An overview of what’s in the market
I copy here a noticeable update that was posted by Owen Pallett on Facebook:
On my instrument, I have tried three different Thomastik G-strings. (Thomastik were kind enough to provide me with an extra one when I suspected the first one to be false.) All three G-strings have sounded dull and unresponsive in comparison to the C- and D- strings from the same set.
The Larsen fractional 1/8th G-string, on the other hand, is lovely within the Thomastik set, on my instrument, at least. It is thinner in gauge than the Thomastik G-.
I tried out the other Larsen fractional 1/8th strings on my instrument, swapping them out with the Thomastiks, and consistently found myself preferring the sound of the Thomastiks. The Larsens are very responsive, but less "meaty" than the sound of the Thomastiks.
At present I am using Thomastik custom spalla C-, D- and A- strings, a Larsen fractional 1/8th G-, and trying several different options for the E-string.
This week I've been using a raw gut Aquila as my E-string. It is so much more difficult to play-- for me!-- than the synthetic options, but the sound of it is divine. I love playing with a raw gut A-string on my viola (and the rest synthetic), so having a raw gut spalla E- is a nice feeling for me.
I've recently contacted Aquila about some of their other E- options and I will try them out as well. For now, though, the lower four cello strings are sounding and playing exactly as I'd hope they would.
As it turns out the music for Violoncello da Spalla tuned a 4th Above would be Violin Music played 8vb. Stradivarius made a 6 String Spalla tuned CGDAEB
Thanks for writing such an amazing and helpful article! I have an update just in case it can help anyone else too. Thomastik has lifted the minimum order requirement on their Spalla strings and the price has come down (a little) to 430€ for a full set. That export email is definitely the way to go, but I still had trouble getting through sometimes when hitting 'reply' on the email thread.
Thanks for this interesting article, Daniela! In a recent performance I used the following string set up:
I - Pirastro Evah Pirrazi (green) viola A
II - EP viola D
III - EP viola G
IV - Spirocore viola C
V - Sensicore viola F (this is a synthetic core string)
So all the strings are viola strings tuned a perfect 4th lower than the pitch on the string package. I use Wittner geared pegs, so regular length viola strings can be mounted and tuned easily. Players using standard pegs may have difficulty keeping the strings mounted while tuning, particularly whichever string is attached to the peg closest to the scroll (typically the D or III string).
My thoughts on Thomastik synthetic strings for VDS — I have not tried these strings; however the price seems way out of line to me. Many custom string makers offer high quality VDS sets for around $200 for a single order. I don’t understand how one of the worlds largest string manufacturers charges 2x/3x as much for synthetics, especially with a minimum order. In my opinion, retailers purchasing multiple sets should be able to make a profit and still sell single sets for no more than $300. Thomastik’s VDS strings might be amazing but at the price they are charging I am not even curious about trying them. The prospect of spending $500-1000 or even more on strings every year is not acceptable to me when normal viola strings work quite well.
The cartoons are wonderful, the information is fabulous, and the whole Newsletter is a generous contribution to the revival of this beautiful instrument! Thank you!