How to Choose an E String For the Violin

Deciding which E string to use on the violin is a very individual choice. There are numerous E strings on the market and opinions will vary from player to player. This article will look at several popular brands and their characteristics.

There are many different types of E strings. They include plain steel, wound, gold plated, silvery steel, multilayer tin plated steel, chrome steel and plain gut.

Plain steel E strings are by far the most popular and preferred strings. They tend to give the truest sound with the most brilliant and clear overtones. A popular string currently is the Pirastro Wondertone Gold. It gives a clean and clear sound with even projection. The light or weich gauge Wondertone can also minimize wolf tones on the E string. If you are looking for a string with a little more color, the Jargar is an excellent choice. It adds more warmth to the sound and is popular amongst many violinists. Another great choices is the Westminster. The 27 1/2 gauge E is a high tension string and, on some instruments, it will open up the sound on all four strings. The Lenzner Goldbrokat has been used by violinists for many years. It is comparable to the Wondertone Gold E string and gives a clean and clear sound. However, Lenzners do not tend to last as long as Wondertones. Other good choices for a steel E include Corelli, Thomastik Dominant #129, Kaplan Golden Spiral, Prim, D’addario, Larsen and Hill, in addition to the many plain steel E strings by Pirastro.

The new generation steel E strings are plated with various alloys including silver, tin and chrome. Silvery steel strings are comparable to plain steel and can give a little more focus to the sound — but at the cost of warmth. Pirastro manufactures these strings and they are sold as Evah Pirazzi, Wondertone Solo, and Passione. The tin plated E strings tend to have a more strident sound. Thomastik Vision uses tin plating. An excellent choice is the Pirastro No. 1 Universal E, which is chrome plated. This is a fantastic alternative to plain steel E strings, which can whistle. It retains the brilliance and clarity of plain steel — with an easy response — while eliminating the annoying whistle. This string is very good for violinists who suffer from hand perspiration.

Wound strings have been around for years. The two most popular wound strings are the Pirastro Eudoxa and the Thomastik Dominant #130. Both of these have a warm and rich sound, but lack the brilliance and clarity on harmonics and overtones. They tend to wear faster as the outer winding breaks down with use and perspiration — thus leading to more frequent string changing. Hence, they are a poor choice for violinists with sweaty hands. Another popular wound E is the Kaplan Solutions, which is designed for violins that suffer from a whistling E. On many violins, they seem to make the sound seem somewhat dull.

Plain gut E strings are primarily used by baroque violin players. Since they lack an outer protective wrapping, they wear very quickly. They have a thin sound and generally sound nicer when the violin is tuned below A440. The Pirastro Chorda is the most popular of these. Gut strings are affected by temperature and humidity and require frequent tuning. As an organic product, they have a shelf life and require frequent changing.

Of the four strings on a violin, the E string is the least expensive. Thus, it is often possible to experiment with several options to find the one that best suits both your tastes and your instrument.