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Spirocores and Arco

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by DoubleBassBass, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. DoubleBassBass

    DoubleBassBass

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    I am enjoying my new bass immensely. Its been fitted with brand new Spirocores that make a wonderful clear pizz sound and quite deep for bowing too. I am however getting quite a brittle sound on the G and sometimes the D where the string can be a little slow on the roll. Above the D stop theres no issue and the strings absolutely sing. Its just in the lower positions ( particularly on the G and D ).

    Just interested to see what others experiences are of bowing Spirocores and whether I need to experiment with my technique and adapt or whether a slight delayed roll / brittle sound is normal? I am also wondering about humidity levels - when I play during the day the sound is fuller, at night its more brittle ( i.e. when the central heating is on fully). Thoughts ?
  2. KUNGfuSHERIFF

    KUNGfuSHERIFF

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    I've found that black hair and a sticky rosin like Pops' help tame the Spiro snarl, along with playing them in, of course. The awful squeals seem to be caused by the bow slipping on the string and not grabbing it completely.
  3. Don Sibley

    Don Sibley

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    Are these weich, mittel, or stark? Makes a big difference.
  4. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

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    I believe it may have more to do with the age of the strings, more so than the differences between the different tensions. I recently went back to Spirocore strings on my classical bass- starting with Mittel and moving on to Starks- both sets were purchased here used from the classifieds.

    The Mitteln were lightly used (a few weeks perhaps?), and they were good, but the Starks were over a year old and they are FANTASTIC under the bow! I really think the Mitts would have been great too had I left them on.

    I think that Spirocore strings of any gauge can be an outstanding arco string for many basses if you give them some time (mho-ymmv).

    Joe
  5. Don Sibley

    Don Sibley

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    Weichs are objectively awful sounding with a bow.
  6. dkimbrobass

    dkimbrobass

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    Endorsing Artist: Fishman Acoustic Amplification
    +1 to DC Bass. Bow em in. Long tones in low positions. But I also love ye olde flexo G and D and Spiro and A and E. My opinions of course. Spiros...mmmmm.
  7. bskts247

    bskts247

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    I can say the popular combo of spiros on bottom and obligatos on top
  8. DoubleBassBass

    DoubleBassBass

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    I can see the logic of that. I think that I may experiment mixing things up. Thanks for the insights.

    I am not sure which Spiros I have I suspect Mittels (theres no silking at the peg box end of the strings) but by no means am I an expert on strings - is there an easy way to tell between the Stark, Mittels and Weichs?
  9. DC Bass

    DC Bass Supporting Member

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    It's interesting that this is your experience Don. The "word on the streets" that I've always heard is that the Weichen are the easiest to bow of the Spirocore strings! Goes to show that "your mileage may vary" and everyone's opinions have to be taken into consideration. Personally, I like em' all once they've had a chance to settle in.

    DBB- The only way I know to tell the difference between the different Spirocore tensions is by the colors of the silks in the pegbox. They are all red by the tailpiece, but in the pegbox the Weichen are Purple, Mitteln are Red (same color as the tp) and Stark are Green.

    Joe
  10. MrSidecar

    MrSidecar

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    It's been said before, but spirocores are (and I have tried all gauges) great arco strings. I don't think the gauge makes a difference, it's the bowing that makes the difference. I was, like many, convinced that Spiros don't bow well, but it turned out they do, it was ME that did not bow well.

    As I got better with the bow (long tones, and lots of general practice), I learned (in their days, those are over in favor of Dominants, but that's another story) to love spirocores clarity and projection, and their unforgiving nature. You have to have your bowing in order, otherwise it's straight cash billing at checkout number one (meaning instant callback on any sloppiness).

    That said, basses can certainly make a difference, too. But if your bass is setup well and sounds good, there's nothing in the way for spiros to sound great arco.

    Best
    Sidecar
  11. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

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    This is great advice. In general, I find that spiros like a slow bow. Especially the low strings. But the best thing to do is play them, give them a few months at least.
  12. Mgaisbacher

    Mgaisbacher

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    When I got my new bass with brand new sprio mediums on it I hated the D and G for the first at least month, arco and pizz. After that they seemed to mellow out and now I love it. Right now I am trying evahs on top and honestly I think I may throw the Sprios back on. The more you play sprios the more thy mellow out and start to sound good. I love the E and A and the D and G really sing. So I would say give it a little bit of time before you try anything else.

