Blog, Tips & Tricks

Choosing Strings for Violin and Viola Students

If you or your child need new strings for your violin or viola – I have a few suggestions. There are dozens of string brands out there, and I am not listing them all, just those with which I have the most experience.


Beginners often need the stability of steel strings. They settle in fast, and stay in tune longer than synthetic. They’re also very inexpensive and forgiving of the little mistakes that so often frustrate beginners.

The most popular are SuperSensitive Red Label. The cost for a full set is about $22 on Amazon.

D’Addario’s Prelude strings are another excellent option for beginners. They have a warmer sound than the Red Label strings, so they can tone down a little of the harshness of some of the cheaper student instruments. They cost $16-$30 on Amazon.

Lower intermediate to advanced

For a player who’s not quite a beginner anymore, and approaching the intermediate level, there are a few options – I find that the d’Addario Pro Arte strings are a great value for the money. They’re synthetic, so take a bit longer to settle in, but if you’re not ready for the increased cost of something like Dominants, they’re a great string. They run about $30-$40 for a full set on Amazon.

Pirastro’s Tonica strings are a really nice step-up from steel strings. The price range is higher – $32-$60 – but they’re easy on the fingers and nice to work with.

Advanced and beyond

Here’s where things get interesting. The cost range gets higher, and the sound qualities differ more and more. Do you need a solid, high-quality string, but you’re not  quite sure what to get? Dominant strings are the obvious place to start. They’re the oldest of the synthetic strings, but aren’t right for everyone. My violin uses Dominant A-D-G with a Pirastro Gold E – it’s a popular combination because the Dominant E can be temperamental.

My viola, on the other hand, is very picky and only uses the dominant G with Larson A & D, and Spirocore C. I haven’t bought an actual “set” of viola strings in years because of it. A viola I used to own preferred Pirastro Obligato strings…

I’ve listed Dominants here, because they’re the standard for a good reason. Below, there are links to several other sites, where I’ve found decent prices on other strings and other items.


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