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!

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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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

Larsen Virtuoso Strings, introduction and review

Larsen Virtuoso Strings Review

violin_virtuoso_a

Larsen Virtuoso violin strings

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.

General

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!

Feel

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.

Tone Quality

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.

Conclusion

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.

Let us know what you think about the Virtuoso strings! Submit your own review at simplystrings.com

Pirastro Violin Options

Here’s a list of strings currently available from Pirastro for the violin

aricore_thumb

Aricore

chorda_thumb

Chorda baroque/gut strings

eudoxa-violin-a_thumb

Eudoxa gut core

chromcor_thumb

Chromcor steel strings

evahgold_thumb

Evah Pirazzi Gold synthetic core

Evah-sm

Evah Pirazzi synthetic core

Flexocor_Cello_thumb_edited-1

Flexocor Permanent steel core

gold_e_large_thumb

Gold label, gut core

obligato_thumb

Obligato synthetic core

Oliv_thumb

Oliv gut core

passione250_thumb

Passione gut core

Piranito_thumb

Piranito steel core

Synoxa_thumb

Synoxa synthetic core

tonica_thumb

Tonica steel core

violino_thumb

Violino synthetic core

wondertone250_large_thumb

Wondertone Solo synthetic core

Introducing String Choices

These days there is more choice than ever when choosing strings, and it can be expensive to experiment and discover that something isn’t the best choice for your instrument (it’s all very personal and specific to your instrument afterall) so we’d like to help by beginning to discover and explain more for you about the strings on offer so that it may save you time and money in trying new things.

It’s not as simple anymore as steel bad, gut good but unreliable, but let’s begin with some basics.
Doubtlessly, many a violinist has had to struggle with the eternal conundrum: what strings to buy? Steel, synthetic or gut? Most violinists tend to choose either of the latter two, but still it remains a difficult problem.

Before we begin: steel strings are the most durable, followed by synthetic strings. Gut strings come in last on this front. On the other hand, gut strings possess the richest tone, followed by synthetic strings. In last place, we have steel strings.

Steel Strings
These strings often come along with cheap beginner instruments, because they are cheap to manufacture, and because they are virtually indestructible, being able to withstand almost any kind of abuse. However there are now more sophisticated steel strings for the student market such as Pirastro Chromcor, and the like, and for the cello there are innovations such as the Passione set of strings which brings the bright benefits of steel to the A and D strings, with the warmer G and C in gut.
Metal strings can be harsher, brighter, but speak more immediately and can be very responsive. Violinist will struggle over deciding between the bright steel E strings, or the more expensive wound strings provided in set such as Dominant, Eudoxa and others.

Synthetic Strings
Synthetic strings are a compromise between steel strings and gut strings, promising both satisfactory durability and richness of tone. Synthetic strings have come to dominante in recent years with innovations in the way in which the strings ‘speak’, colour of the sound and durability. For example, Evah Pirazzi strings are bright synthetic strings, whereas Obligato are also synthetic violin strings, but produce a darker sound. Their comparatively low price, and a good balance between rich overtones, tuning stability and durability make them an easy bet.
Synthetic strings are generally made of engineered nylons or other composite materials, judged to be able to produce tones that do not have the faults of steel strings, while approaching the tone of gut strings.

Gut Strings
Nowadays, when we refer to gut strings, we usually refer to strings that have a gut core, rather than pure gut strings. The classic got core strings are the leading strings from Pirastro Eudoxa and Oliv. Either way, these strings are the most high-maintenance and expensive strings you will ever purchase, but they are able to produce rich and complex overtones that justify their cost. They don’t last as long as synthetic strings, and their pitch tends to vary with changes in temperature. However, if you are able to afford them on regular intervals, you may well find yourself addicted to the sound. Again, recent innovations have changed the status quo again, with sets such as Passione from Pirastro providing an updated take on gut strings with greater durability and reliability.

This is just a beginning, and we’ll begin to look into brand and types of strings in more detail with articles on a regular basis.