Choosing the best cello strings can be a challenge when there are so many options on the market. It often starts out as a journey and winds up with players developing a well-found knowledge of the various string options and what they prefer for their instrument and playing style.
With that being said, there is no single “best” cello string, for an experienced player, it takes a lot time and money (yeah strings are expensive) to experiment different strings so as to find the right set or combination that would most enlighten your playing, but if you are relatively new to Cello or relatively lazy, you can just stick to this guide as we have listed 10 of the most highly-rated cello string in the market, you won’t go wrong with them.
Cello String Type
Like violin strings, cello strings come in three types as well — Gut core, Synthetic core and Steel core.
These strings are made from the gut lining of sheep. Gut strings were the only strings available for the first several centuries of string instrument existence. Known for having the warmest sounds – and considered the most complex and with rich overtones – gut strings are almost exclusively used by professional classical musicians.
The other side of those rich, complex tones is that strings made from gut take the longest to settle in on your instrument. They are more sensitive to variations in temperature and humidity than other options and are known to slip out of tune easily. If you’re newer to the cello, gut strings are not the best option for you because you need to have a very keen ear and attention to detail in order to manipulate and play these strings consistently and with expertise. Also, gut strings aren’t as long-lasting as steel core or synthetic core options.
Another consideration when it comes to sound is that gut core strings are slower to respond and have much softer tones, which means they aren’t as suited to the cello unless you’re playing a baroque instrument and/or are looking specifically for that sound in your music.
Also referred to as “all metal” strings, steel core strings are made from straight or twisted metal wire. They are the most durable of all the cello string options and are also the most stable. Steel core strings provide stable pitch and are known for producing the highest volume.
They are the preferred string for most jazz, country or folk players – who need a crisp, loud and consistent sound to shine through the other instrumentation. They’re also the ideal choice for electric cellos. Since steel core strings are the least expensive of all the options, they’re also a wise choice for beginning players and students – much easier on the budget.
These strings were invented in the 1970s in an effort to replicate the tones produced by gut core strings without all of their inconsistencies. As a result, synthetic core strings sound wonderful, settle in after just a day or two, and are not nearly as sensitive to temperature and humidity fluctuations.
Synthetic core strings are made using a synthetic fiber, Kevlar, or a type of nylon, Perlon. These materials are wound up outside the core with an amalgam of metals – such as chrome steel, aluminum, tungsten, silver or gold.
Cello String Gauge
Light, medium and heavy are the most commonly made cello string gauges, but some companies offer more variations, using gauge numbers. The rule of thumb is, a thicker string produces more tone, but has a slower response; a thinner string is delivers a faster response, but with the trade off of a thinner, lower volume sound.
Medium gauges cello strings are definitely the most common, but of course every instrument and player is unique, and you must discover which gauge works best for you.
Choosing Cello Strings
In no particular order, these following string set are the most popular ones and should be the first ones you decide to try.
Larsen strings are becoming a standard for cello set-ups. They provide a complex and powerful tone that rivals the Pirazzi Gold’s. Moderately priced, Larsens are a solid choice for the intermediate to expert player and, like the Jargar, can be paired with any range of other strings. A common mixed set is the Thomastik-Infeld Spirocore or Dominant C and G-strings with Larsen D and A-strings, though buying single strings can get quite expensive.
Regular Larsen strings are available in soft, medium, and heavy (forte) gauges. Magnacore strings are just available in a medium gauge for now, but they will likely release a forte gauge soon.
They provide a complex and warm tone with excellent projection and dynamic responsiveness. While beginners can certainly use these strings, they are mostly for intermediate to advanced players due to their sound quality and price.
Famous virtuosos such as Joshua Bell (violin) and Kristina Fialová (viola) prefer these strings and as such, the price is definitely higher. Typically running north of $200 for a full set, Pirazzis offer a complex and warm tone with excellent projection and dynamic responsiveness.
