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Gut Strings on Kay Bass

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Pcocobass, Jun 27, 2005.


  1. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Anyone have any experience with gut or synthetic gut on a Kay Bass? I have a Model M-1 from the 40's (I think) and I currently use Thomastic Spiracores and I'm happy with the sound I get; it's very warm and sustaining. I'd like to try maybe a gut/steel combination or all gut, or something like the Velvets to get more of a PC/OP sound...Anyone use gut on a Kay? Any suggestions would be welcome!
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I used the Charlie Haden combo on my old Kay (an M-1 from the 50's) Thomastics on the E and A and Golden Spirals on the D and G, I thought it sounded great.
    My teacher has a 40's C-1 that has Animas on it (and unfortunately it has migrated north to Vermont for the summer) and it gets a big, warm sound, great projecting fundamental. It ain't as loud as my German bass, but all the other parts of the sound make me feel very much "at home" when I was doing sessions on it.
     
  3. CB3000

    CB3000 Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2003
    Madison, wi
    i had gut on my 1966 kay. it was great! i used plain d and g and different E and a strings - i used sensicore e and a for a while. then i got into solo e and a strings-like flexocor etc... i think you'll like it.
     
  4. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Thanks guys.

    I'm probably leaning towards the steel/gut combo but haven't decided anything yet. Your imput really helps me out.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    If you haven't checked out the Animas on anything yet, I'm gonna be playing at SOFIA's on the 30th of July.

    OR my teacher is playing at Birdland with Sal Mosca (and an absolutely KILLER tenor player, Jimmy Halperin) tomorrow night, I'm going to the 9pm show straight from a gig, so I'll have my bass with me, if you wanna check it out.
     
  6. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Kays are great with gut for blues, bluegrass and country, but...


    This is my opinion and I wonder if anyone else agrees. When we hear Paul Chambers, Oscar Pettiford and the great gut players of yore, they only had gut available to them. They likely had good, resonant, carved instruments with those gut stings on them and the result was an amazing punchy, yet sustaining sound. When you put gut on cheaper plywood basses, the results can be varying. You may get punch without sustain, more deadnotes, more problems in the upper registers. If you want a thuddier, rockabilly or bluegrass tone, it can be great, but if you're hoping to transform that Kay into something that sounds like PC, you may be disappointed.
    (I will say that some Kays are better than others in this regard. I have a friend that has a Kay with cheap Supernils on it and it sounds great) Some of the new hybrids (Obligato, Innovation) might be a way to go in the gut direction, or flatwound gut - something like Velvet Anima, or Velvet Garbo or Pirastro Pizzicato, if you don't play arco. These are expensive though.
     
    babaseen likes this.
  7. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Ed,

    I actually have a gig tomorrow night but I might be able to catch you at Sofia's. I've have tried the Animas on my old teacher's bass (I don't know what it is exactly) and I like the way they feel and sound.

    Bobby,

    This is also what I originally thought. However, my Kay has a bright and long sustain with steel strings and it is not very thuddy at all. For this reason, I thought I might do well with the gut...
     
  8. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Give it a try. If you want to go with real gut, I'd probably try a plain gut G and D, but I'd avoid the roundwound gut A and Es that come with the "traditional" gut sets. They are very think and unwieldy, and often produce indistinct pitches. This gets even worse the higher up the neck that you go. Instead, get flatwound gut like Eudoxa, Olive or Pizzicato, a synthetic like Obligato or Innovation, or a darker sounding steel string.

    For me, Spirocore on the bottom and plain gut on the top is too radical a difference in sound, but apparently others don't necessarily feel the same way.
     
  9. I'm excited to see this thread because it so closely follows my own experience. I have a 50's Czech plywood bass. Originally I used Spirocores, but I got into some slap styles and this was tough on my hands. I happened to run into one of my heroes on line and he recommended Golden Spiral G and D (by that time the E and A were no longer manufactured). Well, if he'd told me to stand on my head an hour a day to improve my sound, I'd have done that. So I tried the combination. It took a while to get used to having medium gauge, moderate tension E and A Spiros and somewhat thicker than usual, lowish tension G and D Spirals. After a while it really made sense to me and my current playing style has developed around this combination. I've gone steady with this mixture for about 9 years, but it's getting harder and harder to find Spirals. I was just lucky enough to get a new pair 2 months ago. I don't know if there are any more left in the wild.

    So recently I started obsessing about strings. Whatever, I wondered, will I do when there are no more Golden Spirals? I had a sound and feel that worked with my playing and with my bass. Of course, I couldn't bow with these strings, but I could really concentrate on my meat and potatoes....

    I read TB forums daily, and read into the archives as well. I purchased some lightly used Animas from the classifieds and tried them out. What a change!

    First off, I have to say, most of my playing over the past 10 years has been bluegrass. The aforementioned hero was Tom Gray of the Seldom Scene/Country Gentlemen. As a relative newcomer to the upright, I was going for his style and his sound. It's a bluegrass style and a bluegrass sound and it might not be everyone's cup of tea. Also, I have to say that the softer G and D really allowed me to stay up all night long, jamming in huge circles and not hurting myself too badly.

    Nowadays I'm doing a cool blues duet and really working on a Willie Dixon style and sound. I decided to try the Animas. Right away I had a hard time adjusting to the equally lower tension across the board. All 4 strings are medium girth and fairly low tension. I think I could get used to that. It will require changing my attack and release on the lower strings. These are not smooth, flatwound strings. They feel very different indeed, and the nature of my callous will have to change a bit. They smell weird to me, but that's not much of a concern really. The big deal, though, is the sound. The fundamental is really quite big. Gone is the relative thump of the spiro/spirals. There's some volume in the note on these Animas. But you know what? So far, I'm hearing a kind of metallic, dare I say almost electric sound to these strings. I can't believe it's my old bass! It's like visiting an old friend and someone else's voice comes out. Maybe I'm just not used to it yet. We'll see. Keeping an open mind here, while these brand new Spirals sit on the shelf a little longer.....

    That's my experience so far. I wanted to share a bit of my experience and I hope it's helpful.
     
  10. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    NYC
    I Really liked that bass too with those strings

    I had golden spirals too. Other nylon wrapped gut strings will also sound good for slap - I think it's the Labella Goldentones that are available now?
     
  11. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Thanks for all the input, you guys are great. This gives me good direction.
     
  12. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    Yes. As much as I loved Golden Spirals, the Goldentones are even better. Great strings.
     
  13. Bobby King

    Bobby King Supporting Member

    May 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Also available now are Pirastro's gut/nylon wound G and D Pizzicato strings. They are similar to Spirals, too.
    They have a little more tension (I liked this). The D is pretty huge, but so was the D Spiral for that matter.
     
  14. abaguer

    abaguer

    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Pete I second the Labella Goldentones comment. I have gut D and G and on my Kay M-1 and Eminence EUB. Before that I used Obligato d and g with spirocore A and E. I know Obligatos aren't as popular anymore but the D and G sounded really good on the Kay. I switched to gut because of the G string mainly.
     
  15. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Thanks for the input. I just bought a set of Animas and set my bass up with them. So far, I'm thrilled with the sound I'm getting. Eventually, I'm sure I'll try real gut, too.