Arco for Zeta Crossover

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by AndGabrielFell, Dec 10, 2012.


  1. AndGabrielFell

    AndGabrielFell

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    Hey folks. I have been using a Zeta Crossover for the last 7 years and love the sound! I had purchased a low grade bow a few years ago to use on the Zeta but could never really get it to work properly. It is because of the bow itself? The strings? (I have the same strings on it from when it was purchased it. Looks like flatwounds with a purple stringing on the end. Not sure of the brand). I know that bowing is possible as Zeta makes the violins that Boyd Tinsley from DMB uses. Any ideas? Anyone know a contact that worked with Zeta? Seems like the site has been removed.
     
  2. eub_player

    eub_player

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    Zeta fell out of business.
    Maybe a stupid question, but did you put rosin on the bow?
     
  3. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny Gold Supporting Member

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    Rosin is a good idea.

    It also sounds like your strings might be very dead GHS flats. I don't have a great deal of experience (and nothing very recent) bowing those strings but I do recall not liking them much and that the much more flexible TI Flats played much more easily arco. None of the 34" scale bass guitar strings that fit your bass were designed with the bow in mind so finding what works for you might be an adventure. The TI flats play as well as their similar cousins Spirocores if that helps any. If you are inclined to experiment keep in mind there is a market for used flatwounds over on the slab side of TB.
     
  4. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    The more flexible the strings (and the more damped) the better they play arco. Strings get much more flexible when used for a long time, so "dead" strings may bow well.

    And you need flatwound strings (best with an outer surface made of metal) to bow. Also double bass strings are different (and sound very different) from flatwound bass guitar strings. So you might want to get 1/4 (or even 1/16) size double bass strings for bowing.

    And rosin is really important without rosin you won't get a bowing sound at all. If you got a new bow it will need quite a bit of rosin. So it might get better after some time when the rosin builds up on th bow. Sometimes putting some rosin on the strings in the bowing area helps too.

    And there are very different kinds of rosin. A softer one might be better for lower temperatures, like Nymans or Pops. I like the Kolstein all-weather, but everyones equipment and taste is different.
     
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  6. kozmikyak

    kozmikyak

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    Most electric uprights use pickup arrangements optimized for plucking the strings; you can bow them, but you don't get optimal sound with their pickup configuration. Optimal pickup configuration for bowing is one pickup under each bridge foot, with one flipped upside down, so you have an out-of-phase pair. However, unless you want to modify the pickup system, you're not likely to be able to change this.

    One thing that improves the arco sound of many bowed strings is a Behringer ADI21, or a Sansamp Para Driver DI. I depend on one for my extended-range electric cellos.

    Maybe try the Thomastik Jazz strings. They're electric-bass scale strings (available in normal or long scale) that are supposedly just modified versions of upright bass strings. Perhaps they'll respond better to bowing.

    That said, I can bow the GHS Short Brite Flat that's on my E-cello just fine; it's the E-string from the set tuned up to F.
     
  7. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Supporting Member

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    I would suspect this is the culprit. Like others, if you can find a 1/2 size (or whatever it works out to) set of actual URB strings, that would be your best bet, aside from the aforementioned rosin and such. Hopefully when you can bow it, it will be a sound that you like; a lot of the EUBs bowed sound just like a plank of wood and not what you're expecting.
     
  8. AndGabrielFell

    AndGabrielFell

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    Thanks for the insight. I was actually wondering if I should have changed the strings, but if deader is better I'll try rosining them as well. Does that affect the strings for pizzicato? I have tried rosining the bow, but maybe not enough.
     
  9. AndGabrielFell

    AndGabrielFell

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    I believe the Zetas were designed for arco due to the design of the bridge, as well as that their main production were electric violins.
     
  10. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Supporting Member

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    Do NOT rosin the strings; they'll get enough of it from the bow. Which, you may have to really cake it on a couple of times first to build up somewhat of a base on the bow, given that the first couple of times with new (or rarely used) hair is going to transfer the bulk of rosin to the strings.

    It really won't affect your pizz tone at all. The only thing you may encounter is if you get rosin on your hand, which then your bigger concern is where you're placing your bow over anything else.


