New Violin Strings From D’Addario

D’addario Kaplan have produced two new string set, the Amo and the Vivo. The branding is a stylish clean presentation, on what used to be very traditional seeming products in the past, but how do they sound?

These are synthetic core strings, and it will be interesting to see how they fare with regular users of Evah Pirazzi, they come on one tension, which is higher tension than standard strings used to be, however slightly lower perhaps than Evah Pirazzi. This indicates that the manufacturers are aiming for projection, without the danger that strings will not speak easily (sometimes a complaint with Evah Pirazzi) or not be warm enough for some tastes.

The early indications are that they will be a great rival for Evah Pirazzi, with the Amo possibly providing a better balance with warmth than Evah. In order to help you decide, we’re offering a very limited number of discounts to try these strings, 50%off with the codes below. Simply copy and paste the code at the checkout. Each code can only be used once.

AmoAmo

50% off Discount Code: 4VB0R85B0ZJO

VivoVivo

50% off Discount Code: LI2EV6W1Z87Q

Tone
Amo
The best way I can describe these strings is “Warm Soloist.”  If you are looking for something to really darken up a bright sounding instrument these aren’t what you’re looking for, they have more subtlety perhaps.  If you have a brighter instrument and are looking for a soloist sound without the shrill that many high tension synthetic strings bring these are perfect.  They blended well with my violin which leans a bit on the bright side.  Across the G, D, and A strings the sounds was very balanced with a lot of power behind it. The E string stands out from the rest, but not in an awful way.  Projecting higher melodic lines was very easy with fast response and medium tension.
Vivo
Vivo is exactly what the name suggests.  This might be the liveliest strings I have ever put on my violin (Which at this point is a lot).  They are as bright as a metal string but will project over a large orchestra with ease.  Even though the E strings looks to be the exact same as the Amo I felt that it had more power and brightness in the Vivo set.Projection
Amo
Amo strings deliver quite a punch for being a warmer string.  I will definitely be putting these on my “gig” violin.  Having the  warmer tone, but projection that is comparable to other bright/high-tension synthetic strings.
Vivo
  The Vivo set is without a doubt one of the most powerful you’ll come across, with people reporting that they make an immediate noticeable difference, noted by colleagues!  If you are already needing more projection for a violin with a ‘duller’ sound, then without a doubt these will deliver

Complexity
Complexity is a difficult thing to pin down, however both sets are VERY rich in overtones.  Both sets had the rest of the strings constantly ringing with sympathetic vibrations.  With that said the depth of tone and richness that you would expect from a gut string or low tension synthetic is not obviously present in the Kaplan set.


Conclusion
It’s hard to look at D’Addario’s new sets without thinking about Thomastik-Infeld’s Blue and Red sets.  They should not be placed in the same ballpark by any means though.  Infeld Blue and Infeld Red act as a brighter and darker version of the popular Dominant strings which many consider to be a very “neutral” set across the board.  Kaplan Amo and Vivo seem to be more focused on the market of violinists that are preferring the big and brilliant sound like that of Peter Infeld, Vision Ti, and Evah Pirazzi. Amo
D’Addario’s Kaplan Amo creates a wonderful balance between a big soloist sound but more warmth that is hard to come by in that category of strings.  These strings are perfect for those that already have a bright instrument and would like to have a projecting sound without becoming shrill.

Vivo
D’Addario’s Kaplan Vivo is not for the timid player.  These strings will project to the back of any hall without a problem. They may be perfect for those who have a darker instrument already and need to brighten it up a bit.  They do hold enough richness and complexity to be a powerful player in the niche market of higher tensioned synthetic strings.
So, do give them a go, it might change how you feel about your instrument, other manufacturers are certainly determined to outdo Pirastro and beat Evah Pirazzi at some point, so it’s worth a go, and don’t forget you can use our discount code above  – there are a limited number of codes, and then they’re gone they’re gone. Good luck!
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Larsen Virtuoso violin strings in an orchestral context

Larsen Virtuso Review – Orchestral Playing

I thought I’d write a review of my experience of using the Larsen Virtuoso strings in an orchestral violin section, specifically the 2nd violin section. I hope it’ll be of use simply because I was really surprised at how well they worked in that setting when they’re billed as ‘soloist’ strings. They really suited my violin on which I’d previously used Evah Pirazzi, and their flexibility suited quiet orchestral/section playing as much as big solo playing.

I’d always wondered about Evah Pirazzi being just too hard in a way, and I’d always wanted to try the soft version of them but never got around to it, so maybe that’s the next stop to make a better comparison with the Larsen Virtuoso.  The first half of the program the day I first tried the strings was Brahms 2nd Piano concerto, which requires gutsy tutti playing, and delicate accompaniment, but with beautiful piano melodic playing too. The Virtuoso strings just seemed perfect for that, there are no two ways about it! The strings speak more easily than, and have a flexibility that means that you can play with expression in the piano sections, and that I think is the key to good strings for orchestral playing. The Evah’s tended to not speak well with delicate touch, and so you had the concern that you weren’t playing with enough quality and expression in very soft, but melodic passages. The Evah Pirazzi’s are very responsive of course because they feel higher tension, so it’s hard to put your finger on how to describe it…but it’s something to do with the Virtuoso speaking with less effort/pressure. With Evah’s if I played them in the same way, you’d worry that they might ‘squeak’ or something, but satisfyingly not so with the Virtuoso strings.

