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.
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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)
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)
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.
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)
Tonica (Pirastro – Germany)Tonicas have a fairly bright sound along with complexity, fullness and depth. They can sound very good indeed on some violins but quite harsh and nasal on others – we have found them less versatile than the Corelli Crystal strings on student instruments. Some people may find the strings to have a slightly slower response than other brands. (Available on request for violin and viola)
Violino (Pirastro – Germany)
This string is similar to the Obligato, with a warm, clear, almost bell-like sound. Though it lacks some of the complexity of the Obligato, it is also a little cheaper. The quality, response and evenness of tone is better than similarly priced or cheaper strings, and Violino tends to be very consistent in giving a good sound, regardless of the violin. These are lower-tension strings than Obligato and Pirazzi.
(Available for violin)
Vision (Thomastik-Infeld, Austria)
Visions are an excellent student string for those wanting an alternative to Dominants. These are suitable strings for beginner right through to advanced students, and can produce good, even exceptional results on some instruments. On others, they can sound a little bright. Generally the sound is not as complex as that of the Vision Titanium strings. Vision strings are currently cheaper than Dominant, and they are also available in fractional sizes.
(Available for violin and viola)
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)
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.
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.