What Are Dominant Violin Strings?

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
Violin players consider dominant strings to be the gold standard among synthetic strings.
Violin players consider dominant strings to be the gold standard among synthetic strings.

Dominant violin strings are synthetic violin strings produced by the Thomastik-Infeld company of Vienna, Austria. Violin players consider them to be the gold standard among synthetic string options, and the strings are arguably the most popular type of violin strings in the world. Thomastik-Infeld has changed its design for Dominant violin strings little since it developed them in the 1970s.

First produced by the Thomastik-Infeld company in Austria in the 1970s, Dominant violin strings are popular, synthetic versions of the strings.
First produced by the Thomastik-Infeld company in Austria in the 1970s, Dominant violin strings are popular, synthetic versions of the strings.

Traditionally, violin players and makers created violin strings from natural sheep gut. These strings were very flexible, giving players more control over the response they demanded from the strings. Gut strings were also rich in warmth and overtones, which are higher tones produced when playing a note due to partial or total multiplications of the wavelength of the fundamental pitch. The down side of gut strings was that they were sensitive to changes in climate, meaning that frequent retuning was necessary.

Violin stings were originally made from sheep gut.
Violin stings were originally made from sheep gut.

In contrast to gut strings, metal strings are made from substances like aluminum and steel. These strings last much longer than gut strings. They also are more stable in terms of pitch. They often sound far too bright, however, and they lack the overtones and warmth gut strings have.

Student and professional violin players alike needed a violin string that was a happy medium between gut and steel strings. The goal was to produce a string that had the stability and durability of metal but the flexibility, warmth and tonal color of gut. This is why Thomastik-Infeld set to work creating Dominant strings.

Dominant violin strings, with their nylon perlon core, do not have the metallic edge steel strings typically have, but they aren't as sensitive as gut strings to changes in weather. The flexibility of the nylon core provides a soft, rich sound that at the same time remains vibrant. The strings reportedly respond well to all types of playing, including both bowing and pizzicato.

Violins come in multiple sizes, the most common of which is the full size, or 4/4. Other sizes include 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and, for the smallest players of around three years old, 1/16. Dominant violin strings are available for all of these violin sizes. The strings also are available singly or as a set.

Although Dominant violin strings are the default string a violin player can choose comfortably, they are not suitable for all types of playing, nor do they suit all violins. Players may need a different brand of synthetic string depending on the qualities of their instrument and what they want to perform, as just the right combination of tone, flexibility and responsiveness is variable.

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    • Violin players consider dominant strings to be the gold standard among synthetic strings.
      By: kirvinic
      Violin players consider dominant strings to be the gold standard among synthetic strings.
    • First produced by the Thomastik-Infeld company in Austria in the 1970s, Dominant violin strings are popular, synthetic versions of the strings.
      By: zea_lenanet
      First produced by the Thomastik-Infeld company in Austria in the 1970s, Dominant violin strings are popular, synthetic versions of the strings.
    • Violin stings were originally made from sheep gut.
      By: Alta Oosthuizen
      Violin stings were originally made from sheep gut.