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Saite Personal Review of Strings... Guide to Choosing Violin Strings Guide To Choosing and Using Strings FIND YOUR SOUND
Pirastro Evah Pirazzi It’s becoming one of the most popular synthetics, and many soloists are switching there from Dominants. Personally, I don’t like them. They are loud with a limited range of colour. I do appreciate the power and edge, and if you are playing concertos it’s great, but otherwise, I find them inflexible. The high tension requires one to press more, and they don’t blend all that well in ensemble. If your instrument needs brightening up or if you are playing a concerto and need power and edge, they are good. The life-span is not that much longer and the price high. Evah Pirazzi synthetic core strings have an unbelievably powerful sound, range and modulation. Full, round sound and stability coupled with easy response and playability. Available in thick, medium, and thin. You can get a great sound without a lot of effort. Warm and brilliant sound, but must be changed often. Some players find the strings over-rated, and the higher tension may be too high for some instruments, again demonstrating that the match between instrument and string is a challenge. A recent addition to the ever-growing assortment of high-tech strings, the Evah Pirazzi joins the Obligato in Pirastro's lineup of composite core strings. These excellent strings have a brilliant sound as compared to the darker Obligato. When they were announced I thought that they might sound similar to the venerable Olive strings but they really have their own sound. They are brilliant with a nice silvery sound and plenty of depth. I have been using these strings for a while and am very enthusiastic. I do find that they take longer to settle in than other synthetic strings, usually four to five days, so give them a chance. My initial trials of the Pirastro Evah Pirazzi ($68) have shown it to be an outstanding string. It’s more brilliant than the Obligato, silvery, powerful, and with a great deal of character. These strings need two or three days to stabilize, as they tend to stretch a great deal when new.
Pirastro Obligato The new core type predecessor of Pirazzi in the Pirastro line. They were designed to be longer lasting synthetics, and they have a close to the Eudoxa. They emulate the Eudoxa well, and they are probably the longest lasting synthetics that I have tried. They blend well in ensemble playing. They are more tense than Perlon core strings, but not overly so. The gold E is the best of the two, and the aluminium D seems to work better as well than the Silver D. The draw-back : They lack power and projection. Great for playing in orchestra though. Obligato strings, of all synthetic-core strings, seem to come the closest to sounding like a gut-core string. (Don't be fooled however--these aren't the synthetic answer to gut--they're is no definitive answer yet!) However, they are more responsive and more brilliant than gut strings. The Obligato gold E string is a very nice string, being less tonally agressive than the Eudoxa Oliv gold E string (although like all gold E strings, it tends to whistle). Good for overly bright instruments. These strings are among the latest of the new generation synthetic core strings, using a composite material rather than nylon (perlon). They have a good sound somewhat similar to Eudoxa gut core strings but with a quicker response and slightly less complexity. When I tried them on my own violins I found the sound rather dull at first, but they seemed to "perk-up" rather quickly. The set is supplied with a silver-wound D that I found too bright for the rest of the strings. You may want to try the aluminum wound D instead. I also found the gold-plated E a bit too bright for the rest of the set. Of all the synthetic core strings, the Obligato is closest in sound to gut core strings. Within the last year Pirastro introduced Obligato for viola, cello and bass. The cello strings seem to be an excellent choice for an instrument that is a bit too shrill. In a surprise move the bass Obligato strings have a list price about $20.00 lower than the cello strings, making their price slightly higher than D'Addario Helicore and Thomastik Spirocore. When Pirastro introduced the Obligato ($61), I found it to be one of the more interesting strings on the market. Of all the synthetic-core strings, the Obligato comes the closest to sounding like a gut-core string, namely the Eudoxa. Obligatos are, however, more responsive and slightly more brilliant. If you have a violin that would work well with Eudoxas, you might want to try the Obligatos. I would also suggest them for overly bright instruments. The standard set includes a silver-wrapped D and a gold-plated E.
