Cello Zone! String Recommendations

“Which strings should I get for my cello?”

It’s a common question to receive as a cello teacher and quite honestly, a difficult one to answer.  The gauge, tension, materials, and action of our strings make a significant difference in the tone and sound production of the cello.  Each instrument has a different voice, which requires experimentation in what type of string is best to use.  The same brand of strings on two different cellos will ultimately yield unique results.  “String-Brand-A” may sound excellent on my cello, but be a totally wrong for yours….  With so many brands and prices, which one do you choose?  Thankfully, Johnson String Instrument Shop has made it easier for me to share cello string combinations via student wish lists!  Here are three sets/combos of strings to get you started, in order of low to high price.

** All string sizes listed below are 4/4 Full Size.  If you need to order 1/2 or 3/4 size cello strings, be sure to select that option when ordering (start from this page, click below)! ⇓

Click image to go to String Size Selection Page.

Book a Cello Zone Lesson with Brian!

Live in Sun Prairie?

email Prairie Music & Arts:  info@prairiemusic.org,

cc: bgrimm@prairiemusic.org

Live on the west side of Madison?

email Monroe Street Arts Center:  info@monroestreetarts.org

cc: brian@monroestreetarts.org


 D’Addario Prelude – reliable set on a budget or backup strings

Pros:  Affordable, yet still sounds good and plays well!  I use them on my homemade electric cello (#frankencello) and I find them to be flexible and reliable.  They have stood up to some extreme playing conditions encountered during gigs.

Cons:  Not as pitch stable as Kaplans or Helicores.  The “center of pitch” feels slightly mushy… this is hard to describe and may be due to the nickel winding, which is on all strings.

Set Includes:

  • Prelude 4/4 Cello Set A, D, G & C – nickel wound / steel core: Medium

Prelude (D’Addario) – solid steel core string that is durable and not affected by temperature and humidity changes. Prelude strings have a clear, bright sound without the shrill sound of traditional steel strings, and have a quick bow response.


Brian Grimm D’Addario Kaplan-Helicore Combo

Pros: Great for multi-style playing.  Holds tuning very well.  Quick response.  Fairly loud sound production.  This has been the string combo on my concert cello from 2013 to 2017. They have proven to be suitable across many genres… however, I’m now moving on to some other brands of strings in search of a richer, mellower sound.

Cons: As the Kaplan A & D strings age, they get a bit metallic and scratchy sounding (especially in the high end).  Not as subtle as Jargar, Larsen, Pirastro strings.

Combo Set Includes:

  • Kaplan Cello A – titanium wound / steel core: Medium
  • Kaplan Cello D – nickel wound / steel core: Medium
  • Helicore Cello G & C – tungsten-silver wound / steel core: Medium

Kaplan (D’Addario) – strings offer a beautiful, rich tonal palette and superb bowing response. They provide clarity and warmth across the registers and throughout the dynamic range.

Helicore (D’Addario)  multi-strand, twisted steel core strings have a small string diameter, providing a quick bow response. Thanks to special manufacturing techniques, Helicore strings have a warm, clear sound with excellent pitch stability and longevity.


Janet Marshall (My Classical Teacher) Jagar-Larsen Combo

aka “The Denmark Combo”

Pros:  Powerful low end sound.  Beautiful rich tone.  I very much enjoyed this combo when playing Brahms and other Romantic era pieces.  Jargar has since come out with two new lines of string that I haven’t tried: Thin/dolce & Thick/forte. There isn’t a huge price jump on those and are worth trying, depending on your #soundgoals.

Cons:  Larsen strings are costly, you pay for that good sound; the C string itself is $100.  Sometimes my Jargar A & D strings would be a bit unstable & drop pitch over the course of a piece.

Combo Set Includes:

  • Jargar Cello A & D – chrome wound / steel core: Medium
  • Larsen Cello G & C – tungsten wound / steel core: Medium

Jargar – Bright, full sound, quick response. Made in Denmark, these steel core strings are favored by many solosits. Jargar strings are known for their powerful, well-balanced tone.

Larsen – Made in Denmark, Larsen strings are aimed at soloists in need of a string with projection.


