Product Review: Pirastro Perpetual Strings for Cello
Simply for Strings is Australian musicians’ first choice for violins, violas, cellos, basses, bows, strings, servicing and accessories. We love advising customers on everything string. Here at Simply for Strings we have a tendency to get quite excited about any new developments in the strings world, and when we heard Pirastro were releasing new cello strings, our resident cello expert Michael couldn't wait to get his hands on them. Michael extensively tested these strings on selected cellos from our advanced range.
What Pirastro say: ❝Our engineers were faced with the challenge of developing a string using ground-breaking construction and superior material composition ... we approached the field of violoncello strings from an entirely new perspective: being able to forget your surroundings and focus on playing is what inspires and comforts a cellist. Therefore the key parameters we had to meet were easy playability, long durability, and perfect string-to-string harmony. This new idea laid the foundation for us to make changes to the materials and processing techniques so that the strings acquired a further tonal dimension. This new dimension opens up the instrument to its full tonal colors and grants musicians the technical freedom to fully focus on their play... Perpetual strings are characterized by great flexibility and an extraordinary tonal spectrum: from a sweet, warm tone to sheer endless power – everything is possible. The sound is like a large house with plenty of room for individual design. At the same time the tone is focused and clear, the most delicate touches are instantly audible and the base warmth always present. The natural qualities and timbre of each cello are enhanced by the strings’ great dynamics and intensity.❞
Our store manager, cellist Michael Scott-Branagan has extensively tested the strings before writing this review.
- Perpetual strings at time of review (2016) are supplied with two options: Medium and Soloist. The A and D, in both sets, are Medium; the C and G strings are the ones that vary, to allow for different needs.
Instrument #1: Scott Cao copy of Strad “Davidoff” 1712
This is a particularly rich and sonorous cello, mellow without any muffling, yet not overpowering either. It is not the most powerful cello in our range, but has plenty of power nonetheless, and still retains an endearing sweetness.
The A and D offer even greater clarity than before and a little more power. I found the Perpetual Medium strings were more suited to this particular cello than the Soloist model, which would have overpowered the cello.
I initially took this cello home to begin my reviewing, and my daughter played it as well. We found that with the existing strings, she made the cello sound better than she did with the new Perpetual set. For me, the cello came alive with these new strings, especially for the powerful opening passages of Elgar and Lalo’s concerti, but it seems that they are not suitable for less proficient cellists. These are very powerful and responsive strings, requiring excellent bow technique to maximise their effectiveness.
Shop the Pirastro Perpetual Cello string set with free shipping Australia wide here.
For a player wanting a cello to be at its best for all types of music, I would still fit Thomastik’s Versum strings to this cello, because of their better clarity and balance overall registers on all four strings. But for a concerto with an orchestra, Perpetual strings would definitely be my first choice because of their dynamic responsiveness and wonderful power with no harshness.
Instrument #2: KG 500
This is one of the most advanced cello we stock and has a wonderful character and tone. I found the Perpetual A and D brought the top end of the cello to life in a new, satisfying way. They sing with more brilliant power, yet without harshness, and are dynamically very responsive. On this cello, I concluded that these are probably the best A and D strings I have ever reviewed.
Shop Perpetual A String here.
Shop Perpetual D String here.
For me, the cello came alive with the Perpetual strings, especially for the powerful opening passages of Elgar and Lalo’s concerti.
The G and C Mediums were not suitable for this cello, even though it is quite strong in the lower registers. The G and C Soloist were stunning in their responsiveness and power, especially in the lower octave on each string. If I wanted to stand out against an orchestra with this cello, the Perpetual Soloist set would be my choice. I replaced the G and C with Versum, and combined with Perpetual A and D, this gave me what I could only call the perfect set of cello strings.
Shop Versum Cello strings here.
Instrument #3: Gliga Vasile Professional Model Cello
We had this cello on display for several months, and it is an excellent instrument, but lacking in individual character. I have tried several different sets of strings on it, and never been completely happy with the result (even with my favourite string sets). The extra power, brilliance and dynamic response of Pirastro Perpetual strings brought exactly the character and performance I had been looking for: this cello went from “OK” but disappointing, to “Wow”. I would say that the Perpetual Soloist strings are the ideal strings to get the best results from the darker, Eastern European character of the Gliga cellos.
Shop the Pirastro Perpetual Soloist Cello string set with free shipping Australia wide here.
Instrument #4: Jay Haide A L’Ancienne Stradivari, Special Model with European Timbers
This cello has big, romantic sound, open but not too much, and we have really enjoyed experimenting with strings – the ones we have liked mostly on it are the little-known Rostanvo strings.
When I fitted the Pirastro Perpetual Soloist set, our immediate response was delight. Suddenly the cello opened up a new level of character and tone.
The A and D strings gave it new life, making it sing sweetly with plenty of power but also great beauty when played quietly. The C and G lifted the cello’s character even better, in the lowest octave on each of those strings, giving it a clearer and stronger tone, also feeling easier to play. I did not have to work as hard to produce a good quality sound, whether playing louder, softer, sweeter or more lively.
The A and D strings give me the most power without harshness or any tendency to squeal, out of any strings I have ever used. They are beautifully balanced, and the crossing between these two strings is equal to the best I have ever experienced. They have an amazing responsiveness and ability to sing powerfully but always with the greatest element of control by a skilled player. I would call the Perpetual A and D strings the best in the world.
The C and G strings: the Medium strings have a great level of response, and I found them extremely easy to play, bringing more life to one particular cello that was already very good. The Soloist C andG gave the greatest lift of sound and wonderful tone on most cellos, and would be my first choice wherever great power is needed. The first octave, on both C and G string, creates the most wonderfully rich and powerful tone I have ever experienced – it makes you want to never stop playing in that part of the cello. From fifth position to the end of the fingerboard, the power is excellent, and the character is rewarding, but throughout the thumb positions these two strings do not quite give me the clarity and balance I need. To be entirely fair, I have only found one other brand string that performs better in those registers.
Are Pirastro’s new Perpetual strings very expensive? Yes! Are they worth the high price tag? Yes, I believe so. Overall, I would have to call these the best individual set of strings I have ever reviewed. In my honest opinion the ideal set of strings for most good quality cellos in our store would be Perpetual A and D with Versum C and G.
Shop Pirastro Perpetual Cello Strings online here.
Shop Cello Strings online and in-store at Simply for Strings, Australia's leading music store.