The Best Cello Strings Reviewed
As musicians, we know how important it is to make sure that you have the best instrument. It’s also important to make sure that you have the right sound, so buying the right strings for your cello can make a big difference to the kind of sound that you can create.
There are a lot of great cello strings on the market but sometimes that’s just the issue – there’s simply so much to choose from. Thankful, we’re here to make life easier for you. We’ve done the research and tried out some of the best cello strings on the market to bring you this ranking of the best cello strings. We’ve also written a handy buyer’s guide tohelp you to know what you’re looking for.
At the heart of any string section is the cello. The cello is a four-stringed instrument that is part of violin family and while it is mainly played with a bow, it’s versatility as an instrument means that it can also be played by plucking its strings. Rising to prominence at the end of the seventeenth century, it has been a mainstay in orchestras since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Traditionally made from wood, the cello is the bass voice of a string section and due to its size needs to be balanced on the floor via an endpin that provides additional support for the musician who has mastered, and plays, the instrument.
The cellos sturdy, hollow construction is responsible for creating the deep, sonorous tone that it is known for and while tradition is of utmost concern to musicians and orchestras alike, time doesn’t make any allowances for it.
The cello, like music, has evolved and entered the digital age. Its manufacture has moved beyond the world of wood, embraced electrification and adopted the philosophy that technology, rather than being feared, can increase the potential of anything and everything that it touches.
That said, let’s leave the traditional world behind, and explore the future by looking at five of the best electric cellos that are comfortable, and easy, to play for both amateurs and professionals and will provide any orchestra with the cavernous beating heart that it requires.
Best Cello Strings
If you are familiar with these strings, you will hardly be surprised that they are situated right at the top of our rankings for the best cello strings. These are by far one of the most popular sets of strings for cellists across the world.
The strings consist of a steel core and a wonderful tone overall. Generally a lot of cellists will use a combination of Larsen A and D strings along with Thomastik’s Spirocore C and G. With that being said Larsen have also created Magnacore strings and these could easily replace the Spirocores. The Larsen strings do not just have a bright and vibrant sound, but they are also full bodied which makes them a very popular choice among cellists.
You can get the regular Larsen strings in soft, medium and heavy gauges. The Magnacore strings can only be found in a medium gauge at the moment, but the forte gauge will likely be released soon too.
- Fantastic tone
- Clear sound
- Enjoyable to play on
- Some cellists aren’t fond of the C and would rather replace it with another option (i.e the Spirocore)
- Full Set, 4/4 Cello
- Medium Gauge, All Ball End
- Set includes: Alloy-Steel A, Alloy-Steel D, Tungsten-Steel G, Tungsten-Steel C
A lot of cellists consider the Pirastro strings to be some of the best for cellists, so of course they’re mentioned twice on this list. Pirastro make fantastic long lasting strings for cellos and they are also somewhat affordable, especially in comparison to a lot of other options on the market.
These strings work very well even without needing to mix with other kinds of sets. They are well balanced across the whole range of the piano, so they are getting increasingly popular as far as steel core strings go. They offer a variety of sounds, from warm to vibrant and upbeat.
When you’re buying the strings for cello, they can come in three different editions: regular, soloists and gold strings. The most affordable of these options is the regular set. Generally, the soloists set is best for soloists and the sound is a little brighter and more edgy. As you may imagine, the gold line is certainly the most expensive option but they are also very high quality.
- Work well as a set
- Range of available sounds
- Some users have reported a decrease in sound quality after using them for a long time
If you don’t want steel core strings, the Pirastro – Obligato strings may be just what you need. Consisting of a synthetic core in the G, D and C Strings, these are a powerful option that still provide a great sound, even for soloists.
The G and the C strings are braced with tungsten which means that they provide more stability in the lower end of the sound range. If you do want a warmer sound you can also switch out the A string with another one from another manufacturer.
The strings only come in a medium gauge, which is something to remember if you want some more variation. Otherwise, these are a great choice for power without a steel core.
- Lots of stability in the lower end of the sound range
- Work well with other strings
- Only come in a medium gauge
- 4/4 cello
- Set ball end
- Medium Gauge
- Full Set includes All Ball-End Steel winding/Chromesteel core A, Chromesteel winding/Synthetic core D, Tungsten winding/Synthetic core G, Tungsten winding/Synthetic core C
If you need strings that offer more affordability for your cello, then look no further than the D’Arddio – Helicore strings. These strings sound fantastic right from the bottom of your instrument’s range to the top too.
