Site last updated  
26th-Dec-2013

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Violin Strings

In order for a Violin player to get the best response from their
instrument, it is essential that the String selection for that instrument
  complements the acoustic properties and satisfies the players musical  requirements.
 


                                        Violin String Types :-


        1.   Gut Strings (Animal)

        2.  
Metal Wound Gut strings

        3.  
Metal strings

        4.  
Plastic  strings

        5.  
Metal Wound plastic strings

        6.  
Synthetic Strings

        7.  
String Makers - Contact Details

        8.  
References


 


1. Gut Strings (Animal)

Gut strings have been traditionally made from the intestines of sheep,
preferably castrated rams, “wethers”.  The standard Gut string is constructed
by twisting the fibres from the sheeps intestines between 2 hooks.
The number of fibres will determine the diameter of the string.
For increased flexibility one may put as much twist in a string as possible,
when wet.  This type of Gut string is known as a    “ High Twist ” type. 
As a result of these extra twists some tensile strength is lost, so these strings
are suitable for “Mid-to Low Range strings”.

Gut strings can be polished when dry, this makes the string look attractive and
can improve the vibrational trueness.  The disadvantage with polishing is that
it breaks some of the fibers and this decreases the overall strength.  This is a
problem only with the highest string of an instrument as it is under the
greatest strain when tuned up.
Gut tends to lack the power required by many modern soloists and its quick
response to changes in temperature and humidity necessitates frequent
retuning.

 



2. Metal Wound Gut strings

A Gut string may act also as a core on which metal wire is wound. The wire is
tensioned while being fed onto the turning core. 
Names such as “Wound” , “Covered” , or “Over-spun”, are applied to such
strings.
If the windings touch one another, we call the string “Close Wound”, but if the
windings are separated so that one can see the core between  the turns, we call
it “Open-Wound”.
In recent times string makers have been using flat ribbon metal windings.
Between each winding layer there is a winding or woven stocking of plastic
 fibers or ribbon.
An “Over-wound” adds smoothness to playing and quick response, at the
expense of variety of Tone.
In the 19th century the winding was of Copper, Silver plated copper , or Silver
 round wire.
In the 21th century the winding is of Steel, and Aluminum with flat ribbon and
flat ground round windings.
 


Acoustic Properties:-
Gut-core strings tend to have the greatest richness and subtlety.
A gut string produces a warm sound, full of complexity with rich overtones.
Gut strings are,  prone to the effects of weather , mainly Humidity and it is
essential they  must stretch on the instrument for over a week before they will
settle down and stablize . Despite this they will go of tune frequently.
Also Gut Strings do not last as long as the metal or synthetic strings and are
 much more expensive.


Pirastro – Olive. These premium strings have a brilliant sound with rich
complex overtones and a relatively fast response.
The Olive E is gold plated and has an extremely pure, clear and brilliant sound.

Pirastro – Eudoxa. The most popular of Gut strings before the introduction of
synthetic core strings, the Eudoxa has a warm, mellow sound with a slower
response than the Olive or synthetic core strings. Great on some older
instruments, they can be a bit dull on others.

Pirastro - Gold Label. An economy gut string with a sound mid way between
the other Pirastro gut strings. Available only in medium gauges.
The violin E string is popular for its brilliance.
 




3. Metal strings

Steel wire type string was introduced early in the 20th century.
The use of all steel strings for the “E” became wide spread during the first
world war. The use of the “Gut-E” disappeared by the middle of the 20th
century.  Many types of steel “E” string have become available now including,
Stainless steel, Chromium steel, Flat Aluminum winding on steel, and Gold
plated steel. Stainless steel, and Gold plated steel,  resist the corrosive effects
of finger perspiration.

The simplest steel strings are made from a single solid steel core which can
also be wound with wire. Multi-stranded “rope-core” gives a quicker Bow
response and reduces the brightness characteristic of many solid-core strings.

The “rope-core” is very flexible and slightly elastic, so will feel marginaly
softer under the fingers.
 


Acoustic Properties:-
All-metal strings, often called steel core, have a simple, bright, and well
-focused sound.
Their advantage is very quick response, a stable pitch and volume .
The "down-side" of the all-metal string is a thin or edgy quality to the sound
with few overtones and no real complexity.
Traditional, Folk and Jazz musicians often prefer steel strings for their volume
and pure, direct sound.

Thomastik – Spirocore. A bright sounding string with some edge. They are
especially popular with cellists who need a great deal of brilliance.
The cello G and C tungsten are high-tension strings with a big sound. The
silver G and C have less of an edge to their sound.

Spirocore bass strings are the most popular with musicians who play mostly
pizzicato.

Thomastik – Ropecore. Dark, warm tone, recommended by Zeta for their
electric violins. They can sound a bit dull on some instruments.

Pirastro – Chromcor. A bright string, excellent for inexpensive student
instruments, especially of small size.

