Guitarists, both experienced amateurs and professional players, typically experiment with many classical guitar string brands before settling on a favorite set or two. Savarez strings are an acclaimed lot well known for their variants – different tensions and materials. The French brand is up there with the likes of other reputed names like Augustine and Hannabach.
With origins that go back as far as 1770, Savarez is a market leader known for its innovations and reliable quality. To make sense of all the vast variations it offers, it’s useful to remember a simple baseline. All Savarez variations are combinations of their basses – Corum, Cantiga and Classic – with New Cristal (nylon) and Alliance (carbon) trebles.
Once you combine, say, Corum basses with Alliance trebles you make a variation. You can make further sub-variations with the different tensions – low, medium and high. Like with all leading string makers, Savarez offers its strings as full sets or as ‘half-sets’ (only basses or only trebles) or singles.
An exciting and more recent option from Savarez is their Creation Series of strings for the classical guitar, which not only comes in different tensions but also combine different materials within the same set. More on this shortly.
This review will guide you on the main varieties of Savarez strings that are available and explain what each variation offers you. We won’t cover every variation that the brand makes, but we will touch upon the well known ones. Hopefully, you will be better placed to understand the broad variants and what you can expect from them.
For our review purposes, the broad and popular classification of Savarez string sets can be summed up as follows:
– 500 Corum Series
– 510 Cantiga Series
– 540 HT Classic Series
– 510 Cantiga Premium Series
– 510 Creation Series
The first three have been around for ages and the next two are newer. All are excellent options to consider for your classical guitar.
SAVAREZ CORUM SERIES (500)
The Savarez Classical Guitar Strings Corum 500 Series pairs Corum Basses with Trebles from the Traditional line or the Alliance line, or with the New Cristal trebles (half way between the Traditional and Alliance trebles in brightness). The Corum Basses are very different from the basses in the other lines. They are more flexible and the sound is richer and warmer.
Being a French brand, you can’t always expect English short forms. Instead you have to get used to a new ‘key’ for understanding the sub-variations. It’s in fact crucial that you spend a few moments getting the hang of this so that you can explore the choices quicker.
A – Stands for Alliance trebles which in turn are carbon trebles
C – Stands for Cristal trebles which in turn are regular nylon trebles
R – Normal tension
J – High tension
(If you see both R and J in the set name, it is a mix of normal tension trebles with high tension basses)
H – Indicates polished bass strings
The basses like Corum or Cantiga are usually written out in full in the set name itself. So, for example, the set name Savarez 500ARJ Corum translates to ‘Alliance trebles of normal tension paired with Corum basses of high tension’. You’ll get used to this faster than you think.
Cantiga and Corum basses
This is one of the first decisions you will be required to make when it comes to picking your Savarez set. Cantiga basses or Corum basses?
Generally speaking, Corum basses are warmer and neutral whereas the Cantiga basses are a brighter and lively. I personally prefer Cantiga normal tension basses for my instrument, paired with New Cristal trebles, but your preference will vary. I find Cantiga basses to be lighter and more colorful, suiting my guitar perfectly. If you’re familiar with a good and solid, staple brand like the D’Addario EJ45 set you may notice their denser bass feel and you may end up liking the lightness of Cantiga basses.
The 540 Series basses (in the Classic Series) are even brighter than the other Savarez basses. I haven’t tried Cantiga Premium basses which some say fall between the HT classic basses and the Corum.
In my experience Savarez basses do not tarnish much. Their longer life is a big plus in my book. So overall my own take is that you can’t go wrong with any of Savarez’s bass string options.
And all these bass variants come in further options of high, low and normal tensions. If you prefer normal tension basses, for instance – like I do personally – you still have some good options to try out in the Savarez range.
Now for the key variants.
Savarez 500AJ Alliance/Corum and 500AR
The 500AJ Corum Alliance have Corum basses and Alliance trebles in a High Tension Set. Corum basses are silver plated and copper wound and the Alliance trebles are carbon. Check out the 500AJ on Amazon.
The 500AR variant is essentially the same combination in normal tension.
It is worth noting that many classical guitars are factory-fitted with Alliance trebles for their ‘singing’ quality. These are carbon strings with their usual brightness that some love and others find shrill. To my ears, although I prefer normal nylon trebles, I don’t find the Alliance versions unpleasant and over-bright.
Savarez 500ARJ Alliance NT / Corum HT Classical Guitar Strings
This is your introduction to mixing tensions within a single set of strings. R stands for normal tension and J for high tension. So the 500ARJ Corum Alliance have Corum Basses of high tension paired with Alliance KF Carbon Fiber Trebles in normal tension. Like with most strings, the 500ARJ is available as a full set, a bass only set, a treble only set, or as singles.
I know quite a few folks who are extremely pleased with the 500ARJ set. If you’re basically comfortable with using high tension strings – they require just a little more left hand effort that becomes perceptible over longer practice hours – then these might be the strings you end up liking a lot.
Check out the Savarez 500ARJ on Amazon.
Savarez 500CJ High Tension Classical Guitar Strings
If you don’t particularly care for the brightness of carbon trebles, you can use nylon trebles instead along with Corum basses. Savarez terms its nylon trebles as New Cristal. The 500CJ Series have Corum Basses and New Cristal Nylon Trebles in a High Tension Set. The trebles are made of clear nylon (non-rectified) and the basses are silver plated and copper wound.
