Thomastik-Infeld: Viennese Strings for the World
The auditory world inhabited by Thomastik- Infeld begins where you wouldn’t necessarily expect, behind the dark red door of a rather unassuming building in Vienna’s residential fifth district. It is in these workshops at Diehlgasse 27 that the strings which have gone on to conquer the world from the Austrian capital are designed and produced. Each year, around 4.2 million strings are made here using precision technology. Every single one is inspected by hand before it leaves Diehlgasse. 97 percent of them are destined for export, to 85 countries. Today, the company has more than 400 official sales partners worldwide. Covering 22 product families, the range comprises strings for conventional stringed instruments, as well as for guitars and global music instruments. But what’s the secret behind a success story that has been running for more than a century?
Everything Under One Roof
Thomastik-Infeld’s handmade strings are ultramodern, high-tech products. Insights from the worlds of physics, materials and corrosion science, machine tooling and precision engineering all play a role. Painstaking planning and precise execution are all in a day’s work for the 206 employees, whose expert hands and eagle eyes are an indispensable part of the process. It takes around two years to fully train new team members. 78 percent of the workers are female. “This proportion is a complete coincidence,” explains Zdenka Infeld, who has been at the helm of the family company since 2009, and has successfully kept her employees together at a single location: “Given our commitment to quality, it is essential that our technicians, developers and quality control experts all work in the same building.”
The fact that this building is located in Vienna brings a number of advantages. The capital’s unique concert venues, where outstanding musicians perform, are known all over the world. And in many cases, the very component that makes the best acoustics possible in the first place comes from Vienna. “Vienna plays an extraordinarily important role as a center of string making. It’s not a long way from those famous stages to our workshop,” explains Nina Haberlehner, Global Marketing & Creative Director at Thomastik-Infeld.
Recipe for Success
The company’s path to becoming the world market leader in violin string making is down to a pair of Viennese visionaries who founded the company in 1919, imbuing it with their innovative spirit and passion for music: Franz Thomastik, Doctor of Philosophy and a violin maker who loved creative experimentation with strings. And Otto Infeld, who, as an engineer and technical expert, was the ideal partner. Creativity and courage, paired with precision and know-how, have been the foundations of the company philosophy from the outset. And part of its winning formula: since its foundation, the company has registered 80 national and international patents – more than any other string maker worldwide.
Thomastik-Infeld has been a driving force behind the development of high-quality strings for decades. Its efforts reached a crescendo in 1970 when the Dominant was presented, which has laid claim to the title of the most played and best-known string in the world ever since. Its synthetic composition delivers numerous advantages over the previous material of choice, natural gut. It is more resistant to atmospheric conditions and has a longer useful life. For more than 50 years, this string, released in a Dominant Pro version in 2021, has been beloved by musicians all over the world.
Listen and Improve
Whether it’s the Wiener Musikverein or the Sydney Opera House, New York’s Central Park or the Heavy Metal Festival in Wacken – Thomastik-Infeld has featured on the world’s streets and stages for years. Fitting instruments with strings from Vienna sets the tone for excellence. Another milestone in the company’s history came in 2019 with the establishment of Stringtelligence®. Launched to mark its centenary, this repository of information gives musicians around the planet access to comprehensive expertise at the press of a button.
Close cooperation with soloists and orchestras is another enormously important aspect of the company’s work. International greats from a host of different genres are regularly invited to make their own valuable contribution to product development and quality control. Personal feedback is invaluable – in spite of the enormous rise in technical expertise, no computer in the world can calculate sound quality. Musicians such as Ödön Rácz, Snow Owl, Aleksey Igudesman, Hilary Hahn, George Benson, Robert deMaine and the Emerson Quartet are just some of the artists seen coming and going at Thomastik-Infeld over the years. After all, sound is everywhere at Diehlgasse 27 in Vienna’s fifth district, Margareten.
Text: Maria Schaller