One particularly striking feature about these strings is that they have a lower tension, so it’s much easier to depress the strings, particularly handy for higher up on the fingerboard with the thicker strings. The strings consist of a multi stranded steel core, and this means that you have lots of playability and will achieve a warm and clear tone. They come in a light, medium, heavy and ¾ medium gauge. No matter what your desires are when it comes to cello sounds, you are likely to be pleased with this particular offering.
The strings have a small diameter so the bow can offer a faster response too, and the strings also have a very stable pitch. Many players have nicknames these strings as some of the most versatile stranded steel string lines, and they can be used no matter what your experience level is. You don’t need to feel excluded from these if you’re a beginner or if you’re a professional.
- Fast bow response due to small string diameter
- Can be used by professionals and beginners alike
- The medium tension strings can even work with electric cellos
- Some may find that the A and D strings are a little too high pitched
- VERSATILE STRINGS – Designed for optimum playability, D’Addario’s Helicore cello strings are one of the most versatile stranded-steel core strings available. Helicore cello strings suit many playing styles, levels and instruments.
- STRANDED STEEL CORE – Helicore cello strings are crafted with a multi-stranded steel core, giving them great playability, longevity and a clear, warm tone. Smaller string diameter provides quick bow response while quality materials and workmanship create pitch stability.
- FOR 4/4 SCALE CELLO – Scaled to fit a 4/4 size cello with a playing length of 27-1/2 inches (700mm), these medium tension strings are optimized to the needs of a majority of players.
- BUILT TO LAST – Packaged in uniquely-designed sealed pouches, Helicore strings have unparalleled protection from the elements that cause corrosion.
- MADE IN THE USA – D’Addario leverages centuries of string-making experience and advanced computer-controlled winding technology to bring you the most durable, consistent and long-lasting strings. All D'Addario strings are designed, engineered and manufactured in the USA to the most stringent quality controls in the industry.
There’s a lot to love about the Thomastik-Infield – Spirocore strings. These strings actually work well with the Larsen offerings that we mentioned above too. The strings are all metal, and feature a multi strand core.
In addition to this, the Spirocore strings are well known for being responsive, so you’ll get a lot of projection in the lower end of the cello. In order to boost the sound of the lower end even more it’s possible to buy the tungsten wound G and C strings, and these provide yet more power and stability. Arguably, the Tungsten Spirocore C string is one of the most popular cello C strings out there! In addition, these strings are quite well known for how long lasting they are, so they’re certainly a good long term investment. You can buy them in light, medium and heavy gauges.
The strings are ideal for cellists of all skill levels, from students to professionals. Why? These strings consist of high quality materials and actually have a special technical development that helps to increase the sound quality that you make with the cello. As a result of this, the cello strings also have a flexible multiwire spiral steel core. The strings are efficient whether you are playing arco or pizzicato, and they provide a lot of vibration while reducing the inertia too. Regardless of how much you use these strings they will also remain in good shape and still respond well. In fact, a lot of cellists have complimented the unique tone and playability of these strings.
- Ideal for a range of experience levels
- Very durable
- It can be a bit more tricky to install them so if you’re a beginner you may need a little help
Best Cello Strings: A Buyer’s Guide
A lot of cellists can feel a little bit overwhelmed because there are simply so many different cello strings available on the market that you can use for your instrument. It can get even trickier when you’re looking for decent cello strings that will work well with your cello playing style, too. Because every string has its own special features, it’s possible to change the way that you cello sounds without you even knowing it. As a result, we’ve written this handy buying guide that you can use when you are trying to make your decision.
The strings that you buy can have a huge impact on the kind of sound quality that you get in addition to the playability, level of volume and the overall responsiveness of the cello. If you make a minor change such as changing one solitary string you may see a weakness in a certain part of the range of the cello. Some instruments can respond better to a brand of cello strings, but others may not react as well.
Most people simply need to know that a cello is a pretty complicated instrument. For many years people have been trying to create all kinds of strings that will be more durable and efficient.
Initially, musical strings were made out of sheep gut. While this may sound a little strange, there were considered top of the range strings by cellists and violinists right up until the 16th century. Then, people astarted making thinner strings. These were strings that were wrapped in silver wire. These days, most good cello strings have aluminum or silver wrapping.