Pirastro – Chromcor Plus. Available for cello in A and D and viola A. These
strings have a more sophisticated sound than the regular Chromcor.

Pirastro – Permanent. Available only as an A string for viola and cello. A high
quality string with a warm sound, especially good when matched with gut
strings.

D'Addario – Helicore. This string has a warm sound, unusual for a steel core
string. Cellists and violists especially like the G and C strings.
Violinists who play electric instruments have taken to these strings. Although
introduced fairly recently, the Helicore Orchestra bass strings are getting good
reviews.

Helicore bass strings. They are the Hybrid, Pizzicato and Solo. The Hybrid is
for players who want both a good bowing response and a good
pizzicato response. The Pizzicato is for the player who plays primarily or solely
without a bow. The Solo is a version of the Orchestra string designed to be
tuned a pitch up for solo work.

Jargar. These strings have been popular for many decades, especially with
cellists who have made the Jarger A the string of choice. The G and C
strings are also available with silver winding for a brighter, more brilliant
sound. Jargers have a warm sound when compared to most other all-metal
strings.

Larsen. These premium priced strings were introduced only a few years ago
and have become popular with cellists for their pure, clear sound. The
Larsen "Solo Edition" strings have a brighter, more brilliant sound.
Available as A, D and G (tungsten) for cello and A for viola.

Prim. These inexpensive, bright strings have an edge to their sound that is
popular with fiddlers and some cellists.

Supersensitive. Low price and durability make these strings popular with many school systems.

 





4. Plastic  strings

Nylon material as a single fiber is more suited to the application of the
Plucked instrument, such as Guitar, as its sustain properties are low.
In the case of the Bowed instrument  it allows a stable strong supporting
material to develop a metal wound string type.





5. Metal Wound plastic strings

This consists of a Plastic core “Perlon” with a metal winding on the outside.
This type of string has several advantages over the metal and Gut types of
strings. 
Good Stability, Consistency of string manufacture, Middle weight availability,
a long Life and very reliable in humid environments, with a good performance
over changing temperature conditions. 
An Example of this type of string is the “Dominant” string make, Developed by
the Thomastik-Infeld in Austria in 1970  which is an Aluminum winding over a
 “Perlon “ multi-threaded Nylon core.  This string type gives a “Bright sound “, and a warmth of tone.



String name
Pro ArteD-Addario
AricorePirastro
SynoxaPirastro
TonicaPirastro
OctavaSuper sensitive
SensicoreSuper sensitive
DominantThomastik-Infeld
 




6. New arrivals on the String Scene. (Synthetic)

In 1990 The Dutch company LARSEN Strings set up production and is now renowned for its high quality metal Cello strings.
D”Addario have introduced “Zyex”, which is a space age synthetic core which remains stable in changes of temperature, and humidity , also having a warm tone, which works well with bright new instruments. However it is a very expensive material.


ZyexD-Addario
VivaldiDogal
Larsen Violin (ADG)Larsen
Larsen Violin (DGC)Larsen
Evah PirazziPirastro
ObligatoPirastro
ViolinoPirastro
Infeld Violin Red Thomastik-Infeld
Infeld Violin BlueThomastik-Infeld

Acoustic Properties:-
Synthetic-core strings, usually made from a type of nylon called perlon, have a
rich, full quality and an easy, quick response. Although not as complex or
subtle as gut-core strings, the synthetic-core brands still share many of the
tonal qualities as gut strings.
In addition, synthetic-core strings do not need to be tuned as often as gut
-core, and stabilize after a day or two of stretching on the instrument.

Thomastik – Dominant. The original synthetic core string, made with Perlon.
Dominant strings are bright and responsive and are by far the most popular.
When new, Dominant strings have a metallic edge, which fades after a few days
of playing.

Pirastro – Tonica.  Brilliant like the Dominants, Tonica strings have a fuller
sound with more overtones and less edginess. The break-in time is very short
and is reported to have a long life.

Pirastro – Aricore. This was Pirastro 's first synthetic string. The sound is warm
and mellow like the Eudoxa. The D, G and C are popular with a number of
cellists who require a darker sound.

Pirastro – Synoxa. Very similar to the Dominant strings in brilliance. The cello
G and C silver work well with a steel A and D like Jarger and Larsen.

Corelli – Crystal. These strings are excellent for instruments with a very bright
sound. They have a warm, full sound that can reduce the harshness of many
bright instruments.

Corelli – Alliance. These premium priced strings have a kevlar core. Their
sound has more brilliance than the Corelli Crystal along with a richness and
complexity. Alliance strings also seem to have a longer life than most other
synthetic strings.
 




