New Strings

July 01, 2010

After visiting KC Strings a week or two ago and playing a couple of their cellos I discovered that some strings are easier to play than others. My cello came equipped with a matched set of Red Label strings, which I was quite happy with until playing something else. Apparently the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence until you managed to get over the fence for a brief foray.

I remarked to my teacher about the difference I noticed between my strings and the ones on the cellos I'd played in the store. He immediately suggested that I get a set of Jargar Strings for my instrument. Through Amazon I was able to order medium chromesteel A and D strings, and a medium silver wound G and C strings. The strings came from Johnson String Instruments in just a few days.

This morning at my lesson we took the first 10 minutes to replace the Red Labels with the Jargars. The process isn't difficult, but you do need to be careful not to loosen all the strings at once or the sound post could fall over. David used a pencil to put some graphite in the notches on both the bridge and the nut for all four strings, to aid in their moving through the notches without sticking. For the A and D strings he used a small square of snare drum skin as a protector over the bridge. Those strings are thin enough to act as a knife and will slowly cut into the bridge as they tuned repeatedly. With the snare drum skin moistened slightly we were able to mold them over the top of the bridge. For today, until the harden into place, they are held down with a couple pieces of scotch tape.

We were careful to adjust the fine tuners to the middle of their range so that there would be some play in either direction. We also reversed the pegs for the G and C strings. The C string is the thickest of the four and having it on the peg closest to the nut bends it a fairly severe angel. Exchanging the two strings eases the angle between the nut and peg for the C-string, and uses a relatively smaller string, the G, for the lowest peg. Since I've never had to tune using the pegs I won't have to relearn the positions.

The new strings have a wonderfully spongey feel to them, they are easier to stop and they are easier to play. The Red Label C-string was hard to get going; the Jargar speaks readily and with less effort. While my ear is still learning the nuances of cello sounds and harmonics, I can hear an improvement in the over all tonal quality of my instrument. David also remarked that it sounded better.

The time (ten minutes) and cost ($97) were both good investments, and I now have a complete spare set of strings should something happen to one of my Jargars.

Update: Below is a picture of my peg box with the C and G strings "reversed." There doesn't appear to be an untoward side-to-side angle introduced by the switch.

pegbox

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.