Showing 1–16 of 23 results
Gut (5)Musical instrument strings have been made of sheep or lamb intestine since the earliest days. Until the end of the 19th century, gut strings were the only strings available for bowed stringed instruments. On the violin, the E, A, and D strings were usually plain, unwrapped gut. The G string has taken different forms to reduce mass, using variations of twisting, braiding, and wrapping. Today, musicians specialising in early-music performance are amount the few who use plain gut strings. Most players who use gut-core strings use those that are wound with silver or aluminium. Gut-core strings have their own unique sound, which is very full and complex with lots of overtones. Of all types, these strings have the slowest response. On many instruments there is a slight resistance, or “catch” on note or bowing changes, an effect that is more pronounced on some instruments than others. Because they are lower in tension, gut strings tend to feel softer and more pliable under the finger. The major disadvantage, apart from price, is that they are rather unstable in response to temperature and humidity changes and thus tend to go out of tune frequently. When first installed, gut-core strings need up to a week to stretch out before they have any kind of stability. Some musicians get tired of the constant tuning. The sound of these strings, however, can be beautiful, and although the manufacturers of synthetic-core string often make claims that their strings sound just like gut, they usually can't achieve exactly the same results.
Steel (8)Steel strings began to appear in the late 19th century with the introduction of the steel E string (most E strings still employ steel in their creation). The A, D, and G strings use a core of fine strands of steel covered with a variety of metals, including chrome steel, silver, tungsten, titanium, and others. Many (but not all) steel-core strings tend to be bright. The sound is usually clear but simple, with few overtones. Steel-core strings have the fastest response of any string. Many are higher in tension and thinner that other types of strings. The least expensive of them tend to be edgy, tinny and a bit rough, while the best are of much higher quality. With steel cores, there is very little expansion or contraction during temperature and humidity changes, and they tend to stay in tune better than synthetic-core strings. They are therefore a good choice for beginner students
Synthetic (10)In the early 1970s, Thomastik-Infeld revolutionised bowed instrument string making by introducing Dominant perlon-core strings. The claim was that now you could have a string with the sound of a gut-core string but without the disadvantages of pitch instability and slow response. These strings use a core of perlon (a type of nylon) wrapped with silver or aluminium. Within a day or two of being installed, the strings stretch out and stabilise. The core isn’t affected by changes in temperature and humidity nearly as much as gut, so these string stay in tune much better. They also have a quicker response. Since the introduction of Dominant strings, other manufacturers have introduced many new synthetic-core strings and have been able to achieve a huge spectrum of sound qualities. With the exception of Dominants, synthetic strings have a tendency to lose their sound more quickly and completely than gut or steel strings. This loss usually happens after six months to a year, depending on how much you play and how sweaty your hands are. This change is characterised by dullness and a lack of response and projection in the lower strings.
Vision Titanium Solo and Orchestra (Thomastik-Infeld)
These are excellent professional-level strings, with a clean, rich, complex sound and good projection. They are very stable and settle in quickly. They compare well with the top-end Pirastro strings, sitting somewhere between the Evah Pirazzi and Obligato strings in tonal quality. The Solo strings have a more brilliant quality, while the Orchestral strings have a warm, less brilliant sound designed to blend well in orchestral or chamber music situations. These two brands are the closest to a Eudoxa/Oliv gut-style sound that Thomastik-Infeld has produced. (Available for violin)
Prelude (D’Addario, USA)
These are affordable, beginner student-quality strings. They provide a reliable, long-lasting option for school and hire instruments, the A, D, G and C strings being generally hard-wearing and very stable. They are quite warm compared to strings in the same price bracket. (Available for violin, viola and cello)
Eudoxa (Pirastro, Germany)
These strings have been on the market for a long time and were the standard string for many years. They have a dark, warm, and quite full sound. The response is rather slow, and they can sound dull on some (often newer) instruments, especially on the G string. Eudoxa strings seem to work best on old German and Italian violins, especially those with higher arching. Be aware that the bindings on the violin A strings are fragile, and may wear out physically long before the tone becomes dull. (Available for violin, and viola on request)
Spirocore (Thomastik-Infeld, Austria)
These steel strings have a fairly bright sound, not unlike Chromcor, though slightly harder and with a little less warmth. As with other steel strings, they are very reliable, pitch-wise, and tend to keep their tone for a long time. The Spirocore “tungsten” cello G and C are a very popular, though expensive string for professionals and advanced students. They have a big, rich sound with good projection. The “silver” cello G and C strings have a brighter, edgier sound that the “tungsten” and are not so popular. Spirocore tungsten on the C&G is often mixed with the D&A of Larsen. (Available for violin, viola and cello)
Corelli Alliance (Savarez, France)
Made in France by Savarez, previously best-known in the music world as a producer of high-quality strings for guitar, Corelli Alliance strings use a Kevlar core rather than perlon. The sound is warm, dark and smooth. These moderately high-priced strings have a small but devoted following.
