6 Best Cello Strings for Practice and Performance
There are countless options to choose from in Cello strings, with gut core, steel core, and synthetic core to begin with. After that, there are the numerous winding materials, the gauge, and the tension type.
6 Best Cello String Sets - My Favorites
To help you find the best set for your cello, I’ve come up with a list of my favorite cello strings. I’ll also go over the main properties and how to choose a set of strings.
The Helicore H510 cello string set by D’Addario is as versatile as they come, a property of stranded steel core strings. The winding process is controlled and conducted by computers to ensure precision and consistency between strings.
The sound is warm and clear, lending itself to a wide range of genres and styles. The multi-stranded strings are equally at home with slower or fast-moving pieces. What’s best about them is that they’re suited for all levels of players.
All four strings have ball ends and are optimized for a 4/4 cello with standard 27-1/2” scale. In a bid to maximize usability, D’Addario opted for medium tension for these strings. Pitch stability is excellent across all strings, and the longevity is also commendable. Also, these small-diameter strings afford a fast bow response.
The Helicore H510 strings are individually packed in sealed pouches to maximize shelf life and stave off oxidation and deterioration. They are designed and made in the United States.
Out of Denmark, Jargar is among the most reputable string brands in Europe. The mid-priced Violoncello Classic can deliver a quality of sound that more than justifies its price tag.
The strings are made of a combination of chrome and steel so they are very responsive and have a rather short break-in time. The core is steel and the winding is steel and chrome. All four strings have ball ends. The diameter goes from 0.75mm (A string) to 1.71mm (C string).
The Classic set is primarily made for classical musicians. However, players of other genres can use them, as well. Owing to the reasonable price, they’re used by players of all levels. Tension-wise, this set is available in forte, medium, and dolce.
There are good durability and responsiveness, and the strings sound closer to the warm end though overall brilliant and very resonant. Jargar also offers the high E string for this model.
The J1010 Prelude is considered D’Addario’s affordable strings. The set is perfectly suitable for beginners and students due to its low price tag. Intermediate and advanced players may not get as much from this set.
D’Addario offers the J1010 Prelude for all scale sizes from the minute 1/8 to the standard 4/4. ¼, ½, and ¾. Individual strings are available for all scale lengths.
Overall, the J1010 strings give a tone that’s on the warmer side. The bow response, though not stellar, is more than acceptable for the price. Since this model is designed as D’Addario’s premier student strings, you can expect it to be pretty durable.
The medium-tension steels have steel cores, which explains the warmth. Every string is individually packed in a sealed pouch for maximum life. In case you’re not aware, all D’Addario strings are designed and made in the United States.
If you’re shopping on a really tight budget, you might want to check out the Q Qingee Cello Strings. This is a bare-bones set that comes with very few bells and whistles.
These are steel-core strings, the most popular nowadays for the affordability. They are wrapped in steel as well. This gives them an overall warm sound. However, the bow response is nothing to write home about.
There are two available options: 4/4 (for standard 27-1/2” scale) and ¾ (for ¾ cellos). These are dolce tension strings that’ll put far less strain on your instrument than medium and forte. This also means that they’re thinner and easier to break.
Finally, at this price, you might as well buy some for backup.
If you’ve been playing cello for a while, you’ve certainly come across or at least heard of the enigmatic Evah Pirazzi Gold strings. These high-end strings are not named as a tribute to some little-known cello player of the past but after a co-owner of Pirastro by the name of Eva Muller-Zierach, who was born Pirazzi before taking her husband’s name.
The D and A strings feature steel cores with chrome winding. In contrast, the C and G strings have steel-rope cores with tungsten winding. The sound is clear, rich, and lacks any of the metallic sharpness characteristic of steel and chrome.
The strings have a stellar bow response across the dynamic range. They offer plenty of warmth and smoothness.
This set is only available for standard-size 4/4 cellos with 27-1/2” scales. Only medium tension strings are available.
It’s safe to say that the premium-quality and priced Larsen Original strings are rarely on a beginner player’s cello.
All four strings in the set come with solid steel cores. The D and A strings are wound with flat stainless steel wire while the C and G strings are tungsten. The Larsen Original offers a warm and deep sound of exceptional focus and projection power. The bow response is light and fast across the whole dynamic range.
It is important to note that Larsen also offers the high E string for this set. It is made with a stainless steel core and wound in aluminum for a unique sound.
You can buy this set in strong, medium and soft tension. All strings are packed in individual pouches to prevent corrosion.
Cello string cores are found in one of three materials: sheep gut lining, steel, or synthetic. Let’s take a closer look at each option.
- Sheep gut core: As the name suggests, sheep gut core is made of the lining of sheep gut. This is the oldest and most traditional core material. Gut core strings are reserved almost exclusively for pros. They’re expensive, hard to keep in tune, take a long time to break in. However, they offer rich overtones and a complex high-end sound.
- Steel core: Steel core strings are often referred to as all-metal strings. They can be either twisted or straight wire. These are the most durable and stable of all cello strings, as well as the loudest. They are available in a wide price range and both acoustic and electric cello players use them.
- Synthetic core: These have been around since the 1970s in a bid to imitate the sound of gut core strings while eliminating some of their shortcomings. They take much less time to settle in and are far less prone to temperature and humidity-related problems. Perlon and Kevlar are the most popular materials.
Many materials can be used for the winding. Most often, you’ll find various types of metal. Synthetic core strings routinely have metal windings. The most prominent include chrome, tungsten, and aluminum. Silver and gold windings are available too.
As you might imagine, just like in case of guitars, steel core strings are wound with metal only, such as steel or chrome throughout. But sometimes you might find one material for the lower pair of strings and another for the higher. Other frequently used materials include tungsten and aluminum.
Gut core strings can be unwound or wound. The former is often used for baroque instruments and the latter modern cellos. Standard metals are used for the winding.
The gauge or tension is also an important aspect of cello strings. There are three basic options: soft, medium and hard. The soft gauge can sometimes be referred to as dolce or light, while the opposite can be forte or heavy. Medium is pretty much always medium.
Lighter gauge strings put less strain on the instrument and are easier to press against the fingerboard. They are also easier to break. Heavy gauge strings tend to be more durable, but they put a lot of pressure on the cello. Medium strings represent the middle ground. They offer more projection power than light and put less pressure on the instrument than heavy.
You should pick a gauge that best suits your style and preferred genre of music. If you mostly play mellower styles and play gently, light gauge strings are the right choice. But if you play aggressively and faster, more dynamic songs, then you should consider heavy gauge strings. You could also go somewhere in the middle with medium gauge strings.
Many cello string models are available in various scale lengths. String sets are almost always available in the standard 4/4 (27-1/2” scale) size. Manufacturers often include other options optimized for ½, ¾, and 7/8 cellos. The more affordable ones may also be available in ¼ and 1/8 sizes.
All Strings Attached
Although often overlooked, the strings can dramatically change the sound of a cello, for better or for worse. Therefore, it is essential to make the right choice. Take your playing style, genres, and desired sound into account when choosing your strings. The budget may also come into play, but you should have no problem there with at least a few of my favorite cello strings.