At the start of the 20th century people started making metal strings which gained popularity fast because they improved pitch and durability, meaning they didn’t break and need replacing as frequently.
Gut Core Strings
A lot of classical musicians still enjoy gut strings because they create warm sounds and rich tones. You should remember, however, that they provide a slower response in comparison to synthetic core strings and there is lower tension, so you will get a pliable feel under your fingers.
One of the key problems is that most of the cellos that are currently on the market don’t work very well with gut strings. The newer models especially have a problem with the instability with the pitch. In addition, gut strings can end up going out of tune quite regularly. Once they are installed, they need to be tuned constantly for the first week up until they are stretched out enough for you to perform. If you’re just a student then you should certainly stay clear of gut strings because they are much more expensive and more sensitive to temperature and humidity.
Steel Core Strings
A lot of musicians, beginners in particular, need to look for cheap cello strings that give a stable pitch and provide a clear and simple sound. Steel core strings will do this right from first use. In addition to this, they are great for small size instruments too.
Through the years, there have been a lot of improvements made to steel core strings. Most of them come with a metal wrapping like chrome steel, titanium, silver or aluminum. These kinds of changes are particularly important because they provide the possibility to make sophisticated sounds.
If you want cello strings that can provide a fast response then you should certainly choose synthetic strings that are made out of nylon. One of the best things about synthetic strings is that you don’t have to worry about stopping your practice session to tune the string very often and you can also use them for a number of months.
You may not have already been aware of this, but every single string that you can buy can come in different gauges or thickness. Some brands will use numbers in order to indicate the size of the gauge.
Besides this, most cellists will use medium gauges because if you have a string that’s too thick it’s going to need more tension on the pitch. This ultimately means you get an increased volume and a much fuller sound, but you sacrifice a little on response times. On the other hand, thinner strings have a better response time but they provide less volume. Ultimately the decision boils down to the kind of instrument that you are using and whether more power and fullness of sound is actually necessary for you.
A lot of cello string models come in a range of different scale lengths. Usually you can get string sets in the standard 4/4 (27-½” scale) size. In fact, manufacturers also often include other options that are made for ½, ¾, and ⅞ cellos. Generally the most affordable ones may come in ¼ and ⅛ sizes.
A lot of different materials can be used for the winding. Most of the time, you will find different kinds of metal. Usually synthetic core strings tend to have metal windings. The most common ones are chrome, tungsten and aluminum. You can also get strings with silver and gold windings.
Similarly to guitars, steel core strings are wound only with metal, for example steel or chrome. Sometimes though you may find one material for the lower part of the strings and another for the higher part of the strings. Tungsten and aluminum are also commonly used too.
Gut core strings can either be wound or unwound. Usually unwound strings are used for baroque instruments and wound strings are used for modern cellos. Usually standard metals are used for the winding.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are cello strings made?
The point of making a string is basically to provide mass without compromising on the flexibility, which is a very important feature that will make it properly vibrate. If the string isn’t flexible enough then it’s going to be difficult to tune, and also the responsiveness of the string is going to decrease after a while. This can happen when the bow puts a certain amount of force onto the strings to vibrate but the piece doesn’t actually want to. Because of this, the vibration modes don’t end up being harmonic and the strings will respond too slow.
How do you tighten cello strings?
If you have to tighten your cello strings, just turn the peg in the opposite direction and you will witness the string tightening itself. If the string completely comes out though you will need to place the end of the string through the peg hole and lift it upwards. Then, you can just hold the string with your fingers until it begins to stay in place. This is a fairly easy process and if you need more information there are a bunch of tutorials online.
Why are cello strings expensive?
It’s much harder to manufacture cello strings than it is to manufacture guitar strings. The materials also tend to be more expensive. Usually they will be used in a different combination by cello artists and they aren’t replaced as often because they are very flexible and durable. It also can largely depend on the amount of cello skill that you have because a beginner is simply not going to use the same kinds of strings as an advanced player will. You need to think about the kind of string that you would like to use and study the prices from there.
What makes cello strings break?
Of course, cello strings are made out of high quality materials that generally aren’t broken easily unless there’s some kind of issue involved, but they still need to be taken care of in the same way that you would take care of your instrument. There are a number of reasons why cello strings can get damaged, and the vast majority of them are related to not installing the string correctly. In this regard, both of the tuner sides pinch the string which can cause it to break after only a short period of time.