Best Viola Strings 2018

Buying the best viola strings that make your viola sing can be challenging since there are so many brands available.  In order to help you find the best viola strings, we have reviewed and ranked the best viola string brands below. These are strings that we have tried and researched thoroughly so you can be assured of the quality. Our #1 viola string recommendation this year is Thomastik-Infeld – Dominant.

There is no one viola string that sounds great on all violas since each viola is unique. We recommend trying several different viola strings to understand which strings make your viola sing. Our list below includes viola strings that are rated highest by players, but you will need to find the best viola strings for your viola from this list.

What features should viola strings have?

The same brand of viola strings can sound different on different violas. The inherent uniqueness of each viola makes even the relatively stable sound of Dominants sound different. Therefore, you should try many different viola strings before you settle on the ones that make your viola sound the best.

Another great alternative is mixing and matching different viola string sets in order to get the best sound possible. In our “Popular Viola String Combinations” section below, you can see how people tend to mix viola string sets to get the sounds that work best for their viola.

While we do recommend trying different brands of viola strings, experimenting can get pretty expensive, so we recommend evaluating your budget for viola strings and adjusting accordingly. Even so, if you are a serious player you will want to find the right fit for your instrument and playing style. One potential solution to find the right string is buying a different brand each time you need to replace your strings and over the next few years, you’ll figure out which ones work for your viola.

As with violas and bows, viola strings vary on several main factors:

  • Gauge/Thickness: This is one factor you’ll want to experiment with. Guage is the diameter of the viola string and can have a tremendous effect on the sound.
  • Material: The materials used to make the string also have a large impact. Whether you go with gut or steel core will make the string sound and vibrate differently. Generally, modern strings are made from synthetic material wrapped in metal coil or solid metal.
  • Price: Typically having to be replaced at least once a year and costing upwards of $100 on average for a full set, viola strings aren’t easy on the budget. Strings are expensive, there’s no way around it.  It’s important to find a balance between sound and price while searching for the perfect viola strings.

While there are a lot of options for strings and you may feel perplexed at this point, this guide will help you select some starting varieties that will let you experiment with the sound of your viola.

Best Viola Strings 2018

Viola String Recommended For
1.  Thomastik Dominant Intermediate
2.  Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Intermediate/Expert
3.  Jargar Beginner/Intermediate
4.  Thomastik-Infeld – Vision Intermediate
5.  Prelude Beginner
6.  Pirastro Gold Intermediate/Expert
7.  Helicore Beginner/Intermediate
8.  Prim Beginner/Intermediate
9.  Obligato Intermediate/Expert
10. Super Sensitive Beginner

Popular Viola String Combinations

Violists sometimes mix and match different viola string brands in order to get the best sound. Instead of buying full string sets, you can find individual strings on Amazon, to save money and not waste strings.

A-String D-String G-String C-String Get Combo
Larsen Larsen Spirocore Spirocore Buy
Jargar Jargar Spirocore Spirocore Buy
Jargar Dominant Dominant Dominant Buy
Larsen Evah Pirazzi Evah Pirazzi Evah Pirazzi Buy

1. Thomastik-Infeld – Dominant

Recommended For:    Intermediate

Thomastik-Infeld Dominants are one of the most popular viola strings due to their flexibility and stable pitch. Many virtuoso violists use or have used Dominants as their primary string. Dominants have a very long life which makes them worth every penny. Dominants come in different lengths and gauges, so you’ll be sure to find a size that fits your viola.

Dominants were the first strings manufactured with a synthetic perlon or nylon core and have become a measuring stick against which most other synthetic viola strings are measured.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

2. Pirastro – Evah Pirazzi Gold/Regular

Recommended For:    Intermediate/Expert

Evah Pirazzi’s are used by a number of virtuoso players including Joshua Bell (viola) and Kristina Fialová (viola). While they have a high price tag, the sound is unmatched. Pirazzis offer a complex and warm tone with dynamic responsiveness and excellent projection. These are great soloist or concert hall viola strings.

Evah Pirazzi viola strings come in three different styles: Regular and Gold. For the beginner or intermediate student, we recommend the Regular style since these are the most cost-effective.The Gold viola strings set is intended for intermediate to advanced players who want a complex sound for solo play or for concerts.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

3. Jargar

Recommended For:    Beginner/Intermediate

Jargar strings are quite literally the most interchangeable strings. Although they sound perfectly clear as a set, most violists combine the Jargar strings with other strings. A common combination used with Jargar viola strings is a Jargar A combined with Dominant D, G, and C.

Jargars are available in a variety of gauges.

 

jargar viola strings

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

4. Thomastik-Infeld – Vision

Recommended For:    Intermediate

Thomastik-Infeld Visions are the smoother, richer cousin of the the Dominants. Slightly more expensive than the Dominants, Visions are great for the intermediate to advanced player who is looking for a nice complement to their finer instrument. They are great for solo players and orchestra players alike, but really should be used only for solo playing since the Dominants are a more affordable orchestra string.

These strings are brighter than most and sound great on more expensive violas, but may not be heard on lower-end student models. We highly recommend only getting these once you’ve moved on from a student model viola.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

5. Prelude

Recommended For:    Beginner

Prelude strings are the ideal beginner string since they cost less than $20 and provide a stable sound that suffices for any new student. These are good enough for at least the first year or two of playing, but after that, you’ll want to upgrade to a better set of strings.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

6. Pirastro Gold

Recommended For:    Intermediate/Expert

Another viola string brand that is a favorite among virtuosos, the Pirastro Gold series is popular for soloists. The strings are gut strings made from modified synthetic fiber which gives them a quick response and break-in period.

Because these are gut strings, playing on them is different than on regular strings. You’ll need to use the correct bow speed to achieve the right noise. Otherwise, we noticed a slight buzzing noise when the speed and pressure wasn’t right.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

7. Helicore

Recommended For:    Beginner

Helicore strings are great for beginners and students because they have a clear tone and quick response. For their high quality, they are on the higher end of the inexpensive strings sets featured in this list. Over the last few years, they have been gaining a reputation in pop music. Although the tone and quality is not as high as with other string brands, Helicore strings provide a great foundation for beginners and perform far better than Preludes.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

8. Prim

Recommended For:    Beginner

Prim viola strings are very inexpensive, but have a higher quality sound than Preludes. Swedish-made, Prim strings are bright and edgy in tone, making them great for popular and folk styles of playing.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

9. Obligato

Recommended For:    Intermediate/Expert

The Obligato strings for viola offer a slightly brighter sound than Evah Pirazzis. Obligatos are made of the same core material as Pirazzis, but they cost a little less. If you can’t afford Pirazzis, Obligatos make a great alternative.

obligato

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

10. Super Sensitive

Recommended For:    Beginner

Super Sensitive viola strings are great for beginners who just want to get their feet wet playing the viola. They are extremely cheap (less than $15 as of this writing), and fairly durable. Made with a steel core with nickel wrapping, these strings will do the job, but should definitely not be used by intermediate players.

See Pricing and Details on Amazon

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Bobby
Bobby plays both the violin and viola. He performs in several orchestras around the Pittsburgh area and is currently attending Carnegie Mellon University for his Master's.

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