Product Review: Thomastik Versum Cello Strings
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. Simply for Strings had the pleasure of trialing the new Thomastik Versum Cello strings when they first launched. Thanks to Thomastik, we were also able to send a number of sets out to professional musicians to hear what they think.
What Thomastik say: Versum strings impress with a beautiful tonal balance: a sweet top and a warm, velvety and round bottom. With their focused sound and precise and powerful intonation they give your instrument a unique personality and offer you great versatility in expression. A vast spectrum of colors and an ideal balance across all strings provide support for the cello‘s lower voice while accentuating its soloistic opportunities.
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"The Thomastik Versum steel core VE 400 cello strings are of the highest quality and well balanced in all respects. The tone on all the strings is focussed and rich. The A string has clarity and refinement, the D strength and projection, the G responsiveness and warmth, the C a beautiful depth. The timbre is well matched across the strings and all registers respond freely. The slightly narrow gauge gives the left hand a sense of ease. The clarity of tone is particularly evident with double stops , which allows greater accuracy in intonation. This new set of strings “settled in” very quickly in terms of tone quality and pitch stability. The responsiveness of the strings allows for ease of articulation as well as depth of expression – one is never tempted to force the sound. The Versums give the performer a real sense of confidence – the tone won’t crack and the beauty and character of my Wolfgang Schnabl cello are brought to the fore. I won’t use any other string!
Many thanks to Simply for Strings for the opportunity to review these great strings and special thanks to Michael for all the excellent advice. All the best, Andre Duthoit."
"I have been trialling the new professional “Versum” cello string set from Thomastik for more than a month. On all cellos I have tested these on, I was very pleased with the results. Settling time: Not as immediate as Jargar or Larsen, but still very quick. Also very quick to re-settle when transferring to another cello. Feel: Very comfortable under the fingers. They are smooth, thin with a silky feel. Tension: Medium tension that feels almost like light gauge, making playing very easy. Brightness: Plenty of volume without excessive brightness. Not as bright as Larsen, brighter than Jargar (Medium). Balance: One of the most balanced sets I have ever experienced. Whereas often it can feel almost as if each string is on a different cello, the blend of sound between strings is superb. String crossing, even at the far end of the fingerboard, is a pleasure! Intonation: As I fitted this set to each new cello, the cello would become easier to tune. I could hear the tuning and discern the harmonic balance far better with these strings than any other. Harmonics have a greater clarity, and playing double-stops (and chords) is much easier with Versum strings. Even double- stopping on the C & G strings, which can sound rather muddy on many cellos, became crisp and clearer and much more precise. Tone: They produce a lovely, sweet tone that is not harsh and over-bright, nor dull and subdued. The lower strings have the power one expects from modern tungsten strings, but less aggressive and much clearer, and the sound is more manageable. The upper strings have a clarity and ability to project very well, without being overpowering. Very responsive. Clarity: From the first time I fitted Versum strings to a cello, the greatest characteristic for me has been their bell-like clarity. I have tried many professional quality strings and never found this level of clarity.
In summary, these are the most playable strings I have ever used. Both ends, and along the full length of the fingerboard are a pleasure to play, on all four strings. On all six cellos I tested these on, there was an improvement to the tone, especially on the lower strings. They are comfortable for the fingers, produce a great tone and are so easy to play in tune. For those players who want huge power, I would say to keep your regular strings. For me, of all the strings I have used and reviewed, these stand out as exceptional. My impression has been that they bring out the best in an individual cello, allowing me to explore each instrument's tone and character better than I had experienced with other strings." Michael Scott-Branagan.
"Hello Toby, Thank you for the opportunity to trial these strings, it is certainly appreciated. These strings were fitted to a cello that had previously remained very difficult to tame. Many string sets, and combinations of strings were tried, from highly regarded makers.
Versum Cello strings have exceeded all expectations. They are very responsive and pliant over the entire length of the fingerboard. A greater degree of vibrato control has resulted. There is no feeling of string sag. Projection is very good, slightly above what could be considered average. The strings feel magnificent under bow, allowing great freedom of articulation. Overtones are balanced, with harmonics retaining full colour. They are not overly bright, yet have enough brightness to satisfy, and are certainly not metallic or overly intense. Tonal balance is superb over all strings, with each string complementing the other, permitting effortless transitioning. Versum strings bring a sophisticated focused blend of controllable nuances and possibilities to explore. Players can build on and express their tonal range and dynamics as the strings provide a balanced reliable foundation. Playing in time was below average, whilst tuning stability has remained. The timbre of the Cello has become rich and vibrant since fitting these strings. I would recommend these strings for use in any musical environment, as they encourage the soloist to soar, yet blend beautifully in an ensemble setting." Owen
"Hi Michael, The review has certainly not been forgotten! I finally put the Versum strings on my cello a few days ago. I would like to give them a chance to really settle in before writing my final review of them (hopefully by the end of the Maryborough conference I should have a good idea.) Part of my reason for wanting to wait until the strings have 'settled in' a bit more is that in the four days since I added them, their character has already changed, perhaps subtly, but noticeably nonetheless.
So ahead of my 'official' report, here is what I have found so far:
My cello previously has a full set of Larsens. They were five to ten years old - when I purchased the cello around five years ago, they were already on it. In comparison, the Versums have a noticeably clearer, more penetrating tone on the G and C strings. The sound is still rich and very enjoyable, but I have found that I now have to struggle far less to articulate notes clearly in that register. The sound a little more indistinct on the D and A strings than the Larsens did. In the octave between E above middle C and the next E, there was a somewhat 'woolly' aspect to the sound, and articulation was more of a challenge, with legato phrases being harder to project. However, over the last couple of days that aspect has improved somewhat, and I have found it less difficult to project lyrical phrases in that register. Oddly enough, above the aforementioned high E, the tone was clear and penetrating (but in a good way). Thank you for the opportunity to try this new product." Matthew.
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