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Heliocore Orchestral Strings

Discussion in 'Strings [DB]' started by jermng, May 19, 2003.

  1. jermng


    May 6, 2002
    I was planning on changing my present set of strings to hybrids but I've since heard many people saying that the Hybrid strings are really bad for bowing. I am now thinking of getting the heliocore orchestral strings instead and was wondering if anyone has had any experience with them and if they're any good for pizz playing. I do jazz gigs more than classical performances but because I do play chamber music I need a good arco sound too. Would Obligatos be a better choice than the Heliocore Orchestral? I've heard many good things about Obligatos. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    Comparing Obligatos to the Helicore Orchestrals, I would say go with the Obligatos for what you are doing. The E & A helicores are thuddy and lack punch for jazz pizz.

  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Though I don't use them on my bass, I have bowed spirocore orchestra strings and didn't have any problems. I've seen a good number of bassists using spirocores with a bow and not be afraid. I've even seen a guy play a Koussevitzky solo in a UNT master class with what looked like helicore pizz strings (red with gold spiral). He sounded great. This is probably not helping you at all...

    O.K. I've never tried Obligatos, but the ISB magazine has rated them very well in the pizz/arco/cash value departments. You may want to ask if the Obligato string thickness is going to generate any grief for you before you buy them, just in case it matters.
  4. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Well, I would go the other way:
    For Pizz, Helicore Orch E and A, and Obligato G and D. I found the Obligatos to be too growly for me on the lower strings, but the higher strings are nice and thick sounding, especially the G. Arco, I think the Helicores speak nicely, the only negative comment I can make on them is that they tend to make basses sound similar. i.e. You can hear the character the string imparts to the sound, and the individuality is less obvious. (I don't know if that's terribly clear, but I gave it my best shot!)
    Best regards,
  5. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    My experience is that the Obligato is the only string that is equally good for pizz or arco. Thickness of the string is a non-issue; it's like any other steel or composite string.

    I don't know anyone who likes the tone of a bowed Spirocore.

    One string which did surprise me is the Pirastro Flat-chrome. I bought it for arco on my orchestra bass. I was amazed at the clarity and sustain it had when played pizz. But, that's on my bass. There's no guarantee it would work that way on yours. I'm surer that the Obligato would do what you want.
  6. I always wanted to know how they are for arco.
    Your comments?
    For pizz they indeed have a clear tone with sustain, but what do you think of the E?
    To me it doesn't fit well with the others. Mushy and thin.

  7. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I use the helicore orchestra srtings for jazz mostly, but like to practice arco.

    They work surprisingly well. you do have to have a very clear sound concept and most strings will work, but I find I am able to get a very wide timbral variety with them, and plenty of punch and growl. Very versatile, although I have seen people get a flabby kind of sound if they are not exploiting their technique a little

    I am kind of going for a more dark, woody sound right now, but want it to also be very clear.

    I use a Walter woods, and tried a AI clarus the other night, and my toughest critic (my cello Dr. wife) said it sounds fine.

    Anyone keep up with the helicore hybrids?
    they kept changing things from the inception.

    has anyone seen a noticeable improvement?
    That is about the only other string I would want to try right now, mainly after hearing some of Pattitucci's last few sideman efforts, and knowing christian Mcbride uses them too.
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I don't mean to advocate spirocore orchestra strings as the professional's choice for the best bowed string tone. I do mean to say that in my limited experience and exposure to the excellent bass players out there, I've seen some of them do absolutely fantastic sounding arco work with strings that get a bad rap for that very thing.

    I guess there is the possibility that what I hear isn't what other folks are hearing, and that my point has been blunted into admitting that I have no idea how to judge quality arco string tone. However, when I have the spare cash to try Obligatos for myself, I am glad to know that I don't have to widen the nut and bridge slots to accomodate them.
  9. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    My observation has been the same. My comment was in recognition that our jermng appears not at that level and could be misdirected toward a string that's not right.

    That shoe doesn't fit. Don't wear it.
    Check in with me when you're ready to put them on; they take some special care.
  10. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Flat-chromes are bright under the bow, and would be good on a dark sounding bass.
    As for pizz, I didn't pay that close attention, but I do think the E was not as good as the rest.

    I'm pretty much a traditionalist, and I'll always love Original Flexocores for arco. They just seem to knock down walls.
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Thanks for the kind words Don, and I agree wholeheartedly on your original flexocore assessment. For some reason, even my "more refined" original flatchromes can't flex so much muscle...

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