    Also I actually found black hair to sound even more scratchy and white hair to sound great with sprios. Again this could be preference or my bow, or a lot of things, I would say try both if you can.
  13. dkimbrobass

    dkimbrobass

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    Totally agree on the black hair...white for Spiros IMO. Also, it's helpful to manually stretch new Spiros by pulling them between your thumb and index finger (plucking hand) up and down the length of the string each time you get ready to do some shedding.

    A little off topic, buta wise man once said, "Opinions are like a**holes...everybody's got one." Everybody likes different stuff...has different experiences etc. One of the most frustrating things here in the TB world (one to which I'm fairly new) is the undying penchant posters have for labeling unquantifiable experiences as "correct" or "incorrect" or "right" or "wrong." Yeah, you can work on technique, you can work on intonation, (most of us are religiously) but some strings just don't like certain basses, and some do. Not saying every thread should be a love fest with no disagreement, but some people love orchestra strings for pizz, some folks love Spiros for arco, and I bet somebody somewhere loves the sound of Helicore pizzicatos under a black hair bow with 19lbs of Carlsson swiped on that they enjoy most while chain smoking Marlboro Reds and drinking absynth from a camelback.
    We're all after that "sound" we hear in our head...we never get there because our ability and expectation increase in direct proportion. But we keep trying.
  14. bskts247

    bskts247

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    I have been trying to tell myself its my technique not the strings for a little over a year. The G and D strings just always seemed harsh. Finally my teacher took my bass to show me how to play an etude and I heard that scratchy ness. He noticed it too and after playing it a bit said that the strings just had that character to them. That weekend I changed to Evahs and it all went away (well...mostly :p )

    I now can tell when its my technique. Its awesome.
  15. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

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    I want to come to the next party at your house!
  16. Don Sibley

    Don Sibley

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    Maybe we should talk about context. If you are trying to blend with a bass section in a reasonably professional orchestra, spirocores will act contrary to that goal. If you just want to whip out the bow on your jazz solo and don't mind arco-tone like Christian McBride, then weichs are your friend.

    I usually try to remain open minded about this type of thing. To each his own, but I defy anyone to get a major pedagogue or a player from a major orchestra to endorse weichs in the section.
  17. dkimbrobass

    dkimbrobass

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    Yeah...maybe I shouldn't talk about string choice. Can't remember much after our last KRCBSTIAS (pronounced Kray-See-Beastie-ass) parties (Knoxville Rednecks' Committee for Bass String Tone in an Arco Setting).
  18. DoubleBassBass

    DoubleBassBass

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    Turns out that the strings are Mitteln ( red + red - thanks for the advice on that DCBass ).

    Interestingly I spent most of the morning working on scales rising solely on the G string to try to isolate the problem and the scratchy-ness seems to be pretty much gone. I think it may actually be that I am adapting my bowing to be cleaner and learning the feel and response of the Spiros. I have no qualms now and the sound is great . I can see what Don suggests about being on bright side for section playing. I play in two community orchestras though as the only DB player and so I think the sound works as I guess technically and by default I am a [DEL]soloist[/DEL] solo player!

    Ironically I now need to focus my attention on the other strings to get them to sound as fluent as the singing G - but thats just DB all over isn't it you solve one issue and three more things appear on the horizon!.
  19. dkimbrobass

    dkimbrobass

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    Sweet!
  20. DoubleBassBass

    DoubleBassBass

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    Thought I would just post my conclusions after playing the Spiros for a good long week now :-

    They for me suit playing in a Wind Orchestra perfectly - just for the diversity of sound . There are a lot of tones at ones disposal although the strings do take a bit of getting to know. A great punchy 'pung' for big band numbers we cover, but also able to deliver with a good bowed vocabulary on more classically orientated pieces and they really can sing when dialed into . In my mind I see them as a "Universal" string - particularly nice for Pizz/jazz and they do a good enough job at arco work (they are quite a twitchy and unforgiving string when it comes to arco and demand good playing).

    In terms of my role however playing in a Chamber Orchestra where the emphasis is solely on classical music, Spiros are (on my bass at least) not the first choice. Although very playable, the Spiros are bit too 'hard' and prominent rather than being understated and primarily underpinning/complimenting the other musicians and the sound of the whole. I think I managed to adapt my bowing to get a decent enough sound but there are still times where the odd squeak or scratch cuts through. Room for improvement on technique maybe but happy to do that in the context of the wind band. For orchestral playing I think its going to be a set of Helicores.

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