Pirastro Tonica Pirastro’s third and most successful Perlon-core string designed to compete with Dominants. Close to Dominants although darker and less powerful. In my opinion they don’t measure up to the Dominants, and seem to die out quickly. However, they do blend well. The short life span and lack of projection needs to be factored in. However, the price is good. One of Pirastro's answers to Thomastik's Dominants (the other being Aricore strings). These share a lot of the virtues of Dominants, although they tend to have a little more complexity, and usually do not suffer from a metallic edge when first put on an instrument. A very fine, multi-purpose string. If you think you like only Dominants, you should give Tonicas a try. Over the past few years these strings have become very popular with many musicians. Their sound is slightly warmer and somewhat fuller than the Dominant strings and they seem to have more complex overtones. Their break-in time is very short and they seem to have a longer playing life. We set up many of our violins with these fine strings. Also available for viola. Until Pirastro introduced its Tonica strings ($45), the company seemed to be having trouble competing with Dominants. Tonicas are excellent strings with a bright sound. The sound is not as bright as that of the Dominant, but it has more complexity, fullness, and depth. Some people may find the string to have a slightly slower response. Two E strings are available, one plain steel and one with aluminum wrapping. I’ve found the wrapped E to be very useful on violins that have a tendency to squeak when going to the open E.
Pirastro Wondertone Solo   These strings are supposed to be the best of both worlds between Evah Pirazzi and Obligato: the color and power of Evah's with the richness and darkness of Obligatos, while simultaneously being like Visions and having a very short break in period with extreme stability. They accomplish this fairly well, and the consequence is less power than Evah's and a somewhat harsh sound at first. After playing them in, the sound becomes quite round. They are remarkably stable and settle very quickly. The G can be rather edgy, and both E strings that come with the set whistle a lot on most instruments. A Hill E works well. Best for newer instruments that need more depth. Last a long time. These new composite core strings have a clarity and focus a bit different from most other Pirastro strings, perhaps closer in sound to the Thomastik Infeld Blue strings. They tend towards brilliance similar to the Evah Pirazzi.  
Corelli Alliance (Vivace) (Vivace) Recently reformulated into the Alliance Vivace, which is a totally different string. The old Alliance were similar to the Obligato although a little brighter and somewhat less tense. The new ones are much more tense and flat sounding but very good in terms of pitch and clarity of intonation. Personally, I could not get used to the high tension of these strings. The E isn’t as good, but I found that the Goldbrokat E works well. (Vivace) These strings are based on a composite core. While focused, they also provide rich overtones. They tend to be more powerful in terms of projection than Obligato strings, if not quite as sweet, while lacking the harshness that the Evah's can bring to some instruments. Like Dominants, they work well on many instruments and live good, long lives. They also respond quickly in all positions. These premium priced strings have a kevlar core. Their sound has more brilliance than the Corelli Crystal along with a with richness and complexity. Alliance strings also seem to have a longer life than most other synthetic strings. Made in France by Saverez, producer of high-quality strings for tennis rackets, Corelli Alliance strings ($110) use a Kevlar core rather than perlon. The sound is warm and dark, although not as warm and dark as the Obligato, for example. These strings have a small but devoted following.
Thomastik Dominant The first and the standard for synthetic strings. They are the most popular by far. Dominants can sound metallic at first but settle after a day or two. They are meant to reproduce the feel of gut, but without the pitch instability. They are excellent strings and affordable. In my opinion, the E is not as good. The best match seems to be the Jargar Forte E, which reduces the metallic quality of the Dominants making them more « gut-like » while keeping the rest of the qualities intact. Not the longest lasting synthetic but an excellent one. These time-tested synthetic core strings are a great choice for students or anyone wanting a quality string at a reasonable price. Dominant strings are probably the most popular strings in the world. They are the default choice for many violinists, including in various combinations with other strings. These strings, like all perlon core strings, have a highly flexible, multi-strand nylon core and cater for artists who feel uncomfortable with steel strings. The sound of the Dominant string is full and mellow with rich overtones. It is radiant and can project without sounding metallic. While some believe Dominant strings are comparable in sound quality to gut without the disadvantages of gut strings, some disagree. However, these strings are clearly a step up from the early metal strings. Dominant strings do tend to have the tendency to unwind. They come in 3 Gauges: Stiff, Medium and Soft. Pick according to your instrument or mix and match. (Note: you will need to play them in for a few days to get rid of any metallic edge that they often have fresh out of the package). They have to be changed at regular intervals to keep the sound. The original synthetic core string, made with Perlon. Dominant strings are bright and responsive and are by far the most popular. When new, Dominant strings have a metallic edge, which fades after a few days of playing. Thomastik-Infeld Dominants ($54–$58), the original synthetic-core strings, are still top sellers. The sound is brilliant and responsive, and these strings seem to work well with many different instruments. When they are first installed, they have a rather metallic and edgy sound that disappears with a few days of playing. The E strings don’t seem to match the quality of the other strings, and many players substitute a Pirastro Gold Label E, which is a good match.
