How do you know which violin strings to buy?
Does it matter which brand of violin string I use? Yes! Choosing good violin strings can significantly improve the sound of your instrument. You may want to experiment with different brands to decide the sound you like best on your violin because the same brand of string can produce varied results on different violins. There are three main categories of violin strings: Synthetic Core, Steel Core, and Gut Core. For directions on how to change strings, visit Changing Strings.
SYNTHETIC CORE Synthetic Core violin strings use a core made out of a durable synthetic product such as perlon or kevlar, and are wrapped with metals such as aluminum or silver. Synthetic-core strings are designed to replicate the rich sound of gut strings, and feature a warm, bright tone without requiring the frequent tuning of gut-core strings. Brands such as Thomastik’s Dominant strings were the first synthetic string made, and still enjoy wide popularity. If you buy a set of synthetic core strings, many of these sets do include a steel violin E string.
METAL STRINGS All-metal violin strings are often described as having a bright, loud sound. These strings generally have a steel core, and are wound with various metals such as silver, titanium or steel. All-metal strings often remain in tune better than other strings (the steel core isn’t as impacted by humidity and temperature as gut-core or synthetic-core strings). For this reason, all-metal strings are often used for student violins (brands such as Super-Sensitive Red Label are inexpensive options often used by student violinists). Some violinists use E strings made of steel such as Pirastro’s Gold Label E in combination with synthetic-core brands for the other strings.
GUT CORE STRINGS Some professional violinists prefer gut-core strings because of the rich, warm sound they produce on their instrument. These strings are not as durable as metal or synthetic-core strings, and are more sensitive to humidity and temperature changes and often require more frequent tuning than other brands of strings. Many gut-core violin “sets” include a steel or gold-plated steel E string (G, D and A in these sets are gut core).
SMALL STRINGS Make sure you purchase the correct size of strings for your instrument. If you have a 1/4 size violin, you'll need 1/4 violin strings. Strings may be purchased in sets containing all 4 strings or as individual strings. If you're a beginner and your violin did not come with fine tuners for every string, you may want to consider adding fine tuners to your violin tailpiece to assist in tuning.
BALL OR LOOP END E STRINGS What’s the difference between an E string with a ball end or loop end? Ball end strings require a fine tuner with two prongs, and loop end strings are designed for one prong tuners, but often can be used with both one and two prong fine tuners. You may want to check to see how your violin is currently strung before ordering an E string. Although some E strings have removable balls, it would be safest to order the E string ending designed for your fine tuner. Ball-end adapters are also available which enable ball end strings to be used with single prong tuners.
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