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Advice on strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Mar 9, 2005.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    I'm a regular visitor to the bass guitar forums, but this is my first post to the DB side. My main instrument is the bass guitar, not because I dislike the double bass, but because there are not so many choices to work with the double bass here (see my profile).

    I studied DB with a Polish master. I played Hoffmeister, Dragonetti, the Koussevitzky miniatures... I bought my DB like six years ago to a friend and I don't have any info about the instrument.

    I'm posting this because recently, I saw the "Brian Setzer Orchestra Live In Japan" video and I was fascinated with Mark Winchester's playing. I've never seen that slapping technique before and I want to learn about it. I've been visiting www.rockabillybass.com and they say that steel strings (that's whay I have) are not the best for the style, so I'm looking for advice on the best strings for slapping, hoping they don't have any "negative" effect on "regular" playing's sound, being pizzicato or arco. Again, I had a classical training and also have some gigs with the DB (BTW, next week I'm going to play Claude Bolling's suite for flute and jazz piano trio at an important auditorium in my town. I'm very excited about it).

    Thank you very much in advance.
  2. Hola Alvaro,

    First, get yourself a slap dvd like Lee Rocker's or Pete Turland's (try eBay) to learn the technique.

    Then, you might need an adjustable bridge, a lot of slap players prefer to raise the string action to slap.

    Now the strings. You can slap with steel strings, that is what Lee Rockers does. However, a lot of slap players seem to slap with gut strings. I beleive the best solution today is synthetic strings such as Eurosonics which are great... but unbowable !

    I personnally switch between a set of eurosonics lights to a set of spirocore weich (with a mittel E) between different gigs. With the spiro, I can bow, have a lot of growl and do a little slap. With the eurosonics, i can have a good pizz sound (less growl), great slap sound, easier on the hands, but unbowable.

    You can learn to slap with "normal" metal strings, then switch to something else if you want to go further in that direction.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If your "regular" playing includes the bow, you are going to have a really hard time finding something that is suitable for arco as well as slapping.

    To make the strings clatter on the fb the way a slapper does, they really need to have a very loose feel, especially if you are going to do it with any speed. It's no different that slapping an EBG really. If you have really stiff strings on a bass guitar, you have to whack it pretty good to get that slap tone. That sort of thing slows you down.

    So, these same strings will be quite soft under the bow. They'll hardly push back at all. It'll totally compromise your feel, and faster bow passages will be very difficult.

    All the things that make for quality bowing strings are exactly the things that make for very bad slap strings and vice versa.
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Thank you for your replies! These days I'm doing a lot of research on this subject. My question now is: If low tension strings aren't good for bowing, what kind of problems had the old players to face back in the "gut only" days? Why guts are not an option for bowing nowadays? (it seems like that, at least) BTW, a friend told me that his dad has a set of Pirastro strings for sale. He told me that he doesn't know what kind of Pirastros are these. He's going to ask, but he knows that these are gut strings with a metal cover. What can you tell me about these strings?

    Thank you again for your input! :)
  5. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Check out jazz recordings featuring Slam Stewart, who got a beautiful bowed sound out of gut strings. I happen to have my bass set up with gut strings, and while everything that has been said is definitely true to an extent, this doesn't mean that steel is inherently better. Bowed gut is IMO a beautiful sound, albeit different altogether from steel. Having two sets is definitely the most effecient way to go, but pricy. Good luck.
  6. garron


    Jun 26, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Pirastro wound guts would be be either Olivs or Eudoxas. I just picked up a set of Olivs myself, but haven't had a chance to put them on yet.:(

    I'm not sure that wound gut will slap well, though. I've heard that the windings don't hold up. I've never tried, so I can't say for sure, but it might be something to consider before spending the cash.
  7. They launched the Pizzicato set recently which, like the Eudoxas, is flat silver on gut. The D&G are also available in nylon on gut.
    But that's most probably not what his friend's dad has.
    Like you said, more likely Olivs or Eudoxas.
    Pirastro also makes the Chorda strings, which are plain gut D&G, and round silverplated wire on E&A.