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 Flexocore 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.
Special "Stark" G string and D string
Pirastro heard you! Customers have responded to the Perpetuals, saying that they LOVE how they sound and play - but some have mentioned that the higher strings are a little on the "thin" side. The string designers at Pirastro have now engineered new G and D strings that have a beefier feel AND tone, and many players have already fallen in love with this new version. It's not just a "thicker" version of the same strings - it has a lot more stuff going on inside, and as a result it is more costly to produce (and sell) than the "regular" version strings from this set. So they do carry an upcharge from the "standard" G and D strings. But they are a very special strings (particularly the G-string), and I expect them to cannibalize sales of the very popular Oliv G and D strings - they're that good! (In fact, I'm told that Pirastro even briefly toyed with the idea of calling it the "Perpetual Oliv" string.)
A note about tension: Although "Stark" is commonly used my several manufacturers to designate a "heavy tension" string, it's important to note that the Perpetual "Stark" strings aren't necessarily much (if any) "heavier" in tension compared to the regular ones. In German, "Stark" translates to "Strong." So in the case of the Perpetual Stark strings, from what I can tell, the word is used to describe their CHARACTER, not their TENSION/WEIGHT; Pirastro ended up calling these strings "Stark" to describe the thicker, fuller, "stronger" sound that the strings produce.
Just like the regular versions of the G and D, you can purchase the Stark G and Stark D separate from the sets, and we also package them in sets for you (we replace standard G and/or D string for the "stark" strings). Just note that the sets including the stark versions cost more than the standard sets (pricing is shown to you when you select the version you want.)
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
- Stark G = .057
- D=58.1 lbs, .062
- Stark D = .069
- 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
- "STARK" strings have a green "ring" at the start of the pegbox silk
I have the set with the stark G and D. On my bass and setup, they are great combo of pizzicato punch and sustain and easy bow response. The tension difference between the stark GD and Mittel EA might be a nuisance to some, but to me I don’t mind having a stiffer G and D. I also have put on a Spiro Mittel E and A and that’s a good combo as well.
I’m always on the lookout for good hybrid strings, since I play equal parts classical, jazz and rock/alternative. Most recently, I’ve been using Kaplan and Bel Canto. I was not fully satisfied with the arco tone of the Kaplan G, so I decided to give the Perpetual “Stark” G a try. It’s fantastic! Great tone, feel and response, both pizz. and arco. It blends well with my Kaplans, but gives me an extra little boost on the G. I’ll likely be adding the stark D next.
The fundamentals on these strings are -insane-. The clarity of notes pizza and arco is just out of this world. They're loud, clear, growly, and expertly made. My one complaint is how small in diameter the D and G are, especially the G. Even the STARK G is too small for my fingers. That said, I do put up with the trouble because they sound ridiculous
A couple weeks in and I'm happy with these strings. They're fairly soft under hand, comparable to spiro weichs. In terms of sound, they seem to project well (audible in the back of Mezzrow while being played acoustic) and have a pretty straight down the middle, unoffensive sound. Don't have the magic of eudoxa or oliv strings, but stable tuning and more rugged materials (not to mention the price difference) have their merits. There's enough upper mid content for clear pitch and attacks, nice lil growl potential, and free of the metallic pings that haunted my amplified sound with evahs and spiros. Feel nice under the bow. For context, I'm coming from a oliv-eudoxa-RC nylon wound-RC nylon wound (from high to low) set up on a Kolstein Fendt (flatback, long string length, dark sound). PS: I got the stark G which is is comfy. I imagine the regular G would feel a little too wiry.
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.