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Best jazz set-up for gut strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by ERIC A, Mar 27, 2004.

  1. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    I recently bought a set of damian dlugolecki gut strings (E & A wrapped D & G plain). I had the nut and bridge width adjusted and put graphite in the slots. I also raised my bridge to acommodate the loose tension. My question is: "Is there anything else I should do?" I have a fairly decent carved bass, but I am not getting the sound I expected. There is no sustain to speak of at all, and the D string is like playing a rubber band. Also, it is lacking clarity. I know that damian dlugolecki makes a good product. So, I am hoping it is just a matter of the strings needing to settle in (they have been on my bass for about
    a week). I like the strong, warm sound of gut, but not at the price of playability or clarity. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    My guess is that you will need to really play on them for a few weeks. I have not tried Damian's strings but I used to play on Oliv G and D and Eudoxa A and E. In case you didn't know, they are Pirastro guts. The Olivs are chrome-steel wound and the Eudoxas are silver.

    Then I decided to try the Pirastro Chordas which are probably very similar to what you are trying now. Unwound G and D and silver round-wound A and E. These strings were bloody massive. I was really disappointed with them and my experience was very much like what you've reported. I thought I was going to get that PC sound from them but that was not the case. The D especially was quite dead and the E too. And they were just so damn thick. However I did like the G so now I have the Chorda G, the Oliv D and A and Eudoxa E and I'm loving it. The combination is more PC like than my previous setup and it's easy to play and not impossible with the bow.

    Anyway, here's the thing. Someone who studies with Ben Wolfe wrote to me about my Chorda experiences. Ben as you may know uses the Chordas exclusively. The person that wrote to me uses the Gotz guts on his bass (same thing - unwound G and D and wound A and E). Basically his belief was that if I gave it a few weeks they would really open up.

    Unfortunately I didn't have a few weeks as I had gigs, etc. And I am very sure that they just weren't compatible with my bass. With a better quality instrument they might have been more suitable but my instrument just didn't have enough sustain to balance them out.

    Although gut and unwound guts don't have a lot of sustain, there should still be some. It shouldn't sound dead which I think is what you are describing and is certainly what I felt about the Chordas on my bass.

    The other thing is that I found the Chordas very hard on the hands and I'm no wimp when it comes to playing with high action and bigger gauge strings. Jon Burr who plays with Mark O'Connor used to use the Chordas but stopped using them (and now uses a full set of Eudoxas) because he found them too hard to bow and too hard on the hands.

    So unfortunately I don't have a good answer for you. Perhaps they will be a lot better after a few weeks but perhaps you need to try something else.

    I love gut and the Pirastro guts have always made my bass sound good and have given the type of sound I'm looking for. Unfortunately the full set of "real deal" guts was just doing it for me.

  3. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    I switched to Pirastro Chordas (wound E&A, unwound D&G) a year ago, and had the same experience. These kind of strings are a whole different ballgame. I thought the D string was dead, but the gut really needs to stretch out for a while (more than just a week) to reach the ideal playing tension. As you play them more, the concept of the response and how to achieve the sound becomes clearer. It took me months to get past the different feel. A year later, I'm still playing them.
  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Must be a real pain when you have to put on a new set and you have gigs. The other thing I should mention is at least in the state they were in for the short time I had them on - I realised they were good for straightahead jazz but would not necessarily suit all the music I play. For example I didn't like them for latin tunes nor for more funky stuff either.
  5. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    i have played a lot on plain gut D and G strings. I always liked the G but the D string is always quieter and more cloudy sounding. I have tried every plain gut out there and the story is always the same. No matter the brand or setup-string height whatever. I have played a lot on the exact type of set you are talking about. I liked using Sensicore E and A with plain gut D and G---the sensicores get you some more clarity than the wrapped gut. i noticed that Lemur has LaBella Goldtone D and G again now! I haven't tried them but they are described to be like Golden Spirals. I used Golden Spirals until they were discontinued-I really liked them, especially for slapping, The D is much clearer than a Plain D. I think I am going to get the Goldtones and use them with my Anima E and A, or wrapped gut, and just switch the D and G for some situations.
  6. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member

    Thanks for the replies. Have you had any experience with a full set of Garbo or Anima gut strings.
  7. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    i am using a full set of animas right now. i like them a lot so far. very interesting sound and feel. low tension. they are wrapped in copper and they have a real unique sound. To me they feel very responsive to dynamics-i played tonight and i was able to play very quietly and also very loud with them. the tone color reminds me vaguely of a timpani--sounds weird but it makes sense to me.
  8. kip


    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    I have played w/ a full set of Anima's for about a year and like the sound (90% pizz). I did switch out the E for a Spiro Orch recently because it was too flabby and lacked "growl". The sound w/ the steel E is right on the money.
  9. Is there a noticable difference between the steel and gut sound wise?
    And does the difference in tensions affect the bass negatively?
    I'm thinking of doing the same for the same reasons.
  10. ERIC A

    ERIC A Supporting Member


    There is definitely a noticable difference in the sound. The strings are not as loud, but have a "big" sound. I could live with most everything with the exception of the lack of any sustain and the D string issues. As far as the difference in tension, I have not noticed any negative effects on my bass. Let me know how it works out for you.
  11. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Some people say (and I agree) that at least in the meat and potatoes range of the bass that gut strings don't sound as loud as steel strings to the player but are actually louder out front. My belief is that the guts have more fundamental and as a result the sound carries better through a room filled with people than string which rely more on the harmonics which are more easily lost due to the high frequencies (and shorter wavelengths).
  12. kip


    Sep 11, 2002
    Sausalito, Ca
    Mike, RE the steel E. My bass is pretty much set up for "meat and potato" range ease of playing. The scoop is, I think, largely responsible for the presence of growl. Higher tension on the E brings this out. The gut strings (A,D,G) still sound fine and I don't have any problem, tension wise, playing from steel to gut. I was concerened that timbre would be too extreme a variable between the steel and gut, but on my bass it's not that dramatic a difference.

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