REVIEW: INFELD RED VIOLIN STRINGS (THOMASTIK)
Infeld Red violin strings were introduced (alongside Infeld Blue strings) by Thomastik as an alternative to their venerable Dominant set. Thomastik claims to offer in their Infeld Red strings a warm, full and rich sounding string that can be mixed and matched with strings from their Infeld Blue set (designed to be a bright string) due to their well-matched tensions.
The Infeld Red strings certainly live up to these expectations. The set is superbly well-balanced and even across the strings, and delivers a rich, complex, vibrant sound with many interesting overtones and a large dynamic range. The gold plated E string is particularly noteworthy; it possesses a wonderfully sweet tone, with fullness right to the end of the fingerboard. I have found it not to whistle anywhere near as much as other gold plated E strings, such as the Pirastro Oliv and Obligato (identical E strings), Pirastro Evah Pirazzi and Larsen Gold E strings.
Often, strings that aim to deliver a warm sound lack a certain amount of focus, and the sound that they produce can be flabby, covered and somewhat "processed", as if a high-pass filter had been used to modify the sound of an instrument. Infeld Reds, however, certainly excel in their projection and clarity, and in my opinion help to bring out the natural voice of an instrument, versus trying to change it into a dark sounding instrument in the manner of, for instance, Pirastro Obligato or D'Addario Pro Arté strings. These qualities make these strings a viable choice for orchestral musicians, chamber musicians and soloists alike.
I have found Infeld Red strings to be quick-responding, comparable with the response of Thomastik Dominant, D'Addario Zyex and Pirastro Tonica strings. This is another advantage over strings such as Obligato or Pro Arté above, which can be frustratingly slow to respond. Some users may find the Infeld Red G string a little slower to respond than the rest of the set; I personally did not find this to be a problem on my instrument. The Infeld Red strings also last a long time, and can withstand heavy playing. They also hold their tuning well.
I did not find many problems with the Infeld Red strings, and the problems that I mention here would not prevent me from buying them again, though I am currently not using them as I am trying out other sets.
The strings can take a little time to settle. When first installed, they possess a somewhat metallic quality (much like Dominants do), and this takes up to a week to subside. This is particularly prominent on the hydronalium-wound D string, which tends to be the most nasal of the set, and can sound particularly so if the bow does not catch the string properly. However, playing them in will help the sound round out, and they keep their excellent tone for a long time. (This justifies their fairly high price as well!)
The other problem is at the other end of the strings' life - when they die, they tend to die out quite fast. At the end of their (long) life, the sound can become dull and unresonant to the extent that the open strings are so false that you cannot tell if the open strings are in tune. Cleaning the strings properly will help them last as long as they should: rosin tends to build up quickly on these strings as they have very smooth windings. The A string winding is normally the first to fray; I have normally had Infeld Red A strings fray at the nut but I have seen some where the windings split at the D on the A string (first finger of third position). This is quite common with aluminium wound A strings, though. If you perspire heavily, the E string gold plating can wear off, but I do not find this affects the tone.
All in all, this is a high quality offering from Thomastik, providing a complex sounding string suited to all genres of playing. I recommend them to advanced students and professionals.
Thanks to violinist Aditya Chander for writing this review.
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