Best Arco Strings for Shen 150 Hybrid Question

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Bin Son of Bin, Dec 22, 2012.


  1. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    I've put in my order for my Shen 150 so now I'm looking at Strings.

    I am going to be focussing on Arco play. I am playing in a small Wind Emsemble (plus me) here in Aylmer called OPUS (Out of Breath Players Under Stress). There's a mix of wind instruments in but there's only a few bass wind instruments (3 in total I think) with the rest of the 20 or so players being your usual instrument mix.

    Considering my instrument and emvironment, do you my fellow TB'ers have a suggestion on strings? I'm not sure if I need to be so crazy with the details but I thought knowing my situation might help with the best strings. :)

    Shen 150 Hybrid
    Wind Ensemble of roughly 20 players
    not many Bass intruments.

    Jason
  2. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2001
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Being a new instrument it will probably be on the bright side. I would go for a classic arco string and not bother with any of the new fangled variety. Pirastro Flexocore or Eudoxa are tried and true professional strings. You really can't go wrong with either. Quick, powerful, easy to control...
  3. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    Interesting. These are a common string to get for Orchestras or just good overall string sets? I had had a Luthier suggest Spirocore strings for Arco. What do you think?

    Jason
  4. Andrew McGregor

    Andrew McGregor

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Spiros are a bit tricky to bow; this is both good and bad. Bad, in that it's hard to get a nice sound. Good, in that once you can get a nice sound out of them, you can get a nice sound out of anything. Don't listen to those who call them 'impossible' to bow... they were made as arco strings. While I was playing in orchestras, they were all I used (in fact, only two sets over 15 years or so).

    But, for your situation and with a new bass, Spiros are also rather bright. However, seeing as you're probably going to do a fair bit more pizz than the average orchestra player, that might be the right compromise.

    Also, bear in mind that the bass will sound really uncomfortably bright to you, especially in small practice rooms. That's completely normal, and useful too (since you can hear your intonation better than anyone else). Don't think you're going to get that big boomy symphony orchestra sound on your own, don't even try... that only happens when you're in a huge hall and 10 meters away or more, and as a player you only ever hear it coming back in the reflections from the room. Instead, go for 'big cello with a gritty texture'.
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  6. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    My 150 loved Spiro Mittels. They're the best all around strings in my opinion, but if the bow doesn't catch the string quite right, the "Spiro squeal" is like an ice pick in your ear.

    You may want to try Flexocor 92, which bow wonderfully and on many basses pizz well enough for jazz, at least the upper strings.
  7. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    What do you think of the Pirastro Passiones? They sound like they are good but the Fexocor 92's also seem popular.

    I've spent months and dozens of hours looking up Basses that i've neglected strings...oy...I'm between the Passiones and the 92's.

    Jason
  8. Stereo Joe

    Stereo Joe

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2007
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I'll put in another vote for Spiro Mittels for arco on the Shen SB-150. When I got KUNGfuSHERRIFF's SB-150 it came with Spiro Mittels on it and it just SINGS with those strings played arco. I also found that the Spiros bow quite easily - I'm not sure where the myth that they are difficult to bow comes from but it certainly doesn't seem to so in my case.
  9. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    Interesting. I like the sound of that...Big Cello. Heh...Thanks for the advice. :)
  10. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    Hi Joe! Thanks for chiming in and nice to hear from you again. So you have Spiro Mittels on there now? Do they produce an Arco sound fit for Orchestral play in my conditions do you think?

    Jason
  11. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    Are these the Mittels?

    TSO-100 Thomastik Spirocores, medium
  12. cold elephant

    cold elephant

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    Can't believe no one has recommended them, but I'd vote Thomastik Belcantos - some people over here call them 'IKEA strings' because you can put them on any bass and you'll get a really easy arco response with a good reliable sound for ensemble playing. The problem with Flexocore '92s is the E string is very weak and not balanced with the rest of the set, very muddy sound. Also I find Pirastro strings in general lacking in testicular fortitude under the bow, the gut strings they do are extremely thuddy on the lower strings (especially Oliv) and the steel strings (original flatchrome/original flexocor/flexocor '92) tend to be a bit twangy on the G and unclear on the bottom two, particularly the E. And generally from top to bottom on the basses i've owned they've produced less bass, or fundamental, or whatever you want to call it, when you compare with the Thomastik strings. Spirocore mittel makes a great low B string but I've never used the orchestra tuning GDAE from that set, and I've only ever heard/read here that they can be a tad tricky to handle under the bow for the first few months unless you really know how to work them. The only Pirastro set I'd really recommend would be the Passione Starks but again they sound let a set of dead Belcantos, much less vivid sound although the arco response is very easy.