Gold (Pirastro, Germany)
This is also an old-timer, often referred to as “Gold Label”. Less expensive than Olivs and Eudoxas, the Gold Label comes in only one gauge and has a sound somewhere between those of the other labels. We rarely see the lower strings in New Zealand, but they can be specially ordered. The E string has its followers and works well with many other strings. (Available for violin, and viola on request)
Chorda (Pirastro, Germany)
These strings are made for early-music specialists with violins set up for Baroque performance. The E, A, and D are plain gut, while the G is wrapped with silver-plated copper wire. They are designed to be tuned to A=415, which is the “official” lower pitch generally used these days. This lower pitch makes for a more mellow, ready sound. (In comparison, modern pitch is almost universally A=440 Hertz.) Oliv or Eudoxa Gs strings will also function well with the higher strings. (Available for violin)
Corelli Crystal (Savarez, France)
These have a tone that is usually warm and dark, with enough edge to keep them from sounding too dull. Generally they are very consistent, giving a good, if not very complex tone on most instruments. If they don’t suit the instrument, the tone can be thin and reedy. We recommend the medium-light for the best quality of sound. They are very attractively priced for the quality.
Oliv (Pirastro, Germany)
Pirastro’s premiere gut-core string has been on the market for almost 50 years, and sells for a similar price to the top-end synthetic-core strings. The sound is moderately brilliant with quick response for a gut-core string. You can dig in and get lots of sound from these excellent strings. The G string uses a gold-alloy wrapping, and the E string is gold-plated steel with a beautiful, clear, pure sound which on some instruments is prone to whistling. The A string, like the Eudoxa A, often has a fairly short life span in comparison to synthetic core strings, so factor this into your budget. (Available for violin, and viola on request)
Dominant (Thomastik-Infeld, Austria)
The first synthetic-core string is still a top seller for violin and viola players. The sound is brilliant and responsive. However, they can sometimes sound reedy, or even nasal in comparison with other synthetic core strings now available, particularly on new or overly-bright violins. When they are first installed, they have a rather metallic and edgy sound that softens with a few days of playing. The E strings are available in steel or wound, though players often swap a different. They last well, both physically and tonally. Their small-sized strings are also very popular, for their longevity and softness under the fingers.
(Available for violin and viola, cello on demand)
Passione (Pirastro, Germany)
This is Pirastro’s newest gut string, which they market as having greater tuning stability than their traditional gut strings, and with a shorter playing-in time. It is an elegant and warm string, available in standard and solo. It also has a powerful tone and good projection.(Available for violin, viola and cello – ring to check for stock levels)
Evah Pirazzi (Pirastro, Germany)
Pirastro Evah Pirazzi is an outstanding string at the higher end of the price scale. It’s more brilliant that the Obligato, silvery, powerful, and with a great deal of character. It is very popular with professional players, whether soloists, chamber music players or orchestral musicians. These strings need two or three days to stabilise, as they tend to stretch a great deal when new. If your instrument has a bright, edgy sound already, you may prefer using Obligatos. These are proving very popular with cellists who find the Obligato strings lacking in brilliance, but who want an alternative to the Larsen/Spirocore tungsten set-up. Evah Pirazzi Soloist (cello only) are available on request. Evah Pirazzi Gold are warmer than the standard Evah, and designed for those that appreciate the directness and drive of the the Evah, but wish to enrich the tone.
(Available for violin, viola and cello)
Chromcor (Pirastro, Germany)
These are a step up from the Piranito. Chromcor have a bright, clear sound, with good volume and reasonable warmth, given their steel core. (Available for violin, viola and cello, request)
Obligato (Pirastro – Germany)
(Available for violin, viola and cello)Top Seller
When Pirastro introduced Obligato, it was found to be one of the more exciting professional-quality strings on the market – with a price tag to match, but with the quality to justify it. Of all the synthetic-core strings, the Obligato comes the closest to sounding like a gut-core string, especially Pirastro’s own Eudoxa. Obligatos however, respond more quickly and are slightly more brilliant, though the overall quality is one of warmth and richness. If your instrument works well with Eudoxas, you may well want to try the Obligatos. There are Gold E’s available.
They are increasingly popular with professional and advanced student cellists who want a warm sound and a lower-tension string.
Helicore (D’Addario, USA)
This is a popular string with fiddlers that offers a smooth, bright tone that has more quality than other, cheaper steel strings. It also has a soft, pliable feel under the fingers. It is also a good choice for electric violins.
(Currently not available)
PI- Peter Infeld (Thomastik-Infeld, Austria)
PI are the latest strings from Thomastik-Infeld, and a good step up for those who use the Infeld Red or Titanium Solo. They are brilliant strings, with quick response and great complexity. The E strings come in Tin, Gold, and the Platinum plated E strings, and there is a choice of Aluminum or Silver wound D. E-strings have a removable ball.
(Violin, some Es are on request)