Similarities on the outside belie crucial differences within


With the recent release of its Perpetual viola strings, German manufacturer Pirastro has completed the range it describes as its most powerful. According to Pirastro’s website, the Perpetual line, also available for violin, cello and double bass, ‘provides a full radiant sound with overwhelming ease… focused projection, vibrant response and instantly reliable tuning stability’. According to technical director Adrian Müller, however, these aims do not equate to a one-size-fits-all approach. ‘Not everything that works for the violin works for the cello, for example; not everything that sounds good on a viola sounds good on a double bass,’ he says. ‘In developing the viola strings, we had in mind a deep, chocolatey sound that could still offer the widest possible range of colours.’

Like the D and G of the Perpetual violin strings, the viola D and G have synthetic cores with silver windings, though their construction has been altered to highlight different characteristics. ‘They stretch a little more, to help improve vibrancy and brilliance,’ says Müller, explaining that the small size of a viola relative to its pitch creates particular difficulties where these are concerned. ‘The C string has a rope core wound with tungsten – a combination designed to improve the playability of a string that can be a little stubborn. We chose a single filament steel core for the A string, with a chrome-steel winding.’

The Perpetual A string is thicker than most, something Müller suggests might also make life easier for the player, as well as create a warmer tone. ‘On a violin, you tend to go from the steel E string to a thicker synthetic A string, and the same is true between the viola’s A and D strings. We wanted to make the sensation of playing each string more alike, helping the player to move more easily between them. The same is true of how each of the four strings feels under the fingers: you wouldn’t know they were made of different things.’

Pirastro Perpetual viola strings from €128