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5ths Tuning Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Johnny L, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Right now, I'm using D'Addarios - solo A, orchestra D, solo F#, and hybrid B...more or less what Quarrington recommends on his website but a different brand sting.

    I like this combination except for the A string. It sounds fine pizz and with the bow, but it's a little thin and lower tension than I'm used to. I don't have any experience with solo tuning strings except for the above though, so I don't know if this is normal for solo A strings. Of course though, with 5ths tuning there is a wider range of pitch to cover and so I expected that the strings would feel different than EADG strings...especially for B/C strings.

    Anyway, what are you using for 5ths tuning right now? Are you using the dominant brand or the Red Mitchell set or what?
  2. kontrabass


    Sep 29, 2004
    I'm actually using the exact same set for you. I wasn't expecting much, as I got them used and have never been a fan of Helicores.

    Since I am getting a new bass in the next few weeks, I am looking for a new set, particularly because the new bass (a Wan-Bernadel) is fairly bright. From what I have heard, The Spirocore C and/or G wouldn't go well, as they are best for darker instruments. I've heard conflicting reports about Dominants and brighter basses, so I am unsure whether they will work.

    For now, my only hope is the new set of Obligatos, which are specifically designed for fifths. The C and G are supposed to 1) "lack cajones," and 2) have a steel core "C" string, or something of the sort...but the set is a start.

    This is all, of course, for orchestral playing.

    Does anyone else have suggestions or ideas?

    PS-I just remembered reading in the "Bel Canto thread" that Joel Q. was playing with the set in fifths. Would it be reasonable to custom order a 5ths gauge set? I seem to recall a 12 set minimum, which would not only be expensive but would last me a rather long time, not to mention if I didn't like the string...
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Yeah I'd probably give them a try if they came as a 5ths tuning set also...at least the A string.

    As best I can tell, I've heard only one player using Obligatos. He sounded great and is a great player. But I'm still too shy to use strings with cores that suffer when getting changed and have a much better chance in general of breaking.

    Maybe I'll just snag a handful of solo A strings and settle with one of them, since I'm overall very happy with the bowed sound and pizz sustain of the lower strings and don't mind keeping the rest as-is on my bass.

    For a little while I put a G string back on mostly to get back the harmonics, but the A string just makes fingering stuff more intuitive with the rest of the strings being in 5ths.
  4. An alternative is to use a Pirastro rubber tone filter with the solo A.
    It dampens that string to a very nice level, with bright G strings, so it should work even better with a solo A.
  5. paulunger

    paulunger Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2002
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Might I recommend trying a regular 'G ' string tuned up to an 'A'. This is what I have been doing when I tune in fifths. I find the solo 'A' string a little thin for orchestral use. I am a flexor fan and the lower tension of the medium gauge strings seems to work fine when tuned up.
    I would be happy to hear from you and everyone else out there your experiences with different strings tuned in fifths. My biggest problem has been finding a suitable low 'G' string. The Obligato fifth tuning set was a major disappointment and the Red Mitchell Spirocore is not responsive enough with the bow. I have tried a few solo F# strings but the thickness of the gauge of the string was very uncomfortable for me.
    I would love to petition Pirastro to make a fifths tuning set of Flexocor strings. Maybe if there are enough of us out there, they will do it. Let me know that have helped me in the past.

  6. Did you try the stark Flexocor A?
    Forte Jargar A?
  7. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Greetings Paul and thanks for very much for the suggestion. I've got a few G strings laying around (one of them a flexocore string too) and will try it.
  8. paulunger

    paulunger Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2002
    Fort Worth, Texas
    originally posted by francois:
    Did you try the stark Flexocor A?
    Forte Jargar A?

    Yes. In fact a stark flexocor A tuned down to a 'G' is what I am using now, but it is still too flabby and not as responsive in the bow.
    I've never been a fan of Jargar strings, but am willing to give it a try. Do you know what the tension of their A strings are, and how does it compare to a flexocor 'A'?
  9. Well, the Jargar A is more thumpy in my experience, and somewhat stiffer. (but not necessarily higher tension)
    The Flexocor A has a nice pizz tone IMO, while the Jargar is definitely more arco oriented.
  10. Jake


    Dec 11, 1999
    I agree that the Helicore Solo A is thin sounding. Have any of you guys tried the Pirastro Original Flatchrome Solo A? I had a set of those solo strings and loved them. I got the idea to buy them from my bass teacher, Jeff Bradetich, who sounds awesome with them.
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    O.K. an update for any interested people out there...as far as 5ths/4ths tuning versatility goes, I've been using this string combo:

    1st Corelli 370M G (tuned to A)
    2nd Corelli 370TX D
    3rd Corelli 360M F# (tuned to G)
    4th Corelli 370F B (tuned to C)

    I still dig the Helicore Hybrid B most for a low string, but the Corelli is easier to bow and it's not so thick.

