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


 

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.

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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.


CD Release: BC Grimm “Orbis Obscura” available via Other Obscura records

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Buy “Orbis Obscura” CD/Digital worldwide for $10 from Other Obscura record label

“Orbis Obscura” is a 35 minute “sci-fi tone poem” for Pipa (Chinese lute) with delay & fuzz pedals by BC Grimm. Now available world wide on CD & Digital from Other Obscura Records! Other Obscura is a label promoting the compositions and improvisations of artists in Milwaukee, Madison and the surrounding areas. Est. 2016.


ORBIS OBSCURA REVIEWS

From Tone Madison, 8/10:
Brian Grimm is something of an experimental-music powerhouse in Madison.”; ” …one of the most sonically untethered things Grimm has put out there so far—which is saying something, and also not a complaint. He uses this eccentric but relatively stripped-down setup to veer through an array of warmly distorted drones, sticky pulsating rhythms, and layers of scratchy texture. The release is also the first from a new Madison- and Milwaukee-focused label, Other Obscura”     

— Scott Gordon, Tone Madison

From Isthmus Daily Page, 8/12:
 Madison composer and cellist Brian Grimm’s meditative, experimental soundscapes blend modern improvisational styles with ancient Chinese string instrument technique. …Prepare to be transported into a beautiful dream.

From Dayz Of Purple And Orange, 8/15:
” – a totally immersive, blissed-out trip that transports the listener away to distant climes…simply beautiful!”; “…glimmers of ‘sci-fi’ noises bleed through the drones. Over the course of the 35 minutes it totally immerses the listener in wave upon wave of gorgeous drones and otherworldly noises – utterly bewitching. (read: full review)     

— Andy Uzzell, Dayz Of Purple And Orange


BC Grimm

Cellist & composer Brian Grimm grew up surrounded by Chinese string instruments of every sort. After initial lessons in Chinese music with Yang Wei (pipa) & Daxun Zhang (bass) of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Enesemble, he was lucky to then study guqin (zither), pipa (lute), gaohu (fiddle) & daruan (bass lute) in Hong Kong with members of the 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese OrchestraWuji 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. In conjunction with performing & teaching, Brian runs GrimmusiK Records – a label for all projects involving him & his brother AJ (classical & flamenco guitar).

BCG on cello + pipa by John Hiller Brumbaugh

BCG on cello + pipa by John Hiller Brumbaugh


 

8/11, 8/12 | BC Grimm “Orbis Obscura” CD Release Show!

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Album Artwork by John Praw Kruse

Thr 8/11 | 8pm $5 @ West End Conservatory

5500 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53208

“Orbis Obscura” CD Release Show feat.

HENRY/DROBKA/WELLER/MCEVOY/MILLER QUINTET

BC GRIMM

Fri 8/12 | 8pm $5 @ ArtIn Gallery

1444 E Washington Ave, Madison, Wisconsin 53703

“Orbis Obscura” CD Release Show feat.

HENRY (NYC) / WELLER (CHI) QUARTET

BC GRIMM

New BC Grimm “Orbis Obscura” (2016) CD $10
2nd ed. “The Ideating Knell” (2014) CD $10
Both CDs for $15
at the show

“Orbis Obscura” is a 35 minute “sci-fi tone poem” for Pipa (Chinese lute) with delay & fuzz pedals by BC Grimm. Available Friday, 8/12 on CD & Digital from Other Obscura Records! Other Obscura is a label promoting the compositions and improvisations of artists in Milwaukee, Madison and the surrounding areas. Est. 2016.

GrimmusiK Records is running a limited edition second printing of BC Grimm’s “The Ideating Knell”, originally released in 2014 by Signal Dreams. This seminal 70min work by BC Grimm features 16 experimental compositions performed on prepared Guzheng and phased Guqin Chinese zithers.  Available at the show!