Evah Pirazzi feel very smooth (and maybe have a nice wider feeling to the profile of the string) but the Virtuoso feel so supple, so that string crossing and everything just feels a little bit easier.

A disclaimer is that every time you change your strings, you’ve probably left it too long! So this could definitely be an element in the big transformation I felt, I think it’s way too long since I changed my strings. I wanted to write about these however because I’ve not heard anyone else talking about them and I thought they were fantastic, particularly good for section playing, and had more versatility than Evah Pirazzi.

Of course everyone’s instrument is different, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a lot more of these strings in violin sections in the coming months and years, which would be a big turnaround for Larsen who haven’t been favoured by violinists for some time.

Infeld Red Violin Strings Review

REVIEW: INFELD RED VIOLIN STRINGS (THOMASTIK)

Infeld Red violin strings were introduced (alongside Infeld Blue strings) by Thomastik as an alternative to their venerable Dominant set. Thomastik claims to offer in their Infeld Red strings a warm, full and rich sounding string that can be mixed and matched with strings from their Infeld Blue set (designed to be a bright string) due to their well-matched tensions.

Pros

The Infeld Red strings certainly live up to these expectations. The set is superbly well-balanced and even across the strings, and delivers a rich, complex, vibrant sound with many interesting overtones and a large dynamic range. The gold plated E string is particularly noteworthy; it possesses a wonderfully sweet tone, with fullness right to the end of the fingerboard. I have found it not to whistle anywhere near as much as other gold plated E strings, such as the Pirastro Oliv and Obligato (identical E strings), Pirastro Evah Pirazzi and Larsen Gold E strings.

Often, strings that aim to deliver a warm sound lack a certain amount of focus, and the sound that they produce can be flabby, covered and somewhat “processed”, as if a high-pass filter had been used to modify the sound of an instrument. Infeld Reds, however, certainly excel in their projection and clarity, and in my opinion help to bring out the natural voice of an instrument, versus trying to change it into a dark sounding instrument in the manner of, for instance, Pirastro Obligato or D’Addario Pro Arté strings. These qualities make these strings a viable choice for orchestral musicians, chamber musicians and soloists alike.

I have found Infeld Red strings to be quick-responding, comparable with the response of Thomastik Dominant, D’Addario Zyex and Pirastro Tonica strings. This is another advantage over strings such as Obligato or Pro Arté above, which can be frustratingly slow to respond. Some users may find the Infeld Red G string a little slower to respond than the rest of the set; I personally did not find this to be a problem on my instrument. The Infeld Red strings also last a long time, and can withstand heavy playing. They also hold their tuning well.

Cons

I did not find many problems with the Infeld Red strings, and the problems that I mention here would not prevent me from buying them again, though I am currently not using them as I am trying out other sets.

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Larsen Crown Cello Strings

Larsen Crown Strings crown_a_thumb

These are very little-known strings from Larsen, the makers of the most popular top-end cello strings. The fact that their top-end set (Magnacore) costs over £200, makes it a bit surprising that they also offer one of the cheapest good-quality cello sets at just £71.99 from simplystrings.com.

A similar set of strings in competition with Crown might be Kaplan or Jarger, but the Crown strings are some £30 cheaper than Jarger. It might be the case that if you’re looking for a good quality steel core string to perk up a student instrument, then these are in a niche of their own. In the past we’ve had customers who had wanted to upgrade strings for a cello for a student, but understandably without being willing to spend almost £100 for a nice set of metal core strings. So, it seems that Larsen maybe are trying to fill that niche with these Crown strings as a set.

As far as the professional payer may feel about these strings , some players are more than happy to use the A and D strings on a professional level instrument, regarding them to be similar to Kaplan, often using them in conjunction with more expensive G and C strings such as Spirocore Tungsten. To a professional player, the G and C Crown strings will seem unresponsive compared to more expensive strings such as Magnacore which are specifically constructed to mitigate the natural problems getting a thicker string to speak and be flexible and responsive.

So, the A and D strings can be used in a variety of circumstances, but the whole set represents an excellent high-quality steel-core set, which not bargain basement by any means, are excellent value and one of the cheapest good-quality sets on the market.

Pirastro Passione Violin Strings

Passione Violin strings

So, Passione are the latest gut-core strings from Pirastro, and have been developed many years after the Oliv strings, possibly the most famous gut-core strings. Was it time for a new take on gut strings, or have new synthetic varieties made the need for sheep gut a thing of the past?

