In a previous article we briefly discussed the subject of String tensions and gauge. Cellists appear to be constantly searching for the perfect combination of strings, and for good reason. Every Cello is different and to maximise the tonal quality and projection of your Cello you need to settle on the combination that is right for you.
There are many brands available with the most popular – Pirastro, Thomastik, D’Addario, Larsen and Jargar – often used in various combinations.
The subject of string tension is important. One very interesting development is the Larsen Magnacore Arioso set which comes as a low to medium tension giving the tonal qualities of less tension, but not losing the power and projection of a harder string. Worth a try if you have an oldish Cello which may not be able to take a harder string.
Suggestions that follow are based on medium tension strings. This, however can be a bit tricky as manufacturers do not have a standard for the description ‘Medium’.
Taking the Cello A as a benchmark the tensions vary tremendously. For example Jargar A is 37.4lbs, Larsen A is 39.3lbs, Evah Pirazzi A is 40lbs and Dominant A is only 30lbs, which makes it really a ‘Soft’ string rather than medium.
Best Cello strings?
This is not an exhaustive list and is based purely on our own choice for setting up Cellos and also general popularity.
Larsen cello strings, often combined with Spirocore on the C and G. Very good bright and full toned. The new Magnacore replace the need of Spirocore.
Pirastro Eva Pirazzi. Full toned and projecting. Pirastro Gold series is warmer but still bright
Pirastro Obligato for the warmer sound of the synthetic core.
D’Addario Kaplan cello strings produce a rich and complex tone.
Jargar cello strings very popular for their warm clear projection – overall best value for money.
And the end of the day it is an individual choice finding the best combination of strings to suit you, your Cello and your playing technique.