Thomastik Infeld Comes in Red and Blue. The Blue is brighter and more powerful, the Red darker. They were designed as an improvement over Dominants but fail in my opinion. They are longer lasting, but the tension is a killer and there is a loss in range of dynamics and colours over the Dominants.   Thomastik's first new violin strings in over 20 years, these two strings were introduced together. The Infeld Red has a darker, warmer tone and the Infeld Blue is more brilliant in sound. They are designed so that you can mix and match them on your violin to get the balance you need. The tension is the same for either set. I found the Blue set to have a brilliant sound like the Dominant but with more character. I also found that they break in quicker and don't have a metallic edginess when new. The Infeld Reds are warmer and darker in tone but not dramatically so. The difference is subtler than the difference between Pirastro's Obligato and Evah Pirazzi. Thomastik-Infeld’s Infeld Blue ($59) and Infeld Red ($68) strings are newer to the market. They are designed to complement one another; the tensions are the same, allowing you to mix and match. The Infeld Red set has a darker, warmer sound, and the Infeld Blue is more brilliant. In my preliminary tests, I found them to be excellent strings. The Blue set sounds a bit like Dominant strings but with more warmth. These strings also proved to have a shorter break-in period.
Thomastik Vision I have little experience so far. They seem very thin for synthetic strings. The regular Vision seem similar to Dominants to me, but break in quicker. The Titanium are powerful but harsh and were designed to compete with the Evah Pirazzi. The Titanium E is very thin and expensive and not worth the price as the difference over a steel E is not significant. Reported to have a long life. The Vision line of strings by Thomastik have a short break-in period, ease of playing, and high stability. According to the maker, they have a "focused, clear, open and brilliant" tone, although some players report them to be a little bright and one-dimensional on their violins. Made from an innovative and strong composite synthetic core, they come in Solo (Titanium), Orchestral (Titanium) and "Regular" (Not Titanium) variety depending on what type of sound you would like to produce. The Titanium Solo strings are very powerful and brilliant sounding with a lot of modulation and decent overtones, although these overtones can be quite sour on some instruments, and some players find the tone one-dimensional. The Orchestra line have similar characteristics as the Soloist but are warmer and catered to ensemble and orchestra playing, with high mudulation and long string life. The non-titanium regular variety are comparable to, but surpass, Dominants in their durability and sound, some believe. A newe solo version of the regular Vision strings (non-titanim) has received favorable reviews from some musicians. Vision strings come in three thicknesses and can be mixed-and-matched with other strings. These high-tech composite core strings have a brilliance and focus similar to the Dominant strings but with a bit more character and a shorter break in time than conventional perlon strings. The stark (thick) versions of these strings have more warmth with only a very slight loss in responsiveness. We have found them useful on smaller size violas, giving a bit more power and edge. \
Larsens Tzigane   These new synthetic core strings have received very favorable reviews from violinists. They seem to have rich undertones and a nice timbre range for synthetic strings, good projection with less tension than other strings, and responsiveness. These strings are quite unusual and take some getting used to. They are advertised as being lower in tension than other synthetic core strings and can sound dull and "flabby" on some instruments. I did try them on a violin with a very hard, shrill tone and the sound was improved a great deal. These strings are currently available for violin only.  
-- LarsWith - 2010-11-17
Topic revision: r16 - 02 Jul 2016, LarsWith
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