Best Violin Strings in 2020 for Making Your Violin Cry
Are you looking for the best violin strings on the market to take your sound to a whole other level? – Don’t be fooled into thinking that paying top dollar is always the way to go.
When it comes to violin strings, you can’t always just go with reviews. Certain strings are more forgiving than others and not all violins benefit from the same materials, gauge, and tension.
10 Best Violin Strings for the Money
Check out some of my favorite violin string sets to see what you should expect in terms of quality and ease of play. Depending on your playing style, experience, and instrument, one or a combination of the following may just be what you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Violin Strings for the Money
- Understanding Gauge and Tension
- The Trinity of String Materials
- Matching Strings to Your Instrument
- How Often Should You Change Strings?
- The 101 on Loop End vs Ball End Strings
The Thomastik Dominant strings are used by both amateurs and professionals in a wide range of musical genres. The stable pitch and insane flexibility make them the ideal intermediate and expert strings.
The price point is very good considering the quality. And, these strings are also some of the most durable on the market. This alone makes them a good investment.
Thomastik was the first manufacturer to introduce synthetic core strings to the market. As such, the Dominant strings are considered an industry standard for nylon core strings in terms of tonality, flexibility, and durability.
This set contains the following strings: ball-end steel E, aluminum-Perlon A and D, and silver-Perlon G. All of the strings are medium-gauge.
For any type of string instrument, D’Addario always delivers in quality and affordability. Case in point, this set of full-scale violin strings.
The Prelude is intended for beginner to intermediate players. These strings are often used as teaching or practice strings due to their combination of warm tone and low pricing.
The strings are available in full and fractional sets. This is one of the reasons why I particularly looked forward to recommending them. Mixing and matching with other sets is easy and cheap with Prelude strings as your base.
What’s also nice to see is that the strings are available in light, medium, and heavy tension. This makes them compatible with almost any violin on the market. The pitch stability is on point with these solid core strings.
This 4/4 JSI violin string set is one of the most popular for violin virtuosos who prefer to mix and match strings. The combination put together by JSI features the following strings: Pirastro steel loop-end E, Thomastik Dominant aluminum-Perlon core ball-end A and D, and Thomastik Dominant Perlon core ball-end G with silver winding.
The set offers very good value considering the quality of each string. They go well with each other too. If your violin can handle medium-gauge synthetic and steel core strings at the same time, you’ll be able to enjoy quite a complex range of sound rich in overtones.
The flexibility is versatile and good enough for both beginner and advanced players.
What sets this set apart is the inclusion of a platinum-plated E string. The characteristics of this E string are loudness, long projection, power, and warmth.
The D and G strings are silver-wound while the A is a standard aluminum-wound string. All strings have synthetic core which will give them a very rich and bright tone. There’s also some nice flexibility to the strings, if you know your way around a violin.
I feel that the price point can be a bit steep for students and even some intermediate players. On the other hand, the amount of use that you can get out of the E string alone may be worth it.
If you’re looking to get some of the warmest tones out of your violin, you can’t go wrong with the D’Addario Helicore H310 string set.
The strings should fit any violin with a 13” playing length with ease. The E string is made of plain steel without winding. This is one of the reasons why there’s not a lot of projection coming out of the E but also why the tone is more consistent.
You can also choose between aluminum A and E strings when you buy the set, but you can’t have both in the same package.
The tension and gauge are yours to choose. D’Addario offers the Helicore H310 set in light, medium, and high tension. However, keep in mind that different gauges may also come with different windings.
Fiddlerman offers synthetic core strings at a bargain price if you consider the quality of the strings. The E is steel-wound and offers a powerful sound. The A and D strings are aluminum-wound while the G string is a classic nickel-wound.
The entire set consists of medium tension strings. However, the G string may require replacing if you want to get the best possible sound. The nickel plating doesn’t offer much tonal range.
In terms of playability, you won’t have any problems with these strings. You would have to be a true virtuoso to notice small overtone imperfections and changes in pitch.
7. Imelod V6
As you might know, I always make it a point to include at least a highly affordable option. Whether you’re a student that’s just getting started or you’re looking for some practice strings to plow through on a tight budget, the Imelod V6 string set might be one of the best choices for you.
These strings are steel core. The ball-end E is stainless steel. This gives it quite a powerful tone despite a lack of overtone richness. The rest of the strings have nickel-silver plating that gives them enough durability for your money.
The overall tone is quite vibrant and impressive for this price range.
The Pirastro Evah Pirazzi 4/4 is a medium gauge violin string set. It features a steel ball-end E string, aluminum and synthetic A, silver synthetic D, and a silver synthetic G string.
It’s not one of the cheaper string sets, which is why I recommend it to intermediate players and students, not so much to beginners. I also prefer these strings for soloing, again a reason for beginners to stay away.
The strings have decent warmth to them and are very flexible. But they stand out from the crowd thanks to their powerful projection. However, the strings can whistle quite a bit. That’s where being able to alter your bowing technique can come in handy. Luckily, only the gold E-string variant is susceptible to more whistling.
If you’re looking for something easy on the wallet, the Prim 4/4 Medium precision String set will do nicely. These chromium steel strings have real sparkle and can go well on a darker toned violin.
They’re not suitable for bright fiddles. That said, with enough bow control and proper technique, you can probably make that work too. Only the E string is slightly prone to whistling. That’s very good since it’s not uncommon for entire string sets to whistle in this price range.