Additional resources on selecting strings:


Find out more about Cello Lessons with Brian Grimm

Cellist Brian Grimm is a composer, performer and teacher based out Madison, WI.  Though Classically trained and studied in Jazz, Brian also grew up surrounded by Chinese instruments.  This has pulled him into a life passion for learning music from all around the world.  Brian’s teachers include members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the WuJi Ensemble (Hong Kong), the Buselli–Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, & Sitar virtuoso Pt. Sugato Nag (India).

Click on my beard to book a Cello Zone Lesson!

7/15 | Lovely Socialite and Left Field Quartet double release show @ Art In

click the pic and RSVP on our facebook event

DOUBLE RELEASE SHOW

Sat, 7/15  |  @ ART IN   1444 E Washington ST, Madison, WI

730p doors // 800p music

$10 gets you into the show

OR $15 gets you in + both CDs!

1st AND ILLUSIONS

2nd LEFT FIELD QUARTET – Please Take Us Seriously release

3rd LOVELY SOCIALITE – DoubleShark EP release

Lovely Socialite performing at The Shitty Barn in 2016. Photo by Connie Ward (c) In The Rushes Photogaphy

 🔗 Tone Madison Podcast: Lovely Socialite get leaner and louder

Lovely Socialite (lovelysocialitemusic.com) “DoubleShark” ep release
Lovely Socialite, formerly Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps, is a Milwaukee/Madison-based six-piece that combines the aesthetics of modern jazz with contemporary classical, driving rock, and hip hop. Lauded for their bold and intricate compositions, the group often draws comparisons to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. The band’s original music combines strict notation with moments of improvisation and maintains a healthy balance of dark and heavy rock grooves with quirky jazz obscurities.


Left Field Quartet at UW Madison, where they met and cut their teeth together on Jazz.

 🔗 Tone Madison premieres Left Field Track “Straight Ahead F Blues”

Left Field Quartet  “Please Take Us Seriously” album release
Left Field Quartet is a collaborative group of Midwest-raised musicians specializing in eclectic, original music. With a unique and versatile tone, the group has scored plays and politically-charged events in the local community. What makes Left Field work so cohesively together is their adventurous desire for creativity in all of its multifaceted forms. “Please Take Us Seriously” is the band’s first official album release which combines gritty and fiery grooves with a personal touch and a playful sound.

And Illusions
And Illusions is a collaboration of local experimental musicians Emili Earhart and Michael Groome. With a focus on the psychedelic and long patient song structures, And Illusions occupies a wonderful space somewhere between noise music and kraut rock. It is at once meditative and soothing, a balancing act of angular and rounded tones.


 

7/11 | Jonah Parzen-Johnson + BC Grimm @ A+LL

Pre-order the new album!

Tues, 7/11 | 8p $8adv/10do @ Arts + Literature Laboratory

2021 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704

JONAH PARZEN-JOHNSON (Brooklyn, NY)

BC GRIMM (Madison, WI)

Brooklyn based saxophonist and composer Jonah Parzen-Johnson performs at Arts + Literature Laboratory on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, with Madison multi-instrumentalist Brian Grimm opening. Tickets are $8 in advance online at http://parzenjohnson.bpt.me/ or $10 at the door. Online sales end one hour before the show.

Jonah plays lofi experimental folk music for solo baritone saxophone and analog synthesizer. Imagine the raw energy of an Appalachian choir, balanced by a fearlessly exposed saxophone voice, resting on a strikingly unique combination of analog synthesizer components sitting on the floor in front of him. It all breathes together, as Jonah uses his feet to weave square and sawtooth waves into a surging base for folk inspired saxophone melodies, overblown multi phonics, vocalizations, and patiently developed circular breathing passages. Every element is performed and recorded at the same time, by one person, without any looping, overdubbing or recorded samples. “I want to make music that has texture, and depth, but most of all I want it to be direct and grounded. Touring and playing solo is all about being connected to the folks listening. I want you to feel like I’m looking you in the eye while I’m playing.”

Click for Tix!


