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DB string noob... Obligatos?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by hunta, Jul 31, 2007.


  1. hunta

    hunta

    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    My DB has been on vacation for several months (It's up in NY I'm in DC :), and I'm getting it back in a couple weeks. I only have about 2 years experience with DB (15 years on electric), and most of my DB playing has been classical or fairly straight jazz. I believe the strings on it now are spirocores.

    I want to start rocking out with this thing (MMW style). I have a K&K pickup for it which sounds pretty good, but I really don't like the strings. Obligatos seem like a decent option, they aren't insanely expensive, they're good for pizz which is all I care about really but I've heard them bowed and they sound good to me. However, I've heard a lot of complaints about them on here, including them only sounding good for a week, and the wrappings unwinding...

    My question is, are there any other good pizz strings in that price range (~100)? I know velvet strings get recommended a lot, or steel wrapped gut, but either way that's $300+ and I'm not sure I want to spend that much my first time buying strings for DB :) But, am I making a huge mistake being a cheapskate?

    Also, with some (most?) string changes you need to adjust the setup on the DB correct? What would I need to do going from spirocores to obligatos? I have a Shen SB-150 bass.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Why do you want to switch from Spiros? I think they're some of the best all purpose strings out there.

    I had Obligatos for a long time. I never had any of the problems other people seem to have had; no windings coming undone, and they lasted pretty well for me. YMMV. The new Evah Pirazzis are supposed to address some of the issues some people had with Obligatos, but they're taking so long to ship, you might lose interest in bass altogether by the time they get around to it.

    The Velvets were among the best pizz strings I ever had on my bass. I used the Anima set.
     
  3. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Check out the threads about Dominants and the love/hate relationships with them. I love 'em. :) Although I really liked the sound of the Oblis, they were on the weak side and I never felt like I could really dig into them. The Doms sound much more powerful and bolder than the Oblis and I can dig into them when I want to. I find they have nicer feel than the Spiros and a somewhat warmer sound. This represents my experiences on my basses. YMMV.
     
  4. hunta

    hunta

    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I guess I'm looking for a little more than all purpose. I want a good jazz sound and feel, if that comes with bow friendly strings then it's a bonus, but I'm really wanting a solid pizz string. Yes, the spiros sound ok for jazz, but not great, and they don't "feel right."

    My ideal string would be lower tension, and have a warmer sound than what I have now. Beyond that, I guess I don't really know :) I haven't played on many other DB's, and the ones I have were all setup for classical. High action + high tension, it ain't for me. My hands ache just thinking about it..
     
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I'd probably go with drurb... you would probably like the Dominants. I've never had 'em on my bass (not sure why, I should probably do that sometime), but I've played rental basses on the road with Doms, and I liked them very much indeed.

    If you want to spend more on the top two strings, you could go with Olivs. They are simply the best string I've ever played, IMHO. I'm going to be reinstalling those as soon as Pirastro decides to grace us with the Evah Pirazzis for the E&A string.
     
  6. hunta

    hunta

    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Correction... They are helicores not spirocores.. Brainfart.. lol ;) Maybe I would like spirocores? haha...

    I'm not sure about the dominants from what I'm reading in threads. They sound like they're a lot higher tension than the obligatos. The idea of taking dominant solos and tuning them to normal pitch is interesting though... I think really what I should be getting are gut strings, but I just can't sink that much cash into strings right now. I don't want that "bridge cable" feel on my DB, it should be fat and loose. Growl would be great too... If my impression of guts from the forums is correct then that's what I'm describing. I guess I want the closest to that sound/feel without shelling out $300-$400. I'm probably dreaming.
     
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Some folks get that low tension thing from Corelli strings, not sure which ones, but you could find out easily enough. If you wanted to try Spiros, you could try Weichs or even Solos tuned down to concert pitch. The Obligatos are very comfortable to me. The Animas and Garbos from Velvet are even more so, at a cost of course. Guts are maybe the most comfortable of all, if you can deal with their idiosyncrasies. They aren't all deathly expensive, but it does seem that you get what you pay for when buying guts. Also the LaBella black strings are pretty low tension in my experience, but I didn't care for the sound at all when I played them on a friend's bass. Finally, Ken Smith has been raving about the new Eurosonic Orch strings as a good allaround choice.
     
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    If you're not using Spirocores now, try them next. It is what you describe. Weichs are the light gauge. If you want lighter still, you could get solos, but you can over play them pretty easily if you intend to "Rock Out".
     
  9. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    The more you describe what you want, the more the Doms seem a good choice for you.
     
  10. Hmm, I'm not sure about Dominants either, if you want a loose feel. They're great strings, and growly too, but they didn't feel loose at all when I tried them.

    I vote for Animas. You can get them for $200-ish if you shop around. I agree with Marcus, they're very fine pizz strings. They're long lasting as well, so you pretty much put them on the bass, then forget them.

    Of course Obligatos and Spiro weichs are nice strings, too. ;)
     
  11. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I always vote for Obli's. My students are mostly playing Helicore, which are cheaper and more durable, and still sensitive, and good under the bow. Obli's are a bit more delicate, but they have great tone, and in particular speak very fast bowed or plucked. Of course there are a million variables. Your bass, it's setup, the sound you want to make... Someone should set up a bulletin board strictly for trading and selling used strings. Testing different strings can be very expensive, so most of us don't try all the options that we should!
    Robobass
     
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    I've been very happy with my Obli's...been using them for well over a year on jazz and blues gigs. I recently changed out the E & A strings because I had some recording projects and wanted a stronger low end on tape.

