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!

7/11 | 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”


7/5 – 7/8 | Omaha Under The Radar

Click for Tix!

July 5th – 8th, 2017 | Omaha, Nebraska

OMAHA UNDER THE RADAR

Omaha Under the Radar is an annual experimental performance festival and educational workshop in the Midwest.

Explore the fourth annual festival lineup on our site, and prepare to experience the diverse work of artists responding to our times.

The 2017 festival features the radical chamber opera, “Eight Songs for a Mad King” by Peter Maxwell Davies.


Event locatioins:
Project Project, Joslyn Art Museum, OutrSpaces, KANEKO, and Reverb Lounge

Reserve tickets online:
http://www.undertheradaromaha.com/2017-schedule

$40 | full festival pass
$75 | VIP pass


Since the first festival, held in 2014, Omaha Under the Radar has presented over 300 artists from more than 20 cities throughout the United States. We work to represent a multiplicity of genres, ideas, and identities through performances, talks, group discussions and educational opportunities.

Omaha Under the Radar is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization. To make a tax-deductible donation in support of our programming efforts, visit our SUPPORT page.


Thr 7/6 8pm  |  BC Grimm’s 35min sci-fi tone poem “Orbis Obscura” for Pipa & Electronics @ OutrSpaces


Full Festival Line Up

Artists websites: http://www.undertheradaromaha.com/2017-artists

July 5, 2017 | 7:00PM | ​ $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 1 | PROJECT PROJECT
Scott Shinbara, Tomm Roland, and Jason Domonkos
Philip Kolbo

July 5, 2017 | 8:00PM
ARTIST AND VIP PARTY | HIFI HOUSE
An opening party for the artists and VIP ticket holders for Omaha Under the Radar 2017​.

July 6, 2017 | 5:00PM | FREE
EVENT 2 | JOSLYN ART MUSEUM
Chinook Collaborative Ensemble
tbd Dance Collective
Elizabeth Baker & Helen Hansen French
Vivian Kim and ensemble​

July 6, 2017 | 8:00PM | $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 3 | OUTRSPACES
Nebraska Modern Dance Theatre
Brian Grimm
Chicago Academy for the Arts
Split the Stick
Dana Jessen
Menmosyne Quartet

July 7, 2017 | 6:00PM | $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 4 | KANEKO
SOUNDRY Showcase
Areon Flutes
Duo Noire

July 7, 2017 | 8:00PM | ​ $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 5 | OUTRSPACES
Kat Fackler and Lori Reckling
andPlay and David Bird
Emilie Rackley, Amanda Sealock, and Nicholas Swoboda
tbd dance collective

July 7, 2017 | 11:00PM | $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 6 | OUTRSPACES
Eight Songs for a Mad King
by Peter Maxwell Davies

Featuring John J. Pearse, baritone
Stacey Barelos, piano; Scott Shinbara, percussion, Mary Perkinson, violin;
Hannah Mayer, cello; Samuel Bertino, clarinet; Erika Nightingale, flute

Directed by Barry Carman
Design by Jenny Pool

July 8, 2017 | 12:00PM  | FREE
EVENT 7 | KANEKO
Zeitgeist
Carly Sinn
Colloquy
Cassia Kite, SOUNDSTITCHING

July 8, 2017 | 3:00PM | $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 8 | OUTRSPACES
New Chamber Ballet
Liz Pearse
Departure Duo
​​
July 8, 2017 | 8:00PM | $10 or Full Festival Pass
EVENT 9 | REVERB LOUNGE
Karma LiLoLa
David Smooke
ridgelines
Obelus
Warp Trio