500CR and 500CRJ Normal Tension
By now we know enough to understand that if the J has dropped out of the name, it can’t be high tension any more. If an R shows up in the name, then normal tension it is. So, essentially these are Corum basses with New Cristal trebles, both normal tension (500CR) and Corum basses of high tension paired with New Cristal trebles of normal tension (500CRJ).
An interesting sub-variation is the 500PR where the P stands for rectified nylon as against the usual clear nylon. Rectified nylon’s main characteristic is that the technology used to process it ensures a consistent diameter throughout the length of the string. How much effect this actually has on the music you play with the guitar is a subtle and subjective call.
SAVAREZ CANTIGA SERIES (510)
The sales pitch says the 510 Cantiga sets were “developed to increase your playing sensations. Enjoy outstanding new colors of sound, fast and precise response, and incredible easy playing; thanks to a combination of new high-tech materials.”
The Cantiga basses are (nicely) brighter than many brands. And I personally think a guitar like the Cordoba C12 sounds more powerful and great with some Cantiga basses. Again, as with Corum basses, you get combinations of Cantiga with Alliance (carbon) trebles as well as New Cristal (nylon) trebles in different tensions.
Savarez 510AJ High Tension and Savarez 510AR Normal Tension
The 510AJ set pairs Cantiga basses and Alliance trebles in a high tension set. The basses are silver plated and copper wound, the trebles are carbon. The 510AR set pairs Cantiga basses and Alliance trebles in a normal tension set. Check out Savarez 510AJ on Amazon.
As ever, you can have your variation by dropping the carbons and replacing them with regular nylon. That’s exactly what happens with the 510CJ High Tension set – Cantiga basses paired with New Cristal nylon trebles – and the 510CR Normal Tension set
Some have noted that the Cantina-New Cristal combo reduces fret noise. What I know personally is that this combo gives you nice and clear trebles with good projection from the basses. Savarez says it’s a combo for the recording studio if not the concert hall.
It’s also worth noting that most Savarez sets are hardly expensive. These are generally high quality strings at an affordable price.
510 Creation Series
The Creation Series, recently introduced, is an exciting development in my opinion. I’ll explain it with an example.
Take the Savarez 510MJ High Tension Classical Guitar Strings from the Creation Series, for instance. It combines three different types of strings in one set.
The first two treble strings are New Cristal plain nylon, known for its projection and playing comfort. The third string is Alliance carbon, which helps bring out the string’s sound and brightens it a bit. It also keeps the third string from sounding dull or “tubby.”
And the basses are Cantiga – silverplated and copper wound. The basses are great in tone quality, power and projection.
The replacement of the 3rd string – known for its dull sound, often termed tubbiness – with the brighter Alliance alternative is a great idea. For many, this can be the perfect set of strings for their guitar. As with anything to do with strings, making generalized recommendations is impossible because strings sound perceptibly different on different guitars. Yet, the Creation Series is worth experimenting with.
Check the latest price on Amazon of Savarez 510MJ.
The 510MR is essentially the same idea as the above 510MJ except it’s normal tension instead of high tension. Another nearby variation is the 510CR where the third string of Alliance (carbon) is replaced with a regular nylon (New Cristal), which does not make it part of the Creation series, yet a worthwhile option. (It’s my personal favorite and my perennial choice I return to time and again.)
CANTIGA PREMIUM (510)
This is a relatively newer series from Savarez that makes use of “newer raw materials.” Many hail this development as a welcome one, saying the Premium basses have a better response and articulation than the original Cantiga. Some place them in between the original and the Corum basses. The ease of playing is also good, they say. I haven’t tried the Premium variations myself, but the online reviews are overall excellent.
The Premium basses bring “punch and presence” to your guitar in the words of many a user. And some find them a little “less metallic” than the regular Cantiga basses.
Look for a P in the name that signifies the Premium range. The 510AJP, for instance, pairs Cantiga Premium with Alliance trebles with the J hinting at high tension strings. The 510ARP is the same thing, this time the R hinting at normal tension. Amazon link to Savarez 510ARP.
If you prefer regular nylon trebles instead of carbons, then you have the 510CJP (high tension) and 510CRP (normal tension). Amazon link to Savarez 510CRP.
And if you want to mix it up by having two nylon trebles with a carbon third plus the Premium basses, sure, why not? The 510MJP in the Creative Series does the job for you. Check it out on Amazon.
TRADITIONAL SERIES (520)
Folks who have been with a long-lasting brand like Savarez over the years often talk of red cards, yellow cards and white cards. They are referring to the reputed Traditional Series, still popular today.
White Card refers to low tension strings, Red Card high tension and Yellow Card very high tension. The 520 Traditional Series, in any of these tensions, have basses that are warm and strong. The trebles are of rectified nylon for consistent diameter through the length of the strings and excellent intonation.
The 520B are traditional White Card low tension silver plated, copper wound basses paired with rectified nylon trebles, also low tension. The 520R and 520J are the normal tension and high tension variants. The 520JR combines high tension trebles and normal tension basses.
One other worthwhile mention must be made of the Savarez 520F with a wound third string. The top two strings are of rectified nylon, the 3rd string is wound, and the basses the Traditional silver plated basses. Why is the third string wound? This is yet another workaround to solve the tubbiness of the normal G string.
All told, Savarez strings taken as a whole offer you a plethora of options at an affordable price and reputed quality. I really think most classical guitar players will find something that they will love if they experimented a bit with the Savarez variants. I personally did some time back and you can’t separate me now from my 510CR set for too long a time.
Enjoy the discoveries!