    With this combo, I can tune back to ADG whenever I want without worrying so much about string tension. Tuning the solo F# up to A works fine for me...not too stiff for my taste...and I don't have a floppy low G when I want to go back to 5ths.

    I haven't even come close to exploring a low C that I can tune up to E (or vice versa) and probably won't...those particular strings are just too expensive for me. I still haven't tried the Quarrington dominants suggestion either (entirely because I don't want to deal with broken strings), but he sure sounds good on his Bottesini recordings!

    The only Spirocore I've tried for this is their low C and I didn't like it at all for either pizz or bow. I just couldn't ever hear enough fundamental with it...maybe I was just not patient enough to let the brightness calm down or something.

    edit: oh yeah the G string thing was inspired by Paul Unger's suggestion on using a Flexocore G tuned up to A. The flexocore was too stiff for my taste but the lighter Corelli G did the trick for me. I was using an Original Flatchrome A that I tuned to G occasionally...it was a good compromise for me before the Corelli G...but I like going the other direction best for more G-tuned-stiffness
  12. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    O.K. a couple of months ago I threw down for a Red Mitchell spirocore set to find out what a 5ths tuning string set felt like. I got the Weich set.

    I like it quite a bit I think it does feel better. I can't tell much with the A, D and C strings, but the Red Mitchell G string feels great...not so high tension as a solo F# tuned to G. They bow pretty darn well too!

    Anyway just passing this on. I haven't tried the Velvet 5ths tuning strings and probably won't...and if I ever want to go back to 4ths tuning I'll just put 4ths tuning strings on again and just settle. It's too confusing for me going back and forth.
  13. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    That's interesting! Joel does not think they bow well (or at least not as well as his Dominant A D G(F#), Spiro low C set).

    I've just picked up that combination, but they're not on the bass yet. When they are I'll report how that is going.
  14. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Yeah spiros are funny strings. When I had my Strunal, spiros didn't work for bowing at all...but on my budget Romanian bass, they meet my minimum expectations.

    But I'm not at all in a position to say anyone should dismiss the observations of Joel Quarrington. If he finds Dominants superior for bowing then likely they are superior.

    Plus, the low C is still a challenge for me to start quickly. The one I like best, overall, is the Helicore Hybrid B tuned to C...might put that back on. But I still like the Red Mitchell C quite a bit.
  15. Dave Whitla

    Dave Whitla

    Apr 25, 2006
    Although I'm not a fifths tuner myself, I just noticed that Velvet seem to be making a fifths tuning set of their Compas 180 strings. The fourths tuned strings sound pretty decent...

  16. Verth


    Jul 28, 2007
    la Jonquera,Spain
    I've been using :

    a- solo flexocor(Pirastro)
    d- orchestra(Pirastro)
    G- Spirocore mittel(Thomastik)
    C- Spirocore mittel(Thomastik)

    I play mostly classical music but this set up permits me to get better sustain in the low register when playing pizzicato. It also works well on my bass for arco.

    I certainly hope to be trying out some Obligatos or Velvets soon:bassist:

    By the way Dave, why don't you switch-it's o sooo much fun!
  17. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    A spiro low C was the first C string I tried when I first got into the 5ths tuning thing. It was stiff and thick and I couldn't seem to hear the pitch very well...but I did like the Red Mitchell C quite a bit. Is your G and C from one of the Mitchell set too?

    Maybe they're pretty much the same string and it's just been my getting used to hearing the low C better. I don't really know.

    Anyway, yeah Verth your choice seems a good one too. I always have great luck with flexocores as a quality bowing string also.

    Do you see very many players tune EGDA? I read somewhere here there was a symphony written where some of the bass section was asked to tune 5ths but leave the low E as is. Was that because gut was the string in those days?
  18. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well I tried the E string at the bottom thing...sorta fun I guess, but it does feel like a less than most useful addition to GDA :p

    I want to say it makes the bass sound a little brighter too, overall. I tuned the E down to C for a little while, but upped it back to E and will keep it that way for at least a couple of days.
  19. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    O.K. I went back to the low C and it makes a huge difference (at least for my ears behind the bass) as far as resonance goes. It's a much bigger, richer sound.
  20. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I just put on my first set in fifths: Dominant A, D, G and Spiro low C

    Everything is good, but all very bright at least for now. I played my section mate's bass with older Doms and it was darker, so I imagine like all other strings they'll calm down.

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