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advice request: solo A string

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Dr Rod, Jul 6, 2016.


  1. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Hello fellow bassists, I will appreciate your advice:

    I am looking for a solo A string (first string):

    -Ideally I would like a solo A string with an extremely dark open A, the rest is not so important as long as the string is a good professional arco string. I am experimenting with tuning in 5ths, and I would like to be able to play open A's once in a while in the orchestra without sticking out too much.

    -I usually don't like weak strings with very light gauges or light tension (corellis for example) but if the open A is discreet I will still consider them.

    -I play nearly 100% arco, classical, orchestral

    -I am currently using a solo Evah and I am surprised to say that the open A sticks out quite a bit. Obviously solo strings are built with soloistic projection in mind. I have also tried a couple of orchestral pirastro G's tuned up (I know, I know !) and the results are still much brighter than the usual orchestral sound.

    Thanks !!
     
  2. If it's only the open string that stands out, take a piece of bike inner tube, about 1 mm wide and put it between string and fingerboard touching the nut. If it stands still too much out, try a piece that is a bit wider.
    Don't be afraid that the string might be shortened and the positions might move a bit. They don't cause there is still the full length of the string vibrating, only the higher harmonics are damped like a fingered note where the flesh of the finger does the damping.
    That way you don't have to check out a lot of strings hoping you might find one that works the way you expect it to work. It probably won't happen since the open string is usually undamped and any fingered note damped (unless you put something hard between finger and string like a guitar bottleneck or a sarod metal finger).
     
  3. I suggest Kaplan solo or Jargar Dolce gauge.
     
    Jesse Dietschi likes this.
  4. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    I was thinking about something like this, but I was afraid that the string would cut through the rubber. Maybe inner tube is the right thing !
    Let me see if I understand. Basically you are talking about lining the groove of the nut with this rubber, right? would I be lining the groove throughout its entire length?

    So the string would rest on the rubber and not on the wood?

    Please correct me if I didn't get it.

    thanks for your help
     
  5. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Awesome. Thanks so much Francois !
     
  6. What you describe is not what I meant, but I have done this on my EUB where I made the groove for the high C string too deep. I cut a piece from inner rubber tube as wide as the groove and as long as the nut groove, maybe a bit longer.
    If you do it this way, the string will catch the rubber at the beginning, so let the rubber stay out a bit on the fingerboard.
    But I only did it this way on the EUB because the groove was too deep and the rubber makes it higher (and also damps the higher harmonics of the open string).
    If you do it that way have some spare rubber strips cut, you might either loose the rubber strip when you take the string down or need to replace it at some point because the high pressure on the rubber and the moving string when tuning damages the rubber strip over time.

    What I originally meant is what I said. The rubber is in parallel to the nut, perpendicular to the string at the very beginning of the fingerboard. Think putting your finger on the string at the nut. The part of flesh over the fingerboard damps the harmonics as the rubber does. The only difference is that the flesh presses from the upper side to the string and the rubber from the lower side.
    If you have the inner tube at hand it's a matter of seconds to cut a strip, slip it under the string, take the ends on the left and right and pull it towards the nut. That's all. If you like the sound, you can cut a bit of the ends if they touch another string. But since you don't play there, the rubber shouldn't disturb you (except for aesthetic reasons maybe). If you don't like it, vary the width of the rubber strip.
     
  7. I second the Kaplan solo suggestion from @Francois Blais. I recently put them on an almost unbearably bright Pöllman bass and they have big projection (as solo strings should) but add some nice warmth, plus they respond very quickly to the bow. If you send a detailed request for what you're looking for to the Orchestral Strings department of D'Addario, they may even send you a string to try for free!
     
  8. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm using solo Dominants tuned town on one bass and solo Permanents on the other; both are terrific - and very easy on the hands; both fairly loud; the Perms a bit stiffer and clearer; the Doms abit looser and warmer (but that may be the basses). Hope you are well. How's the Swanson?
    Louis
     
  9. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Awesome. thanks for clarifying. I will definitely try that, and it also kind of sparked my curiosity with more modern products that could dampen without shortening the string length, but I don't know if it would work.

    I think Plasti-Dip is a rubbery, paintable substance that one could try to paint and layer onto the string between the nut and the first half step (in the area where you never press down with your left hand index).

    Another idea would be if little rubber beads (from a bead store, with a hole in the middle) that could be put in that area without ever touching the fingerboard, hence not shortening the string length.

    Or a very thin gauge of surgical tubing perhaps. I don't know if they make it.

    Anyway. I will be trying your idea because it's easy and proven. Cheers
     
  10. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    BlackBass.jpg
    Off topic:

    Well, I was recently told that it wasn't a Swanson !!
    So, the bass is awesome, sounds amazing.

