Obligato strings for 'billy?

Discussion in 'Rockabilly [DB]' started by viking power, Aug 13, 2013.


  1. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Newb question-

    Rented a beautiful blonde bass that came with obligato strings already installed. Since I'm an absolute beginner (coming over from electric) I have no clue if they are good for the genres I'm going to learn. Can you guys let me know if these will work for rockabilly, psychobilly, pizz and slap?

    Thanks!
  2. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Location:
    Wheatfield, NY
    I don't slap much so I can't help there, but they are nice strings for pizz. You might need something with less tension if you are going psychobilly though.
  3. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Genz-Benz Amplifiers
    I don't play rockabilly, but they might not be durable under heavy slapping.
  4. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Thanks for the responses guys. Hopefully, I'll hear from some slappers but appreciated the input regarding pizz.
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  6. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I'm not a slapper and I don't play one on TV. :) I usually don't venture into the Rockabilly forum but I have relevant experience to share. For jazz, I (and other players) find that Oblis have a really nice, dark sound and work well in the living room at home. On the bandstand, they tend to be a bit weak and they give up when you dig in. With a less aggressive playing style, they seem to be just the ticket for many. That sure doesn't seem to be 'billy. I'll leave it to others to recommend better strings for your playing style. Hope this helps a bit.
  7. tyb507

    tyb507

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Location:
    Burlington, Vermont
    Search this forum for "obligato" and you'll find some discussion. One person mentions using a solo set (meant to be tuned a-e-b-f#) tuned to g-e, which lowers the tension. I'd say start playing, working on your slapping, and try to get out and meet some good slap players and try out their basses and find out what strings they use. I think you'll find the oblis a bit tough on the fingers for long sets of slap, and like drurb said, maybe not up to being driven hard. I've used Evah Pirazzi weichs for slapping for years, on a smaller bass with a shorter scale, so lower tension. I just went gut and am loving it. I can slap all night on them and not feel it, where a couple sets on the EPs and my fingers were toast (though I liked the sound and slap). For an affordable set of low-tension steel strings to try out, check out Blast Cult's "low life" strings. I think they are like $75. Or I think they sell a mixed set of e-a steel and d-g gut for less than $200.
  8. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    drurb and tyb507 - thanks for more great input!

    I feel like an idiot for not using the search function......duh!

    Seems like I'll be working with these obligatos at least for the time being since I'm busy just trying to get some technique down at this point. Plus, was hoping my next expense would be pickup(s) not strings!

    These strings are definitely not easy on the right hand. I blistered up pretty quick. Maybe due to never having used the side of my finger though....

    Loving the instrument so far....it's humbling though to come over from electric and feel almost like a beginner again.
  9. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I liked them OK, but they are not very easy to slap. My biggest complaint was that they simply didn't hold up ... winding separated over the bridge, and eventually (about a year) I got rid of 'em and installed Spirocores. Ooops ... that was even worse (for the old country and bluegrass I was playing). I'm now strung with Innovation Super Silvers, much more gut-like in tone, with that nice fundamental and little sustain. They slap well, too.
  10. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Thanks RustyAxe.
  11. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Here's an idea: tune your A string down to E and see what it sounds and feels like. If it's not too floppy you might be able to get by "bumping" the set- move the A, D and G strings over one and tune them E, A and D respectively, and then get a plain gut G (like a Lezner). Then you effectively are getting a "new" set of low tension strings for the price of a new G- you might even find a used one to keep the cost down even more.

    You might could just try to work it out on the Obli's- it's not impossible to slap with them IMHO, but they wouldn't be my first choice...

    Joe
  12. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    So, I tried tuning the A, D and G down - way easier to slap and to play in general, however......

    -kinda hard to dial in as far as tuning
    -strings had very little sound to them, I'm unamplified at the moment so I'd imagine that when I have money for a pickup it would sound just fine. Right now though, I'm learning on it acoustically and the low tension doesn't seem to give much volume. Am I correct on that? Would it be the case regardless of type of strings?

    Looks like a way to go though. A lot cheaper to buy one string vs. four!

    Oh, another question - would the plain gut G be the same size as my current G and does that seem weird when playing?
  13. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Washington DC
    You will usually sacrifice volume when giving up string tension, unless the tension is so great that it is choking the bass...you can compensate for loss of volume with amplification.

    That said, gut strings seem to have a special way of sitting in the mix that allows them to stand out despite their low tension.

