Why do cellists have different strings for A&D and G&C?

May 12, 2018, 7:35 PM · I'm a violinist myself, but have wondered especially at all the all-county and all-state orchestras, why cellos often have two different brands of strings on their instruments.

Us violinists usually have ADG one set and a different E string, but who do cellists split between the two?

What about Basses and violas?

Replies (6)

May 12, 2018, 10:06 PM · The vast majority of violists I've encountered, at or above upper-intermediate level, use one brand for CGD and a second for A. In California, I would estimate 50% use Larsen A, 30% use Jargar A, and 20% use all other brands combined. I have yet to meet any violist in person who uses Larsen or Jargar for any string other than A.

Less commonly seen, but still a very substantial number of violists, is one brand for C, a second brand for D and G, and a third brand for A.

May 13, 2018, 5:31 AM · Compared with violins, cellos vary in tone qualities quite a bit, not only from other cellos but also across their range, and choosing strings carefully can balance that out and smooth over the changes one might need in bowing to approach the different strings. Without intervention, commonly, the C string can lack clarity, the G sound like someone pounding on an empty oil drum, the D can sound dull, and the A sound harsh. Some of this can be dealt with in set up, the rest with string choice. Violins are much more homogeneous on their own, without a lot of fussing around.
Edited: May 13, 2018, 6:34 AM · Years ago the printed SHAR catalog had an interesting feature. Each issue featured the strings used by several of their employees. Most of these were using mixed sets. I believe they may also have described the instrument each of them played. Mixed sets were common. Personally I used mixed sets on my violins for at least 30 years until about 5 years ago when I moved from Peter Infeld, to Thomastik Vision Solo, to Evah Pirazzi Gold - but I've kept the same Peter Infeld platinum E on throughout that evolution - and have no sonic reason to ever deviate from my current setups.

On my "performance" viola I use different brands for A and C and a common brand for D and G strings. My cellos are all over the map - after over 65 years with them I am still varying A strings as new ones are recommended, and have found a brand that works for D and G for the Strad models and a different brand for the Rogeri model. C strings are still a moderate problem.

Many cellos (especially the Strad models, in my intimate and long-term experience with 3 of them) have significant wolf-tone problems that players may have spent thousands of dollars over the years to reduce with various G and C string choices. The newish Krentz wolf eliminator has provided miraculous cures for my 2 wolfie Strad-model cellos.

Michael's words are right on!

Edited: May 13, 2018, 3:19 PM · On my cello, Spirocore were more responsive and full on the C and G, but not as nice on the treble. I liked the sound, feel, and response of Aricore on the treble and the C and G were too flacid, cloudy, and less quick. On my fifths bass, I have found a similar setup with Obligato on the treble for identical reasons.
I mostly play viola and violin in both chamber and orchestras. For both I prefer Warchal on the high string and Kaplan Amo for the rest as they balance well. The Warchal E is easier to control and the Amber viola A is a better match in sound imho.
I prefer less strident high strings than the typical Larsen used by alto and tenor clef players.
May 13, 2018, 3:43 PM · The new Jargar Special A (forte) was recommended by several pros on Cello Chat a few months ago and I am very happy that I installed them on 2 cellos.
Edited: May 13, 2018, 8:03 PM · Having two or more different string brands on your violin indicates that you have sufficient disposable wealth to choose them empirically. Of course the price of a set of strings is probably less than the cost of two lessons, but nobody sees you taking lessons.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Violin Finder
Yamaha Violin Finder

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins


Warchal Strings
Warchal Strings

Metzler Violin Shop
Metzler Violin Shop

Dimitri Musafia
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Meadowmount School of Music

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Los Angeles Violin Shop

Pluhar Violins

Potter Violins

Pro-Am Strings Ltd

Violin Lab

Violin Pros

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop