String Recommendations - Epiphone
I'm the proud new owner of a late-40s Epiphone B4 that's now in bass-rehab and need input on choosing strings for it. It came with an ancient set of guts, hasn't been played in 45 years, and desperately needs a setup, so I have no idea how it will sound when back in playable shape.
I'm relatively new to DB (1.5 years) and have had limited exposure to the world of string choices. My present bass (Upton Romanian ply) came with Spiro Mittels (kind of hard-sounding) that I've swapped for Evah mediums (a darker, somewhat more complex sound). I'm primarily playing bluegrass, but my teacher is guiding me toward jazz standards. 99.9%+ pizz right now, but working on my bow chops and want to keep arco as an option. I find myself most comfortable with a relatively thin string - the few gut-strung instruments I've tried felt kind of clumsy - and seem to be happier with some tension. My ideal sound would have some thump and tend toward dark rather than bright. Again, these opinions have been formed without much experience; I've got flexibility and would certainly entertain other ideas.
My luthier is happy with the integrity of the top and has no concerns about string tension. I don't want to consider guts at this point. He's suggested Helicore Hybrids as a relatively inexpensive starting point.
Any and all advice appreciated.
Have at it!
I would start by switching out the spiros on your other bass and check out how they sound on the Epi. If they are darker than expected, you'll know the Epi is a dark bass, and vice versa. Then you can decide where on the tonal spectrum you want to be. If the spiros sound good to you but you want a lighter string, try spiro weichs (they also bow easier, and are a little darker, IMO). If the spiros are still too bright on the Epi, try Evah Weichs. They have the thump, bow well, are on the dark side tonally, and are good as a pizz string.
Buying used strings on this forum is a less expensive way to experiment, too.
Epiphone definitely made some great basses back in the day. It's one of main reasons Gibson wanted to buy them out in the 50s. Good luck with it.
I have a '48 B4, restored and set up by Epiphone maven Wendy (Mollykay on the Forum) and Lonnie of Bass Monkey. It had on a set of Spiro weichs when I got it, but I soon switched those for Gamut gut. It's now wearing Innovation Super Silvers, which are a good substitute for the Gamuts. (I burned through two sets of Gamut G/As in a little over two years, and can't afford a third go 'round, no matter how good they sound.) Bass Monkey throughly documented the restoration of my B4 #1454 in their blog.
My Epi has a thin, 3-ply top -- I suspect yours does, too. The top on mine has not collapsed, exactly, but it has sunken noticeably. According to Wendy, this is common. Yours sound to be in better condition, but I know I wouldn't feel comfortable with anything stronger than the weichs on my old girl, which is why she remains set up for old-time slappin', with low tension/high action.
In fact, I recently bought another bass to have a high-tension/low-action alternative, mostly for Bluegrass jamming. That one's a Lemur Jupiter strung with Spiro reds. But that's another thread . . .
Please notice that raising the action (usually) also raises the percentage of string tension power that presses against the top.
I haven't calculated a typical lower string tension vs. higher action / percentage of pressure against the top, but we should be aware that a lower tension string with a higher action not neccesarily reduces the pressure to the top.
I had an Epi. I think spiro weichs or Evah weichs are a good place to start. If your bass is on the darker side the Evahs might be too much.
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