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Best cello strings

Which cello strings are best?

Cellists spend a lot of time considering which strings and combinations best suit their playing style and ear. String choice has a notable effect on the instrument’s tone, more so than with many other stringed instruments. Cello strings tend to be long-lasting, so it’s worth taking extra time when deciding which brand and gauge combination is your best fit. 

Evah Pirazzi Gold is the top choice for cello strings. Popular with many cellists, these strings sound great right out of the box.

What to know before you buy cello strings

Choose the proper string gauge

As a general rule for most stringed instruments, the thicker the string, the richer the tone. Thinner gauges produce a faster response and are better for playing intricate and up-tempo pieces. They produce a lighter, quieter sound, as opposed to thicker strings that produce bolder sounds. 

String gauge also affects string tension. Heavier-gauge strings require more stamina to play, especially when playing for extended periods.

Care for your cello strings

You should clean your cello strings at least once per month, and even more regularly if you practice and perform often. To do this, apply isopropyl alcohol to a lint-free microfiber cloth and rub up and down each string individually. More attention should be focused on those areas of the string that contact with the bow, as this is where you get the greatest buildup of rosin.

Try different string combinations

As your experience as a cellist grows, you’ll acquire a deeper understanding of the intricacies and nuances offered by different strings. Given that cello strings are expensive and last a long time, this is often knowledge acquired over many years of playing. To help discover your own personal sound, ask an expert luthier about string choices or do your own research about players you like and their choices for strings. This will also help expand your knowledge about cello strings and their various characteristics.

What to look for in quality cello strings

Construction materials

Traditionally made from catgut, most of today’s cello strings are manufactured using various metal alloys. These materials have a great effect on the string’s weight and tone. 

Many brands offer string sets with different types of core materials. These may include gut, metal and synthetic cores, each with different tonal characteristics and tensions.

Tonal qualities

Medium-gauge strings are most commonly used for cellos, as these find a balance between response and tone. Though most players start with this gauge, remember that string tensions tend to vary greatly between brands. Heavy strings give the instrument a powerful tone, but may be too slow to respond on some instruments, resulting in choking when bowed. If this is the case, opt for a lighter string. You'll find that with the correct care, high-quality cello strings have a fuller-sounding tone that lasts longer than cheaper versions.

How they are packaged

Cello strings last longer in arid climates than in humid or coastal climates, and the way they are packaged and stored contributes to their longevity. Many premium sets are packaged in plastic or foil and are less likely to corrode in highly humid conditions. This is important if you store spare sets for extended periods.

How much you can expect to spend on cello strings

The price and quality of cello strings vary greatly. Decent sets of beginner-level strings generally cost around $50. A good quality intermediate pack costs between $200-$300, while a set of premium cello strings can cost well over $300.

Cello strings FAQ

How often should I replace my cello strings?

A. Generally speaking, cello strings should be replaced once a year. However, humidity and regular use contribute to their decay. Once they start losing their brightness of tone, it's time to invest in a new set.

How do I ensure my cello strings are correctly tensioned?

A. Using a digital tuner can help with correcting tension. Digital tuners are inexpensive, easy to use and highly accurate. By always tuning your instrument to concert pitch, you help ensure that your strings are correctly tensioned, and that there is no undue stress on your instrument.

What are the best cello strings to buy?

Top cello strings

Evah Pirazzi Gold

What you need to know: This medium-gauge set has an overall warm tone and is well-suited for intermediate and advanced cellists.

What you’ll love: Evah Pirazzi Gold strings are renowned for their complexity and strong projection, as well as their dynamic response. There are a variety of different sets that cater to different playing styles.

What you should consider: While these cello strings are lauded for their tone, this is an uncommon string combination that may not be to everyone’s tastes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cello strings for the money

D’Addario Prelude

What you need to know: This entry-level set of strings is favored by students and educators for their ease of use and quick bow response.

What you’ll love: D’Addario Prelude strings have solid steel cores, which contribute to their longevity. They are packaged for protection against humidity while in storage. The brand uses computer-controlled winding technology to ensure consistency of tone and feel.

What you should consider: While these are high-quality and ideal for student players, they lack the sophistication of professional-standard strings.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Thomastik Spirocore

What you need to know: This midrange set is a firm favorite with amateurs and professional players alike due to their responsive sound.

What you’ll love: These chrome-wound cello strings have a spiral core which brings out the deeper tones of the instrument. Due to their distinctive tones, they also pair well with many other string brands.

What you should consider: Some players dislike the whole set as a combination, as each string has different tonal characteristics.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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