Clueless guy looking for violin strings

My friend’s birthday is coming up. Music is her life, but she is flat broke and can’t afford to replace the strings on her violin.

I want to surprise her with a gift that will allow her to play again, but I also want to make it something of a surprise; I don’t want to needle her about the specifics of her violin, lest she catch on.

I do recall her once saying that she doesn’t play on cheap strings, which cost about $40, IIRC, but that she needs a set of strings that run around $130. I can swing that.

What I want to know, though, is if all strings in that price range are created equal. That is, do I need to know the exact model of her violin to get her strings, or is it pretty much a standard thing?

And is there anything else I’d need to know in making this purchase?

Read this link on finding good violin strings:
www.violinist.com/wiki/violin-strings/
This might be a little heavy for a non-violinist, but It gives some good tips.

That’s a great link from robcaro. If finances are an issue, then longevity/durability are issues. And they’re not the same thing - a lightly-used violin needs strings which aren’t going to start to lose some of their sound after six months. You probably need both.

I use Dominants, for durability (all day every day, Pirastros would be knackered in a few weeks), except for the E for which I prefer a sweeter sound from the Pirastro Oliv, even though it means frequent replacements. I’m only teaching, but plenty of orchestral pros use a similar setup.

As you might be guessing, it’s not a standard thing, but is almost entirely a matter of individual preference. You might want to find a way to not make the purchase in advance, but find a gift-voucher solution, either official or just by having a word with a local shop about paying a sum in advance and having your friend make a selection afterwards.

Oh man. This is more complicated than I had assumed. I had a feeling that might happen.

Now I’m worried that I’ll get the wrong strings and waste my money. Really, I know nothing about this kind of stuff.

EDIT: Thanks for the additional advice, GorillaMan. I hadn’t seen your post when I submitted mine.

Here is a good link to a fine set of strings:
http://store.musicbasics.com/vlnst-pr697s.html

No problem.

Maybe this is one of those situations where you can rise above the ‘gift=surprise’ thing, and sit down with your friend and say “look, I know you want a decent set of strings, let me get them for you as your birthday present - but you need to tell me what to get”. She will understand that it’s not something you could have done blind, and will hopefully be OK with the honesty of the approach.

I agree with GorillaMan… Get the lady what she really wants. The best gift is one that she knows and likes.

You could make her a gift certificate. “Good for the strings of your choice.” You could decorate it with little violins and birthday cakes.

Thanks all. Due to the problems of personal preference on this issue, I think I’ll just find out which area music store has the best selection of strings and get her a gift certificate there.