The Violin Channel recently caught up with Mr. Franz Klanner, Thomastik-Infeld’s Director of Engineering and Technology, to discuss the new Dominant Pro Violin Set.
Tell us about the new Thomastik-Infeld Dominant Pro violin set.
Dominant Pro® is a new generation of strings! The set No. DP100 is ideally suited for chamber musicians, soloists, and orchestra musicians alike. The set is very balanced between the individual strings and delights with a bell-like sound that fills the room.
In the first three to five hours of playing, the strings feel a touch softer and sound a little warmer than they do for the rest of their lifespan. Within these first hours of playing, a newly strung set has achieved its full performance capability in terms of sound and can look forward to a long life from then on. Then the strings open up, sound more brilliant and open, and feel a little tighter beneath the fingers.
Dominant Pro® comes as a pre-composed set, but also offers various additional string alternatives to meet your individual sound ideas, tastes, playing styles, and your instrument's needs. This Extended Line offers three additional E-string alternatives as well as one additional A-string and one additional D-string and is to be launched in July 2021.
After 50 years of such worldwide success with the Dominant set, why have you decided to add a new variation to the Thomastik-Infeld family?
Fifty years ago, Thomastik-Infeld was the first string manufacturer in the world to successfully produce violin strings with a synthetic core of extremely fine nylon fibers. DOMINANT strings combined the qualities of outstanding steel strings (first-rate tuning stability and a high degree of resistance to bow pressure), with those of very good gut strings (low string tension and excellent modulation capability), and have remained the industry standard through today.
Since 1970, though, the playing styles and ideas surrounding sound have been expanded. With increased regularity, musicians asked for the development of an additional set similar to, but expanding upon, the possibilities of DOMINANT strings. We answered this request with the launch of Dominant Pro® and the set No. DP100, offering an additional, contemporary repertoire of strings while keeping the basic character of DOMINANT.
How do the Pro strings differ to the standard Dominant set?
Dominant Pro® is very balanced between the individual strings and is more focused and darker than DOMINANT. The set also has a greater resistance to bow pressure and a larger dynamic range, and as I mentioned, scores with a bell-like sound that fills the room directly after stringing.
The strings have a powerful, clear, and loud voice with a high ability to sustain sound. Despite the direct response, these strings give you the possibility to create a broad range of sound colors. When required, Dominant Pro® asserts itself very well against the sound of an entire orchestra, in comparison to DOMINANT. The projection in a hall has also been reinforced.
What makes the Dominant strings so reliable and loved?
Back in 1970, we wanted to develop an alternative to the gut string, which was widespread, but unstable in terms of its sound and which caused difficulties when trying to maintain the atmosphere, especially when playing open strings.
With the invention of DOMINANT, Thomastik-Infeld provided strings that combined the warm tone of the gut string with the stability and durability of the steel string. With these features, DOMINANT made it possible to explore entirely new spheres of sound and interpret musical pieces in a completely new way.
Today, similar to the past, DOMINANT violin strings do not alter the properties of the instrument, but instead underscore their character. They are honest, and to an extent, they are a kind of truth serum for the nature of the instrument. Consequently, DOMINANT strings are used by luthiers as a reference tool for assessing the sound and playability of an instrument.
Thanks to their versatility, DOMINANT strings are optimally suited for instruments new and old, as well as for the majority of musical genres. DOMINANT strings came as a revolution to the music world: they continue to convince with honesty, stability and consistency, and still are the most played violin strings in the world!
What was the process for developing the new set? Did you work closely with musicians?
Working closely with international musicians has always been key for our ongoing development. We also collaborate daily with top-class, international artists, and the development of Dominant Pro® was no exception in that matter. When it comes to designing a new string, though, it's important to keep in mind that making a high-quality music string is a science all of its own.
On average, it takes us up to two years to fully develop and design the specific formula for a new string! First, we decide on the tension and work on a detailed definition of the properties that the string should have. According to the desired sound and handling properties, we decide on the type and number of intermediate layers and a surface material. Then it comes to really intensive quality and sound testing. That’s numerous hours in our testing rooms and lots and lots of calls with musicians who give us their feedback.
Since many Thomastik-Infeld artists already play DOMINANT, we also wanted to learn their feelings about the name of the new set Dominant Pro®, so we did a survey of that too. Overall, the honest and inspiring dialogue between virtuosos and engineers is decisive for the continuous improvement of the existing products and the development of new products.
For which violinists are the Dominant Pro set most suited?
Musicians usually have very different demands and a string needs to meet all of them. A high-quality string has to bring out the qualities of their different instruments, shaping and supporting its very own personality.
That being said, what works for one musician might not work for another, and one string that is a game-changer for one musician, might not convince another. This is due to different playing styles, bowing techniques, instruments, genres, but also to what musicians seek for in their play and sound.
Good thing, our repertoire is vast and covers almost everything! Dominant Pro® is ideally suited for musicians looking for lots of tonal colors, a vast modulation and projection capacity, as well as exceptional power and a high resistance to bow pressure.
How can we learn more about the new set?
The best place to learn all about Thomastik-lnfeld's new strings is dominantpro.com! You'll find detailed information, descriptions, and ratings of the strings included in the set No. DP100, as well as the strings of Dominant Pro® 's Extended Line. Also available, is a direct and honest comparison tool to understand the differences of all Dominant Pro® strings, as well as the differences and commonalities between them and DOMINANT. An updated sound chart and artist reviews are available, as well a comprehensive information brochure that you may download as a PDF.
For all those who prefer watching a video over reading, you will also find a video tutorial explaining everything there is to know about Dominant Pro® including its differences to DOMINANT. And there are even more videos coming up, bringing Dominant Pro® to life and giving you an idea of its tonal character as well as letting you sneak a peek behind the scenes. We'll be publishing these videos gradually on our Youtube Channel and the Thomastik-Infeld Video Library, so stay tuned on exclusive Dominant Pro® content starring violinists Emmanuel Tjeknavorian, Anton Sorokow and Aleksey Igudesman!