    All of this said though, some of the other posters here have rightly pointed out that if you want a sound that carries really well then it's hard to beat Spirocores (I used the solo tuning set on my small bass for recital stuff and the sound was incredibly penetrating). The compromise was that they took a long, long time to settle in to what I would call a friendly type of sound, and to call them tricky to bow would be a rather large understatement in comparison to strings like Belcantos. Or indeed any other variety of string. Helps to use very soft rosin, Pops, Kolstein, etc. And also they're not the nicest feeling on your left hand unless your action is down quite low or your bass is naturally quite loose.
  13. Jason Sypher

    Jason Sypher

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2001
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I love the recommendations FOR Spirocores. I don't think you would have seen that just a few years ago. I use Spiros for everything and find them to be excellent for just about everything. I was recommending Flexocore because they are a supreme bowing string. Yes, BelCantos are also very nice and pizz well but I still prefer Flexocore because they are so dark and could possibly be a better fit for a bright new instrument. Viva La Spriocore! Best all around string ever.
  14. Tommy el Gato

    Tommy el Gato

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    I'm a fellow SB-150 owner and I find these basses are abnormally dark, even when new. I don't think I've ever had a string that bowed poorly on this bass, and that includes Spirocore Starks. So long as you lean towards bright strings, it's hard to go wrong.

    I can also relate to your current ensemble situation. I recently did 2 concerts with a symphonic wind band and found that even against 2 tubas, 3 Euphoniums, 3 trombones, and 2 bass clarinets, I was still making a significant impact on the texture of the band (at least that's what I'm told by the director and a multitude of audience members). One concert I did with a full set of Starks, the other I did with a Stark E, Mittel A, and Pirastro Permanent D&G. Right now I have Dominants on with the same Stark E and it's also been quite wonderful.
  15. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    So far I'm sold on the Passiones, but the Spiro Mittels are sounding good too. But as a new Arco player the easier it is to play the string the better and the Spiro's make me a bit nervous.
  16. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Sorry, but I haven't tried the Passiones.
  17. Bin Son of Bin

    Bin Son of Bin

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2012
    Location:
    Ottawa/Gatineau
    Cool.

    So the Spiro Mittels that you talked about, is there a specific brand of Spiro Mittels or as long as they are a Spirocore mittel of someones make it's fine?
  18. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Thomastik Spirocores are a brand of string; they come in Solo (extra light), Weich (light), Mittel (medium or Orchestra) and Stark (heavy) gauges. I have a used set of Weichs and a set of Mittels I'm not using if you want them.
  19. malloybow

    malloybow

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Location:
    massachusetts
    +1 for Passiones. Just did concert with my string ensemble playing with a wind ensemble. They are loud, very easy to bow, easy dynamics, not too bright, and excellent overall. I also liked the Eva Pirazzis for similar situations, but found the tuning stability of the synthetic core strings to be annoying.
  20. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Passiones are great- I've played them on quite a few basses- they are superior arco strings that are like fine dark chocolate- really rich and dark, but not at all muddy- they are very clean and articulate with a wide range of dynamics.

    Joe
  21. coldtrain

    coldtrain

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2004
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA
    I'll toss in another vote for Spiros, though I'm digging the starks right now on my carved Juzek. Went from Mittels to Stark and now I love the G-string response and volume, works great for me and my bass. I've only had them on about 4 months (Mittels for a year before that) and they're still settling in, getting warmer every day. Might be worth a look if your Shen has a dark sound. The Starks should also help increase your volume, but YMMV, etc.

    Don't be apprehensive about bowing them, you'll get used to them quickly.

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