    My bass has a braceless flat back, about half inch thick, made of Willow, with a steep break, and apparently Swanson never did such a thing.
     
  11. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    I will definitely try that !
     
  12. Ortsom

    Ortsom Inactive

    Mar 23, 2016
    Hi Dr. Rod,
    DoubleMIDI's suggestion for damping overtones should be easiest to try, for alternatives rather than Plasti-Dip you could try a short section of heat-shrink tubing.

    That seems like quite an unorthodox instrument you showed there! (In terms of: construction of the break, no braces on the 1/2" thick flatback, the width of the waist, ...). Would you like to share more about it, or is there maybe a thread about it?

    Thanks!
     
  13. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    that's a great idea. I was also thinking about Sugru, which would allow me to only pile it on top.

    Regarding the bass, you are right, the construction is unique. I should really do a thread about it.
     
  14. Ortsom

    Ortsom Inactive

    Mar 23, 2016
    I don't know that material, thanks for the pointer. It could work, but having a blob up there sounds less appealing.

    The problem with putting something on the string is that you need to space it out quite accurately, and if the string stretches your placement is out. And you have to stay well away from the half note. Maybe heatshink tubing would be strong enough to be run over the nut section too (after widening the notch...!), but the bicycle tire would be my first try.

    I used heatshink once on an E-string of an ABG. The thing had a tailpiece and the thick part of the string did not reach the nut. String tension is totally different, and this string has a bigger diameter, but see that it that 2 layers are run across the nut, with a reasonably strong bend/breakover. Here it is strong enough.
    Heatshrink on E-strng ABG.jpg
     
    Dr Rod likes this.
  15. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    A lot of solo strings are a bit brighter than their orchestral counterparts, which often isn't a problem if you are using them for solo playing. If you are used to Permanents for example on your bass in "standard" 4ths, and put solo string(s) on it, they will still sound like Permanents but be a little bit higher tension and a bit brighter. The typical suggestion if that is something you are looking to mitigate is to move to something a little darker on the spectrum to get back to what you are looking for. Just like orchestral strings, you also need to give yourself some time for the strings to break in before you can make too much of a judgement. If you are comparing a played in string to one fresh out of the package the former is going to be the darker sounding string regardless to the tuning it is in.

    If you are experimenting with 5ths, it is a more resonant tuning on a lot of instruments. What may initially seem like a brighter sound is often your instrument ringing in a way that it did not before. If your 5ths experiment is just a solo A on top of an otherwise tuned in 4ths instrument, your open high A can stand out a bit because of the sympathetic vibrations of the open lower A as well.

    As far as string recommendations for something dark and mostly orchestral sounding in a solo string, I would recommend giving the Evah a little while to get rid of the new string zing before ruling it out entirely. Bel Cantos are offered in solo tuning and I had another 5ths player here on talkbass strongly recommend them as an orchestral string (I'm sorry I cannot remember who it is right now) and depending on what your thoughts are on them, Pirastro makes both an Obligato solo A, and a 5ths tuning A. Obligatos over Evahs is a set I'm seeing a little bit more lately, and the 5ths tuning specific high A has 27.3 kp of tension compared to the orchestral G at 27.0 kp and the solo A at 29.7 kp, so it is made more as an orchestral string for 5ths tuning than a solo tuning string you may use in an orchestral setting. Those would be my recommendations.

    When it comes to using an open A in an orchestra, context is just as important as string selection. If it is a quick passage, no one is going to notice and carry on. If it is a slower, softer, or more exposed passage, then you have to decide what you want to do. Some colleagues "hear" your high A sticking out because they know you are tuned in 5ths so it has to sound super bright and stick out like a sore thumb, whether or not it actually is. Sometimes it does actually stick out, and just like an open G, you change your fingering so that you can finger that note instead. Other times when you are using a solo A over an orchestral D and there is a noticeable tension and timbre difference, it takes a little while to adjust your technique so you can approach that string in the way it requires to get the sound you are looking for. Rome was not built in a day, and you are not going to find the absolutely perfect sound you are looking for in 5ths overnight either.
     
    Dr Rod likes this.
  16. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    That's good info, but the 5ths tuning specific A, is it an Obligato or an Evah?
     
  17. MikeCanada

    MikeCanada

    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    The 5ths tuning specific A is an Obligato. Other than the Obligato, the only other 5ths tuning specific strings I am aware of in the market are the Spirocore Red Mitchell strings, but I would not recommend them for what you are looking for.
     
    Dr Rod likes this.
  18. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Dr Rod,

    Well, whatever it is, it's great bass!
    Best
    Louis
     
    Dr Rod likes this.
  19. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Apr 17, 2021

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