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
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Thsee are top level strings that are favourites with orchestral players and performance students. They come in soft, medium and strong. The ‘Solo’ set are more powerful and bright. The fractional cello sets are comparatively quite affordable, and can be ordered on request. Available as A, D, G and C (tungsten) for cello and A for viola. (Note the rest of the viola set have synthetic core D, G & C) (cello, viola and violin A)
Prim cello strings, especially D, G and C coupled with a Jargar A, are a very popular, inexpensive choice for student-grade instruments. As a violin string, they are favourites with fiddlers,being a good choice if you want a bright, edgy sound, easy response and a low price. (Available for cello. Ring to check stock levels for violin)
Piranito (Pirastro, Germany)
These are among the least expensive violin strings in the Pirastro range, but they have a reasonable sound for their low price, though the lower strings tend to be a bit dull. Piranito can be useful for small student instruments, including violin-sized violas.(Available for violin on request)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Many decades ago, Jargar strings became popular with cellists, especially for the A and D strings, because of their warm sound. They still provide a good, mid-priced alternative to the Larsen A and D. The G and C tend to be a bit muffled, but this problem is much less evident with their ‘Silver Sound’ G and C strings. However the violin strings, with the exception of the Forte E, have waned in popularity here, as synthetic strings can now provide more warmth and clarity of sound with some reliability of pitch. The violin G strings tend to have muffled sound, with a sluggish response. (Available for cello, violin and viola on request)