BC Grimm

Cellist & composer Brian Grimm grew up surrounded by Chinese string instruments of every sort. After initial lessons in Chinese music with Yang Wei (pipa) & Daxun Zhang (bass) of the Silkroad Enesemble, he was lucky to then study guqin (zither), pipa (lute), gaohu (fiddle) & daruan (bass lute) in Hong Kong with members of the 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese OrchestraWuji 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. In conjunction with performing & teaching, Brian runs GrimmusiK Records – a label for all projects involving him & his brother AJ (classical & flamenco guitar).

BCG on cello + pipa by John Hiller Brumbaugh

BCG on cello + pipa by John Hiller Brumbaugh


 

8/7 | Ben Willis + Brian Grimm @ Bos Meadery

8-7 Ben Willis and Brian Grimm v2

Sun 8/7  |  6pm  $5  @ Bos Meadery

849 E Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703

solo & duo performances from

BEN WILLIS – double bass

BRIAN GRIMM – guqin, cello

Bos Meadery – “Mead Made Modern” our mission is to make the world’s oldest fermented beverage in the most modern possible way using local ingredients, so that our mead reflects the flavor of the Wisconsin landscape. Much like farm to table eating, this is field to glass drinking.

BEN WILLIS (DET/AA, MI) – solo double bass

Egret/Flatlander is a set of solo bass pieces by Ben Willis. Composed through development and exploration of improvisational practice, the movements have taken shape as open cellular structures, that act as themes and zones for extemporaneous development.

The pieces make use of a range of extended double bass techniques, drawing inspiration from contemporary classical music and free improvisation. The musical language draws from many influences, including rock structures, folk harmonies and melodies, and doom metal.

Ben Willis is a bassist whose affinities lie in collaborative projects, new music, improvisation, and the merging of cross-disciplinary elements. He’s performed his original collaborative work at venues and festivals around the U.S., including the International Society for Improvised Music Conference, Electroacoustic Barn Dance at the University of Mary Washington, the Whitewater Arts Alliance Series at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater and the Ratchet Series at the Skylark in Chicago. In 2013, he was a Robert Black Bass Fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival. Much of his work highlights the importance of collaborative, performative process in the development of new art. He is a member of the Weather Duo, an electroacoustic ensemble with cellist Pat Reinholz, dedicated to performing new music that blends classical training with improvisation and folk idioms. The Weather Duo has contributed music to the Li Chiao Ping dance company, a video project with artist Doug Rosenberg and dancer Sally Gross, and composed occasional film scores. In live performance, they explore multimedia collaboration with the help of live video artist Anna Weisling. He has also toured and recorded as a sideman, working with many indie/folk artists, including Anna Vogelzang, Dietrich Gosser, and Thistle and the Thorns. He often participates in recitals of new music and collaborations with composers, and performs regularly with the jazz/rock project Lovely Socialite Mrs. Thomas W. Phipps, and the free improvisation trio Glacier. He currently resides in Ann Arbor, MI. He earned a BM in Performance at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and MM in Improvisation from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He’s studied bass with Richard Davis, Diana Gannett, and Bob Hurst, and composition with Andrew Bishop.

Buy Egret/Flatlander here >>


BRIAN GRIMM (MAD, WI) – solo cello & guqin

Cellist & composer Brian Grimm grew up surrounded by Chinese string instruments of every sort. After initial lessons in Chinese music with Yang Wei (pipa) & Daxun Zhang (bass) of the Silkroad Enesemble, he was lucky to then study guqin (zither), pipa (lute), gaohu (fiddle) & daruan (bass lute) in Hong Kong with members of the 香港中樂團 Hong Kong Chinese OrchestraWuji 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. In conjunction with performing & teaching, Brian runs GrimmusiK Records – a label for all projects involving him & his brother AJ (classical & flamenco guitar).

** BC Grimm’s new CD “Orbis Obscura” for Pipa, Fuzz & Delay drops Friday, 8/12 on Other Obscura Records @ ArtIn Gallery on East Wash! **

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COMING SOON! NEW BC GRIMM CD “ORBIS OBSCURA” DROPS FRI 8/12