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Anyone know a good piccolo string?

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by wrongdimension, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. wrongdimension


    Dec 22, 2005
    I have a MTD 535 and I was wondering if anyone knew of a good brand of piccolo strings for a 5 string bass. I heard that Stanley Clark used piccolo strings to get that wicked tone and I am sorta going for that sound if possible.
  2. Hi,
    I believe Stanley likely used a short scale bass for piccolo. I know he used to play short scale instruments a lot. The major problem with piccolo tuning is finding a good G string. With a 34" or 35" scale bass, a typical wound string in the range of .022" to .025" will have about 55 pounds of tension according to one person at D'Addario. If you even manage to pull that string to pitch without breaking it, it will be hell to play and wont last long. AFAIK the only way to get a G up to pitch on a long scale bass is to use a plain G string in the range of about .016" to .018" - of course just about every player hates the feel and the sound of the plain G.

    If you go to juststrings.com and search for piccolo, some sets will come up. I think there is a GHS set for long scale that has an .018" plain G. I think your bass is a fiver so you will need to come up with a B string but that would likely something about the size of your normal A string tuned up to B.

    You can also order individual or bulk strings and fine tune your own sets.

    This whole issue is one of the reasons why I have been asking a lot of questions about short scale instruments over in the basses forum.

    Hope this helps and does not confuse.

  3. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    No offense, but the stuff about having difficulty finding a good piccolo G string for a 34" scale bass is pure junk. I've used a plain Ken Smith .020" on my dual course 8 string fretless as well as a couple of fretted 34" scale piccolo basses (one with a kahler tremolo) for years and haven't broken a single one.

    You won't find them in many stores, but Just Strings has piccolo sets by Ken Smith, GHS, Rotosound, and others. I've tried those three brands, and I prefer the Smiths.

    I use the Ken Smith .020-.050 set on my fretless 8 in conjunction with TI Jazz Bass as the lower strings, and use the same set and add a single .070 A string for a low B on my piccolo bass. No problems yet.

    TheSuzie--you need to watch for my new thread. I just got both a 31" scale 5 string piccolo and a 30" scale Hollowbody with Dark Star pickups. It sounds like it might be up your alley. :D
  4. Check in with Zon. They sell singles of their entire line of strings. I've been using their Nickels and they are really nice strings. My piccolo set of Zon strings sounded great too.

  5. "No offense, but the stuff about having difficulty finding a good piccolo G string for a 34" scale bass is pure junk. I've used a plain Ken Smith .020" on my dual course 8 string fretless as well as a couple of fretted 34" scale piccolo basses (one with a kahler tremolo) for years and haven't broken a single one."

    No offense taken. I just REALLY dislike plain strings - I guess I was showing a personal bias there - and AFAIK wound strings generally take a much higher tension for the same pitch plus the choice in long wound strings is pretty sparse under about .025"

    I have used an .018" plain and that or a .020" plain as you stated is probably the best solution for the 35" scale MTD 535. For myself, I will keep looking for a flat or groundwound string that has low enough tension for what I want to do.

    Edited to note: My tension figure may have been high but if you read my whole post you will see that I made similar suggestions to everyone else regarding juststrings.com, GHS and a plain G string - probably should have put those first.... 8P

  6. trexibmer


    Mar 19, 2014
    If you have a "2 by 2" machine headstock for a 34-inch scale bass you could try a .017 wound guitar string for the G that might fit. I have found and tried a D'Addario .017 nickel roundwound which works pretty well. It did take a while to find it and I don't know any other maker that makes such a thin wound string. I know some players feel the unwound G sounds either too loud or harmonically thin so to speak.
  7. MCS4


    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    You might want to dig around and see if you can find out what strings Jeff Schmidt uses. He plays 5-string piccolo basses, including an MTD.
  8. ixlramp


    Jan 25, 2005
    Getting a wound .020 or .022 to G or even F is difficult because the cores are so thin (around .012), they will be fragile and close to breaking. Your best wound option is a string designed for standard high F, for example Conklin sell .020 and .022 wound, and then tune to the top 5 of a 7 string bass ADGCF.
    For an example of string strength, consider a wound .020 F with a core of .010 and a plain .020 F, the plain has 4 times more cross-sectional area than the wound core, and therefore is 4 times stronger.
    Personally i would recommend a plain string for tuning to around F and above, much cheaper, more durable, bendable, expressive and more playable due to the lower tension, you can always reduce the tension relative to the other strings to mellow and blend the tone.
  9. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    There are wound .020 and .022 strings available...

    .020w = Ken Smith Nickel & Stainless, MTD Nickel and Stainless, GHS Boomer Nickel
    .020w = Dean Markley SR2000 Stainless

    However, the tone difference is soo soo slight, if anything the wound string is going to have more finger noise than the plain steel. The plain steel is also a quarter of the price of a wound string.

    I say just get the cheapest plain steel string you can find (the Ken Smith plain steel's have silk on them so they are pricey for example).

    Besides that, you can use any strings you would like with any plain steel of your liking.

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