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Christian McBride

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by richhansen, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. richhansen

    richhansen Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Endorser of the KSM Foundation Bridge.
    Anyone know about when Christian McBride switched from Spiros to Helicore Hybrids? I recently picked up a CD he recorded in the early 1990's (Joe Henderson's Lush Life-The Music Of Billy Strayhorn), and I am knocked out by his tone, especially on a tune called Isfahan. It sure sounds like spiros on his old 7/8 Juzek, but if these are Helicores then I guess I need to try em.

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    No idea about your actual question, but I will say that he killed it on Dominant G-D-A and spiro stark E this past Friday night when he borrowed one of my basses. My guess is that Christian would sound great on just about anything.
    bebopbassist and dhm like this.
  3. richhansen

    richhansen Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Endorser of the KSM Foundation Bridge.
    Chris, I can imagine that he did sound amazing on your bass. Yes, I do know it's mostly the player that makes the tone, but the bass (and strings to a certain degree) do factor in as well. I've heard some recordings of his where I don't really like his tone so much as on this record, which is why I'm curious.

    By the way, you and your LaScala sound absolutely fabulous. I've been studying your youtube vids, and it's such great material for instruction and listening inspiration. It's your tone that turned me on to using dominants, so thanks for that. I guess I'm just trying to figure out why McBride uses helicore hybrids, and since I have a bass nearly identical to his old 7/8 Juzek, if I can get any closer to that tone, it might be worth giving them a spin.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks Rich. :) He was playing the ply LaScala. I didn't ask him about strings, but he told one of the kids during his clinic he preferred medium string height. One thing that struck everyone watching him was how far back he pulled the strings adjacent to his rest strokes while playing - it really made the strings (even dominants and a stark) look like big rubber bands. I don't know if you've seen the picture I posted of the two of us together with the bass (I'll put the pic up again here; for comparison, I'm about 6'2", 185 lbs), but he's a big strong dude - he probably has about 50 lbs. of extra muscle to work with!

    My guess about the strings is that he wants a pliable string that he can dig deep on, and that he's so good he can make just about anything sound great. BTW, I know the record you're talking about, and he sounds fantastic on that recording. Sounds like the same setup he plays on Diana Krall's "Love Scenes" and Benny Green's "Greens". Whatever he's playing, he sure makes it work!

    Attached Files:

  5. d.Fly

    d.Fly Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2002
    Wonderful photo! You've got green F- Holes! Foam... or is the back of your bass greenish?:p:D
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Don't want to continue to hijack rich's thread, but I think it's just a trick of the light. Plus, we *were* in the green room.
  7. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    Founder - Discover Double Bass

    That's a great photo Chris! I bet you had a blast and it must have been surreal watching Christian play your bass! :)
  8. massimo


    Jul 29, 2006
    Paris (France)
    In that years Christian played with spirocore weich, so this recording is 99% with those. In the last years I have seen him play also with Helicore, E. Pirazzi and red Spiros: naturally he sounded always great and with similar tone (maybe E.Pirazzi were a little less clear and in my opinion not the best strings for his style).
  9. richhansen

    richhansen Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Endorser of the KSM Foundation Bridge.
    What a cool photo. It almost looks like Christian is trying to pull your LaScala away from you, and you're like UH UH - SHE'S MINE! Ha ha.

    Thanks to all who chimed in.
  10. kscbass

    kscbass Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2006
    It would help someone could find out what year D'addario came out with the Helicores.
  11. d.Fly

    d.Fly Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2002
    It's always an eye opener when a great player plays your bass. Years ago, John Patitucci played my bass... sounded very much like JP. I played his Pollman bass... sounded like me. I will say that standing next to JP for a day did improve my sound... more than playing his bass.
    nicechuckh likes this.
  12. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    I remember when the Joe Henderson record came out, and when Helicore Hybrids came out. I was living in different cities, so I remember very clearly that Helicore Hybrid, pizzicato, and solo sets were introduced about 3-4 years after the record. If I had to put a date on it, I attended a D'Addario event in the same building as William Salchow's shop in 1995 or 96, where we could try out all the different new types (they were expanding the Helicore line from just orchestra strings, introduced a year or 2 before). Anyway, Helicore Hybrids were not on the market when that record was made. Maybe not even Helicores of any kind.
  13. kscbass

    kscbass Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2006
    To me the sound of CMB besides his hands is light steel strings, if you want to get close to it is Spirocore Weichs or D'addario Helicore Hybrids light gauge. In the last few years I've seen him play a full set of Helicores, with a spirocore or super flexible string here and there, and even his large bass set up with some Evahs. I imagine he prefers the helicores over the spirocores because he gets a smoother bowed sound, he bows a lot (yes he's also endorsed and gets them for free).
  14. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    exactly the reason why I switched from Spiro weichs to Helicore hybrid medium. But still I don't sound like Christian McBride :crying:
    nicechuckh likes this.
  15. jebo


    Apr 25, 2009
    are Helicore Hybrids a synthetic string?
  16. If you mean do they have a synthetic core, then the answer is no.
    They have a (braided?) steel core.
  17. marco_privato


    Jul 15, 2007
    I know very well that record, I'm pretty sure that he uses Spiro mittels
  18. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    The core is twisted strands. I dissected one the other day - should have taken photos... :(
  19. daddarioorch631


    Jan 27, 2014
    Farmingdale, NY
    Product Specialist, D'Addario & Co.
    Hi everyone!

    My name's Josephine, and I work for D'Addario! I got in touch with Norman Pickering, the former head of R&D at D'Addario and inventor of the Helicores. Here are some of the dates you were looking for:

    According to the official D’Addario history book, “D’Addario: The Player’s Choice”, p.67, says that the “D’Addario Helicore Strings for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass were finally introduced in 1994.”

    However, Norman Pickering says that the Helicore bass strings came later than the violin and viola, so his best guess is around 1996 for the bass strings.

    I hope this information helps, and feel free to message/email me if you have any more inquiries!

    Josephine Llorente
  20. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I got one of the very early sets of strings right at the beginning from Jim D'Addario, and was an endorser for a number of years. This was before the strings were split into orchestra, hybrid and pizz models. Those early sets were very nice for jazz pizz as I recall. I also used the hybrid and pizz sets after that early set was discontinued, but seem to recall I liked that first formulation the best of all.