    That doesn't mean they sound good. The bulk of the EUBs (old and new) really fall short in terms of expectations when it comes to bowed sound. My NS is good, but it's still nothing like the real deal.
     
  11. DoubleMIDI

    DoubleMIDI

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    If you want to rosin the strings (just a little bit), it should only be done once (after cleaning the strings).
    I wouldn't say never rosin the string. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it is too much. Try rosin the bow a bit more first.

    If you pluck rather low at the end of the fingerboard or below, the grease of your finger skin will let the bow slip, so always clean the bowing area if you have plucked low. Also don't touch the bow with your fingers (for the same reason). And clean the strings from rosin again when you switch back to low position plucking, you might get blisters if there is rosin on your plucking fingers.
    (If you need to change between bow and plucking inside a piece, pluck a little bit higher on the fingerboard.)

    Solid body EUBs don't have a resonator. So they miss something in the bowed sound. Getting a little bit of reverb helps a little bit, but it is not the same as an acoustic instrument.
    Even EUBs with a resonator have a smaller one with different resonance frequencies (formats), so even them sound different to a real acoustic double bass. (It is more like a cello tuned down to bass notes and even worse than that.)
     
  12. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny Gold Supporting Member

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    But if you suspend or better yet completely dispose of that expectation you can make some interesting and beautiful music arco on the EUB. Tony Levin's work on his recording World Diary comes to mind.
     
  13. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny Gold Supporting Member

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    It was designed to play arco but none of the bass guitar strings that fit it were. Shorter scale double bass strings don't work because the windings at the ball end are several inches too long. The gauges are also much heavier and may require your nut slots be enlarged. They're a lot more money too. Several years ago I threw quite a bit of time and money at exactly this problem and the TI Jazz flats were the only satisfactory string for me. D'Addario Chromes were a not so close second (but quite useable) and none of the Labella or GHS sets I tried were flexible or bright enough for me pizz.

    NS Designs makes a 34" scale Omnibass set that bows very well but they are obscenely expensive and a little thin for my taste for pizz work. Finding something to replace them with on the Omnibass I had is what led me to explore all this.
     
  14. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Supporting Member

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    I'm not arguing that. My point was that many people grab an EUB, thinking that it will sound like the URB, which it won't. It's very similar, but many people can't get around that.

    I love my EUB, and it was the best decision - for me - to sell my URB and go that route. However, I knew the concessions I was making. Many people don't and those are the ones that end up poo-poo'ing the EUB entirely.

    Compared to the market that they are in (as in, classical musicians), $89 for a set of Omni Bass strings isn't bad. To get just the low B string for my NS (I used an old set of Spirocores I had, but still needed the B), it was $80 by itself.
     
  15. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny Gold Supporting Member

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    You're quite right.

    Last I checked (and it's been a while) they were close to $200. If they've come down that's good news. I'm considering the new NXT Omni Bass that's coming out.
     
  16. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Supporting Member

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    Gollihur Music lists the D'Addario Omni Bass strings at $89, so I guess they did come down quite a bit.
     
  17. artyty

    artyty

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    Hi All! some arco demo on Eub
     
  18. kozmikyak

    kozmikyak

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    Remember that I mentioned the Thomastik Jazz bass guitar strings above. Those are supposedly electric guitar strings that were based on an upright bass set. I used one on my E-cello until I got custom strings wound for me by octave4plus, and they can certainly bow at even _shorter_ than 34" scale, and sound quite warm.

    They're definitely at 34" scale, and flatwound, and I have bowed them on my E-cello.
     
  19. jeffbonny

    jeffbonny Gold Supporting Member

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    You mean the same TI Jazz Flats I said work well arco in post #3 of this thread? They're somewhat similar in construction to the double bass Spirocores but I don't know that they're exactly "based" on them. They also come in three scale lengths. 32", 34" and 36". The 36" set is useful on 34" scale instruments that have a tailpiece or are strung throught the body.
     
  20. AndGabrielFell

    AndGabrielFell

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    I spent some time rosining the bow, but I'm not sure if the rosin is taking to the hairs. Do I need to heat the rosin at all?
     
  21. eub_player

    eub_player

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    Can you get in touch with a teacher?
     

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