In BC Grimm’s solo set, you may hear dances of the unaccompanied Bach cello suites; ever popular melodies of the Erhu Chinese fiddle adapted for cello; as well as original compositions from his dance/theatre scores & solo albums. Cellist & composer Brian Grimm grew up surrounded by Chinese string instruments of every sort. After initiating lessons in with virtuosos Yang Wei (pipa) & Daxun Zhang (bass) of the Silkroad Ensemble, Brian was lucky to continue his Chinese music studies on guqin (zither), pipa (lute), gaohu (fiddle) & daruan (bass lute) in Hong Kong with members of the 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra & Wuji Ensemble 無極樂團. Over the last 15 years Grimm has developed a deep language of Free Improvisation & Composition with groups such as The Brothers Grimm, Lovely Socialite, and Brennan Connors & Stray Passage.

BCG @ Milwaukee Release of “Orbis Obscura”


5/10 | Encore Performance of Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” @ Music Hall!

 

Wed, 5/10 | Free, 6:30pm @ Music Hall

925 Bascom Mall Madison, WI

Sound Out Loud’s Encore Performance of

Arnold Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire”

Featuring Soprano Mimmi Fulmer

Music History Introduction by Lee Blasius

Le Pierrot Lunaire is in music what Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon is to painting or James’ Joyce’s Ulyssses is to literature. These three revolutionary works, written in the first decades of the 20th century, have completely redefined the accepted aesthetic standards of their time and opened wide new paths to artistic creation.

Le Pierrot Lunaire is a rarely played piece because of the challenge it presents to the singer. Schoenberg uses a vocal technique, the “Sprechgesang,” that combines spoken and singing voice, a formidable task for a singer.  – Marc Vallon , UW Faculty

American soprano Mimmi Fulmer first performed “Pierrot lunaire” in 1978 at the famed Tanglewood Music Festival. Sound Out Loud is thrilled to be performing this work for the again the guidance of such an experienced & knowledgeable performer of the work. Mimmi and Ric Merritt have crafted a performers’ singing-translation of this work from German to English. Friday, March 17th we will perform it in it’s original German text.

Mimmi Fulmer performs repertoire ranging from early music to premieres of works written for her. Her distinguished career in new music includes premieres of nine roles in eight operas. An expert on Nordic repertoire, she is the editor of a three-volume anthology of songs from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Her discography includes six CDs of American music and a CD of songs from Finland, Sweden and Norway, and she has been included in the Fulbright Specialist Roster in American music.


Excerpt from March performance notes:

“Pierrot lunaire” was composed by Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951) in 1912 and is his 21st Opus.  It’s 21 short movements (3 cycles of 7) explore the poetry of Albert Giraud (1860-1929), originally published 1884 in French.

‘Pierrot’ is one of Schoenberg’s last works of “free a-tonality”, before Opus 23 which introduced his 12-tone Serialism approach to composition – forever changing the course of 20th Century music.  In this new dodecaphonic democracy, all notes were equal, and weightless of tonicisms.  It helped form a great schism in the 20thC between two great approaches to composition: Serialism (eg. Schoenberg) vs Neo-Classicism (eg. Stravinsky).  Part of the pre-serialism brilliance of “Pierrot lunaire” is Scheonberg’s invention of sprechstimme.  This new vocal technique was a form of speak-singing, which allows for a beautiful ambiguity in pitch – removing Schoenberg yet one more step from tonality.  In sprechstimme, the singer glides up and down from one note to another – only ever sustaining three “traditional” pitches in the entire 40 minute piece.  All of this results in a dazzling display of colors and orchestrational puissance to tell the tales of this tragic clown.


3/25 | Cello/Gamba Night @ Arts + Literature Laboratory

Sat, 3/25  | Tix $10 in advance / $15 at the doors

doors 730p / music 8p

Arts + Literature Laboratory

2021 Winnebago St, Madison, Wisconsin 53704

Patrick Reinholz – cello + electronics

Eric Miller – viola da gamba

Brian Grimm – cellitar, cross tuned cello

Join us for an evening of old and new music with Eric Miller, Patrick Reinholz, and Brian Grimm on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Tickets $10 in advance at http://ericmiller.bpt.me/, or $15 at the door starting at 7:30pm.

