations are good. I have a mental sonic signature of DGs as I prefer them. A- and d- strings can be more complex but also a bit muted when playing them since the g- can be perceived as being stronger.

Is note to note clarity what is desired, or a sharper attack? Or a general dynamic responsiveness where crescendos build rapidly? From a classroom standpoint, we should be able to achieve all these qualities through better playing, homes and gardens. 

The initial string swaps will start with the e- string then the g- string. The ubiquitous 2+2 set that cello stores offer can also be considered. For violas, it's often the 3+1. Who knows what would have happened if there were DG "Howitzere?" cello.

With thicker islands or stronger bassbars, a higher tension g-string can make lower volume response better to offset a stronger e- string. Activation can sound out to be faster, but there will be tonal consequences. Because Dominants are the most familiar, I tend to test the thicker g- string hypothesis with a Dominant set before venturing on to the more expensive sets. I think a thick Pirazzi was a no, while on a viola, the thicker Obligato c- was ok. Not familiar with any Stark Pi sets.

Not quite as drastic as a wrapped vs plain gut g- string, but it's noticeable.

At one point, someone gave me a Hill e- string to use to approximate what a 1st violinist was playing and I went to a Stark g- for the duration. Perhaps not the most pleasant tonal balance, but against ( or more politely with ) a piano/ pianist the instrument cut through better at lower volumes. Pianiassimos, pianissimi? are understood by the audience. But plain piano and mezzopiano dynamics can be difficult manage for long lengths of time. That's when the contour of dynamics makes it more interesting for the listener, even if it's barely meant to be heard.

But the dilemma is one that requires one to work harder to make the instrument "sound" more responsive. Counter intuitive? It requires more work, but for my playing, it was in that physically comfortable range of playing. making the faster bow and bite sound "more responsive." It's a cheat/ a hack.

Like planing highly figured ribs into the last mms, having a very sharp blade in a reasonably set up plane is great, but the work still has to be decisive. 

In addition, a softer smoother sounding instrument might require medium light strings. The bow, bow hand should be supple. But the instrument won't get the major peaks. Had to play some Debussy piano duos on a program and the med-lighter strings were good with a lighter mute.

It's funny, if you are playing a softer rosin, try switching back to Bernardel. Be sure to wipe the strings.

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2 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

If these people obsessed with string choices spent their time practicing instead of looking for new strings, their violins would sound much better

With all due respect, I am considering this insinuation a little off the track. I do think that it is important to discuss the hardware. Some other threads have been discussing the diameter of sound posts. - I guess from the number of responses that my initial question is of interest for many players. Quite a lot of ideas were helpful, and I am thankful for these. I am very aware they do not reflect an ultimate truth, but just personal opinions and experiences. And isn't that exactly what such a discussion is about? :)

Have a good night!

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3 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

these people

And just who are "these people?" 

1 hour ago, Vafan said:

With all due respect, I am considering this insinuation a little off the track.

More than a little.

Strings are expensive, and it is interesting to read about others' experience with different strings sets on their violins.

I like Eva Pirazzi's, and suggest trying them. 

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2 hours ago, Vafan said:

With all due respect, I am considering this insinuation a little off the track. I do think that it is important to discuss the hardware. Some other threads have been discussing the diameter of sound posts. - I guess from the number of responses that my initial question is of interest for many players. Quite a lot of ideas were helpful, and I am thankful for these. I am very aware they do not reflect an ultimate truth, but just personal opinions and experiences. And isn't that exactly what such a discussion is about? :)

Have a good night!

Your question about getting more response seems to be getting more response.

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