Perpetual Upright Bass Strings
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The major string-makers are always looking for ways to innovate, and Pirastro's newest (July 2019) entry into the fray is the Perpetual String Set. Pirastro says, off the bat, that they are "mainly developed for pizzicato" - which is a relatively rare thing for Pirastro, as they're well-known for many strings that are designed for arco, or are designed as hybrids from the get-go. If I had to guess, I'd probably say that these are positioned to take a "piece of the pie" from one of the most popular and long-running string sets out there. Their projection, clarity, and consistency in pizzicato play seems to compare well to that (deservedly) ubiquitous string.
But that's not to say that they are a copy - the Perpetual strings are their own thing, too, and should be judged on their own scale rather than "as compared to..."
For one, their feel is definitely on the flexible side, feeling more like Pirastro's Obligatos (without the "roll") than their Flexicore Deluxe, which is on the stiff side. While they felt a little "tight" when we first put them on, they seemed to settle down pretty quickly (like, within minutes, not days). Tension is comfortable, and gauging is a hair or two thinner than many of their other popular offerings. They have articulation, but they're not overly "brash" - having a nice warmth with a clear fundamental pitch. It's a nice balance that many strings strive for, but don't always achieve.
So, their tone has a nice complexity, or even "duality" to it, making them clear, yet full - deep-sounding, yet with a well-defined "front" of the note (attack). And the playability follows suit - they're beefy enough to dig in, but they're also not overly stiff. They're flexible, but they're not floppy.
I guess that the takeaway is that they are - for a good number of pizz players - to be "just enough of a good thing" on a number of fronts, without being TOO MUCH of a good thing. Does that even make sense?
What about arco? Well, in their words, "When played arco the Perpetual bass has a clear yet complex tone with an intense power that can be felt by the musician as well as the listener. With their effortless left hand feel and an astonishingly quick bow response, the Perpetual allows the player to practice for long periods of time with little fatigue."
With all due respect to the wordsmiths at Pirastro (and any of the other string manufacturers, for that matter), a lot of the superlatives used to describe strings have been used so often that they can't really resonate; let's be honest, the proof is in the pudding.
Pirastro smartly debuted these strings by putting them on quite a few basses at the 2019 International Society of Bassists (ISB) Conference, and so a lot of very talented bassists got a chance to check them out, and weigh in. And the word on the street is that arco may not be its prime purpose (or best feature), but that they bow at least as well as most any other "hybrid" string, and perhaps better than some. We rosined up with a bit of Wiedoeft, and they seemed quite easy to start and play. The sound was powerful, and the low notes have a nice raspy push when you dig in. They may be a bit on the bright side for some players, but technique and rosin can be altered a little to better suit their strengths.
These strings aren't jazz-specific, but, like the other major string that they will undoubtedly be compared to, they should work very well in that context. But they should be a strong contender in just about any pizz context. They settle almost immediately, with very little break-in needed; and they quickly reach their full tonal potential and ability to hold pitch reliably. All strings are chrome steel wound on a uniquely designed and extremely flexible high-tensile steel rope core, which makes them very consistent, and (as is the case with similar strings) long-lasting. They will work great with magnetic pickups and all other pickup systems.
Pirastro provides tension figures, but not gauges, so the below gauges are "unofficial" based upon us using a digital caliper:
- G=57.9 lbs, .047
- D=58.1 lbs, .062
- A=63.1 lbs, .074
- E=62.9 lbs, .106
- ExtE/C=73.9 lbs, .117
- Low B=66.1 lbs, .137
All strings have a "mustard yellow" silk at the tailpiece/ball end, and the following colors at the headstock:
- Extended E=green
- Low B=yellow
These strings are a great hybrid string. They are well balanced string with a good amount of clarity and a brightness. Before these I was playing jazz on spirocores. These strings are similar, slightly less string tension, with a similar brightness, with just a tad less “mwah.” However these are so much nicer under a bow, with a fairly quick response and pleasant tone. Great strings if you’re looking for a versatile hybrid string.
I have a 1949 Kay bass on which I've been using the LaBella Black Nylon strings, handed down from my bass teacher. I really enjoy those strings, although as is widely known, they are definitely more challenging to play with the bow (which I don't do much as a primarily jazz player). The Perpetuals have a lot of the qualities that I enjoyed with the LaBellas - soft on the fingers, nice round tone, etc., but I discovered that the tone of notes on the E and A strings, which were not all that pleasant before, are really nice. Some who have heard me play with these strings have said that it sounds like classic gut strings from decades ago. I'm really happy with these strings and expect I'll be using them for years to come. And of course, ordering from Gollihur was a first-rate experience as always, with good communication from them throughout the ordering and shipping process. Two thumbs up!
I have not played spirocores yet. These were recommended by a player that is much better than I am. Intonation is very good and volume is good as well.