In Episode 03 and 04 of my new series “Setup Madness!” we’ll be changing from Pirastro Perpetual Soloist A & D (med) to the Jargar Superior A & D (med)! I was very excited to try this new Superior string set from Jargar because I grew up playing on Jargar’s Classic A & D strings (med). I have high hopes for their new developments in string making (and honestly think it’s a little overdue!). You’ll be listening to me make observations, noting crucial differences between the Pirastro and Jargar strings. For episode 03, I’ll still have the Pirastro Perpetual Soloist D (medium) and Cadenza G C strings (light) on my cello; and in episode 04, I’ll be switching over to Jargar’s Superior D (med) string.
Special Thanks again goes out to the Dane Arts Council for awarding me one of their 2021 ‘DANG! Arts Grants’ which funded the purchase of my new camera setup and all of its accessories! http://www.danearts.com
Episode 04: Jargar Superior D string (medium)
I’ll be taking a vacation for the next 2 weeks, so there’ll be no new ‘Setup Madness’ episodes until the end of January, next year… But! Here’s what you have to look forward to in the next few episodes!
Episode 05 will feature the Larsen original C string (heavy gauge) Episode 06 will feature the Larsen original G string (heavy gauge) Episode 07 will feature the Pirastro Passione gut G string (strong gauge) Episode 08 will feature the Pirastro Passione gut C string (strong gauge) Episode 09 will feature the Pirastro Oliv gut D string (light) Episode 10 maaaayyyy possibly feature the Pirastro Eudoxa gut A string (medium) with the Passione GC and Oliv D… we’ll just have to see…. but it looks like I’m moving back to gut….
Annnd, starting with Episode 07 you’ll finally get to see some footage from my new camera!!
Lots already filmed, as you can see, so subscribe to the “Brian Grimm’s Cello Zone” youtube channel to keep up to date when each episode as it comes out (I post on Monday or Thursday).
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. [ 2020 edit: I am updating all of the product and gear purchase links across my website this year ]
** 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!!
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. The nickel winding helps the low strings pop out of your cello. If you need more brightness in your low end, try these strings (rather than the more dull silver winding of the Helicore).
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.
Prelude 4/4 Cello Set A, D, G & C – nickel wound / steel core: Medium
Prelude (D’Addario) set – 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.
Kaplan (D’Addario) set – 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) set –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.
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.
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).
FMOP has been remastered in anticipation of a new solo zither album, The Ideating Knell by BC Grimm coming out next Tuesday, 6/17 on Signal Dreams records. Stay tuned for more details, follow Signal Dreams on bandcamp & soundcloud!
GD07 “The Ideating Knell” available 06/17/2014 on Signal Dreams
An experimental acoustic album of compositions for two ancient Chinese zithers, Guqin 古琴 & Guzheng 古筝. This record includes 6 ‘doppler phase’ pieces for guqin, emulating tape composition techniques to create the movement of sound to/from the vanishing point on the horizon line to/from the listener’s ears. There are 6 pieces for prepared guzheng using: dulcimer hammers, cajon brushes, metal chopsticks, mate straw, metal bowls, broken teaware, clay sculpting tools, snare wires, & seashell strands. 3 pieces revisit the title track composition from BCG’s 2011 solo guqin album, “Flock Migrates Over The Pines”: with re-recorded, reconstructed versions in two custom tunings, and a new variation on the theme in a traditional tuning. The actual notation in the composition’s score visually depicts various forms & shapes of birds taking off and in formation during flight. A new ‘Pentatemperment’ tuning system on guqin has been specially devised for this project – splitting the octave into 5 equal steps, instead of 12 [low to high: C-40c D0c E+40c G-20c A+20c C-40c D0c]. Guzheng 古筝, a 21 string bridged zither spanning 4 octaves, and Guqin 古琴, a 7 string fretless zither spanning 1 octave, both tune to pentatonic scales. These instruments share a culturally important performance history stretching back about 2,500 years to the Warring States period.
Brothers Grimm farewell show at Color Field Ensemble Festival For Contemporary Music | 2013 KARJAKA Studios | http://karjaka.com/