Love/Hate: Superior tone & projection: Beware the "squeak" and short life.
February 22, 2020
I have a love/hate relationship with these strings. First of all, they are LOUD! Equipping a concert instrument with these will (finally!) give a player a fighting chance of matching the projection of our arco cousins. But beyond volume, the tone is simply incredible; beautiful and complex. The basses have tremendous layers of harmonics that compliment their strong fundamentals, and their even tension means intonation is quite good up the neck. The treble strings are what give the product its name, though, Made from a sugarcane polymer (a bio-derived polyethylene), the trebles each carry their own personality. Uniformity was apparently not the goal here- and that is not a complaint! The 3rd (G) string is shockingly clear and vibrant- far superior to the lifelessness tone usually attributed to this string in their nylon and carbon varieties. You will definitely want to re-voice melodic material to exploit this clarity (and welcome the reduction in position shifting). The 2nd (B) string shares the 3rd's clarity, and matches well while giving the notes a noticeably lighter personality. The 1st (E) string can be a bit temperamental; even a small kink introduced when stringing will keep the string from ringing clear and introduce profound ghost harmonics. But assuming stringing goes perfectly, the 1st string rewards with a snappy and percussive character that sacrifices a touch of sustain for vibrancy, as well as effortless, vocal-like vibrato.
But alas, nothing is perfect. While I already mentioned the fragility of the 1st string, it must be noted that all the strings in this set are incredibly soft (in terms of their resistance to wear) and unless you are playing on perfectly smooth and polished frets, you can expect de-lamination of the basses to occur within a month, and noticeable wear on the trebles as well. Granted, this may be a symptom of the unfortunate trend to use (ghastly!) stainless steel frets on modern instruments as opposed to more traditional materials, so if you have frets made of softer metal (e.g., nickel/copper) this may be a non issue.
But the greatest issue with these strings is, without doubt, the dreaded "squeak." Yes, the trebles squeak terribly while they are settling in, and sometimes even longer. This can be mitigated to an extent by constant playing and using hand lotion. Some players have suggested using very gentle buffing of the strings (1000 grit or higher sand paper) in order to remove the squeak, but given the fragility of the 1st string, this requires great caution.
Buffing the strings does, however, improve purchase of the fingers, which is another area where this string set has shortcomings. Appoyando feels very slick- perhaps too slick!- and does take some adjusting not to over articulate. Tirando is fine up to a point, but considering the aforementioned lack of finger purchase, this could make faster passages impossible without conditioning the strings (not to mention immaculate fingernail grooming).
But alas, the tone is the thing! If you are willing to treat these strings with far more care and consideration than a typical nylon or carbon set (venturing into the same gnatty level of detail and ritual usually reserved for authentic gut) you will be rewarded with a richness and variety of tone unmatched by other sets. Particularly, the profound variation from sul tasto to sul pont. is profound; even a slight change in positioning will reveal new colors. Pair that with the individual characteristics of the treble strings, and you get a set of strings that rewards the diligent player willing to explore where they can take their music.
Responsive, with wide tonal variations
Individual string characteristics
ConsSoft and prone to wear
Trebles will squeak without proper conditioning
Finger purchase could be better, inhibiting speed