 

I think it would be easier to discount the gut versus synthetic question if it wasn’t for that mysterious quality that gut strings can produce; the complexity of sound with a gut core string. It’s hard to define, but it’s intuitively obvious when you think about it, a natural material is likely to have more complexity than something man-made like nylon. (think of carbon fibre bows versus the best pernumbuco; the carbon bow may be capable of being reproduced many times in an identical way, and performing reliably and predictably. However, few would argue that carbon fibre bows, even at the top end, are going to compete with the best Hill & Sons Ltd or Sartori. However, therein lies the potential downside of gut, of course there may be the potential for variation and gut responds to the environment around it more than a synthetic core string would.

 

Of course when we’re talking about gut strings, we mean something with gut at the core, covered, wound, with a metal material, and there is much variation in this method and material used. Pirastro say that Passione, like Oliv, are hand-made when it comes to the gut element. The D and G strings are silver covered, and the A aluminium. Passione strings are without the multiple variations as with Oliv in terms of variations and materials (but perhaps needed with Oliv to try to mitigate the potential pitfalls of gut)

Pirastro are clearly keen to promote the idea that these are gut strings with the stability of synthetic core strings. They are different to Oliv and Eudoxa in that they don’t have the traditional ‘loop’ end to the D and G strings, but the A, D, and G all have the ball end we’re used to with synthetic strings. It is certainly the case that Passione settle quicker and are more stable than Eudoxa or Oliv, but they are of course going to respond to the environment more than synthetic core strings – the question is: is the variation within acceptable levels for today’s musicians, and does the quality of the sound outweigh any potential downside? This question is very much down to the particular instrument and player, and type of music-making they are involved in, but probably the answer is yes.

Performance

The A, D and G strings do seem to have that wonderful warm and interesting quality with gut core strings, the complexity of overtones previously only experienced with Oliv or Eudoxa. They are responsive, feel good under the fingers, very smoothly wound, but the E string therefore seems a little ‘ordinary’ in comparison, and violinists may wish to marry a different E string with the Passione A, D, and G, something like Hill or the wound Eudoxa E.

For variation in responsiveness, attack and brightness or tone, you can experiment with the 3 different gauges. For a more exciting option people may find that the Passione Solo strings are more to their liking. These strings are only available in medium, but they are thicker than the medium gauge regular Passione strings and therefore slightly higher tension..

Ultimately they are probably a compromise; more reliable like synthetic, but with a more complex tone. The problem with compromise is possibly not being one thing or another – do they really have the same complexity of sound as the legendary D and G Oliv strings, but if you want to experience gut without as much of the worry, they’re definitely worth trying.

TONE ITEM DESCRIPTION SIZE PEG END TAILPIECE END ART.NO.
E Ball Silvery Steel 25.5 Envelope 4/4 311311
E Ball Silvery Steel 26 Envelope 4/4 311321
E Ball Silvery Steel 26.7 Envelope 4/4 311331
E Loop Silvery Steel 25.5 Envelope 4/4 311911
E Loop Silvery Steel 26 Envelope 4/4 311921
E Loop Silvery Steel 26.7 Envelope 4/4 311931
A Gut/Aluminum 13 Envelope 4/4 219221
A Gut/Aluminum 13 Straight 4/4 219222
A Gut/Aluminum 13 1/4 Envelope 4/4 219231
A Gut/Aluminum 13 1/4 Straight 4/4 219232
A Gut/Aluminum 13 1/2 Envelope 4/4 219241
A Gut/Aluminum 13 1/2 Straight 4/4 219242
A Gut/Aluminum 13 3/4 Envelope 4/4 219251
A Gut/Aluminum 13 3/4 Straight 4/4 219252
A Gut/Aluminum 14 Envelope 4/4 219261
A Gut/Aluminum 14 Straight 4/4 219262
D Gut/Silver 13 Envelope 4/4 219321
D Gut/Silver 13 Straight 4/4 219322
D Gut/Silver 13 1/4 Envelope 4/4 219331
D Gut/Silver 13 1/4 Straight 4/4 219332
D Gut/Silver 13 1/2 Envelope 4/4 219341
D Gut/Silver 13 1/2 Straight 4/4 219342
D Gut/Silver 13 3/4 Envelope 4/4 219351
D Gut/Silver 13 3/4 Straight 4/4 219352
D Gut/Silver 14 Envelope 4/4 219361
D Gut/Silver 14 Straight 4/4 219362
G Gut/Silver 16 Envelope 4/4 219421
G Gut/Silver 16 Straight 4/4 219422
G Gut/Silver 16 1/4 Envelope 4/4 219431
G Gut/Silver 16 1/4 Straight 4/4 219432
G Gut/Silver 16 1/2 Envelope 4/4 219441
G Gut/Silver 16 1/2 Straight 4/4 219442
G Gut/Silver 16 3/4 Envelope 4/4 219451
G Gut/Silver 16 3/4 Straight 4/4 219452
G Gut/Silver 17 Envelope 4/4 219461
G Gut/Silver 17 Straight 4/4 219462
SET E-Ball Mittel Envelope 4/4 219021
SET E-Ball Mittel Straight 4/4 219022
SET E-Loop Mittel Envelope 4/4 219025
SET E-Loop Mittel Straight 4/4 219026