Easier Playing Strings on ½ Size Bass?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Hector Wolff, Jun 29, 2003.

  1. My 10 year old daughter’s ½ size rental bass, is in need of a new set of strings. In addition, the strings seem tense, and are high at the nut, making getting the notes in half position fully stopped, hard for her.

    She has three years of elementary school playing, the last two of which were while taking private lessons. She also has all-county orchestra experience, and so is pretty seasoned for one so young.

    I am hesitant to ask the rental agent to have the nut reworked to lower the action, as it is already summer and the bass is fully expanded, and the A and B on the A string are already buzzing slightly, even when correctly stopped.

    Since she will be using this instrument at home all year, and using it for her NYSSMA recital and (hopefully) for all-county again, I want to make sure it is as playable as possible.

    If lowering the strings at the nut is not possible, and the strings need replacement anyway, what strings could I use to make her playing easier?

    Thanks in advance for any advise you can give.
  2. Hector,
    how high are the strings at the nut? There should be a clearance where you can slip a business card into, but not much more.
    If they are higher than that, and the A string has a buzz, changing the strings will not help much. Stiffer trings may reduce buzzing, but will make stopping the strings in lower positions even harder. Softer ( =lower tension ) strings will only buzz more.
    The fingerboard may need reshaping or planing, since it sounds like it doesn´t have enough scoop. Take the bass to a luthier if possible.

  3. Dear Arto,

    There is enough space under the strings at the nut, to fit maybe three business cards.

    If the bass belonged to me, I would take it to my local luthier and have him correct the problem.
  4. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Hector: Corelli make 1/2 size strings both nickel and tungsten. They are pretty good strings for bowing. Spirocores are also available in 1/2 size, but they are more scratchy at first.
  5. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Are you sure it's a 1/2 size ? It's already a lot of bass...
  6. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Helicores are available in fractional sizes. We put a set on my nephew's Chinese 1/4 size bass and they sound and play great.
  7. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Be very careful about D'Addario's Helicore "Hybrid": actually a tough arco string with too much overtones and an elusive fondamental...
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Only the orchestral/arco Helicores are made in the fractional sizes.

    The hybrid and pizz strings are 3/4 length only.
  9. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    Pirastro Flexocors are now available in fractional sizes, down to 1/10 I think.
  10. Thank you all for your replies.

    I will look into the 1/2 size Correlli, Helicore (not hybrid) and the Flexocore.

    Do you think they all bow equally well?

    And which of these three, in the 1/2 sizes, would be "softer" on the fingers or easier to stop cleanly.
  11. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    IMO, the Corellis, followed by the Flexocors and then the Helicores. (which I've found quite stiff)
    The Corellis are made in Tungsten and Nickel models, although in 1/2 size I'm note sure if the Nickels are available.
    They're also available in three gauges but, then again, I'm not sure if all three gauges are available in half size.
  12. from my experience I'd say the flexocores would be better than the helicores. I think the helicore orchestra strings can be tough to get a clean sound out of, particularly on an instrument that might not be the most open or responsive thing around.
  13. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I vote for the corellis, my students like them, and they are very easy to play.
  14. I looked up the Corelli 1/2 size strings in the Lemur catalog, and they are available in Tungsten, 370 Medium only.

    The tungsten mediums are described as thin and extremely flexible. This sounds perfect for my daughters situation.

    I have only one fear - will these strings bow well in forte passages or will they choke and crunch when she tries to get some volume?

    Thank you all for your kind advice.