Larsen Virtuoso Strings Review
This set of strings is quite new from Larsen; a maker that has always proved popular with cellists, but failed to gain traction with violinists in the same way. In my opinion, these strings are possibly designed to compete directly with Evah Pirazzi, the main reason being responsiveness, making a dull instrument brighter, and a responsive instrument extremely focussed and powerful sounding.
What the Virtuoso set may have over Evah Pirazzi is that they seem to be incredibly responsive, but with a lower tension feel than the Pirastro strings. Although Evah Pirazzi still prove to be the most popular Pirastro string of the current era, violinists do complain that sometimes the strings don’t have much to offer between not speaking and then being too much – this is particularly a comment from orchestral players who sometimes have to ‘tickle’ the string while retaining focus in very quiet moments, and a ‘squeak’ from the lower strings is sometimes a scary side-effect!
Like the new generation of Pirastro strings such as Evah Pirazzi, the Virtuoso strings are very smooth under the fingers, creating very little ‘shifting’ sound. Combined with the responsive but surprisingly low-tension feel of the strings will make them popular with orchestral players rather than the ‘soloists’ Larsen says they are aimed at.
As already described, the strings will make a dull violin sound brighter, especially on the lower two strings where this effect is achieved without high-tension feel in the strings. The G and D produce a similar tone, even in tone, without a ‘bump’ in the colour when crossing strings.
The strength of the strings is the projection and bright ‘brilliant’ sound on the A and E strings. Although a strength in that this sounds wonderful, and avoids the harsh sound or feel of high tension strings, an orchestral player here will of course have to balance this choice with the need to blend with their section. As always it’s a matter of taste and the quality of the instrument, but 1st violin sections seeking a brilliant sound in upper ranges should have nothing to fear from this feature of these strings. Even if the player decides the upper strings are too bright, they may feel that it’s worth using the D and G, and altering the choice of upper strings, maybe using a Hill E string instead.
These strings aren’t a copy of Evah Pirazzi, they’re different. But, because of that they’ll give Evah’s a run for their money, offering qualities that may appeal more to certain players, perhaps mostly because of the feeling of flexibility that they offer, certainly when compared to Evah Pirazzi’s potential to feel too high-tension for some players and some instruments.