The flexibility is good enough, but it doesn’t outshine the tuning retention. I like that all things considered, you only need to use a very light touch of the bow, and they never sound off the pitch when performing double stops.
The D’Addario Ascente is a medium tension violin string set. It’s defined by its expressivity and by how it can elevate most student violins in terms of sound.
The string set is quite cheap, given its premium quality. You will find these strings to your liking if you’ve been struggling to find pitch stability in other configurations. In a way, this is not too hard to believe, given the quality of the synthetic core strings, D’Addario is known for.
I also like that the strings are somewhat forgiving to beginners. On top of that, it doesn’t take more than two hours tops to break them in. That’s not something I could say for many others, especially not at this price point.
Understanding Gauge and Tension
Unlike guitar or bass strings, violin strings work differently when it comes to the gauge and tension. The two terms are sometimes used to describe the same feature even though that’s not always accurate.
The tension of a violin string affects the tonality. It’s rated at either light, medium, or heavy. Each material has its own average tension, regardless of the gauge. A good example of this is gut-core strings which are naturally light-tension strings.
In contrast, the gauge is the thickness, though the gauge and tension are often related. But again, depending on the material used, this relationship may have different meanings. Steel-core and synthetic strings have a higher tension than gut strings.
And, if you want to achieve similar tension in different types of string, you will need higher gauge gut-strings to match synthetic strings in general. Last but not least, remember that thick gauge strings may not always fit your violin. Always make sure to know the bridge and nut system setup before experimenting with new strings.
The Trinity of String Materials
Some musicians spend years trying to find the perfect string combination for their violins. More often than not, violinists actually experiment with and combine all sorts of different strings to get the most out of their instrument.
So, what should you know about string materials? – First of all, there are three types of strings used by both students and concert players: gut, synthetic core, and steel core.
Gut core strings are the oldest design. They have lower tension and a rich tone loaded with overtones. They also have a high degree of playing difficulty due to the slower response and constant need for tuning.
In comparison, steel core strings only became popular centuries later. The steel E was the first string of this design. It immediately took off mainly because the play style was almost opposite to that of gut strings. The response is fast and crisp, and the tone is very consistent. However, they may not match the complexity and richness of gut strings.
Synthetic core strings were first introduced by Thomastik-Infeld. Over the years, the composite materials have been continuously improved. For that reason, many professional musicians prefer synthetic core strings because they give the best of both worlds: the rich and complex tone of gut strings and the consistency and focus of steel strings.
Matching Strings to Your Instrument
If you’re new to playing the violin, then you probably didn’t realize it yet that each instrument has its very own tone. Certain characteristics define each violin, hence the reason why so many players experiment with tons of strings before settling on something for good.
It’s important to figure out the tonal characteristics of your violin before choosing a string set. Here’s why.
If you have an instrument with a predisposition for brighter tones, then using very bright strings will sound awful. Bright violins benefit more from darker or warmer strings. That’s because they help fill in the gaps if you will, and give the violin a richer, fuller sound.
When faced with this situation, you should consider synthetic core strings. These have a sufficient amount of brightness without going overboard on warm tones too. You may even want a very low tension string set if your violin is a bright screamer.
The same principle applies to a darker toned violin and bright strings. It’s all about finding the right balance and complementing the tonality of your violin with the strings. Unfortunately, this is not something you can learn overnight, just like all things violin.
How Often Should You Change Strings?
Weirdly enough, paying top dollar on violin strings doesn’t necessarily guarantee a longer lifespan. In reality, how much a string lasts has a lot to do with how you play it. How good your technique is, how aggressive the music is, and so on.
For some professional violinists, a string set will last one playing session or one concert. For others, strings can last weeks, months, even up to a year. Even though violin strings may look virtually intact from the outside, understand that the strings deteriorate at the microscopic level.
The core can suffer from something known as core fatigue, and the sound of the strings gradually declines, even though you won’t notice it. Therefore, it’s better to change violin strings before they go completely dull.
For a student, a violin string set can work well up to six months or even a year. Again, this is highly dependent on the level of practice, and more importantly, on the frequency of practice sessions.
As to how often you’ll have to change the strings, it is up to you. It will take some testing and figuring out your practice and playing habits before you figure out just how fast you’re wearing them out.
The 101 on Loop End vs Ball End Strings
Believe it or not, both types of strings are pretty much equally good. When it comes to affecting sound, neither design has a significant impact. But if that’s the case, then why is there even a debate? A never-ending one I might add.
Well, it all has to do with how the strings sit on the violin, how you string them, and how they look. The majority of players seem to prefer ball-end strings. These are known to be easier to use with most tuners and are also known to cause less stress per strand.
Loop end strings can be more difficult to work with when there’s a wide stretch in the split tuner claw. That said, once you’re experienced enough, these kinds of things won’t phase you one bit. In terms of playing, there’s no discernable difference between the two types of strings. It’s just a matter of convenience when restringing and tuning your violin.
Don’t Forget to Mix and Match
Violins are highly sensitive instruments due to their construction and the different way in which bowed strings behave and create sound. It’s easy for one or two strings to take center stage but that’s what you’ll want to avoid.
The answer would be to mix and match your strings to achieve that balance across all four strings. Nowadays, you’re no longer restricted to using a specific set or using only a different E string. Many of the violin strings in this article can be combined to create a balanced and unique sounding instrument that'll be comfortable for you to play.