Guide me o' string gurus

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by TroyK, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I play upright about 98% of the time, but came up on electric. When I was last gigging regularly on electric, but dreaming of upright, I started using flatwounds on my Fender Jazz and really, really, really dug that sound.

    Oddly enough, I've changed electric basses several times since I mostly stopped playing electric bass, but usually went straight to flatwounds when I did. However, over time, I realized that when I play EBG I don't really want it to sound like my upright (which, I'm sorry, it really doesn't and can't anyway).

    So, I currently have a mid-90s passive Warwick Corvette and to move back to center a little bit on my sound I've been using GHS pressure wounds, which are a fine string. But, I have this experience where I pick up a bass somewhere and get this great feeling from playing it. Recently it was a Squire Jazz bass at someone's house, which really shouldn't bake my noodle, but it did. I just wanted to sit down and play it unplugged for an hour. It tells me that I'm missing something from the sound coming off of my instrument, unplugged or otherwise.

    I remember feeling that way about Corvettes too in shops, but I think I've tamed the Corvette out of mine and it may be time to try a more conventional string. I have some ideas and I've done some reading and YouTube video watching, but rather than poison the well, let me just throw it to the connoisseurs here for some suggestions.

    A few criteria. When I switched to upright almost 20 years ago, it destroyed my hands. I'm long over that. But, the callouses are different and I fear stainless steel roundwound a bit. I'll get over it if you guys tell me I have to, but I won't play EB enough to keep instrument specific callouses, so something somewhat easier on the hands is better.

    I don't love stiffness. I enjoy feeling the string vibrate. I don't slap or pop. Think jazz, blues, a little funk/soul. Nothing too modern. Just four lonely strings. Passive pickups, good quality signal chain off the instrument. I don't think that I want anything too pingy or zingy, but clearly I'm looking to head that direction from where I am.

    What say, ye?
  2. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    I've completely switched to flats and tapes (the latter seem to work so far for what I need but the jury is still out) so the help I can offer is limited (not an expert by any stretch either).
    This said, keep an eye on this thread:
    GHS Balanced Nickel strings
    New product, so nobody except @Jon Moody has put paws on it that I know of; they read promising though.
  3. trothwell


    Apr 9, 2008
    Sounds like: you want something a little zingier than GHS Pressurewounds, but not too zingy, preferably not too stiff, and preferably not stainless steel.

    You might try GHS round core Boomers? Or, as @HaphAsSard just posted while I was writing, the forthcoming GHS Balanced Nickel strings?

    Obviously lots of possible choices. I suggest round core for the less stiff attribute, though of course different hex-core strings vary in stiffness as well.
    HaphAsSard likes this.
  4. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks, I will keep an eye on it. I get the allure of flats, I really do. I have several pair in my box and I'll keep them and the pressurewounds, but time to try something new.
  5. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    There you go! Just make it 100%. All Done. Happy Day.
    nickrs540 and mitchjonbass like this.
  6. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    You know, they're different instruments and I enjoy them both. When I got into upright and jazz I didn't mean to give up bass guitar and rock and roll, but the demand for me to play BG was dwarfed by UB and I found that I had to really leave what I knew behind in order to learn properly.

    Now, I'd like to get back to something more balanced...maybe 80/20 or 90/30. :)
  7. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    No Big Deal. Fender Jazz Bass strung with stock Fender 8250 roundwounds.
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Do you like the Fender strings? No one ever seems to talk about them vs other options, but it did occur to me. My first flatwounds were Fender and though I tried everything else, I don't think anything ever sounded better.
    Linnin likes this.
  9. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Dunlop Super Bright Nickels are what you seek. Don't be fooled by the name, they are not zingy/pingy. They are a warm, crunchy sounding string. Very musical, very balanced sounding. Very low tension so you really feel them vibrate, they speak to you like no other strings can.
  10. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    Rounds on electric sound great but boy do they chew up my fingers now.

    I've been a Roto 77 flats user for over a decade. They are bright & loud - kind of like Spirocores for electric.

    That said, I'm breaking in a new set of Labella flats - looking for that Motown / blues / soul sound - so far so good.
    Steve Boisen likes this.
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Roto 77, you say?

    I do love flatwound, but just trying to go a different direction.
  12. has everything.

    I liked the lightest gauge DR Pure Blues. Nickel rounds. Soft feel.

    The DR Hellborgs were interesting, but on the stiff side.

    There's so many to try....

    TI rounds, Infeld superalloy.

    You might get started with the straight down the middle, inexpensive D'addario nickel XLs.

    Luckily, bass strings have not kept up with inflation, and offers free, fast, shipping. And they remember your orders. Jason is a string guru, ask and you shall receive!

    Good luck!
    leto likes this.
  13. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    Check out DR strings. Many of them are round core and have a lower tension feel.
    Rip Van Dan, bassfran and scuzzy like this.
  14. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Hondo, which sound the most like what I'm looking for?
  15. hondo4life


    Feb 29, 2016
    I suppose it would be the stainless steel Hi-Beams, but I have not tried them.
    I had the Black Beauties on a fretless jazz for a while, and they were very nice. I only took them off because I needed to play some heavy metal for a while, and the low tension didn't work so well for that.
  16. tradernick


    Mar 19, 2008
    You have to.

    Well, you don't have to, but you should try. Rotosound RS66LD. They'll eventually chew up your frets, but I bet you'll like 'em. At the very least they'll define the limit so that you can see what you like about that direction and then back off to your comfort zone.

    But you may never go back.
  17. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    For rounds, I flip flop from Pedulla Nickels and D'Addario EXL170. The Pedulla's are a bit more mid happy while the EXLs are fairly bright. However, your results may vary on the Warwick. Honestly, I think you owe it to yourself to throw a set of Warwick strings back on it.
  18. Man, I do know the frustration of picking up a bass, finding it has amazing strings
    and never learning what they were.
    That happened to me at a local store a while back.
    Tried a no name violin bass with black tapes.
    Smooth, supple, even, no clack.

    When I asked what they were, the answer was;
    'Dunno, we got that in a trade'.

    It sounds like you are looking for a low tension,
    middy, middle of the road string.
    That can cover a lot of ground.
    If it were more extreme, like the brightest round wound
    or the thumpiest flat, I know we'd have lots of suggestions.

    I'll go very general and suggest
    pressure wound, ground wound, bright flats,
    nickol rounds and tapes.

    Finding the right string for you is a personal quest.
    Good luck.
  19. Jaimelarumba


    Dec 21, 2015
    I've found that there is little difference in hex core nickel sets between manufacturers.
    With the exception being Dunlop Super Bright nickel. Definitely have a personality of their own and they age extremely well. The extra flexibility may or may not be to your liking though. TI Superalloy is another great option and also age well. Not as much personality as the dunlops and they are more expensive but do feel wonderful tension and flexibility wise.
    Round core options like hi beams, sunbeams and foderas are another world of supple feeling strings but will sound more scooped than their hex core counterparts.
  20. scuzzy

    scuzzy Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I really enjoy the sound of elixir bass strings. They are a bit pricey, but they last forever. Only one bass of mine didn't like em, and that one sports Dunlop super bright nickels. Of all the strings I've tried, I think either of the two above would work along with DR sunbeams, silver stars, or pure blues.

    I would just start at the cheapest and work my way to one that clicked. Sounds like you may be a light gauge guy.