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Product Review: Larsen Il Cannone Direct and Focused Violin Strings (Medium and Soloist)

Product Review: Larsen Il Cannone Direct and Focused Violin Strings (Medium and Soloist)

Written by Joshua Smith, Assistant Showroom Manager at Simply for Strings.

Initial Impressions of the Il Cannone Direct & Focused (Medium, Soloist, and 0.28 E).

The “Direct & Focused” variant of Larsen’s Il Cannone strings are a new addition to their violin string range. They are available in Medium and Soloist tensions (with a bonus 0.28 gauge E-string), and yield a lustrous, powerful sound with a great clarity to them. This review represents my first impressions of each string after spending a week with them, with a quick comparison of the various Il Cannone E-string gauges and some general recommendations for the musicians these strings will suit.

For me, the “Direct & Focused” Soloist tension captures what Il Cannone strings are about. Though “focused” is an accurate descriptor, they are not thin - these strings offer incredible projection, with a sound that is dark and powerful. The response under the bow and left hand is immediate and feels easy to play, despite their higher tension. The strings were even in sound across the instrument, but there was a notable difference for how the G-string responded to the bow on my instrument. The response was not bad - just a little slower than the D and A. Of the two sets, the 0.28 gauge E suits the Soloist set very well, offering a dark sound at the expense of a harder sensation under the fingers and bow.

In its Medium tension, these strings retain the focus and silvery quality of the Soloist set while being sweeter in sound and allowing the instrument to ‘breathe’. The strings feel softer under the bow and left hand, but the strings still respond quickly and speak without being choked. I found the Medium E was a little thin in sound (especially after coming from the 0.28 E). This aside, the strings were well balanced and each felt very similar in response and sound. I did not encounter the different sensations in response between the G and other strings on this set, like I found with the Soloist tension strings.

E-string comparison: 0.28 gauge, SoloistMedium
In addition to their usual strings included in each set, Larsen include one 0.28 gauge E for violinists to experiment and find a sound that suits them. As previously mentioned, the 0.28 E (8.8kg) gives a much darker and rounder sound, with some more bow sizzle. It feels beefy and taut, but does not feel out of place or uncomfortable to use when paired with a suitable set of strings. The Soloist tension E (8.4kg) is still higher in tension than many other “solo” E strings, but feels well balanced, sweet, and powerful. As for the Medium E, I would turn to other E’s of the same gauge, such as Goldbrokat, for I found the sound to be a little thin.

The Larsen Il Cannone “Direct & Focused” are strings suited for the concert hall, for their response is fantastic and projection is significant. These strings are ideal for instruments which already have a rich texture and colour, for they will elevate the instrument and help it project. There is a possibility that these strings will lean towards being harsh and thin on an instrument that is already bright, but Larsen have many offerings that can cater for these needs.

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