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"Famous" Strings


Greta Schmidt
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We have all asked and responded about the kinds of strings we use, what combinations, what ones we LOVE and HATE, etc., etc.

Does anyone know about what strings the big, famous violinists use(d)? Like Heifitz or Kaufman, or Perlman, Bell, Hahn, etc.? Granted, the string combined with the instrument, their instruments, puts them in a different league, but do they use Dominants with a gold-plated E or what?

I believe someone else posed a similar question in another post, but I wanted to open it up to a larger audience.

Incidently, I just put Infeld Reds on my new Doetsch and have been granted a true lesson in overtones (I thought I had overtones with Helicores, but not to this degree!).

- Greta

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Thanks for this thread Greta. I have a one-month old Gliga with Infelds and overtones started to develop, at least I think they are overtones. A pianist friend thinks it is resonance and not true overtones. The tones are heard when fingered notes match an open string. I felt if the sound was resonance, then it would be heard on other notes as well.

Can someone explain the difference between resonance and overtones?

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Strings magazine usually lists what a performer uses, when they interview them.

In the pre-synthetics era, gut was the norm (or for Russians, gut G and D, but a steel A), with a steel E string (once steel become available for the E).

Afterwards, people switched to Dominants for their stability, and it doesn't seem like many have bothered to use anything else since -- if you read the interviews, practically everyone uses Dominants (with a different E string, often Gold Label).

Most of the really good new synthetics are less than two years old -- the Obligatos are about that age, I think, and Infeld and Evah Pirazzi are brand-new.

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Greta:

Great thread. Very interesting.

As you already know, I love Infeld Reds on my Doetsch. They have the richest sound and more overtones than any other thing I've heard or played. And, they give my violin terrific resonance. And, this is not just amateur me talking. A couple pro players played my violin and just said "wow"!

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Zukerman uses Dominants with Pirastro Gold Label E (not Gold, but Gold Label). Perlman uses the same. This is by far the most common set up for orchestral pros, I'm told by my luthier who equips much of the Seattle Symphony. My daughter's teacher, a professor and quartet player, uses the Hill E rather than the the Gold Label -- she says she gets a little more "body" (my luthier says that's fine, but if your hands sweat, the Hill E rusts.) (?)

I would love to know what Hilary Hahn uses, especially on her E and G -- she gets an awesome range of tonal colors!

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quote:

Originally posted by illuminatus:

If the pros are using Dominants, then who's using the expensive synthetic core strings?

Amateurs and students like us. smile.gif

(People who can take the risk of experimenting with strings.)

Actually, I suspect that over time, the pros will also migrate to the newer strings.

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Thanks for the replies.

As I've stated before, I don't care for the Dominants, at least under my ear anyway. But I've wondered about the professionals who play as part of an orchestra or group, yet may also have solo pieces where I would think the sound requirements would be different, i.e., less need to be as loud as the rest of the violins, or maybe a sweeter sounding movement.

I hadn't realized the time frame of the newer synthetic strings - thanks Lydia - and that Dominants would have been a "standard" for so long. I have noticed in the Strad or in other pictures of old violins that the strings are more often than not Dominants.

Do you suppose that when someone is recording, rather than performing, they would want a different sound projection?

I guess I'm just intrigued at how different an instrument/sound can be by changing strings. The Infelds are louder, but the sound isn't going directly in my ear, like with the Dominants, rather I can hear it traveling off and out. My husband, who has been hesitant to comment too much on these matters, asked what I was doing different, he said the violin sounded better, and this was after putting the Infelds on. Since I play just for myself (and the occasional cat who will run between my legs while playing), I'm more attuned to what I'm hearing and have been completely enthralled by the sounds I've been hearing.

-Greta

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I just got the Infeld promo-pak, and have outfitted one violin with the Red set. This is a Gagliano that has always tended to sound a bit on the nasal side, and with less power than one would expect.

Not any more--much more open, but also richer sound, if that's not a contradiction. We'll see what the blue strings do for its rival for my affections...

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Greta,

A good player is going to adjust his sound to the situation -- the type of playing being done, the size and acoustics of the venue, and so forth. The kind of tone production appropriate to a concerto, for instance, is overkill for orchestral playing.

A player might change bows depending on the repertoire to be played; you can get a big tonal difference this way.

I think that strings are something you put on an instrument to fine-tune its sound so it, in general, sounds its best. If you want big changes in tonal qualities -- enough that it'd be worthwhile to seek a change -- then the right solution is probably a different bow or even a different violin.

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i just thought of something....

professional concert artists like perlman, zukerman, kennedy, etc...eat strings like nothing, they change strings every 3 weeks or so i've heard...and by the time gut strings break in its about a week, then its not worth the wait all over again just to change again and again. Dominants break in in about 3 days, and are less expensive than a lot of strings (i realize these people make millions a year, but when you buy 17+ sets of strings a year, it gets costly no matter who u are). Also, as weve all been saying, dominants are a little more edgey...wouldnt that just help the violin project a little better in a concert hall (carneghie, avery fisher, etc) as opposed to a smaller recital hall or small stage.

anyway, just a thought...if i'm wrong by all means correct me, but chew on it, see if it makes sense...

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quote:

Originally posted by Primrose84:

perlman uses dominants

kennedy uses dominants with a westminster E

nadja sonnenburg uses helicores

kim kashkashian uses tonicas

leila josefawicz uses i think dominants with a gold E and pirelli G

Hey, primrose84!

For some reason, I thought Kashkashian used obligatos...? I had a "C" tonica, but I took it off due to the slow response in the faster passages in the Hindemith -- personally, I hated the tonica "a," "d," and "g" strings.

I just ordered a set of obligatos and a set of spirocore, and am going to see which ones my viola "likes" better. What strings do you use?

VG

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quote:

Originally posted by Primrose84:

Also, as weve all been saying, dominants are a little more edgey...wouldnt that just help the violin project a little better in a concert hall (carneghie, avery fisher, etc) as opposed to a smaller recital hall or small stage.

I find Dominants have a metallic edge when they're first put on the instrument. It goes away once the strings have been broken in -- a couple days to a week or so. A harsh metallic sound is unpleasant, regardless of whether or not it carries.

The power and projection of Dominants seems to be significantly below that of Infelds, Obligatos, and, presumably, the Evah Pirazzis (which are supposed to have more punch than the Obligatos).

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quote:

Originally posted by lwl:

I find Dominants have a metallic edge when they're first put on the instrument. It goes away once the strings have been broken in -- a couple days to a week or so. A harsh metallic sound is unpleasant, regardless of whether or not it carries.

The power and projection of Dominants seems to be significantly below that of Infelds, Obligatos, and, presumably, the Evah Pirazzis (which are supposed to have more punch than the Obligatos).

Apparently Pincas Zukermann (spelling? it's 3 a.m..... laugh.gif ) likes that new string sound. I've heard that he replaced his strings before every concert.

roman

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