    A potential problem with the "bumped set" is that the gut G may not be balanced in volume with its low tension neighbors...

    As for a plain gut G- it will likely be larger in diameter than your E string. It can be pretty weird at first, but it's not too difficult to get used to, especially when you hear the sound!

    Joe
  14. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Thanks a ton for all the info!

    Ok, here's another question for ya - if I decide to just shitcan the Oblis, what strings would you recommend? I'd definitely like to stay in the less expensive side of things if possible. I've heard real gut strings are pretty spendy....
  15. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Washington DC
    First- I know this is easier said than done, but don't worry about the price of gut strings- focus on the value. Guts last a good long time, especially quality guts. Lezner guts are good quality and I think they are a great value for the price, and NOTHING beats gut strings for this (Rockabilly)application (imho)!

    If you want to bail on the Oblis I would recommend checking out Eurosonics, especially if you want to slap and have no plans to bow. A set I liked a lot was a Spiro weich E and Eurosonic light A, D and G. Nice and cheap!

    A good used set of Spiro Solo gauge tuned to regular pitch are nice...a little "clanky" for my taste- gut has more meat.

    After going through all of those and a few other strings that didn't work as well, I've settled on Gamut strings: a wound E and Pistoy A, D and G. Pricey, yes- but they last for freaking EVER, and sound AMAZING!

    Definitely read the threads about the Innovation strings. I've never used them but they have quite a following, there are prolly some other good choices out there that I haven't tried.

    Hopefully some of the other cats will chime in too!

    Joe
  16. Feral Feline

    Feral Feline

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2007
    Location:
    Honky Kong, ShangriLamma
    Yes! Another one hooked!


    That might be me. My first set of strings was Obligato solos tuned to standard pitch. Great for slapping and pizz, but they rolled under the bow too much.


    Yup, my second set of strings were also Obligato solos, to replace the set that had separated windings at the bridge and the one string that broke, and another that broke.

    When Evah Pirazzi solos came out, I bought a set of those for the same reasons I bought the Obs: I wanted an all 'round string that could be bowed, pizzed and slapped with as close a tone to gut as possible without the inherent tuning problems (in and out of hot n humid outdoors and dry/air-con indoor environs wreaks havoc on guts). Guts require a bit more maintenance (oiling, cutting the 'hairs') than steel or synthetics. Evahs, by the way, are far more robust than the Obs.

    Viking Power, If you're playing solely rockabilly/psychobilly, perhaps consider "weedwackers". Check out Double Bass Chat's mega-thread on Cordes Lambert and Nicolas Dubouchet's videos. The Cordes Lambert strings sound closest to gut to my ears, more-so than my Evah solos. Listen to some of his clips where he's playing with other people, to better see how they fit in with a band. Some people "roll their own" weedwackers, too. Again, DBC has the 411 on all that.

    My Evahs are on my carved bass. I had Ob solos on my semi-solid, but the windings gave out again so I've got LaBella Super Nils on the ply now. They come close to the thump found on the old Chess records and 'Billy recordings of yore, but that's partly the ply, too, 'cause my

    I'd go for real guts if it weren't for the going nuts trying to keep them in tune here; don't let my comments about tuning guts deter you from getting them if that's what you think will work for you. I did a LOT of reading, research and rumination on strings before I bought any as I didn't want to get on the "string hamster wheel". Evahs weren't available at the time, but I've been very happy with them since I got them and they've lasted several years. My carved is in for repairs, so I may get new ones for it and put the old ones on the ply; or get new ones for my new Shen hybrid (not sure what it came with)... Alas, I tempted fate by trying the Super Nils, and the Shen's mystery strings... I am slip-sliding down the endless and steep slippery string slope...

    Don't bin the Obs, you can keep them as backups. ;)
    PS: Weedwackers are cheap!
  17. viking power

    viking power

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Feral Feline- brother, thank you for all the input. I may have to go with weedwackers for cheapness but I am super intrigued by the Cordes Lamberts. More research to do!

    Looked at your profile - you're in Hong Kong? I can imagine the trouble with temperature and humidity changes! Love that city though. I've been to HK twice.

    Thanks again!
  18. Feral Feline

    Feral Feline

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2007
    Location:
    Honky Kong, ShangriLamma
    PM me next time you pass through Hongkers, we can grab a single malt and jaw about basses while checking out some of the local talent.

    Cheers,
    FF

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