String input for Brian Bromberg
Hey Talk Bassers, this is Brian Bromberg. I am looking for input on strings as I have only used Thomastik Spirocore "Weichs" on my bass since I was 16. I love the growl and sustain my bass gets from those strings as my bass has really thrived on them, but as you know those strings have a more modern sound.
I am getting ready to record a new project and I was wondering what other strings you guys like that have a more traditional sound? Something like a little more thump and point but still has sustain? I love the old school thump and pulse but really don't like strings that only have that thump but have no sustain or resonance. I don't want my bass to sound like a pillow!
Would love to hear some suggestions.
Thanks for reading this and I look forward to your comments. Happy New Year!........Brian
Hey Brian, Roy here....
I used Pirastro Obbligatos for a number of years on the recommendation of Nashville bassist (and my luthier) Jim Ferguson. They have a really warm tone with a bit of a point and a great bow tone. I have D'Addario Helicore on my bass right now-a little more point to the tone but not a flexible as the Pirastros.
Glad you're back in action-loving the BOTB programming as well!
Wow! Brian Bromberg asking Talkbass for string suggestions?! My mind has just been blown.
I think what you're looking for pretty well typifies the synthetic-core/metal wrap string. There are a lot of options to choose from in that ring, including the aforementioned Obligato, Evah Pirazzi's (both medium and weich), Innovation's offering, Velvets', D'Addario Zyex, Thomastik Dominants, just to name a few (phew!).
I only have experience with the Zyex and the Dominants. I much prefer the dominants due to their having a lot of power, having a pointed attack, more clarity/focus, and their being a lot stiffer. But, bear in mind I'm also kind of an odd-ball in that I found spongy feeling strings like Zyex to be frustrating and sluggish to play on.
But, like I say, there's a lot of options and it's hard to go wrong. Someone else here will have better advice than myself.
There are guys here who've used just about every string there is (have a look at this thread) and could give you chapter and verse on any of them.
On the basis of a far narrower experience, I would say that Evah Pirazzi weichs are not a million miles away from Spiros for sustain, a bit less less growl, but more thump and fundamental tone at the attack before "dissolving" into higher partials. Much further along this continuum are Velvet's strings -- closer to gut, with much of their decay, but keeping more of the modern strings' initial complexity of tone.
Herve Jeanne has a very helpful "matrix" here which I found to be useful when looking for new strings despite all the "your bass, your hands, etc" caveats.
Now that's done -- you're my hero! \gush
Hi Brian, good to hear from you. I've learned a lot from your recordings over the years - thanks for the lessons! I think you might enjoy Thomastik Dominants. On my bass, they sound like this (the E string is a spiro stark, all the rest are Doms) straight into a portable field recorder. Not too far off from your usual sound, but a little more organic. Whatever you choose, let us know what you end up with - I'm sure a lot of folks would be interested to hear about your quest.
Definitely Pirastro Obligatos.
Oblis made my bass sound like a Twinkie. I couldn't get rid of them fast enough. They made me disappear in the mix, and being a Spiro guy, it was painful. Evahs were ok for me but were always kind of dead. I recorded with Innovations, and wish I hadn't.
If its traditional you're looking for, there's nothing more traditional than gut. I've found that the thicker, heavier gut strings have little sustain but transmit fundamental like crazy.
Not what you're after, obviously.
Perhaps something lighter like D'Addario Goldentone (which are discontinued, but still out there) would work for you. Even with my hamfisted technique I could sustain a note for a measure or so. Keep the Spiro Weichs on the bottom and you've got a set.
Some caveats: new gut often doesn't reach its' full potential without being strung to pitch for a few weeks, and some carved basses don't play nice with gut, at all, ever, at least to my ears.
Happy New Year to you too, sir.
If you like the gut sound and your bass responds well to lower tension, I really like Velvet Animas. They present with a strong and immediate fundamental, project to the back of the room and follow with a big, warm and three dimensional sound. I generally play with no amplification (or a mic, if the room is too big for a purely acoustic music, but I did an encore at Birdland after I had unplugged the mic and didn't seem to have any problem being heard)...
Obligatos were too floppy for me. I liked LaBella tapewounds for a while but you've got to put rosin on them to get the bow to grab. Then I went with the Animas and I liked them too. I had them on for a few years but I did find that the Animas were leaving marks in my fb. I have since gone back to Spiros and I like the weichs the best.
Weighing in on this feels a bit strange but here's my take. I've really enjoyed your playing and greatly respect your talent and the way you can fly on the instrument. With that in mind, I assume that you aren't planning to raise your string heights to go for the old school thump and punch, but are looking for something that will get you closer while not forcing you to change your technique too much.
On my bass, with the strings set at 5-8mm G-E I've used old Spirocore weichs, Mittels, EP weichs, Orchestra gauge and Obligatos. Raising the strings a mm or two I've used a combination of Velvets on the bottom and Gamuts on top. The latter combination forced the most change in technique. You really have to spend some time learning to play on guts.
Obligatos seem to have more brightness than EP weich set, feel softer and have a bit more growl. I do not like the way they roll on the lower strings. The tension of the EP Weich is definately higher than you're used to. Why don't you try an Obligato D and G with the Spirocores? That would be my suggestion. If you can take more tension, a complete EP weich set would probably be good as well.
FWIW, I love the Olive G and may never change, but both the Obligato G and EP G are good and would probably give you more of what you're looking for.
Never tried the Doms.
I'm currently using an Olive G, EP weich D and A with a Spirocore Mittel E.
I'm surprised that nobody has put in a word for Vevet Blues yet, from my limited experience with them (an hour or two on other peoples instruments) they seem like they would be just about right...
Greetings & HNY!
EPs have been a great choice for my basses.
Have Reg. gauge on 2 basses & weighs on my American Standard. Love them!
Have tried so many other brands inc. Spiro Orch & Weich, Olives(great sounding, but the E string snapped at the the nut- too tight, my bad!), Eudoxa, Obligato.
Was looking for the perfect dark sounding string that bowed, sang, & had a big gut sound that made my basses boom like a cannon...
Tried several other brands at a local Bass shop & other bassists basses.
I have found that damped orchestral strings work well as I use Daddario Kaplan Lights for hybrid play. I like the Kaplans because they don't growl but have a lot of sustain and project well in all registers for pizz.
Thanks for all the input guys, I knew I came to the right place as I have only used one set of upright bass strings my whole life! To be honest I am blown away that 90% of the strings you guys are talking about I have never heard of? Gees I have been in a cave......
I guess I will start experimenting and see what works. Ultimately I would love to have a few uprights set up differently with strings and set up but hey I got one bass! Thanks again and I look forward to learning more...........B2
You're the smart one here. Ideally, time spent experimenting with strings is better spent learning to play them. :help: Good luck. :D
Nobody here will be surprised if you come full circle and return to Spirocores. It's OK.
Brian-Love your playing & sound!
I' m sure you could get any & all string & Bass makers to send you whatever you ask for!
Then, it's all about time - changing, settling, experimenting, ($) ...
Then you're in "String Hell" as a bass player friend of mine calls it!
Many choices- you'd sound great no matter which brand!
Good luck! Keep us posted on your choice.
Remember that it takes several days for the strings and bass to settle in. Put something on and give them at least a week or two before deciding.
I'll put in a shout for Superflexibles, though.
I've wondered about how gut would sound on one of my ALCoAs.
Love your sound Brian.
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