7.String Makers - Contact Details :-



AQUILA CORDE ARMONICHE S.a.s.   Gut String Makers
This web site contains many detailed articles on the
history of Gut strings
Via Aviano 16,
36030 Caldogno,
 Vicenza, Italy
Phone: (0039) 0444 986972
fax (0039) 0444 986399
E-MAIL:
aquila@aquilacorde.com
www.aquilacorde.com/home1.htm
 

BOSTON CATLINES
Olav Chris Henricksen
34 Newbury Street
Somerville, MA 02144 USA
(617) 776-8688
 

J.D'Addario & Company, Inc.
PO Box 290 ,
Farmingdale,
NY 11735
www.daddario.com
 

DAMIAN DLUGOLECKI, STRING MAKER
520 SE 40th Street
Troutdale Oregon 97060
Tel : (503) 669-7966
Fax : (503) 665-2738
Email:
damian@damianstrings.com
www.damianstrings.com
 

DOGAL CORDE ARMONICHE
DOGAL®S.n.c.. -
Cannaregio,
 6124/A - P.O. Box 318
- 30100 -
Venice - Italy
Tel. +39.041.5388281 -
Fax +39.041.935499
E-mail:info@dogalstrings.com
www.dogalstrings.it
 

NAOKI FUJII
Stuyvesant straat 9/1
1058 AJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 689 2058
 

GAMUT MUSICAL STRINGS
Dan Larson, String Maker
26 N. 28th Ave. E.
Duluth, MN 55812 USA
Phone: (218) 724-8011
Toll free phone/fax in the USA: 888-724-8099
Email:
dan@daniellarson.com
www.daniellarson.com
 

CHD STRINGS
Carl Hellweg
Postfach 720145
Lütgendortmunder Hellweg 12
44388 Dortmund
Germany
Phone: 02 31 63 2562
 

BERND KURSCHNER GbR
Strings for musical instruments
Speciality: gut strings
Obere Waldstrasse 20
D-65232 Taunusstein
Germany
Phone: +49-6128-6910
FAX: +49-6128-8207
E-mail:
kuerschner@kuerschner-saiten.de
www.kuerschner-saiten.de
 

NORTHERN RENAISSANCE INSTRUMENTS
Excellent Web site recommended for Detailed information on Strings.
6 Needham Avenue
Chorlton
Manchester M21 2AA U.K.
Phone: 44+ (0)61 881 8134
e-mail:
post@nrinstruments.demon.co.uk
www.nrinstruments.demon.co.uk/Guide.html
 

E. & O. MARI, INC. / LA BELLA STRINGS
256 Broadway
Newburg, NY 12550 USA
Phone: (914) 562-4400
FAX: (914) 562-4491
www.labella.com
 

PYRAMID STRINGS
PYRAMID Junger GmbH
P.O.Box 6
D-91088 Bubenreuth - GERMANY
Phone: 0049 (0) 9131 24064
FAX: 0049 (0) 9131 206642
E-mail:
sabine-pyramid@junger.de
www.pyramid-strings.de
 

PIRASTRO GmbH
Senefelderstrasse 80
D-63069 Offenbach am Main
Germany
Tel  +49 (0) 69 - 84 00 90 0
Fax +49 (0) 69 - 83 16 63
email:
info@pirastro.com
www.pirastro.com/homeset.html
 

SAVAREZ S.A.
Avenue Barthélémy Thimonnier -
 BP 133 - 69643
Caluire et Cuire Cedex
France
Tèl : (0033/0) 4 37 40 32 00 -
Fax : (0033/0) 4 37 40 32 10
www.savarez.fr/anglais/index.html

 

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SOFRACOB
SOciété FRAnçaise de COrdes en Boyaux
(French Company for Gut Strings)
Zone Industrielle
Reventin Vaugris
38121 FRANCE
Phone: +33-4.74.53.32.30
FAX: +33-4.74.53.38.25

 

SUPER-SENSITIVE MUSICAL STRING CO.
1805 Apex Road
Sarasota, FL 34240
Phone:(941) 371-0016
Fax :-  (941) 378-3617
email :-
supersensitive@supersensitive.com
www.supersensitive.com
 

THOMASTIK - INFELD VIENNA
Strings for bowed and plucked instruments
Manufacturers of DOMINANT strings
Diehlgasse 27
A-1051 VIENNA
AUSTRIA - EUROPE
Phone: +43-1-5451262-47
FAX: +43-1-5451262-43
Email:
infeld@thomastik-infeld.com
www.thomastik-infeld.com/start/index.html
 






8.References:-

(i) “The Bowed String” by Norman C.Pickering Sc.D. 

(ii) “Core Strategy” by Sarah Mnatzaganian   ( Strad Mag. August 2003)

(iii) “ Strings through the Ages “ by Ephraim Segerman ( Strad Mag. )

(iv) http://
www.johnson-inst.com
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STRINGS: FOR VIOLINS, VIOLAS AND CELLOS by Johnson String Instruments. Excellent reference on Acoustic properties of Strings.

(v) All the above web sites listed

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