ERIC MILLER

Eric Miller presents the intimate and ethereal music for the unaccompanied viola da gamba, an instrument which was described in the late 18th century as one “with which one forgets the troubles of the day in quiet twilight.” The evening will center upon a pair compositions, one by the obscure and brilliant Parisian Le Sieur de Machy, and the other by the Dutch master Johannes Schenk, Sprinkled throughout will be smaller pieces by other luminaries of the rarefied instrument. A classically trained cellist and viola da gambist, Eric is known to Madison as a member of the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble and has appeared with many of Madison and Milwaukee’s top ensembles.


PATRICK REINHOLZ


Patrick Reinholz is a cellist, improviser, composer, and educator currently living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Always innovating, he is a member of the new music/improvising chamber group Tontine Ensemble, and the jazz/rock outfit Lovely Socialite.  

Pat will be releasing his new album for solo cello + electronics via Other Obscura, so come grab your copy!


BRIAN GRIMM

In Brian Grimm’s solo set, you may hear dances of the unaccompanied Bach cello suites; ever popular melodies of the Erhu Chinese fiddle adapted for cello; as well as original compositions from his dance/theatre scores & solo albums.


3/17 | Sound Out Loud performs “Pierrot lunaire” @ Mills Hall

sound-out-loudpierrot-lunaire

Pierrot écoutant, 1854, by Nadar

Fri, 3/17 | Free, 8:00pm Mills Hall

455 N Park ST, Madison, WI, 53706

Le Domaine Musicale

Schoenberg’s “Pierrot lunaire”

Ravel’s “Chansons madécasses

Sound Out Loud will perform Schoenberg’s expressionistic masterpiece about the ravings of a lunatic clown, featuring UW vocal faculty member Mimmi Fulmer.  Also on the program will be Ravel’s “Chansons madécasses“, featuring vocalist Sarah Richardson.

“Pierrot lunaire” was composed by Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951) in 1912 and is his 21st Opus.  It’s 21 short movements (3 cycles of 7) explore the poetry of Albert Giraud (1860-1929), originally published 1884 in French.

‘Pierrot’ is one of Schoenberg’s last works of “free a-tonality”, before Opus 23 which introduced his 12-tone Serialism approach to composition – forever changing the course of 20th Century music.  In this new dodecaphonic democracy, all notes were equal, and weightless of tonicisms.  It helped form a great schism in the 20thC between two great approaches to composition: Serialism (eg. Schoenberg) vs Neo-Classicism (eg. Stravinsky).  Part of the pre-serialism brilliance of “Pierrot lunaire” is Scheonberg’s invention of sprechstimme.  This new vocal technique was a form of speak-singing, which allows for a beautiful ambiguity in pitch – removing Schoenberg yet one more step from tonality.  In sprechstimme, the singer glides up and down from one note to another – only ever sustaining three “traditional” pitches in the entire 40 minute piece.  All of this results in a dazzling display of colors and orchestrational puissance to tell the tales of this tragic clown.

mimmi_fulmer_2_300x800-710x300

UW Madison Voice Faculty Member, Soprano Soloist Mimmi Fulmer.

American soprano Mimmi Fulmer first performed “Pierrot lunaire” in 1978 at the famed Tanglewood Music Festival. Sound Out Loud is thrilled to be performing this work for the first time under the guidance of such an experienced & knowledgeable performer of the work. Mimmi and Ric Merritt have crafted a performers’ singing-translation of this work from German to English.  Friday, March 17th we will perform it in it’s original German text.

Mimmi Fulmer performs repertoire ranging from early music to premieres of works written for her.  Her distinguished career in new music includes premieres of nine roles in eight operas.   An expert on Nordic repertoire, she is the editor of a three-volume anthology of songs from Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.   Her discography includes six CDs of American music and a CD of songs from Finland, Sweden and Norway, and she has been included in the Fulbright Specialist Roster in American music.


 

3/12 | YAK (DET) + visual projections w Emili Earhart & BC Grimm @ Art In

yak_mad_mar12

Sun, 3/12 | $8  730p door / 8p music @ Art In

1444 E Washington Ave., Madison, WI

Emili Earhart – opens

YAK (DET) on tour

BC Grimm – closes

YAK is an ambient/industrial duo of amplified, bowed friction on strings and metal. Their 2017 Midwest Tour is an audio-visual journey into the existential mind-state of the Tibetan beast, the Yak. These sounds are tailor-made for the shaggy beast of burden of the Himalayan Plateau, evoking their life and spirit in a mesmerizing structured improvisation cycle.

