Violin Strings: the ultimate buying guidewith violin string comparison chart
Choosing the right violin strings can have a great impact on the sound your violin, the response and the feeling under your finger tips.
Violin String Comparison Chart
This violin string chart will save you a TON of money on strings that aren’t good fit
Hover over the violin string icons to see the brand and type. Click on the icons to buy them.
What violin strings to buy in 2022?
Bright violin strings have a brilliant, clean and crisp sound. Paired with a bright violin it could become shrill.
Warm violin strings have a deep and dark sound. Paired with a warm violin it could become muddy.
A clean sound is focussed like a laser beam, powerful and with fast response.
Complex sound seems to consist of different colors, rich, but it can also be cloudy.
The strings you choose depend on the sound character of your violin, the playability you’re looking for (higher or lower tension, thicker or thinner strings), the sound you’re looking for and your playing style. It’s a highly personal choice and often a result of lots of experimenting.
Steel core violin strings
In the beginning of the 20th century it became possible to make steel strings. Steel strings tend to have a quick response and a clear, focused, brilliant tone. Don’t expect a great deal of depth and tonal complexity from steel core violin strings
Pros of steel core violin strings:
- Quick response
- Focused bright tone
- Good tuning stability
- Relatively cheap
- Great for fiddle music (bright sound)
- Great for fractional (children’s) violin sizes as they bring out some more sound and are cheap
Cons of steel core violin strings:
- The sound can be harsh, too bright with little tonal complexity, depth and warmth
- They are often high tension and feel uncomfortable under your finger tips
There are plain steel, plated steel and wrapped/wounded steel core violin strings. Plated means there’s a layer of tin, gold or platinum. A lot of violinists like the sound of a gold plated E string as it has a brilliant and pure sound. Unfortunately gold is soft and wears down relatively quickly. Combined with the high price, you might choose a different material. Wrapping usually happens with chrome steel. This makes the strings a bit warmer sounding and slower in response.
Some great steel core violin strings to buy are:
D’Addario Prelude are the warmest sounding affordable steel core violin strings out there.
D’Addario Helicore is used by top fiddlers and has a brighter sound.
Thomastik Infeld Spirocore have a bit lower tension and warmer sound than many steel core strings.
Pirastro Piranito are one of the most affordable Pirastros with a bright sound and long durability. Ideal for school instruments.
Super-Sensitive Red Label are the industry standard of fiddlers and school instruments. They’re very affordable, durable and have a bright sound.
Synthetic core violin strings
40 Years ago Thomastik Dominant violin strings changed the world of violin strings and possibly violin playing in general. The advantages of synthetic strings is that they have the tuning stability and durability of steel strings, but the warm sound and nice finger tip feeling of gut strings. They have a sound with more depth and rich overtones than steel strings. They are the best of both worlds and are the strings that are most used today. However gut string adepts still claim that there’s nothing that beats gut in terms of sound complexity and overtones.
Thomastik Dominants are still the gold standards and used by Hilary Hahn and Anne Sophie Mutter. However, a lot changed in the last decades and there are a lot of synthetic core violin strings to choose from.
Pros of synthetic core violin strings
- Rich sound colors
- Low tension and flexible feeling under the finger tips
- Great durability
- Great tuning stability
Cons of synthetic core violin strings
- More expensive generally than steel core strings
- Gut string players will say they don’t come near the complexity of real gut
Great synthetic core violin strings to buy:
Pirastro Evah Pirazzi are the most popular violin strings amongst soloists and professional orchestra players. They have a bright sound, fast response and long durability.
If you want a more warmer tone, choose Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Golds.
Pirastro Obligato is a great choice if you want a warmer sound.
Pirastro Tonica are a great alternative to Thomastik Dominant violin strings. They sound a bit warmer.
D’Addario Zyex, the choice of Lindsey Stirling, are also a great alternative to Thomastik Dominants, a bit on the brighter side. The strings settle very fast and have a well rounded sound.
Fiddlerman strings are an affordable alternative to Thomastik Dominants: many can’t even hear the difference and they feel just as comfortable.
D’Addario Pro Arte are great strings if you’re looking for affordable strings with a warm tone.
Corelli Crystal are dark and warm sounding strings comparable to Pro Arte. They can be a bit dull, but work great on bright sounding instruments.
Larsen Tzigane have a big warm sound with large resonance and low tension.
Warchal Amber strings are also low tension, have a gut-like warm sound and feel very smooth under your finger tips. The E string is very interesting if you’re looking for a non-whistling E string.
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Classical violinist helping you overcome technical struggles and play with feeling by improving your bow technique.
Choose the right string tension
Almost all violin strings are available in different tensions: light, medium and heavy. Lower tension strings are easier to press down to the fingerboard. Also you won’t get calluses or tired fingers as fast.
In general gut strings have a lower tension than synthetic or steel strings. Steel strings tend to have a high tension. Warm sounding synthetic core violin strings have a relatively low tension.
When you search to buy violin strings, start with medium. First search for the brand and type you love. Then experiment with higher or lower
String tension relates to the gauge (thickness) of the strings. Thinner, ‘weich’ or ‘dolce’ strings tend to be lower tensions. They sound brighter with a faster response, but have less volume. A thicker, ‘stark’ or ‘forte’ violin string gives you a darker tone with a slower response.
Gut strings in general are thicker and have a lower tension. The material behaves differently at the same tuning.
What are your favorite violin strings?
Share it in the comments below! I’d love to read what strings you all use.