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Going from Thomastik Superflexible mediums to something lighter...

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by JimmyM, Aug 28, 2018.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hey guys, been a while since I've been in this forum but still plugging along in my hacky own way on the upright, and I have some strings questions...but first, a little background...

    Upton Hawkes from 2005 with Clef Rev Solo II pickup, been using the same set of Superflexible mediums for the past 10 years and loved the sound and feel, but my 57 year old hands suddenly aren't feeling the love for these somewhat inflexible medium gauge strings while pizzing and slapping my way through my oldies band, and I'm trying to decide what to go with next.

    For now, I have a set of Pirastro Obligatos that came with it. Used them for 3 months, wasn't crazy about them at the time, but I did a gig with a rental a year ago that had them and I enjoyed them on that bass, so I'm giving them a shot again. So far after a day I'm digging the feel and kind of digging the sound, except they're pretty bright compared to the ancient SF's. I can take care of that with EQ, though, and then they sound terrific. And I've heard they roll, but I haven't felt that with them yet.

    But then, I read some string reviews that said Piirastro Evah Pirazzis are like Obligatos only much better, and I'm wondering if I wouldn't like them better? I might if they're darker and slightly more flexible, but too much and it would be a turnoff.

    And of course, sticking with Superflexibles and getting solo gauges instead is always an option. Despite them being steels and me being a slapper who would love guts if they weren't so floppy and thumpy, I always liked them for slap, and I thought they had a great pizz tone in my Hawkes. Plus out of all the strings I've ever used, only the SF's never gave me blisters. But I didn't get blisters on that rental gig I used the Obligatos, either, so maybe my meat hooks have toughened up a little since these strings were always rubbing them raw when I was a newb.

    I'm going to give the Obligatos a fair shake on a few gigs before I decide so I have some time to do some actual research. I only want to do this once because the appalling price of strings is only getting more appalling.

    But assuming I end up liking the Obligatos better, would I really like the Evah Pirazzis more enough to feel like I got my money's worth, or would I kick myself for ditching a perfectly good set of strings I don't have to pay for twice? And for those of you who have tried Superflexibles in solo gauges tuned standard as well as Obligatos, do you think they'd be comparable in feel to a standard Obligato set at least?

    TIA, folks!
     
  2. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choice™ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Hi Jimmy, welcome back to the dark side from a fellow Floridian :thumbsup:

    I've used both Obligatos and Evah Pirazzi Weich extensively as well as Superflexibles. The Obligatos and Evah's are pretty similar with the Evah's being a touch firmer and darker. A lot of people really dug Evah Weich's when they first came out and they are still very popular, but to me, they are not that different than the Obligatos. If you are happy with these I see no reason to switch, and they will get darker over time as most strings do. I never thought either of these sets were that great for slap playing sound-wise. They are more of a dark, growly jazz pizzicato string that's easy to bow.

    Superfliexbles are an older design and not as "exotic" as the synthetic core strings, but they were often recommended as a good all-arounder and are still a good choice. The solo set, when tuned to standard pitch, has become a popular option for rockabilly players looking for a slappable metal string. These will be more durable than the synthetic core strings and will offer the clear amplified pitch that Thomastik's more popular Spirocore strings offer. The Superflexible solo strings will be lighter and thinner than the Obligatos.

    I'm certain other people will chime in with their favorites, but I think you've identified two good options for your particular upright bass needs. Good luck!

    - Steve
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
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  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hey Steve, good to see you again and thank you very much! I've always been stepping into the dark side on occasion, but I just haven't had many questions lately till tonight :D

    Yep, I get the dark and growly pizz for sure and I'm into that a lot, but I have to say I'm into the slap sound, too. The Superflexibles sound killer with slap but they do sound like steels, whereas the Obligatos are slightly more chameleon like. More steel than gut but with some gutlike qualities. Good to know I'm not missing out all that much by not getting the Evahs, though. Darker I wouldn't mind, but I can deal with the Obligatos' brightness, plus as you said, they'll darken up in time.

    Now that you said the part I bolded, I'm seriously thinking of bailing on the Obligatos now and getting SF solos. Almost. But dang it, the Obligatos are paid for already and I'm digging them as much as someone with one day's experience with them can. I will give them a fair shake first.

    Thanks man...I'm lucky to have latched onto the Superflexibles before I got way too deep into the string money pit. Some people spend thousands and they're never happy, but I got out of my string experimentation phase in 2005-07 for a little over a grand, maybe $1100. Got to try a decent selection of strings on rentals over the years and I've at least weeded out what I don't like, so at worst I think I'll get out this time for another couple hundy if I end up going for solo SF's. Not bad considering the last set gave me 10 or 11 years.

    Well you gave me some good stuff that made this decision much less complicated, Steve! Either Obligatos or SF solos. Thanks again!
     
