Perpetual SOLO Tuning 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
I've been using Perpetuals on my Shen hybrid bass and have been very happy with them. Tried them on my Eminence EUB and while they sounded great, the tension was too high. At Mark G's suggestion, I tried the solo gauge Perpetuals and they are a perfect solution. Sound and feel just like my DB but without the extra tension.