So, I've been having the new Jargar Superior set on two of my cellos for a few weeks now, and thought I'd share my first impressions with you guys. I've been a long time fan of Jargar strings, and was more than excited when first hearing about this new development in their production. Even though I've always liked the full set, modern tungsten G&C strings were long overdue, to say the least!
First some background info:
The two cellos are quite different among themselves - they are my main instrument; a 2006 Luis&Clark carbon fiber cello, and my second cello; a lovely, but unfortunately anonymous French Grancino copy from the mid to late 1800's in splendid, recently restored condition. The overall difference between them relate mostly bow response, measurements, and focus of sound. Overall, the L&C has a broad, powerful and deep tone, a very heavy low end and sweet upper range, and a quick bow response. The French cello has a narrower, more piercing sound, a brighter low end and more immediately powerful upper range, and a slower bow response. Both very nice, professional grade instruments, with Belgian style bridges, carbon fiber endpins, a Herdim carbon fiber tailpiece on the L&C and the Frirsz "hollow" tailpiece on the French cello.
The strings that the cellos switched from were as follows:
The L&C: Pirastro Passione medium A&D, Larsen Magnacore medium G&C.
The Frenchie: Pirastro Chromcor Plus A&D, Evah Pirazzi medium G, Evah Pirazzi Soloist C.
I have played quite different music during the past few weeks, alternating between the two cellos as much as I've could. There have been some Mendelssohn piano trios and Brahms piano quartets, some Philip Glass solo music, some pop & jazz studio work, some romantic era orchestral work, some random mingle music for quartet and vln-vlc duo.
So, over to the strings. Some general observations on the full set:
I've tried the set in medium gauge all over, the A&D are (as far as I know) single core and alloy wound, the G&C rope core and tungsten wound. In spite of the different characteristics between the two instruments, the strings had remarkably similar effects on both of them, which kinda makes it easier for me writing a comprehensive review..!
I would characterize the overall sound of the set as warm, voluminous, broad and smooth. In spite of Jargar's advertising of these as fitting for soloists, I don't know if I'd trust the Shostakovich concertos to these strings, (mostly due to the A-string, more on that below) but certainly anything leading up to that. The response is light and the strings quite pliable under the fingers, much more so than the original Jargars, IMO. There is a very nice evenness of both sound and volume across the set, and the tension feels strangely lower than the original Jargars (even though the A&D are, according to Jargar themselves, significantly thicker than the originals). The whole set needed remarkably little time to settle, even the lower tungsten strings. The A, D & G settled within minutes really, the C taking just a day of playing to break in completely. Tuning was stable pretty much directly out the package, as I've come to expect with Jargar strings.
My impressions of each string, across both cellos:
The A-string: This is generally a quite warm, sophisticated, and smooth A-string, but with a remarkable upper brilliance. It has volume and panache when needed, but is unfortunately quite easily overpowered by a strong bowing hand. A beautiful sound, especially in soft music, but you can't dig very deep. Its response is adequate, but certainly outperformed in this department by the “race car” strings out there, like Evah Pirazzi Soloist, Larsen Magnacore, or Permanent Soloist. I will try the Forte gauge of this string shortly, as I can imagine many of these issues could be solved, and perhaps with a fuller sound as well. I'll let y'all know!
The D-string: Really, really warm and quite earthy string, which sets it apart from the rather bright and edgy original Jargar D. The sound is gorgeous for romantic cantilenas, broad and rather powerful too. It can provide some soloistic edge, but you have to fight a bit for it if you want it, as its bow response follows the example set by the A-string – which, on a positive note, makes them very even. You can dig into this one more than the A-string, though. I will try the forte gauge for this one as well, to see what a difference a day makes.
As many of you may know, the G&C are the real news here. And they did surprise me, both of them. One such thing is their extremely smooth winding - it's like touching a solid silk string! They only come in medium gauge so far, unfortunately, but I hope this will change if Jargar finds them to gain speed among consumers.
The G-string: This must certainly be the warmest, silkiest tungsten G-string ever made. Really, even more so than the standard Larsen G, and with much more sophistication to its tone. The sound is lovely in all dynamics, smooth and with a nice depth. This should be the perfect string for the many cellists who generally dislike tungsten G-strings for their brash sound and aggressive response, but want that tungsten power. I'm personally a bit torn, as I've just gotten used to the “tungsten G sound” from playing mostly with Magnacore and EP Soloist strings for the last few years, and come to like that slightly abrasive clarity that always lets you be heard. But the powerful yet warm sound and direct bow response of this string may very well wean me off this. This is the perfect middle road between powerful tungsten and warm chrome, and makes a really good match with the D-string of this set. One of the best D&G matches on the market, I'd say, which is not a small feat considering how tricky that seems to have been to achieve for most string makers.
The C-string: This one's a slightly different beast. I don't think I'm too off by likening it to a well settled in Spirocore tungsten C, one that's been played for a while. The sound of the Jargar Superior C is also warm at heart, but it's been gifted with a brilliance and openness in its sound that puts it slightly at contrast with the G-string. In many ways, it has the same benefits and drawbacks as the A-string. The sound is warm and big even at soft dynamics, and the response is good but not extraordinary. It doesn't bring much new to the table. There is lots of volume to be drawn from it, (more so on my L&C than the French cello for some reason) but, like the A-string, it's more easily overpowered than some comparable C-strings out there (I'm thinking Spirocore tungsten, EP Soloist, Larsen Magnacore, etc.) and it somehow loses a bit of its resonance at really loud dynamics. It feels like the overtones take over and the fundamental “dies” a bit, quite hard to explain, but this is just at FFF and upwards. It could very well be a matter of mismatch between instrument and string, and it's certainly not a big problem for most repertoire. The overall sound is still really nice, a big, deep and mature tone of high quality. And may I say, considering this is Jargar's first market attempt at tungsten wound strings – a very good place to start!
Those are my impressions so far, and some may change in the future. The set will remain on my cellos for at least until my curiosity on trying the EP Gold, Perpetual, and Thomastik Versum strings takes over. So many new strings, so little time..!
But I can certainly imagine keeping this for a while too, and returning to it in the future.