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Helicore orchestra or Obligatos?

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by Hortense&bow, Apr 16, 2002.


  1. Hortense&bow

    Hortense&bow

    Apr 15, 2002
    Hi everybody,

    I am a newbie, starting a new thread was the only way I found to post this.

    A lot of helpfull informations browsing your discussions on string. However I haven't found the answer to my dilemna.

    My set Helicores orchestra is getting tired. They have been for 3 years on my late 19th Century Mirecourt (Hortense). For now I almost exclusively bow, for orchestra playing. So the question: buy the same ones and stay out of trouble, or try something else like the Obligatos that many of you have been recommending and start torturing myself with strings dilemna?

    I was realy pleased when I set up the Helicores. The bass sounded like I could not remember it.
    New black hair on my bow and fine set up of the bass that happened around the same time probably helped. But all I had to compare to on the same bass, was the by then old unknown strings my teachers had put years before when he borrowed the bass from me for an orchestra audition ( I bought the bass from him - it had been his prefred audition bass for years). He put new strings then and left them to me to thank me: all I know is that they had red silk and I found them hard on the left hand to play (but at the time I found it hard to ajust to any change). Could they have been Spirocores? (my teacher was of the athletic type with huge hands, and I suspect he could have enjoyed strings everybody else finds impossible to bow).

    Anyway, I am looking for precision in the fast orchestra parts, especially with A and E string, a good volume without having to "push" the sound too much ( This year I am the only bass in the orchestra), and a "warm" G. I find my G Helicore got a little... well... "stringy" with age (that feeling of playing an A string on a violin); in fact I've always found it like this as well as any other G string before on my present bass and my previous one: is there a warm G string? or is it something with my technics that makes me have problems with the G string (especially open string)?

    Thanks for any advice.

    Patrick.
     
  2. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I'm not a great orchestral player, so take what I say with that in mind. My honest opinion on Helicore's is that they are good all around strings, but in the words of Hal Robinson, they tend to be "fuzzy and unfocused", especially when pushed for volume.

    I have only found one string to give a warm sound to an open G, and that is the Oliv by Pirastro, also the most expensive. Even so, I find my strings (Oliv D & G and Eudoxa E & A) very easy to bow with a huge sound.

    If you want to stick with steel strings, perhaps you should try original Flexocor's.

    Monte
     
  3. Hortense&bow

    Hortense&bow

    Apr 15, 2002
    I don't mind a change.
    In some ways it may be time for me to experiment
    a bit; I haven't played on many different basses, bows or strings, and probably lack comparisons references.
    Would the mix that Monte recommends have a quick response or would they feel real slow after the helicores?

    Patrick
     
  4. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Well, when I had two basses, one of them was strung with Helicore orchestra (for orchestral playing) and the other was a pizz string for jazz. I find the Oliv/ Eudoxa to respond at least as well. My teacher, who is a die-hard Helicore user, is going to make the switch after playing my bass. Watching me vibrate a cellists' Manhasset stand with a loose screw from ~15ft. may have helped as well.:)

    Monte
     
  5. Hortense&bow

    Hortense&bow

    Apr 15, 2002
    Monte,

    I am more and more tempted by the mix you recommend; I'm going to order some in and
    have my luthier set them up in case the current set up of my bass needs some touch up to accomodate the guts.

    Patrick.
     
  6. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Cool, let me know how it works. If you've never used gut before, there are a few things to keep in mind. For the first few weeks, they will stretch like crazy. Be prepared to play, set down your bass and come back and find it a half-step flat. I play a 4 hour gig with mine and now that they are broken in, they stay in tune as well as the Spiros I used to use.

    Also, since the core is gut, humidity can affect tuning. In the winter I keep a humidifier on (a good practice to prevent cracks anyway), but if you don't the core could dry out and stretch, bringing the pitch sharp. For that reason, you should never over-tune (tune sharp) because you could conceivably damage the gut core.

    Since gut are thicker guage, you cannot have a really low action. With the lower tension however, I don't find it that much harder to play.

    Last but not least, have somebody play your bass while you stand away and listen. David K, who first recommended these strings to me and I have both observed that when coming from steel strings gut can sound a bit "dead" while you are playing. Actually, I think that this is because of the higher proportion of fundamental to overtones with gut. When you go out away from the bass, the difference in sound is striking, particuarly when a Helicore strung bass is played next to it.

    Gut has many well known disadvantages; thicker, harder to keep in tune, etc. However, that sound.....there is a reason that steel string makers advertise their strings as havin a "gut-like " tone (Obligatos, Picato, Dominants, etc.)

    Monte
     
  7. Hortense&bow

    Hortense&bow

    Apr 15, 2002
    Thanks for the advice, Monte. I am taking good note of them.

    Patrick.
     
  8. Hortense&bow

    Hortense&bow

    Apr 15, 2002
    I have postponed the purchase of the strings until I decide to have a C-ext put on my bass or not. Turns out I am going to take lessons from the guy who'll do it. So I asked him about the strings and he advised me against the gut core strings, saying that their wrapping is fragile and they don't last long, and I am going to spend a lot of money and just run into trouble. He himself plays a combination of plain gut (2 high) and Velvet (2low) tuned in 5th.
    He recommends me to choose the Flat chrome or the Original FC, which would give the best for my money for orchestra playing (which is what I mainly do). I haven't heard of the Flat Chromes much, so I don't know what to think. Money is a factor considering that I 'm getting the C-ext and plan on getting a new bow soon as well.....

    Patrick.
     
  9. Monte

    Monte

    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    I would take what this guy says with a grain of salt. Fragile, not long lasting? Sure, compared to Spirocores. I'm into the 6th month of heavy playing on the Pirastro Olivs and Eudoxas and they sound fine, and show no signs of wear. I expect to get close to a year out of them (based on comments from a few others I know who use them), and I usually replaced steel strings after a year anyway, other than Spiros, which don't ever seem to go dead.

    In a sense he is right, but the trade-offs are worth it for the sound, IMHO. That being said, you have to find what works best for you. Me; I wasted a lot of money on strings trying to get a sound I wanted that I got when I went to gut.

    Monte
     
  10. Francois Blais

    Francois Blais Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 1999
    Québec, Canada
    FlatChromes and Original Flatchromes are completely different.
    The former is thin and clear sounding, and has more sustain than the latter, which is thick and dark sounding, particularly the A and E, with very little sustain.

    Like Monte, I've spent lots of money on strings, but am switching to Eudoxas (E, A and D) and Oliv G.
    I've been blown away by these strings!
    Nothing beats them!

    I don't know if they have a tendancy to break so I plan to always bring along a set of spare steel strings (Original Flats) just in case... :)