Chinese Proverb

"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese Proverb.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quick String Review & Changing Strings

I had Larsen mediums on my A&D and regular Spirocores for G & C but decided to switch them out because D was too quiet, G wasn't very responsive and C & G didn't have very clean chords. Even to a beginner like me, the strings didn't sound very balanced. Although I definitely like how warm and rich the strings make the cello. 

Looking for strings is a little more fun for me than looking for a cello! First of all, its not as expensive in comparison and its kind of interesting trying to figure out how different string combinations affect the cello, the strings nearby and my playing! Secondly, I don't feel like I'm making HUGE decisions - I'm totally wishy washy when it comes to making big decisions, I'm one of those types that make checklists and comparison charts! Seriously, I did it for the cellos I was looking at!  hhmmm...I wonder if I should post my comparison chart... And third, I'm learning a bunch of new stuff on cellos! It's never ending!

Changing cello strings:
  • I've got this down - piece of cake! :). My teacher kind of showed me how to do this during my previous lesson, but I had to look it up to make sure I didn't completely blow up my cello! Yes, I can blow anything up - I'm very accident prone...
    • I wasn't really paying much attention because I wanted to try out his cello! So while he was changing strings, I was playing some songs on his professional cello. I definitely can appreciate his cello more now that I've done quite a bit of research and cello searching for myself! Of course, mine is no where close to his... *sigh.* The cellos I'm looking at are only intermediate/advanced student cellos. Then again, I'm only a beginner student. LOL ~ chicken before the egg! ;)
  • The most important part of changing strings: 
    • ALWAYS change cello strings one at a time
    • NEVER take off all of the strings at once!
      • If I were to take off all of the strings at once the soundpost would fall because the tension from the strings is what holds it up.

Quick string review
  • I currently have Evah Medium for A & Evah Soloist for D on the Eastman cello and Spirocore Tungsten on G&C. I think the A&D is a bit too bright for me and I’m hoping they’ll warm up a bit more, but I don’t think they will as the description for these are for added “brilliance.” I have found the strings are much more balanced on this cello with this combination. But it also has brought out a small wolf on E, which disappears if I switch the D string back to the Larsen Mediums that were on there previously. Adam mentioned that the more open the strings are, the probability of a wolf appearing increase – I think it has to do with the tension of the strings.
    • However, the response and ease from the Evah strings is remarkable!! Getting more projection out of the A&D is extremely easy! It may be in part due to the fact that I’ve learned to drop my elbow more, but I don’t get the same response and ease of playing with the Larsen strings. Also, playing very quietly, is easy and sounds quite lovely! At quieter volumes it still retains a rich tonal quality! I don’t know, it may be too bright for me, but I may have to switch over because of these factors. Plus, its only been a week, so maybe it’ll sound better to me after another week.
    • I read that there are two main groups of A and D strings. The first group is typically Jargar and Larsen Soloist which are designed for HEAVIER bow pressure and a more powerful core sound. I’ve discovered when I switch back from Evahs to Larsens that I definitely need to use more pressure and my bowing needs to be more accurate. While the second group, which are typically Permanent, Evah Pirazz and Dominant, are more pliant which makes faster bow strokes easier, but are also brighter and more resonant. For me, Evahs are definitely more forgiving and easier to play. Although when I get nervous my hands start to shake and that's more noticeable on the Evahs! :). I didn't realize that strings make that huge of a difference in playability! I may have to try out Permanents or Dominants next.

I've read through a lot of forums regarding strings, and I thought they were being a bit picky about strings, but they really do make a difference! Along with my teacher's advice and a couple shop owners recommendations, I came across some good reading on picking out strings from the forums below:

      I've been referring back to these forums to figure what strings to try out and had to keep searching for these over and over again!  This should save some time! I signed up to the forums, but I have no idea how to search through either of the website forums! I'm going to have spend some time on those websites and figure that out. 


      1. hey there, i am new to your blog (and new to cello too! currently at my 12th lesson). reading how you know so much about cello gives me a rush that i need to work more! until now, i still can't tell how wolf sounds like, what ppl mean by 'bright', i am clueless about strings & whatnot..
        on your review of suzuki method previously, i do agree with most of the points..especially on the training by listening..i was not a suzuki trained child but having taught myself several instruments since 7 yrs old (1stly on recorder and then keyboard & gambang,i practically played everything i heard on tv :P)gave me somewhat a pair of trained ears. i nvr taught myself to sight-read though.
        And now it sucks when your fingers are playing ahead of your sight-reading and counting (i have to play/learn the least memorable tunes to make sure i am truly even bach prelude is quite memorable to me)
        as a result, while my intonation is quite there, i am struggling hard at sight-reading and counting. even tho i am 24-yr-old beginner, i aspire to play in a community orchestra, and lacking both skills is quite damaging as i see it.
        anyway, forgive me to whine on your blog. just a little excited to see more and more of us cellolovers! good luck to both of us :)

      2. Hi Thaddaeus! Glad to meet another cellolover! :)

        I still have LOTS to learn, but I figure I have a lot of catching up to do since I'm starting so late! I can't wait I start playing more complicated pieces too - it's SO exciting! :). I want to skip right to all of the Bach Suites too!

        I didn't understand what 'bright' meant either until I started experimenting with strings, but I'm sure you'll pick it up fairly quickly since you play other instruments. :).

        My husband is self taught in guitar, but has never learned how to sight-read. He's extremely hesitant and doubtful regarding learning how to sight read too. I definitely would recommend Essential Elements 2000 for Strings Series with the DVD. Book 1 might be too easy for you so maybe skipping to the next book? It's weird, but as you play along to the DVD you start associating it with your fingers and then it just happens all of sudden... After that I started saying the notes aloud to test myself while I played each song a couple times through. I couldn't do that before because I had to think to remember the notes which took too long and then the song didn't sound like a song at all, just a bunch of notes in random order! Although I'm still embarrassed saying the notes aloud and have to wait until my husband is not around when I do this! However, sight reading has definitely sunk into my brain now and I don't have to think about it as much anymore.

        As far as counting... well, I still can't count or use a metronome!! That totally throws me off!! :). Haven't found the secret to getting that down yet.... let me know if you discover the secret to that one! ;).

        Best of luck to you too!

      3. This informative post has the potent to give precise info about the string instruments that have positive effect on music. Electric Cello is also one of the best musical instrument which can bring your music in perfect rhythm.