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The Right Violin String for You

While there are many brands of strings, they fall into three general categories: Gut, steel core, and synthetic core. Which you choose depends on your instrument, technique, and the music you play. A good violin string shop should carry a wide selection of the best violin strings, and help you select the best for you.

Note: Since the terms “violin” and “fiddle” are equivalent, fiddle strings are exactly the same as violin strings.

Gut Strings

Gut strings were the only type available until the late 1800’s. The 17th century ushered in the process of wrapping a gut core with silver; today’s gut strings can be pure gut, or a gut core wrapped with silver or aluminum.

Not surprisingly, violinists playing Baroque and other historical styles prefer gut strings, whether pure, wrapped, or a combination. Gut strings typically provide a complex, rich sound with multiple overtones. However, they can be temperamental; they are the most susceptible to temperature and humidity fluctuations, vary substantially in response and volume, and they must be replaced more often than other strings.

Steel Core Strings

Thinner in diameter than gut or synthetic -core strings, steel -core strings produce a bright and sharply- focused tone, have a fast response, and maintain pitch extremely well. Their sound tends to cut through an ensemble, which makes them ideal for rock, country, jazz, and alternative players.

Often the preferred electric violin strings due to their brilliance, steel -core strings are essential on electric instruments with magnetic pickups, since only steel strings have the magnetic properties necessary for sound transfer.

Synthetic Core Strings

Constructed of various synthetic materials like nylon and composite fibers, synthetic-core strings’ complexity and tonal spectrum fall between gut and steel-core strings. They have much of the warmth and richness of gut, with the stability and durability of steel, which makes them the most popular type for bowed string players.

Even more recently developed are the composite-core strings, which combine multiple materials to create denser, stronger strings that are highly resistant to humidity and temperature swings.

Most Popular String Brands

Thomastik-Infeld
With synthetic-core (Dominant and Peter Infeld for violin) and steel-core (Spirocore) this manufacturer is one of the world leaders in violin strings. They have a long history of innovation in sound and playability.

Evah Pirazzi
Available in synthetic-core and steel-core, these are powerful, full-bodied strings from Pirastro with tremendous projection. They are ready to play right out of the package with very little adjustment time, and offer terrific tuning stability.

Helicore
One of the warmest sounding steel-core strings, Helicore by D’Addario deliver lush tone with a very quick bow response. They also have great pitch stability and longevity.

Pirastro
Pirastro offers warm, stable synthetic-core strings (Synox and Tonica), a wide variety of gut strings (Eudoxa, Gold Label, Oliv, Passione, and Passione Solo), and clear, powerful steel-core strings (Permanent, Permanent Soloist, and Piranito).


Additional Resources

Carriage House Violins

Carriage House Violins

Located in Newton, Massachusetts, Carriage House Violins is the instrument sales division of Johnson String Instrument.

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Resources

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Whether searching for a job, learning about the "Mozart Effect," looking for a summer music camp, or choosing the right instrument string, you need look no further.

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The Johnson String Project

Johnson String Project

A charitable foundation whose goal is to provide high-quality instruments to children who live in underserved communities and who are participating in El-Sistema-inspired programs in Massachusetts.

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The Johnson String Blog

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Information and helpful articles about the music and instruments we love.

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