  4. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    Is the stiffness have anything to do with the fact that the superflexibles are too old? I find when I play on sets of strings that are too dark for my taste i try to pull more sustain and sound out of them. If thats a possibility maybe get a new set of super flex mediums and start over.
     
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  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Have no idea if you'd like the sound but I really enjoy the Corelli 370M strings. Pretty bright when new but mellow nicely. They're the lowest tensions strings I could find which my 58 year old hands greatly appreciate. I don't slap so can't help you there.
     
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  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hi Sam, I don't think it's their age that makes them feel stiff. Pretty sure it's my age that makes them feel stiff :D But while I could be wrong because I don't have a new set to compare them to, they feel about the same to me as they always have, or at least they haven't changed enough for it to matter one way or the other to me. They're not overly stiff for steels but Superflexible is stretching the description. The solo gauge is an option, but I'm convinced that medium isn't an option anymore.
     
  7. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    Totally fine. You just mentioned that your hands weren't loving them anymore. Maybe thats because you are unconsciously over playing lately. Just a thought.

    I would say that Obligatos are more flexible than the Evah Lights. maybe take a look at Evah slaps.
     
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  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I wish I was good enough to overplay on it! :D J/k...I know what you meant. You meant not using my fingers efficiently. That could very well have something to do with it. I'm pretty solid playing wise if you don't throw a lot of notes at me, but I don't have picture perfect technique by any means. And I did take a break from playing it for the past few months and only got back into it a month ago so that also is a factor. But I'm cool with lightening up. Really, I've wanted to try solo SF's for a while now, but was happy enough with the mediums in every other way that I kept them. I just finally took action last night.

    That's good info. I might have gone for the lights thinking they'd be light enough. I don't think they would be unless they were lighter than Obligatos.

    Thanks Sam!
     
  9. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    My first reaction is to tell you to put on some long pants, get a set of Spiro Mittels and learn to live with them. Then I remember last I heard you were using weed whackers and figure I should be more helpful and encouraging.

    So here goes then: Get a set of Spiro Weichs and learn to live with them.
    Um, I might need to work more on this being helpful thing....

    Ok, last try: Keep your eye on the classifieds here for a used set of Spiro Solo gauge and tune them down a step. If the G string sounds too wimpy put on a Weich. Sorry that's all I got.

    No no, wait...practice a lot of slow arpeggios with a cheap bow with a ton of old rosin on it and you'll be so grateful to go back to your fingers you wont really care what strings you've got.
     
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  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Just looked them up...the price is definitely one I like better than the others. They're a definite possibility, as they seem to have qualities I may like.

    BWAHAHA! The last sentence is the advice I should most take to heart. I have the cheap bow and rosin already, too.

    By far, most of the rentals I get have Spiros on them. Spiros are good, but I like Superflexibles better. And the weed whacker thing only lasted a couple months here and there till I got the SF's. Still, as far as weed whacker sets go, they were a pretty serious attempt at making a usable set with high quality cord and thicker industrial sized gauges for the lower strings, one of the very first if not the first. And they didn't sound too bad. Gutlike but with a plastic sounding top end. I bagged them because they were too floppy, always kept stretching and going out of tune, and the E string had no sustain just like guts. But they weren't the worst set I ever played. That would have to be Supernils. I know some people like their uniqueness, but I am not one of them. I'll take whackers over them, thx :D
     
  11. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Seriously the classifieds for used strings is the way to go. Generally you can get what you paid if they aren't working for you so all it costs to try a bunch of different strings is the shipping. I ended up with chronic tendinitis so bad from playing too hard in a loud rockabilly band that I finally had to give up the DB last year. Trying to keep playing I went through a LOT of strings and found real guts were the easiest to play and sounded great but that I couldn't get enough amplified volume. Metal wrapped synthetic guts were also very easy to play and sounded pretty good but still couldn't get the volume. So back to steel strings and several sets later including a couple of solo sets I got a Krivo magnetic pickup. What a revelation that was. Great sounding....I liked it better than any piezo pickup I've ever used and LOUD. Being able to effortlessly get volume from the amp without playing very hard meant I could actually go back to the Spiro Weichs that worked well on that bass. (yeah I was only half kidding above). By the time I figured all this out I could barely use my left arm though and decided coming back to the DB after almost ten years off wasn't working. If I'd gotten the Krivo a year earlier I might still be playing the big bass.
     
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  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Man, very sorry to hear you had to give her up. But they're a pretty darn physical instrument so I get it. Well maybe you can get your arm a good rest and try it again?
     
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  13. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Naw. I played it too seriously for too long to be happy half-assing it. All that time off I lost too many chops that my brain kept telling my hands I still had. I'm happy just playing the slab and being pain-free. Using a pick like I do now has a lot of similarities to playing the DB with the bow in terms of touch and coaxing the sound out of the bass.