There are three options for Evah Pirazzi cello strings: Regular, Soloist, and Gold. For the intermediate cello student, we suggest getting the Regular Evah Pirazzi cello strings because they are the most cost-effective. The Soloist line is intended for cello soloists because of their brilliance for solo performances. They offer a brighter and edgier sound than the Gold or Regular. Finally, the Gold Evah Pirazzi cello strings are intended for intermediate to advanced players who want a brilliant and complex sound.
Thomastik-Infeld – Spirocore
These Austrian-made strings also rival Larsen for popularity, especially for the lower two strings. Thomastik-Infeld’s Spirocore strings are also all-metal strings, with a multi-strand core.
Spirocores are notoriously responsive, giving the lower end of the cello more projection. To boost the lower end even further, you can purchase the Tungsten wound G and C-strings, which offer even more stability and power. The Spirocore Tungsten C-string is the most popular cello C-string in the world! These strings are also known for their longevity, making them a great investment. All Spirocores are available in light (weich), medium (mittel), and heavy (stark) gauges.
A great price tag for a high-quality steel core cello string set. As a beginner or cello player that is looking to improve his or her playing skills, these strings may turn out to be more than suitable. The strings are made in the USA, so you can be sure that they will go through rigorous quality control check-ups before reaching your instrument.
The stranded steel core of the strings will provide a clear sound and an excellent response and control. It will be very easy to learn how to play the cello with the help of these strings. Believe it or not, these strings are used by beginners and experienced players alike, everybody enjoying the sound and amazing response of these cello strings.
Having decades of experience in the domain of making cell strings, this brand managed to win over a high number of cello players. This time, the manufacturer comes with a set of cello strings that is affordable and resistant, the ideal combination for beginners.
If you choose these strings, be ready to enjoy a robust and powerful sound, suitable for playing a wide range of musical styles. The set is recommended for beginners that want to get a hang of steel core cello strings, as this set provides great quality for its price tag.
Though not as popular as their Spirocore line, Thomastik-Infeld’s Dominants are sturdy string. With a synthetic perlon core (a nylon derivative), these strings offer much of the complexity of a gut string, but with more flexibility and stability as well as better intonation.
With a clear tone, Dominants sound particularly good as A and D-strings and are often mixed in to sets as a replacement for Larsens, which tend to sound a bit darker. For a bit more of that depth, consider swapping out the chrome-wound G and C-strings for a silver winding.
The Evah Pirazzi string set is one that works well as is, without mixing and matching with other sets, because it is balanced across the entire range of the cello. For this reason, they have been gaining in popularity recently as a great steel core string. They offer a wide range of sounds, from brilliant to warm and round.
For cellos, the Evah Pirazzi strings are available in three separate lines: Regular, Soloists, and Gold strings. The Regular set is by far the most affordable. Soloists, as the name suggest are more suited for soloists and have a slightly brighter and edgier sound. The Gold line is the most expensive, but also the highest quality. They are more complex and offer a greater dynamic and timbral range.
D’Addario is one of the best brands out there when it comes to cello strings. This particular set was specially made to suit the needs of a cello student, so if you find yourself in this group, then don’t hesitate to choose these strings.
They are a bit more expensive than other sets in the same range, but you can be sure that you’re going to get great quality for your money, due to the fact that these strings are manufactured in the USA. Because they produce warm sounds and are resistant in time, there are high chances that your teacher will recommend you to get this set of cello strings.
Made with a synthetic core in the G, D, and C-strings, Pirastro’s Obligato strings are a powerful alternative to steel-core strings. Though they sometimes do not have the same longevity, Obligatos boast a brilliant and soloistic sound.
The G and C strings of this set are braced with tungsten, allowing for more stability in the lower end of the instrument. If you are interested in a warmer sound, you can switch out the Obligato A with a Passione medium steel core A-string. Obligato strings are available in a medium gauge only.
This is probably not the best choice for a cello beginner, but those that managed to acquire a bit of experience when it comes to playing this instrument will appreciate these cello strings.
Offering a medium tension, these strings will have a pleasant depth when you’ll play the instrument. You will also appreciate the clarity of the produced sounds and balance of each song played with the cello.
It is true that their price tag is a bit more elevated than others, but these strings are worth the investment due to their extensive resistance and the amazing and rich sounds they will help you obtain.