All around strings for college student?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Brandon Dong, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. Brandon Dong

    Brandon Dong

    Nov 14, 2015
    Hi Im a high school senior thats planning on minoring in bass performance. Right now I play exclusively arco on kaplan mediums that are going on their 3rd year on my upton hybrid. I want to get a higher quality string that will be versatile enough for orchestral, solo, and some jazz stuff since I plan to try and expand my musical boundaries later on. Ive heard that passione starks are great for orchestra and im interested in those, flexocore deluxes, and belcantos. Also, how do these strings sound after 2-3 years? bc i want to get a string that also has a long life. Thanks again!
  2. For long living strings, get Spiros and play them for a year, probably hating them arco during that time.
    A bit more expensive but also with a long life: naked gut strings (at least for G and D).

    Any other string has a shorter life, between 6 months and 3 years probably.

    Since Spiros work well for the lower string(s), mixing them with others is a common thing.
    If you mix them with gut, use lower tension strings like 4/4 Spiro Weich S42W or even downtuned Solo Spiros (3/4 or 4/4).
    But bowing differs for steel and gut.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
    james condino and DC Bass like this.
  3. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle

    Aug 16, 2011
    Nashville TN
    I would not play gut strings if you want to practice classical. I'm assuming you would be playing with others in a section and it doesn't blend well. Look at pirastro strings. I like evah pirazzi for arco
    KUNGfuSHERIFF likes this.
  4. Evah Pirazzi Weich G, D, A and Spiro Mittel E is what is on my bass. I am in my second year of college and this set up has been truly wonderful for me in any context I play in.
    When it comes down to it though, you know what strings your bass will need. You know the characteristics of your bass and what it needs to sound the best it possibly can. It'll take some experimenting, but you'll find what your bass needs!
  5. Leo Smith

    Leo Smith Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2009
    D'Addario hybrids are good for a mix of playing, in my experience. As others have noted, it depends on your bass too. Some strings will sound different...
  6. How this works is that your bass will tell you what strings it likes, not the other way around. It's an expensive proposition for a young player. Buying used strings cheap to try out can help manage the cost. A few general notes:

    On a dark bass, Spiros can be good all around strings, but your arco technique has to be solid.

    Flex Deluxe are great under the bow and can be a decent pizz string, but they can feel stiff.

    Flex 92s are great arco strings and can pizz well if you keep your string heights low and your bass sounds deep enough to bring out the fundamental of the E string.

    Bel Cantos are friendly to the bow but can be a bit bright under the stick and a bit dead pizz.

    Evahs are a good crossover string for many players, but for me they were too dynamically limited to be useful.

    Helicores never did anything for me, but I loved the Kaplans I was given to try out.
  7. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I'm with the Sheriff on this one: You've got a few different options worth exploring, but it will really depend on your bass and what you are going for.

    I agree with Spiros on a darker bass. They can be too bright on some instruments, especially the top two strings, but they work really well on the bottom of a lot of basses, both arco and pizz. There are a lot of different flavours out there though, so depending on the tension you and your bass like, you might have to experiment a bit to find what you are after. Spiros also take a while to break in and get to where everyone loves them. Depending on how much you play this can be a couple of weeks or a couple of months. If you like that dead Spiro sound, you might be buying your first and last set of strings for the next decade or two.

    Permanents to me are a more bow friendly Spirocore. They are still bright, focused, loud, have good sustain while being more forgiving under the bow, especially on top. While there definitely isn't anything wrong with their lower strings and I enjoyed them when I was in 4ths, they also pair really well with Spirocores on the bottom.

    Evah's are a different direction for crossover playing. They tend to be darker and have more pizz "thump" to them. The Weichs are fairly popular as a lot of people found the Mittels to have way too much tension, although that works on some instruments and the weichs don't work on others. If you are looking for a darker arco sound and more old school pizz than spiros, Evah's might do it for you.

    The Passione's really aren't a crossover string. They can be great for orchestral/arco work, but I have yet to meet a pizz or crossover player that has been happy with them for that side of things.

    Belcantos are similar. They are a great orchestra string for a lot of people, dark, smooth, chocolatey etc. but they really lack sustain pizz. If you're looking for a "thump and die" kind of string pizz they might work, but I would look elsewhere first.

    The D'Addario Helicores have been re-vamped since a lot of us hated them years ago. Other than a fair number of "you should really give them a chance again because they're a significant improvement from what they used to be" reviews here, I can't comment on them too much. They are a much more affordable option than some of the others though, and apparently the Hybrids are pretty good now.

    I've got two Flex Deluxe strings that are going on top of two Spirocores that just arrived in the mail today. I'm excited to give them a try and from the reviews and conversations I've had here they sound like they should be a really great string for my mostly orchestral but occasionally pizz playing. I'm off to the Post Office to find out.
  8. Please post your thoughts when the strings have settled in. I'm trying very hard to break a serious string addiction (as I cultivate a bow addiction...sigh) but I've been wondering for a year how Flex Deluxe over Spiros would work.
  9. dfp


    Sep 28, 2004
    Kaplan are a high quality string, they do one thing particularly well, that being arco playing.

    A high quality string that can bow tolerably well, and even quite well with enough practice and rosin, and also perform well in pizzicato styles is Spirocore weich gauge. If your bass doesn't sound or play well with Spirocore weichs, consider getting a new bass. ;)