    Try the Krivo man. They come up used but he seems to keep improving them so the later ones sound better I think. I actually have a custom P Bass pickup he built me that's been sitting at a friends place in WA State for months (long story) I gotta go get and put in a bass. It's the same wind as his DB pickup and I've got high hopes it'll do a passable doghouse impersonation. I'll put up a post on the other side when I've tried it.
     
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  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sorry to hear that, Jeff. :(
     
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  15. Jimmy, I'll speak out of turn here, as a relative newby but getting some string experience... I started with the Superior Bassworks (SBW) Deluxe dirty-gut colored spiral-cut whackers on a newly acquired hot-rodded Alcoa in early February. I needed low tension strings that wouldn't kill my fingers for other instruments that I play. On the DB I play slap/pizz about 90% and arco about 10%.

    The SBW Deluxe spiral cut gives a tactile texture to hang onto and the strings really move a lot of air; with the spiral cut they actually bow as well as they slap and pizz, which is pretty interesting. And they amp and DI wonderfully as long as you're using a piezo or a mic pickup (non-ferris). I love the feel, the acoustic sound is pretty respectable, the amp/DI sound is wonderful, and the whole set is very affordable (~$60)...

    But... After playing the SBW Deluxe set acoustically with larger groups for about 5 months I finally concluded that the E and A strings were just too quiet and unclear for me to hear for intonation. While I still really like the D and G strings, I had to make a change, so I replaced the SBW Deluxe E and A strings with Innovation SilverSlaps E and A. I've been using these pretty heavily for the last 2 months. These are nylon wrapped synthetic core strings. They produce a very distinct growl with excellent clarity and great sustain, with a good tone and volume balance for the SBW Deluxe D and G strings. They feel like wrapped nylon, very nice on the hands, with gauges that also are more in line with the SBW Deluxe D and G strings. And they also amp/DI as wonderfully as the SBW Deluxe strings with my piezo setup (Vic's Pickups Model C). I did move the bridge wing piezo from the bass side wing to the treble side wing because it seemed to have an affinity for the SuperSlaps; at this time the balance is excellent.

    There were two disadvantages for me with the Innovation SuperSlaps E and A strings -- they cost ~$70 a piece, and they don't bow well initially. The cost I could swallow for now, but it took some serious time and rosin to get them bowing as nicely as the SBW Deluxe D and G strings. At this time now they bow like butter; I'm not sure if my arco technique has changed or if the strings have changed, but I'm really happy with them.

    I'll probably play with these strings for a year or so before making any other changes... That said, for the future those relatively new Gamut Red Diamond copper/nylon wound guts have my attention. They may be the next string direction for me.

    As an oldie whose mind is young but hands are getting old, I'm sympathetic to your discussion here. I wish you the best, whatever direction you go with strings.

     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
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  16. Then I suggest the 380M set.
    Even cheaper, and strings are a tad thicker, stiffer and warmer sounding.
     
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  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'll tell you guys...I'm not having my moment of zen with the Obligatos. They're fine strings, but something just isn't hitting me in a way the Superflexibles did. I knew instantly that I would love the SF's, and the O's always give me something that's good but just doesn't click with me. In pretty much every way except tension, I'm preferring the SF mediums.

    So I think the writing is on the wall and I must dig into the old piggy bank and cop a set of SF solos. Steve Boisen really got me with the "lighter and thinner than the O's" comment." Plus while I do appreciate the comments that went off the board with strings I hadn't considered until they mentioned them, SF's are a known quantity to me that I think won't be too far afield tonally from the medium set I dogged for years, and while I can probably swing one set, I certainly don't want to get on another string audition jag! Fortunately Upton Bass has a really good price on them currently that'll save me around $30. I'll be sure to mention that when I beg my wife to let me do it :D

    EDIT: Got the green light!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
  18. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    FWIW, I just ordered a set of Corelli 370F's. Been using Spiro Weichs for a while, love the sound but having somewhat the same issue as @JimmyM with tension for my old arms. Going on an Eminence 4 string. Will reoport back after they're on and settled in for a few weeks. Definitely a better price point than many other strings these days at $112/set from Gollihur.
     
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  19. Hmmm, on Sunday I played an old friend's bass. I'm not sure what kind of metal strings they are except that they are old, but wow, stiff and high tension. After playing my SilverSlap/SBW-Deluxe mix it was like trying to play a chain link fence. I'm guessing these strings were Permanents, Dominants or maybe Spiro Starks. They put out lots of volume, but they are definitely not an option for my old hands playing the slap/pizz playing style I love.

    I'm watching the TB "New Gamut Red Diamond Gut Strings" thread with great interest... Maybe in a year or so I'll order some of them, if I can wait that long.
     
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  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Too hot and humid for guts in Fla, even wound :D I do know some folks who use them down here but not many.
     
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