    I smack them around a good bit as well and haven't had any stability problems.

    I've had great luck with Weich and Mittel Spiros -- a very durable string. These can last years and often sound better with age.

    I've also tried various sets of Corellis (too thin & bright) and Helicores, but always ended up back to Spiros.

    I have a brand new set of backup Oblis, so if and when I decide to change strings, those will probably be the ones.

    I do want to try a set of the Heritage someday...as I hear they're an improvement on the Obli's and now Marcus has me interested in the Animas! Dangnabbit. :eyebrow:
     
  13. RD

    RD

    Jun 17, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    The heavy Corelli's sound and feel good on my Shen. The brightness seems to go away in a couple weeks.
    RD
     
  14. hunta

    hunta

    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I believe this is what my housemate has on the DB he just bought (black tapewound strings), and on his setup they are not in any way loose. His action is pretty high though so I'm sure that's part of it. They don't sound very good to me either. My DB doesn't sound quite how I want, but if it sounded like that I would not be happy... It's funny too because I read that Ron Carter uses these! Very surprising.
    I guess at this point I'm going to count out Dominants, the sound may be closer to what I want, but every description I've read says they are pretty high tension, and that's a big negative for me. The mp3 sample I heard of someone playing Doms sounded good, but I could hear how much effort they were putting into pulling the string. I am very much an electric player, and of course a DB shouldn't feel like an electric, but I want something closer to the level of maneuverability I have on electric. Plus, heavy strings can be murder on the hands... When I have really jammed out on DB with high tension strings I feel like a cripple afterwards.

    I think it's likely that Animas are what I'm really looking for here, and if they do last a long time then maybe I can justify the cost.. It's so unfortunate that DB strings (like everything else DB) are so pricey. It took me many years of trying out different strings on electric before I found what really worked for me (DR hi-beams), and you need to have a pretty fat wallet to experiment with strings on DB. The more I think about it the more inclined I am to just wait/save a little bit longer and go for some guts. Why spend $150 on "fake gut" when $100 more would get the real thing?

    You say Animas can be found for ~200, they go for $269 at Lemur. Do you know a cheaper place to get them?
     
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Animas and other Velvet strings are an aquired taste. I personally love the sound, but can't used to the feel.

    Consider Spirocore Weiches or Corellis for playability or Some type of solo gauge strings tuned to regular orchestra pitch. Spirocores or Helicores are great this way. The only problem with them is that if you are heavy handed on the right hand, you can over play them, but it sounds like you're not.

    Animas are a big investment if you're not sure what you want. I would suggest playing Velvet strings on someone else's bass before you put the money out for them. No knock against them, but they aren't like other strings.
     
  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I agree absolutely with TroyK... you may find the less-than smooth copper windings on the Animas not to your taste. I was okay with them, but not everyone will be.

    At the moment, I have Spirocore Weichs with a Mittel E, at a medium string height. I find them very comfortable. It always kind of amazes me how much volume i can get out of those little skinny Weichs.
     
  17. hunta

    hunta

    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Hmm. How "rough" are they? I'm assuming not as much as roundwounds on an electric? I always play rounds on electric, flatwounds just feel wrong... So maybe the way the windings are would be good for me?

    I may be getting some well used animas sent to me to try out, so I'll have a better idea then. I would love to be able to play around with some different strings but I don't know any other DB players around here (other than my housemate but he's completely noob to DB). Just moved here about 2 months ago :) I'm sure they're out there!
     
  18. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    The windings probably wouldn't be a problem to you, given your context, but they are really low tension. You'd probably end up with much higher action to compensate and I find that at loud volumes when you want to dig in, I just end up fighting them.

    My feeling has always been that I could adjust to playing them, but it would take that and then it's tough to play someone else's bass (which I end up doing a lot of in this town).

    But when I hear someone playing somewhere with them, it makes me think about it because I do really like the sound.

    If you can find a well used set of either Animas or 360's, pick them up and give them a try. If you're sure, then go for it, but they're not like other strings. If you don't want to end up trying several things before you settle on what you like, then there are safer ways to go.

    -tk
     
  19. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    They aren't rough, really... just not as ubersmooth as Olivs or Obligatos. You'll be fine with them if you play rounds on your slabs. They feel great. Bowing is a challenge but can be done.
     
  20. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Marcus -- that's interesting.

    For several years I bounced around between Weichs and Orchestra (Mittels).

    I used Weichs when I wanted something less tension and was doing more electric bass gigs than DB.

    When I felt stronger and was playing jazz alot more, I chose the Mittels for volume & feel.

    However, I always ended up finding the Weichs on the G & D and Mittels on the A & E was a great match for my instrument.

    The interesting part was that the A string was always the variable...couldn't quite figure which one I liked best!

    So, I'd end up buying two sets at once and by swapping them around they would last me a coupla years or until I had some important recording projects where I wanted a brighter sound and better intonation.

    Hunta, this could be a good way to spend your $260 some dollars! ;)

    You could also try Troy's advice and go with a Solo set...then buy a backup Weich set when you feel stronger.

    Don't feel bad about the price of these things. A good set of strings is an investment. So, why not double your investment!?
     

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