Yuri Popowycz (violin) is a Detroit-based violinist, electronic music producer/performer, and illustrator. He performs with the Michigan Opera Theatre and is assistant concertmaster with the Michigan Philharmonic. He also plays out frequently in the city and is active with Detroit Bureau of Sound. Yuri is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy ‘11, and the Oberlin Conservatory ‘15, and has toured in Japan as concertmaster of the PMF orchestra as well as performed in Europe alongside the Jack quartet with the Lucerne Festival Academy. Currently he runs the ambient music label Music To Stretch To and enjoys working with all the wonderful artists living nearby.

Zac Brunell (percussion) is a performer and concert producer in the Motor City. As director of the Detroit Bureau of Sound, his work engulfs a range of avant garde music through his productions, which have been described as “sounding as raw as mating bull elephants” (Lansing City Pulse on “X is for Xenakis”). A classically trained percussionist and pianist, Zac is a graduate of the Michigan State University College of Music and is currently Production Manager with the award-winning ensemble New Music Detroit.

Detroit Bureau of Sound Announcing… “BOS MUTUS“, the 2017 meditation in four movements by YAK.  Digital download and physical pre-order available now via Bandcamp >>


Opening the show…

Emili Earhart is a pianist studying at UW-Madison. Recent projects have included performances of the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano by John Cage, and both books of Piano Etudes by Philip Glass. As Program Director at WSUM 91.7fm student radio, Emili hosts live ‘on-air’ performances and interviews touring acts (a/w/a local musicians!) Fridays on “Live @ WSUM”, 3-5pm. Emili is a member of noise/synth & bass duo, And Illusions. Sunday’s (3/12) set is part of a new effort to explore improvised new age piano and drone music.

12371026_418585261678354_668067374033558164_o

photo via Troy Peterson


Closing the show…

BC Grimm to close the night with an Orbis Obscura set!  Pipa, Guqin, #frankencello + “the hernia-maker” pedalboard.


2/17 | DAVE REMPIS (Chi) Sax @ Arts + Literature Laboratory

poster_fri-2-17-dave-rempis-w-stray-passage-at-all-2-17-v2

Fri, 2/17 | Doors 730p, Music 800p @ Arts + Literature Laboratory

Tickets $10 advance at http://daverempis.bpt.me/ or $12 at the door

2021 Winnebago St, Madison, Wisconsin 53704

DAVE REMPIS + STRAY PASSAGE

Chicago based saxophonist Dave Rempis will open the night with a 30 min solo set.  He will then be joined by Madison free-jazz trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage to play a quartet set for the rest of the evening.  ** Catch a preview of Rempis on-air during the day, 2/17 from 3-5p @ 91.7fm WSUM Live with host Emili Earhart!

 

Dave Rempis (Chicago) | http://daverempis.com/

Discography: http://aerophonicrecords.com/

Prolific Chicago-based saxophonist Dave Rempis (Rempis Percussion Quartet, Ballister, The Engines, Vandermark Five) makes his first Madison appearance in five years, performing solo, and in collaboration with Madison-based improvising trio Stray Passage.  This special night is part of a larger series of solo performances Rempis is undertaking throughout North America in 2017, with the goal of building a unique approach to solo saxophone that will be documented for release on his Aerophonic records imprint next fall, while also working to strengthen the informal networks that connect, inform, and sustain the improvised music scene worldwide.

Brennan Connors & Stray Passage (Madison)

Experimental Jazz Trio Brennan Connors & Stray Passage has been performing in Madison for over three years, exciting listeners with their range of sonic capabilities.  Their improvised music is directly linked to the atmosphere in the room and energy of the audience.  Attendees will experience a jazz trio that embraces free and structured improvisation, original compositions, groove based experiments, and sound exploration. The breadth of a performance ranges from focused minimalism to fiery high energy music, all while maintaining a sense of narrative organization and compelling ensemble interplay.