Great pizz AND great arco: buy Black & Decker

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Don Higdon, Nov 25, 2003.

  1. There is no good hybrid string. They all stink.
    I was the guy that first brought Obligatos to TalkBass. At the outset, they seemed to do the job both ways. I had Obligatos on my precious orchestra bass and on Old 87, my 1925 American Standard.
    I had a symphony concert where the cello soloist played a Strad - the "Prince Gursky". (And don't tell Branstetter it has been altered, as have most Strads.) I felt a moral obligation to use guts, so I put on my Olivs. Glorious sound.
    Next night was a big band gig. I used Old 87 with the Obligatos. Big but foggy tone, and that annoying rolling of the string under pizz pressure. So the other night I put on Spirocore solo strings tuned down. Presto! Clear intonation, powerful jazz pizz sound.
    The moral: Stop looking for one string to do it all. Buy an electric drill from Black & Decker - reversible, cordless, variable speed. Then a wooden bit made for bass tuner keys. (Got mine from Gage.) You can change a set of strings in a few minutes, effortlessly. Use the right string for the job. You'll be happier with the result.
  2. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Don excuse my ignorance, but can you elaborate on what bit to use and how to get it to spin the pegs? thanks! sounds like a real time/forearm saver!
  3. David Gage sells them. They are not pictured at his site (, but you should be able to e-mail or call him. Basically, it's a wood block on a drill bit. The block is slotted to accept the machine key. He charges too much for them, but after you use it a few times you're happy to have it.
  4. Gufenov


    Jun 8, 2003
    I made my own "bit" from the handle of a $1 paint roller. The plastic handle is easy to cut to size, and then cut a slot in the end that's just wide enough to accept the machine head. Leave a short piece of the metal rod to fit into the drill's chuck. Just make sure the plastic used in the handle is soft enough so it won't scratch the machine head.
  5. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Good point Mr. Higdon,

    I have Obligatos on my one and only bass. But if I had another, I would have two totally different setups. I haven't yet played a gut string that I liked for arco, but someday I hope to try the Oliv's you mention.

    Here's another compromise: I find that I can get my string height working well for acoustic gigs where I dig in, but then I lose a bit of facility for upper-register soloing. If I had another bass it would have a flatter radius, less scooped fingerboard, with some nasty bright spiros for sustaining jazz pizz through the amp.
    I guess it's one of the limitations of playing so many different styles. . .

  6. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Although I'm using Ebolagatos that came with my bass, I really thought the Eudoxas were ideal for jazz and orchestral use. I can't think of another string I'd rather use than them for either.

    Of course, I like the gut sound, although it may not be for everyone.

    I have high hopes for the reformulated Velvet 180's. I loved their pizz before, although they are advertised as their orchestral string, but they bowed like crap. The reviews I'm hearing from them make me excited to try the set they sent as a replacement, although the Obligatos sound good still and I don't want to waste them. Unfortunately, they told me they really aren't doing any marketing of their strings right now, so who knows if they will even be around very long?
  7. I made my string changing thingy from a small piece of 3/4" plywood and a finishing nail. The plywood block is approximately 2"x2" with a narrow slot (fits over the key) cut into one side. The finishing nail is driven into the other side and slides into the drill chuck. While you can't operate the drill at full speed, it does work well and lets me change strings in a matter of minutes.
  8. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Cool thanks for the tips guys. I never even thought of this. I guess that's the beauty of TB.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I need to print this thread and post it in my music room. I'm one of those guys who has a superstitious dread of changing strings too close to a gig. In reality, I'd probably learn quite a bit by indulging in some infamously maniacal string behavior a la our very own Francois.

    On a serious note DONO, do you find that taking off a set of strings and then putting it back on again later changes the tone of the strings? Do they take time to settle back in, or no?
  10. What I´ve noticed is when I loosen the strings
    ( for example to adjust the bridge height or make minor adjustments to bridge alignment or position ), the strings always sound brighter and different what they were before the tuning down and up...that´s why I never do that before any gig, even though it only takes them about a half an hour of playing to settle back again.
    I still hate it, and string changing is a nightmare to me.
    With that Black & Decker advise I would prolly end up going: WHIRRRRRRRRR....... * SNAP *
    But that´s just me.

  11. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
  12. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I use a portable electric screw driver with a home made key drill installed.

    I hate changing strings..especially Velvet Compass 360's...
  13. Sorry to be so slow, Chris. Busy as hell with Alexander Technique training.
    Frankly, I think they sound different at first simply because you're not used to them. I think much of the settling back in is done by the player, not the strings.
    Then again, having alot of different basses, fingerboards and strings, I take the attitude I've mentioned before: just play the f--king thing and stop kvetching. For those not in the NYC area, that's bitching.
    As for Francois, I heard he can change a string while trading fours with the drummer. And that's at 280 bpm! One chorus, and he's done the whole set. (Another argument against 5 string basses.)And that's without a winder.
  14. Chris,

    Strings loose their roundness from the being played. Although it's really noticeable, the bottom of the string flattens out. When you take the tension completely off the string it goes back to round. That's why old strings will sound a little newer after being off the bass. Also, if you change the type of string, I believe it takes some time for the bass to adjust to the new tension.
  15. Special K
    Where have you been?
    Welcome back.
  16. Here is my solution to the string problem...

    Basses came from the same shop. One is set up for orchestra, the other with gut. Same string length (though its monster) same neck feel same thumb stop, same fingerboard,etc...[​IMG]
  17. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I saw a kid that had Helicore Hybrid strings on his bass with brand new Spirocore Orchestras this time around. Both he and I played his bass some, and neither one of us any problems bowing them. The Helicore Hybrids are fine sounding strings, but I just haven't heard anyone use Spiros and sound bad (and I've heard at least 4 people so far in solo and orchestra performance settings who were using the bow), unless they just didn't have enough experience or training to draw a good sound to begin with.

    It's too bad I bought into the whole "Spiros are terrible for bowing" doo. What's the deal with the talk about Obligatos bowing so well? Is it because it's forgiving to people moving the bow across the strings too fast? Is it a really dull sounding string?
  18. I disagree with that....I have thoroughly tried spirocore weichs and obligatos with as many different techniques and styles as possible and i find obligatos do indeed work better...